Biological Research

Within the College of Applied and Natural Sciences, the School of Biological Sciences conducts research on the undergraduate, graduate and faculty levels.

Clay Lab The Clay Lab investigates how biogeochemistry and nutrient supplementation impact community structure and trophic interactions among soil arthropods and ant species. We use field experiments, naturally occurring environmental gradients, and stable isotope analysis to answer related questions.

Earl Lab – The Earl Lab researches two main topics: ecosystem connections and global anthropogenic change.  Work on ecosystem connections focuses on the input of leaf litter to ponds and the effects of leaf chemistry on aquatic communities and ecosystem processes.  Studies on anthropogenic change investigate impacts of land use, climate change, disease, and invasive species on wildlife populations, primarily amphibians.  Methodology includes observational studies, field and lab experiments, and simulation modeling.

Giorno Lab – Research in the Giorno lab focuses on the assembly of Bacillus anthracis and Clostriduim difficle spores, addressing the roles of the two outer-most structures, the coat and exosporium, in resistance, germination and virulence. Using genetic and proteomic approaches, researchers have identified and mutated several genes in the attenuated B. anthracis Sterne strain. Characterization of these mutants has allowed them to construct a model for the assembly of the B. anthracis coat and exosporium as well as identified proteins that impact germination both positively and negatively.

Hill Lab The Hill Lab uses a combination of both lab and field experiments to examine ecological interactions in primarily marine and freshwater communities. Many of these experiments focus on how animal behavior, predator-prey interactions, and anthropogenic impacts affect community structure and function using crustaceans and small fish as experimental models. However, the only requirement for research is that the questions are novel and the experiments are feasible

Maness Lab – Researchers in the Maness Lab focus on how organisms survive and reproduce in their natural environments. Our research focuses on behavioral ecology, conservation, toxicology, ecoimmunology, and endocrine function and senescence.

Mills Lab – The BioMorPh Lab biomedical research teams are focused on the design of bioactive nanofilms and coatings, scaffolds for dental and orthopedic implants, 3D printing and bioprinting of biomedical devices, and implants. Military defense teams are fabricating advanced parts and tools, EMP and radiation shielding, filters, and filtration systems. The NASA group is studying nanoenhanced nanoparticle as a means to produce safe, nutritious, and appetizing foods for long-duration space missions, and which have potential to benefit people on Earth. The group has founded two start-up companies based on patented technology – organicNANO, a Louisiana S-Corp in 2011, and NanoMedicine and Development in 2018.

Nestorova Lab – The Applied Genomics and Biotechnology Lab employs molecular biology techniques for genomics and proteomics analysis as well as methods for design and fabrication of micro-systems for biological research. Specific focus areas of research activities include studies of the role of methylation and microRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation of DNA repair proteins. The lab also develops integrated lab-on-a-chip methods and technologies for detection and analysis of DNA, microRNAs, proteins, and antibodies. The students working in the lab participate in advanced biotechnology related scientific research and acquire skills and experiences that prepare them for careers in the academia, pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.

Newman Lab – The Newman Lab is dedicated to undergraduate and graduate research focused on understanding the biology of stem cells.  Students in the lab learn cell culture and molecular biology techniques and have the opportunity to present their work at research conferences

Shepard Lab – Researchers in the Shepard Lab employ molecular methods and geospatial tools to examine patterns of genetic variation within species, identify cryptic diversity, and understand the processes that drive ecological and evolutionary diversification of amphibians and reptiles.

Vandenbrink Lab – Researchers in the Vandenbrink Lab utilize genetic, genomic and molecular techniques to understand how plants perceive and respond to their environment through growth mediated movements, or “tropisms.” The lab also focuses on Space Biology, specifically, how plants grow and respond to reduced-gravity environments, such as the environments of the Moon or Mars.

Voziyanov LabThe Voziyanov Lab has three main research directions: gene editing, protein engineering, and aging. Our gene editing research focuses mainly on correcting genetic defects but we are also interested in being able to rearrange large genome fragments to model some genetic diseases. In these experiments we use several gene editing tools: tyrosine recombinases Flp and Cre along with the CRISPR/Cas9 systems. In our protein engineering research we generate tyrosine recombinases with new target DNA specificity. In our aging research we want to understand how to eliminate harmful modifications that cells acquire during the aging process to bring cells to their default state thus rejuvenating them.