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.

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.

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.