Wednesday March 10, 2010
Faculty Research Interests
Dr. Fabian Benencia (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Molecular Biology, Tumor Immunology
My research explores the capability of antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells and macrophages) to act as inducers or suppressors of immunity responses in different diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis or infections. These cells are keystones of the immune response, being capable of triggering specific immunity. Thus, they have been used for vaccination purposes. In pathological conditions, they can be involved in inflammatory diseases, collaborating with tissue injury. On the other hand, they can collaborate with tumor growth by suppressing the specific anti-tumor immune response or inducing tumor vascularization. Investigating the factors governing the phenotype plasticity of these cells may unhide new targets for immune therapies. We approach these studies by using state of the art molecular biology and immunology techniques such as DNA cloning, real-time quantitative PCR, western blot, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, magnetic cell separation and in vivo imaging. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-benencia/
Dr. Mark Berryman (email@example.com) — Cell Biology
A variety of fundamental cellular processes are critically dependent on the organization and dynamic activities of the cytoskeleton, including segregation of DNA, vesicle trafficking, motility, adhesion, and cell polarity. The long-term goal of my research is to understand how the cytoskeleton is regulated, particularly in polarized epithelial cells. Currently, my laboratory is focused on a new family of proteins termed “CLICs,” which are encoded by at least six distinct genes in humans. Although CLIC proteins are conserved among metazoan species, their functions and physiological significance are not yet understood. Initially, CLICs were shown to be involved in the transport of chloride ions across cellular membranes. However, several lines of evidence indicate that CLICs may play important roles in regulating the cytoskeleton during cell division and epithelial morphogenesis. We are testing this hypothesis in both vertebrate and invertebrate cell systems using a combination of molecular, biochemical, microscopic, and genetic techniques. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-berryman/
Dr. Bonita Biegalke (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Molecular Virology
My laboratory is interested in the virus, human cytomegalovirus or HCMV. HCMV is a very common viral infection with 50-80% of adults demonstrating evidence of infection. Once infected, the virus resides in the human host for the rest of the person’s life. HCMV does not make most people sick; however, if the immune response to the virus is decreased, infection can be associated with disease. One population that is dramatically impacted by viral infection is newborn infants. HCMV is the most common infectious cause of deafness. My laboratory is studying viral genes that allow the virus to escape elimination by the host immune system. We are interested in factors that regulate the expression of the immune evasion genes. To analyze factors that regulate viral gene expression, we utilize molecular biology techniques including recombinant DNA and fluorescence microscopy. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-Biegalke/
Dr. Audrone Biknevicius (email@example.com) — Comparative Biomechanics
Research in my lab addresses some of the fundamental challenges of terrestrial locomotion in mammals. Current projects include: (1) exploring the how and why mammals transition between gaits; (2) evaluating how limb function changes with growth and aging; and (3) analyzing the metabolic cost of transport. To study these aspects of locomotor biomechanics, my lab uses force platforms, treadmills, high-speed videography, motion analysis and respirometry. Participating undergraduates are involved at all levels of the research, from training animals and data capture to data analysis. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-biknevicius/
Dr. Shawn Chen (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
My laboratory is interested in the molecular biology and metabolic biochemistry of actinobacteria from honeybee guts. We are taking genomic approaches to study the stress response pathways, survival strategy of these bacteria. We analyze the physiological role of the molecular mechanisms including gene regulation involving global transcriptional regulators and RNA regulators. On the organism level, we are also using entomopathogenic infection models to characterize the actinobacteria isolates and gene knock-out mutants. In the other part of the research, we are interested in the secondary metabolites biosynthesized by the soil bacteria. More than sixty percent of the drugs on the market come from microorganisms as natural products. Understanding the biosynthetic pathways in the producing bacteria, mainly Streptomyces, empowers us to bioengineer more potent and useful antibiotics, explore the nature for bioactive compounds against various human diseases, contributing to honeybee health. This part of working involves DNA cloning, gene expression, bioassays of antibiotics, chemical analysis (HPLC, TLC, MS etc.) of metabolites. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/chen/
Dr. Brian Clark (email@example.com) — Neuromuscular Physiology
My research interests include identifying adaptations in neural and skeletal muscle properties following prolonged periods of alterations in muscle activity level (i.e. disuse, exercise training), exercise physiology, the mechanisms of human skeletal muscle fatigue, and clinical neuromuscular pathophysiology. Research is conducted on humans (both healthy and diseased) and utilizes a combination of techniques including electromyography, electrocardiography, peripheral nerve stimulation, magnetic brain stimulation and ultrasound imaging. The collective long-term goal of this research is to determine the physiological mechanisms that regulate neuromuscular performance following acute and chronic changes in activity, as well as in clinical populations who present with strength losses and/or excessive fatigue (i.e. cerebral palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, elderly, post-op, etc). http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-clark
Dr. Robert Colvin (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Our current research is focused on delineating the molecular mechanisms underlying the neurodegeneration that occurs in a variety of disorders such as cerebral ischemia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Zinc is quite abundant in the brain. It is an essential trace element required as a co-factor for several metalloproteins (e.g., transcription factors, metalloenzymes), but may also have signaling functions too. Like most other things in life, too much zinc is not good for cell survival. High levels of zinc inside cells, kill them, so there are several cellular mechanisms for maintaining intracellular zinc concentrations within a narrow range. One important mechanism is zinc transporters, but very little is known about these proteins. Elevations of intracellular zinc may contribute to glutamate excitotoxicity (a mechanism of neuron death in stroke) and play a role in Alzheimer’s disease pathology. We are using several different techniques to study zinc transport. These include direct measurement of the zinc transport function in primary cell culture and various imaging techniques using fluorescent dyes. http://crab-lab.zool.ohiou.edu/colvin/
Dr. Karen Coschigano (email@example.com) — Molecular/Cellular Biology
The research in my lab focuses on the biodegradation of toxic compounds under anaerobic conditions. Work is currently focused on Thauera aromatica strain T1, a bacterial strain able to grow on toluene and p-cresol, related aromatic compounds, under denitrifying conditions. Genetic and molecular techniques are being used to identify, clone, and characterize genes involved in the toluene and p- cresol utilization pathways of this organism. A goal of our studies is to better understand the mechanism of anaerobic toluene and p-cresol metabolism in this strain. The results obtained from studying bacteria such as T1 that can degrade toxic compounds can be useful in remediation of contaminated sites. These bacteria may also be able to treat and detoxify waste products before disposal and may eventually be used to make useful products from what is now considered waste. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-coschiganoK/
Dr. Peter Coschigano (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Microbiology
The research in my lab focuses on the biodegradation of toxic compounds under anaerobic conditions. Work is currently focused on Thauera aromatica strain T1, a bacterial strain able to grow on toluene, a component of gasoline and crude oil, under denitrifying conditions. Genetic and molecular techniques are being used to identify, clone, and characterize genes involved in the toluene utilization pathway of this organism. A goal of our studies is to better understand the mechanism of anaerobic toluene metabolism in this strain. The results obtained from studying bacteria such as T1 that can degrade toxic compounds can be useful in remediation of contaminated sites. These bacteria may also be able to treat and detoxify waste products before disposal and may eventually be used to make useful products from what is now considered waste. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-Coschigano/
Dr. Lisa Crockett (email@example.com) — Adaptational and Comparative Physiology, Biochemistry
The focus of my research is to help gain a better understanding of the physiological and biochemical adaptations to extreme cold and varying body temperatures. There are two ongoing projects in my lab. First, in collaboration with Drs. Kristin O’Brien (University of Alaska) and Bruce Sidell (University of Maine), we are examining links between mitochondrial form, function, and thermotolerance in two groups of Antarctic fishes: the family Channichthyidae (or “icefishes” which remarkably lack hemoglobin) and their red-blooded relatives from the family Nototheniidae. My laboratory’s particular interest is in determining differences in the susceptibility of mitochondrial membranes to lipid peroxidation and levels of lipid peroxidation products in these two related, yet physiologically disparate, cold-adapted fishes. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In a second NSF-funded project, we are studying the consequences of lipid restructuring during temperature variation on the susceptibility of biological membranes to lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is intensively studied in biomedicine and aging biology, yet the significance within the context of temperature biology has yet to be elucidated. In this study we are using a fish model (the striped bass, Morone saxatilis) to test the hypothesis that changes in lipid compositions during temperature acclimation (adaptation) affect an organism’s vulnerability to potentially damaging lipid per oxidation. http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~crockett/
Dr. Janet Duerr (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Genetics
We use a model organism, the small (1 mm) soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, to study genes and proteins involved in neurotransmission by monoamines such as dopamine and serotonin. This simple animal has exactly 302 identified neurons and an easily manipulated genome with 20,225 sequenced genes. We use genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, microscopy, and behavioral assays to study monoamine signaling. We are examining when and where monoamines are made and how this expression is regulated. We are also interested in the interactions between monoamines and the effects of changes in different monoamine regulators on neuronal function and behavior. A final goal is to use our system to understand effects and genetic targets of prescribed drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which are used to raise monoamine levels in humans. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/duerr
Dr. Mario J. Grijalva (email@example.com) — Immuno-parasitology, Molecular and Cell Biology
Research undergoing in my laboratory aims to understand the biology of tropical disease at the molecular, cellular, individual, community and global levels. Currently our projects involve research in my laboratory at Ohio University, as well as in the Tropical Disease Institute’s projects in Ecuador. Activities within these projects include studies dealing with basic mechanisms of the disease, serological and molecular diagnostic test development, clinical research, epidemiology, vector biology, Geographical Information System, sociology, community education, communications, etc. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-grijalva/
Tropical Disease Institute: http://www.ohiou.edu/tdi/
Dr. Patrick Hassett (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Zooplankton Ecology and Physiology
Dr. Hassett’s research interests are centered on the feeding ecology of marine and freshwater zooplankton, particularly copepods (millimeter-sized crustaceans that frequently dominate the zooplankton). His early research focused on the role that feeding history plays in subsequent feeding behavior of marine copepods. His research has taken him from polar and sub-polar seas off the Aleutian Islands and Antarctica, to temperate waters of the North Pacific and Gulf of Maine, to sub-tropical waters of Hawaii and the Gulf of California, as well as lakes of Wisconsin and Michigan.
Currently he is collaborating with Dr. Lisa Crockett (also in Biological Sciences) on the role of dietary sterols in copepod nutrition and the effects of sterol limitation on cell membranes. To understand dietary factors that limit zooplankton growth it is necessary to identify key components in the diet and define the conditions under which these components become limiting. Cholesterol is a candidate as a limiting factor because it cannot be synthesized de novo by arthropods. Requirements for cholesterol in animals are likely to be driven largely by contents of cholesterol in plasma membranes. We are 1) identifying the physical and biotic conditions for which dietary sterols become limiting, and 2) defining the coupling between dietary and membrane-specific requirements for cholesterol. A recent undergraduate project in our lab found that the absence of sterols in cyanobacteria was a factor in the poor nutritional quality of cyanobacteria for the cladoceran Daphnia (the ‘water flea’). http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/hassett/
Dr. William R. Holmes (email@example.com) — Computational Neuroscience, Biomathematics
(Note, all projects in this lab are done on the computer—no “wet lab” experiments). We use mathematical and computational models at three levels of organization, the neuron, the synapse, and biochemical reactions within dendritic spines, to study the mechanisms that lead to changes at individual synapses important for learning and memory. At the neuron level, work is being done to construct realistic models of individual CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons that can predict the voltage response to types of stimuli thought to be necessary for learning to occur. These simulations are performed with the NEURON simulator. At the synapse level, work is being done to develop accurate descriptions of the NMDA and AMPA synaptic conductances that can be used in conjunction with neuron level models to predict calcium influx at synapses on dendritic spines during trains of stimuli. MCELL is often used for these simulations. At the biochemical level, calcium influx into dendritic spines is the starting point for modeling calcium initiated cascades of biochemical reactions involved in learning and memory.
Another project in the lab is to develop computational models of zinc homeostasis in cortical neurons. The biochemical simulator copasi together with MATLAB are used for this project. This is a collaborative project with Dr. Colvin who provides the experimental data for the models. http://cneuro.zool.ohiou.edu/holmes
Dr. Scott Hooper (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Neuroscience
Rhythmic neuronal activity is widespread in nervous systems, and plays a central role in certain types of sensory processing, in motor pattern production, and possibly (in vertebrates) in attention. These rhythms are generated endogenously (i.e., they can continue without rhythmic sensory input) by central neural networks, and hence are an example of the nervous system’s ability to spontaneously create patterns. Network rhythmicity has been extensively studied in several invertebrate preparations and in the lamprey, and we now have a good general understanding of the mechanisms underlying it. However, we understand relatively little about its dynamic regulation (e.g., how rhythmic pattern frequency and phasing are controlled), and, in the case of motor systems, how these neural networks interact with their peripheral effectors (the musculoskeletal system) so as to continually generate behaviorally relevant, functional motor outputs.
Our lab studies these issues in the pyloric neuromuscular system of the lobster. The pyloric neural network produces a wide range of rhythmic neural outputs (similar to our ability to walk, run, hop, etc.), but has only 15 neurons divided into 6 neuronal types. As a result of this small size, the mechanisms underlying the activity of this small neural computer can be studied on the individual neuron and network level. Similarly, the muscles that the network innervates are known, and thus how the nervous system and the periphery interact to produce behavior can also be studied on a well- defined and fundamental level. Our research techniques include computational modeling, neuronal electrophysiology, and measurement of muscle electrical and contractile responses to neuronal input. Undergraduates can contribute to this effort in any of these areas; due to the preparation’s experimental advantages, undergraduates can generally be making significant scientific contributions within their first quarter of work. For more detailed information (and candid lab pictures), visit our web site at http://crab-lab.zool.ohiou.edu/hooper/
Dr. Frank Horodyski (email@example.com) —Insect Molecular Biology and Physiology
The focus of my laboratory is to understand the synthesis, biological function, and signal transduction pathways of insect neuropeptides. We use the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta, since this has been an important model for the study of insect endocrinology. Specifically, we are interested in the control of juvenile hormone biosynthesis, which regulates both metamorphosis and reproduction. Allatotropin (AT) is a neuropeptide that stimulates JH biosynthesis, but it also inhibits active ion transport in the larval midgut and stimulates muscle contractions. The AT gene is expressed as three alternatively spliced mRNAs, and translation products of these mRNAs include three allatotropin-like (ATL) peptides whose biological functions overlap with AT. We are now characterizing the AT receptor by expression in heterologous cell lines and have shown that this receptor is activated by AT and each ATL peptide. The response in the target cells is an elevation of cAMP and Ca2+ levels, indicating that it acts through two separate second messenger systems. We are now determining the tissue localization of the AT receptor and will further define its biological role by interfering with its expression using RNA interference. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-Horodyski/
Dr. Sharon Inman (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Renal Physiology
My laboratory is interested in two major areas: 1)Ischemia/reperfusion injury following renal transplantation and 2)the progression of diabetic nephropathy. Our laboratory has found that the class of drugs called the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or the “statins” are beneficial in ischemia/reperfusion injury. We are also interested in looking at the effects of antioxidant therapy in diabetic nephropathy and feel this may slow or prevent the progression of renal failure.
Dr. Kelly Johnson (email@example.com) — Insect nutritional ecology, physiological stress responses of plant feeding caterpillars and aquatic insects
My research focuses on the environmental physiology of insects, with a particular focus on the interface of nutrition, stress responses, and metabolic fate of toxicants. Current projects fall into two broad categories:
1) Chemical Ecology of Insect-Plant interactions – Using the tomato and tomato hornworm caterpillar as a model system, I am interested in how changes in leaf antioxidants (vitamin C, glutathione, phenolics) brought on by environmental stress (drought, heat) impacts the growth of caterpillars. In particular, I am investigating the susceptibility of caterpillars to oxidative stress (free radical damage) and how it may be exacerbated or alleviated by the chemistry of the hostplant they choose to feed on.
2) Aquatic Insect Ecology – Many streams in southeastern Ohio are impacted by acid and heavy metals from mine drainage, sedimentation and other land use practices. Over the last few years, our lab has collaborated with members of the Appalachian Watershed Research Group, the Voinovich Center, the Midwestern Biodiversity Institute, and state agencies to develop better aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling and bioassessment methods. We currently receive funding from the US EPA and Ohio Dept of Natural Resources and are sampling over 100 sites in southeastern Ohio to improve stressor diagnosis and monitor the biological recovery at remediated sites. Undergraduates can assist with fieldwork, sorting and identifying macroinvertebrates, and conduct independent projects to investigate effects of specific stressors on the abundance, distribution and functional role of selected stream macro invertebrates.
Dr. Richard Klabunde (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Cardiovascular Physiology
I am presently studying mechanisms by which coronary blood flow is regulated in hearts. Undergraduate students conducting research in my lab can use Langendorff-perfused, isolated rodent hearts to study how nitric oxide, cyclooxygenase products, endothelin and adenosine regulate coronary vascular function. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-klabunde
Dr. Leonard Kohn (Kohnl@ohiou.edu) — Molecular & Cell Biology of Disease Expression
We study the role of innate immunity and Toll-like receptor signaling in the development of autoimmune/inflammatory diseases and cancer. Autoimmune/Inflammatory diseases include Type I Diabetes, Vascular complications of Type I and II diabetes, Systemic Lupus, Colitis, Graves’ primary hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We hypothesize that abnormal expression of immune processes in cells of a target tissue result from a loss of normal transcriptional regulatory process controlling genes important to coordinate growth, function, and major histocompatibility recognition by immune cells. This loss initiates autoimmune processes. In cancer we study the relationship of the Toll-like receptor and Wnt signal system, their linkages to normal endocrine regulatory processes, the relationship between normal and abnormal growth processes, and the induction of Toll-like receptor and Wnt signaling by viruses, bacteria, and tissue injury including physiologic manipulative procedures. We use a molecular and cell biology approach which is then validated in vivo in animals. We use the cell and molecular biology to develop cell lines useful for diagnostic assays in collaboration with Diagnostic Hybrids Inc., an Athens-based company which is the leading producer of cell-based diagnostics. We study the action of potential drugs we have developed that block these pathologic processes. http://www.ohiou.edu/biotech/staff/biokohn.html
Dr. John Kopchick (email@example.com) — Molecular Biology
The molecular mechanism of growth, obesity, aging, and diabetes are the focus areas of my laboratory. We clone and express genes involved in these processes. Genomics and proteomics studies are important components of our work. Transgenic and gene disrupted mice also are used in our projects. Overall, we hope to discover diagnostics, therapeutic targets, or therapies for disorders related growth, obesity, aging, and diabetes. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-kopchick/research.htm
Dr. Shawn Kuchta (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Natural Selection, Adaptation, Speciation, and Systematics
My lab focuses on studies of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) and odonates (especially damselflies) as a means of investigating evolutionary processes. I am currently involved in two lines of research. First, I have a major interest in the geography of diversification. For this work, DNA data is used to infer phylogenetic relationships and demographic parameters within and between populations across species’ ranges. This allows us to detect range expansion, infer Pleistocene refugia, identify historically isolated units, analyze patterns of phenotypic variation within a historical context, and so on. To date, this research has focused on salamander diversity, but future work on damselflies is likely. Second, I am interested in predator-mediated selection and adaptation. In damselflies, I am documenting the strength and mode of natural selection on wings as imposed by an avian predator, the Wagtail. This research program is centered in Sweden. In amphibians, I am interested in the predator- mediated fitness consequences of phenotypic variation, including studies of phenotypic plasticity and ontogenetic conflict. Phenotypic analyses make use of geometric morphometric techniques (i.e., the statistical analysis of data garnered from digital photos) for analyzing shape variation. I am very interested in bringing undergraduates into the lab, and there are opportunities for participation in both field and laboratory studies within all of my research programs. http://people.ohio.edu/kuchta
Dr. Daewoo Lee (email@example.com) — Synaptic Physiology, Neurodegeneration
My laboratory is interested in understanding how trillions of brain cells are talking to each other and orchestrating complex behaviors such as leaning & memory. We also study what happens if some of those brain cells are not functionally working. One of current projects in the lab is to understand molecular and cellular basis of Parkinson’s disease – dopamine disaster!
We chose Drosophila as a model animal to study brain function and disorders due to its powerful and sophisticated genetics. Our research is being performed using a multidisciplinary approach including whole-cell recording, optical imaging, immunostaining, amperometric and molecular genetic techniques. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/lee/index.html
Dr. Yang V. Li (Liy1@ohio.edu) — Neuroscience
Overall research interest in my laboratory is to understand cell-to-cell communication in the central nervous system (CNS) and how the brain modifies its function and structure through experiences. The on-going research is focused on the role of Zn2+ as a synaptically released neuromodulator and/or transmembrane signal in the neuronal activity and intracellular signaling, using a multidisciplinary approach, combining electrophysiology, fluorescence imaging, and immunohistochemistry. Specifically, we plan to pursue two lines of research: (1) to study the role of Zn2+ in neuronal transmission and synaptic plasticity in the CNS. The considered research topics/missions include LTP and its implication in learning & memory. (2) to investigate neural action in neuron regeneration and neurotoxicity such as brain ischemia (stroke), epilepsy, alcoholism, stress & depression (bipolar), Alzheimer disease. Learn more about my research at http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-li/
Dr. Anne Loucks (firstname.lastname@example.org)— Physiology
The main purpose of my laboratory has been to conduct randomized, prospective, controlled experiments investigating the physiological mechanisms mediating the influences of diet and exercise on the endocrine regulation of fuel metabolism, reproductive function and bone turnover in men and women. The aim of these experiments has been to acquire knowledge that will be useful for refining nutritional guidelines to better protect the health of athletes, military personnel and others who strive to improve their performance in physically demanding activities.
Recently we investigated the development of diet and exercise programs to prevent stress fractures during military basic training. We are currently developing new methods for quickly and inexpensively measuring the strength of long bones by Mechanical Response Tissue Analysis (MRTA).
Students working in my lab have had an interest in exercise physiology, nutrition, endocrinology, or reproductive physiology.
Dr. Ramiro Malgor (email@example.com) — Pathology
The purpose of our laboratory is to investigate pathogenesis of disease. We study the histomorphological and biochemical alterations of tissues from in vitro and in vivo models. As approach we use various techniques such as immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence, in-situ hybridization and image analysis.
Our current research topic is vascular pathology focused on atherosclerosis. Using a genetically modified mouse model (Apo e-/-) we are trying to understand not only the pathogenesis but also the effect of some new drugs on it; as well as its relation to other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
We have collaborative researches with other laboratories in OU, which makes our laboratory an interdisciplinary environment.
Dr. Donald B. Miles (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Evolutionary Physiology, Functional Ecology, and Ecomorphology
I am presently involved in three lines of research. First, I am interested in the evolution of morphological diversity in squamate reptiles. Specifically, my lab is investigating the interplay between phylogenetic diversification and morphological diversification. This work has important implications for identifying adaptive radiations and determining the factors involved in the explosive speciation observed in some groups. Another goal is to infer the adaptive significance of key functional traits using state-of-the-art comparative methods. Second, I am interested in the evolution of locomotor function as a consequence of morphological variation in lizards. I have developed methods for quantifying locomotor performance in the lab and field. My lab emphasizes sprint performance and endurance as two critical measures of performance that affect the ability of an organism to subdue prey, avoid predators and defend territories. A critical question in evolutionary biology is whether morphological diversity is related to functional diversity, as is expected in adaptive radiations. Thus, I have initiated research in the southwestern deserts of North America, tropical environments of Australia, and the habitats of South Africa to investigate the evolution of the association between morphology and performance. Finally, I am interested in the adaptive significance of individual variation in locomotor performance. We are currently focusing on how locomotor performance affects survival and mating success. These analyses require a combination of detailed demographic data and field manipulations. To date we have worked on four lizard systems: the tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus, the side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana, Galapagos lava lizards, Microlophus albemarlensis, and common lizard, Lacerta vivipara. Field manipulations include hormone supplements, follicle ablations, and nest microclimates. In addition to these projects, I have been involved in research projects focusing on the responses of bird communities to anthropogenic disturbance, the ontogeny of locomotor performance in shorebird chicks, and the ontogeny of performance in general. http://www.diapsida.org/
Dr. Scott Moody (email@example.com) — Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles
Scott Moody is a herpetologist (study of amphibians and reptiles) and has several long-term research projects involving species of frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes and turtles in southeastern Ohio. Students may work on distributional surveys in order to contribute to the frog and toad Atlas Project and the Reptile Atlas Project. A transect has been established on the Ecology Land Lab at The Ridges to monitor the population of the Ravine Salamander. Currently, Dr. Moody is searching for populations (and denning sites) of Timber Rattlesnakes (state endangered species) in Athens and Hocking Counties and for new records of the Spadefooted Toad (another state endangered species) throughout SE Ohio. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/moody/
Dr. Molly Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Behavioral Ecology, Animal Behavior
My research interests are in sexual selection, the evolution of alternative mating strategies, and the evolution of communication in aggressive interactions. Currently I am examining the evolution of a sexually selected signal (vertical bars) and the mating behaviors associated with this signal in swordtail and platyfishes (Xiphophorus). Mating is one of the most important selection events driving the evolution of diversity. In my laboratory we examine the role that female mating preferences and the aggressive interactions between males play in the evolution of diverse behaviors, morphologies and new species. The fishes I study are found in small, freshwater streams in Mexico. In addition to studying their behavior in the field, we collect fish and bring them back to the laboratory to study, and use molecular techniques to examine their evolutionary relationships. By comparing the responses of males and females across several species, we can test hypotheses about the evolution of female preferences, male sexual signals, and male-male aggressive behaviors. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/morris/
Dr. Erin R. Murphy (email@example.com) — Bacterial Pathogenesis
The research in my laboratory is focused on understanding how bacteria survive and cause disease within the human host. My laboratory studies Shigella dysenteriae which the causative agent of shigellosis, a severe diarrheal disease. S. dysenteriae invades the cell of the human colonic epithelium where it multiplies and spreads from one cell into neighboring cells. In order to establish a productive infection the bacteria must express a very specific set of genes which encode proteins that are required for invasion, replication, nutrient acquisition and evasion of the human immune defenses. My interest is in understanding how S. dysenteriae senses the environment within the host and the molecular mechanisms used to regulates the expression of the specific genes required for infection. I encourage the participation of motivated undergraduates who are interested in experiencing, hands on, the rewards and challenges of experimental science. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-murphy/
Dr. Felicia V. Nowak (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Molecular Neurobiology, Endocrinology
One focus of research in my laboratory is the study of brain peptides and their essential role as growth factors in the mammalian brain. Besides their critical physiological role in normal brain development, growth factors are potent potential therapeutic agents in the treatment of central nervous system injury, as is seen following trauma or stroke, as well as in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer dementia. Students are invited to participate in one of several projects: (1) Characterization of the growth factor effects of PORF-2 in neural stem cells; (2) in vivo and in vitro PORF-2 gene knockouts.
A second area of research is obesity and type 2 diabetes. Current projects focus on: (1) the role of PORF-2 in insulin signaling and diabetic kidney disease; (2) establishing a mouse model of the effects of high fat diet-induced paternal obesity on the metabolic profile of offspring.
Students will have the opportunity to acquire hands on experience in one or more of the following: (1) PCR; (2) growth, gene transfer and assay of cultured mammalian cells; (3) screening and analysis of transgenic animals (4) in vivo measurement of body composition, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity; (5) enzyme-linked and biochemical assays; (6) immunoblot (Western) analysis; (7) measures of animal behavior including running wheel and forced swim tests. They will also learn to read the literature which pertains to their project and to analyze, interpret and report their own data. http://cneuro.zool.ohiou.edu/grad/bioscience/professors/felicianowak.html
Dr. Ellengene Peterson (email@example.com) — Neuroethology of Vertebrate Vestibular Organs
Head movements are an important, ongoing feature of vertebrate behaviors. They can be self- generated, for example during locomotion or orienting movements; they can also be imposed by external forces. Whatever their source, head movements present a behavioral challenge because they are inherently destabilizing. The vestibular system responds to this challenge by detecting the spatial and temporal properties of head movements and triggering reflexes that stabilize the organism’s posture and gaze. Thus, all vertebrates rely on the vestibular system to maintain balance and clear vision during normal movement.
In spite of its critical role in behavior, the vestibular system is one of our most poorly understood senses. Our research team uses a multidisciplinary approach to understand vestibular system function including 1) quantitative behavioral analysis, 2) structure and biomechanics, and 3) neurophysiology and computational models. The long term goal of our research is to contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that affect balance and spatial orientation in humans and non-human animals. http://neur-otic.biosci.ohiou.edu/
Dr. Stephen M. Reilly (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Evolutionary and Functional Morphology
My research integrates morphological, developmental, and functional analyses to study how ontogeny, ecology, and phylogeny affect vertebrate design and function. This involves experimental and morphometric approaches to the analysis of form and function, and ecomorphological approaches to the study of resource use.
Morphology is analyzed using a computer-interfaced video analysis system and quantitative morphometrics to describe and compare individual structures and their shapes. Development is quantified by tracking anatomical structures visualized in ontogenetic series using staining and clearing techniques. High-speed video and electromyography are used to synchronize behavioral movements with muscle activity patterns. Ground reaction and bite forces are quantified as well. The integration of these approaches allows empirical tests of a broad spectrum of biological phenomena and hypotheses.
Much of my research has focused on the metamorphosis of feeding function in lower vertebrates and the evolution of neoteny and paedomorphosis in salamanders. Functional morphological data form a necessary basis for hypotheses about the origin of terrestrial feeding, how the environment influences morphological evolution, and how development, heterochrony, and phylogeny constrain the evolution of vertebrate form and function. Present studies focus on vertebrate locomotion with a general goal to understand the locomotory change from sprawling to erect postures. This involves quantitative functional analyses of hindlimb function during running in a variety of vertebrates. Undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research and several students have undertaken projects as the focus of their senior honors theses. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/Faculty/reilly/
Dr. Willem Roosenburg (email@example.com) — Vertebrate Population Biology, Evolutionary Ecology
I investigate the evolution of life history traits (e.g. survivorship, reproductive rates, age of first reproduction etc.) and the conservation biology (extinction and loss of biodiversity due to anthropomorphic causes) of long-lived organisms. My research philosophy is to develop a system into model by developing a mechanistic understanding of how environmental variation affects population dynamics. I use a variety of tools that combine demographic and experimental techniques to observe variation within populations and to predict the outcome of environmental perturbations on survivorship and reproductive rates. This approach allows me to simultaneously address basic ecological and evolutionary questions and their relevance to conservation and management issues. A particular research focus is how the environment where eggs incubate affects the hatchling phenotype and how that ultimately influences population structure, behavior, and fitness. Additional research interests include temperature-dependent sex determination, restoration ecology, and population biology. Learn more about my research and recent publications at http://www.ohio.edu/people/roosenbu/
Dr. Mike Rowe (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Neuroethology of Vertebrate Vestibular Organs
My research is aimed at understanding how information about the head movements that occur during natural behavior is transmitted to the brain. We use a combination of behavioral studies, neurophysiology and quantitative analysis to study how neurons of the inner ear create signals representing natural head movements. Our laboratory is very interdisciplinary, and we can provide valuable research experiences for students in Biology, Psychology, Physics, Math or Engineering. More information is available at http://neur-otic.biosci.ohiou.edu/index.html.
Dr. Nancy J. Stevens (email@example.com) — Functional Morphology and Vertebrate Paleontology
My research explores how faunas respond to global environmental change through time. I am particularly interested in faunal transitions across the Paleogene-Neogene boundary in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and the responses of endangered animals to habitat loss today. Research projects involve microvertebrate sampling strategies and laboratory techniques in vertebrate paleontology, uCT studies of fossil mammals from the East African Rift of Tanzania, kinematics of movement and posture in the Old World Monkeys of Vietnam and East Africa, and positional behavior and field kinematics of Malagasy lemurs and Asian lorises. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-stevens/
Dr. Tomohiko Sugiyama (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
My research focuses on the mechanism of meiotic DNA recombination in molecular level. Meiosis is the special cell divisions to produce germ cells (egg and sperm for human), where the number of chromosome is reduced into a half. DNA recombination is playing a crucial role to achieve such a dramatic change. In the process of recombination, several proteins bind directly or indirectly to DNA, and then they lead the DNA molecules to the recombination process. Our questions are: 1) How does meiotic recombination occur in molecular level? And, 2) How is it controlled? To solve these fundamental questions, we use yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism, and intend to purify key proteins and analyze them biochemically.
Dr. Soichi Tanda (email@example.com) — Genetics, Molecular and Developmental Biology
The main focus in my laboratory is to understand genetic and molecular mechanisms of blood cell differentiation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Using the best model organism for genetic research, we aim to identify genes important for blood cell differentiation and to elucidate their interactions at the molecular level. The defense system in Drosophila is ancient and highly conserved in most animals including humans. This type of defense, which is called innate immunity, is the first barrier against invading pathogens. Blood cells are the key players in innate immunity, thus it is very important to elucidate how blood cell production is controlled. Furthermore, the genes of our interest have human counterparts, mutations of which are frequently found in different types of cancer including leukemia. Thus we hope that the progresses in the laboratory will contribute to find an effective cure of leukemia and cancer in general. We are particularly interested in how the fruit fly controls the total blood cell number with a specific focus on stem cells. We are also pursuing how they generate different types of blood cells, which are specialized for different pathogens. To reach our goals, we take a variety of molecular approaches such as DNA cloning, antibody staining, and assays with cultured Drosophila cells. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/tanda/
Dr. Matthew M. White (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Evolutionary Genetics
My laboratory is interested in identifying patterns of genetic variation in natural populations. We are using DNA sequence variation to assess the magnitude and pattern of genetic differentiation among freshwater fish populations. The patterns we observe allow us to assess the roles of historical and contemporary processes in the distribution of variation. This area of research is known as phylogeography. Our research has significance for the effective management of commercially and recreationally important species of fishes. In addition, we are able to identify the presence of undescribed species by detecting significant disjunctions in the distribution of genetic variation. By using both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers, we are able to assay DNA sequences that evolve at very different rates. Presently, we are investigating genetic variation and patterns of molecular evolution in sauger, walleye, a species of non-parasitic lamprey, and muskellunge. Undergraduate researchers in my laboratory are involved in all aspects of the research. These include DNA purification, electrophoresis, PCR-amplification, and DNA sequencing. Further, students are expected to participate in data collection, data analysis, and when appropriate, specimen collection. http://www.biosci.ohiou.edu/faculty/white
Dr. Susan Williams (email@example.com) — Comparative Biomechanics
My research focuses on the comparative biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system, with a special interest on the evolution, ontogeny and function of the vertebrate feeding system. Current projects include: 1) electromyographic (EMG) studies of the jaw muscles to address questions about the evolution of feeding motor patterns in primate and ungulates; 2) studies of mandibular and facial bone strains (in conjunction with EMG) to understand how the skull is loaded during feeding, particularly during early post-natal growth; 3) kinematics studies using high speed video and x-ray movies to understand how muscles influence movements during feeding and prey capture; and 4) the influence of food mechanical properties on foraging behavior and jaw-muscle function in wild mantled howling monkeys in Costa Rica. Animals currently being studied include lizards, ferrets, goats and alpacas. Past undergraduates have been involved in both lab and field work and are encouraged to develop independent projects in the lab. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-williams/
Dr. Thad E. Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org)— Environmental Physiology
The research that inspires me is environmental physiology and medicine and is currently focused in two main areas: a) cutaneous biology and b) the autonomic nervous system. The skin is the primary interface between the internal and external environment and has many effectors (sweat glands, blood vessels, etc.) to maintain the internal homeostasis of the organism. The study of the regulation and control of these effectors provides insights into when and how they work (i.e., the mechanisms) and when and how they do not work (e.g., during disease). To answer these questions we use pharmacology, physiology, neuroscience, and mathematical methodologies in humans, other mammals, and in tissue systems depending on which tools are needed to answer the particular question. As an example, to determine neurotransmitter interactions that engage eccrine sweat glands, we perfuse various agonists and antagonists into a human in vivo skin preparation while measuring gland output and analyzing fluid content. These agonist dose-response relations, when conducted in different conditions and populations, help us to understand and eventually treat individuals with diseases like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). Previous students that I have worked with have often been interested in medicine, pharmacy, or regulatory biology. http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-wilson/
Dr. Lawrence M. Witmer (witmerL@ohio.edu) — Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology
Research in my laboratory involves the study of animals living today as well as long extinct animals such as dinosaurs. Our goal is to understand the evolution of form and function. Many of our questions pertain to dinosaurs as living, breathing animals: what were their sense organs (nose, eyes, ears) like? what was their physiological makeup? what was their behavior like? Answering these questions requires reconstructing aspects of their biology by looking closely at dinosaur fossils (including dinosaurs like T. rex, Velociraptor, and Triceratops). But dinosaur fossils aren’t enough, and so we turn to modern animals and their anatomical structure. We routinely examine many birds and crocodiles (the closest living relatives of dinosaurs), but also many other animals that are relevant for particular projects, such as rhinos, giraffes, moose, seals, and lizards. Our techniques range from the low-tech (anatomical dissection) to the latest in advanced digital imaging and 3D computer visualization. Our lab is equipped with all of the latest tools and techniques, and there’s always activity in the lab among the many graduate students. With so many diverse projects, there are lots of different research opportunities for undergraduates.