Funded research in the Department of Biology

In recent years, the department's research has become more focused and competitive for external funding, and particularly within the fields of biomedical, environmental-ecological, genetics and molecular evolution and biosensor research. Our research projects have become quite competitive regionally and nationally, as evidenced by the success rate of our faculty members in securing external funding for their research from agencies such as NIH, NSF and others.

Biomedical Research Faculty

Dr. Robert Kearns, Dr. Jayne Robinson, and Dr. John Rowe represent our Microbiology and Immunology group. Dr. Madhuri Kango-Singh, Dr. Carissa Krane, Dr. Amit Singh and Dr. Shirley Wright represent our Developmental, Cellular and Molecular Biology group. Dr. Panagiotis Tsonis focuses on Tissue Regeneration and Development.

  • Dr. Kearns is a renowned expert on the influence of diet and micro and macronutrients on the immune systems of felines and canines. Dr. Kearn's research is supported by Iams and has implicated specific dietary supplements in the specific immune response of these animals.
  • Dr. Robinson studies how bacterial behavior is influenced by environmental signals and conditions. This research can shed light on how bacteria can colonize animal hosts and has applications in infections. The NIH and USDA support Dr. Robinson's work.
  • Dr. Rowe's laboratory work centers on microbial biochemistry and molecular biology. His laboratory is studying anaerobic and aerobic microbial nitrate reduction, which has agricultural and environmental applications and is found in bacterial lung infections. Dr. Rowe has been funded by private industry, NSF and NIH.
  • Dr. Madhuri Kango-Singh's research focuses on the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying tumor progression and metastasis. She uses the sophisticated genetics available in Drosophila to identify genes and genetic pathways that when defective contribute to the growth and spread of cancer cells. Given the conservation of genetic and cell biological pathways, the information generated from Drosophila is expected to inform knowledge about the underpinnings of human cancer.
  • Dr. Krane, a physiologist, studies lung physiology and the role of aquaporins in normal and diseased lung tissue, with an emphasis on asthma etiology. The NIH currently funds her work.

  • Dr. Amit Singh uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to research the molecular, genetic, and environmental basis of normal eye development, and to elucidate the genes and molecules that when altered result in the genesis of birth defects in the eye.
  • Dr. Wright's research is related to the cytoskeletal aspects of cell motility and fertilization and is currently funded by the American Kennel Club.
  • Dr. Tsonis' research is aimed toward delineating the mechanisms of regeneration of the eye and limbs with applications in diseases such as cataracts. Dr. Tsonis is currently the Director of the Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering at Dayton (TREND) and is funded by the NIH.
  • Faculty in the Developmental, Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Tissue Regeneration and Development groups also have a keen interest in nanobiology, especially as it relates to the use of nanodevices in the study of tissue differentiation and also the cellular and molecular interaction of nanoparticles with living systems. These groups have initiated considerable interactions with the newly established University of Dayton Nanoscale Engineering & Science Technology (NEST) Laboratory. Additionally, both groups are involved in interdisciplinary research with engineers in the growing area of tissue engineering and bionanotoxicology.

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Biosensor Faculty

Our biosensor faculty include Dr. Karolyn Hansen and Dr. Jayne Robinson.

  • Dr. Karolyn Hansen's research focuses on the integration of biomolecular recognition with sensor devices, specifically sensor surface functionalization with molecular recognition elements for detection of biological and chemical analytes in aqueous solutions and gas phase. This research has application in national defense, medical diagnostics, environmental assessment, safety and security, and forensics. Dr. Hansen is currently funded by AFRL.

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Genetics/Evolution Faculty

Our Molecular Genetics and Evolution group includes Dr. Mark Nielsen and Dr. Thomas Williams.

  • Dr. Mark Nielsen studies evolution at the molecular level using as a model proteins that have not evolved in millions of years. He asks fundamentally important questions such as why some functional genes continuously change and others do not. Dr. Nielsen is currently funded by NSF.
  • Dr. Thomas William's lab studies the genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling animal form and it's evolution

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Environmental/Ecology Research Faculty

Studies on ecosystems, water conservation and interactions between individuals and populations are the themes of several of our faculty members. Our key research faculty in these areas include Dr. Albert Burky, Dr. Carl Friese, Dr. Ryan McEwan and Dr. Kelly Williams.

  • Dr. Burky's laboratory concentrates on the physiological adaptations of natural populations of invertebrates and fish and the anthropogenic perturbations of fresh water ecosystems in several countries of the Americas. Currently he has established research sites to study threatened endemic aquatic organisms in Hawaii and the Republic of Palau and is exploring a third site in Costa Rica. Dr. Burky is a recognized authority on threatened fish and crustacean populations in Hawaii and has been well supported by the Corp of Engineers, the state of Hawaii and Earth Watch.
  • Dr. Friese's interests cover many aspects of ecosystem and microbial ecology with an emphasis on how fungi affect plant establishment and growth, and on the potential consequences of the interactions between different organisms. He is particularly interested in studying these interactions in disturbed environments and is heavily involved in ecological restoration projects.
  • Dr. Ryan McEwan's lab focuses on plants, plant communities, and ecosystems – how they change through time, what causes those changes, and particularly, how human manipulation of ecosystems creates feedback. Research topics include invasive species and prescribed fire.
  • Dr. Kelly Williams' interests focus on population ecology.

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