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Department of Biological Sciences
phone: (208) 885-6280
fax:(208) 885-7905
Life Sciences South 252
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3051
Moscow, ID 83844-3051


Onesmo Balemba
Onesmo Balemba, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
My research focuses on the pathophysiology of diseases that affect gastrointestinal (GI) functions. My aim is to gain a better understanding of neuromuscular and immune system host responses in diabetes, and infectious diarrhea, and therapeutic strategies for these conditions.
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photo of Celeste Brown
Celeste Brown, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor
Dr. Celeste Brown has two research areas, how gene regulation changes in response to selection, and the evolution of disordered proteins. The link between these two disparate areas is that often proteins involved in gene regulation are disordered. The gene regulation studies involve laboratory-based research and the disordered protein studies involve bioinformatics approaches.
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John Byers
John A. Byers, Ph.D.
I am an animal behaviorist primarily interested in behavioral development, play, sexual selection and female mate choice. I am a member and Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. I maintain a longitudinal study of a population of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) on the National Bison Range in western Montana. Projects now underway in this study, which has run since 1981, are measurement of costs and benefits of female mate choice and evaluation of the fitness consequences of inbreeding in the population.
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Doug Cole
Douglas G. Cole, Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Chair
Research interests: Intraflagellar Transport, IFT may transport axonemal precursors, IFT polypeptides, IFT raft architecture, Kinesin-II, the anterograde IFT motor
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Larry Forney
Larry J. Forney, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor
The research done in Dr. Larry Forney’s laboratory centers on the diversity and distribution of prokaryotes. Both field and laboratory studies are done to explore the temporal and spatial patterns of community diversity, as well as factors that influence the dynamics of inter- and intra-species competition. In addition research is done to understand how spatial structure and the resulting environmental gradients influence the tempo and trajectory of adaptive radiations in bacterial species and the maintenance of diversity. Most of these studies are highly interdisciplinary in nature, and done in collaboration with mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, geologists, environmental engineers, physicians, and clinical scientists.
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Dr. Lee Fortunato
Elizabeth (Lee) Ann Fortunato, Ph.D.
Research interests: Understanding the mechanism behind the development of morbidity and mortality in infants congenitally infected with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)
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Dr. James Foster
James A. Foster, Ph.D.
Dr. Foster’s current research is focused on characterizing evolutionarily permissible ecological structures in microbial ecosystems and on developing bioinformatics for very large sequence datasets. He continues to examine simulations of evolutionary processes to design complex artifacts and optimize functions. He works in close collaboration with biologists, statisticians, mathematicians, and computer scientists.
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Peter G. Fuerst
Peter G. Fuerst, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
My lab is attempting to identify and understand the molecular cues that promote development of the nervous system by studying mice that have mutations in recognition factors and that express fluorescent markers that label specific neural cell types.
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L. Chanel Giles photo
L. Chanel Giles
Teaching Lab Coordinator
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photo of Nicole Grieshaber
Nicole Grieshaber, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Chlamydia is a group of obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens causing a wide variety of diseases in humans and other animals. In order for Chlamydia to successfully establish a productive infection it must complete multiple rounds of differentiation, alternating between the infectious elementary body (EB) cell type and replicative reticulate body (RB) cell type. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms and pathways that regulate the developmental cycle of Chlamydia.
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Scott Grieshaber, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
My laboratory studies the pathogenesis of the obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen Chlamydia. In my lab we pursue two main areas of interest: 1) understanding the cytological effects of chlamydial infection on the host cell, and 2) understanding and dissecting the mechanisms of chlamydial differentiation with an eye to developing novel genetic tools in this difficult to manipulate pathogen.
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Lisa Harmon
Lisa Harmon
Lisa Harmon teaches the Biology and Society course for nonmajors. She is also the campus advisor of NSCS.
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Dr. Luke Harmon
Luke J. Harmon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Our research investigates ecological and evolutionary aspects of adaptive radiations. Current projects span a wide range of taxa and time scales, including adaptive radiation in E. coli biofilms, evolution of island lizards in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, and macroevolutionary dynamics of vertebrates. You will find more information about all of these projects on the research and publications pages.
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Dr. Patricia Hartzell
Patricia L. Hartzell, Ph.D.
Professor & Director, HHMI Undergraduate BRAINS Program
Research interests: The mechanisms by which the complex prokaryote, Myxococcus xanthus, coordinates two independent motility systems during growth and development.
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Candi Heimgartner Promo
Candi Heimgartner
Senior Instructor
I teach Biology 120-Human Anatomy during fall and summer semesters and Biology 121-Human Physiology during spring semester as well as coordinate numerous teaching assistants assisting in these courses and enrolled in practicum courses Biology 405 and Biology 408. I strive to keep abreast of the latest research and teaching trends in Human A&P by being a member of HAPS and publishing laboratory teaching manuals involving Human A&P exercises for use in an undergraduate cadaver and Vernier based laboratory through Kendall Hunt Publishing. My teaching goal is to involve students in the exciting world of Human A&P by designing a curriculum and presentation style that is dynamic and relevant to students' everyday life. In 2008, I was nominated for the College of Science Teaching Excellence Award and received ASUI's Outstanding Faculty Award in 2013 based on thoughtful recommendations from my students and teaching assistants.
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Paul Hohenlohe
Paul Hohenlohe, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Our research focuses on the genomic architecture of evolving populations, developing sophisticated theory and analytical tools to harness the power of modern DNA sequencing technology. We address basic questions of evolutionary biology as well as applications to conservation and cancer biology.
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Dr. Jill Johnson
Jill L. Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Research interests: Role of molecular chaperones in the cell, especially the study of a chaperone called Hsp90 (90 kDa heat shock protein).
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Christopher Marx Promo
Chris Marx, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
My research interests are at the intersection of microbial physiology and evolution, and span from experimental and computational approaches. On one hand, we use experimental evolution as a tool to uncover novel genes and functions. On the other, we apply systems-level models of metabolism to try to predict genetic interactions, optimal phenotypes, and evolutionary outcomes of evolving populations.
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Craig P. McGowan
Craig P. McGowan. Ph.D
Assistant Professor
My research interests are centered on understanding the relationships between the musculoskeletal morphology of terrestrial vertebrate animals (including humans) and the biomechanics and neural control of locomotor performance.
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Craig Miller
Craig Miller, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
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photo of Diana Mitchell
Diana Mitchell, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
My current research interests involve immune cell function in the central nervous system, specifically the retina. I am particularly interested in microglia, which are resident innate immune cells of the central nervous system. Current efforts employ the zebrafish model system and seek to understand the role of microglia in the development of the retina, how microglia respond to neuronal cell death, and how they may support or be detrimental to neuronal regeneration. I also contribute to research efforts in Dr. Deborah Stenkamp’s lab, where we are investigating mechanisms of photoreceptor fate decisions in the developing retina.
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Dr. Tanya Miura
Tanya Miura, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Research interests: Regulation of the Immune Response to Coronavirus Infection in the Lung.
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James Nagler
James J. Nagler, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
The Nagler laboratory studies the effect of environmental factors, such as contaminants, photoperiod and diet on the reproductive biology of salmonid fishes.
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Dr. Scott Nuismer
Scott L. Nuismer, Ph.D.
My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of species interactions. The overall aim is to better understand how coevolution shapes patterns of biodiversity and the geographic distributions of interacting species. Work in my lab addresses these issues with a combination of mathematical modeling and field studies.
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photo of Mary Oswald
Mary Oswald, Ph.D.
I teach the introductory classes for biology majors – Biol 115 & 116. My research interests are behavioral evolution and pedagogical techniques.
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Christine Parent
Christine E. Parent, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Research in the Parent lab centers on the evolutionary process of diversification in lineages exposed to novel environment. Our general approach is to (1) observe present-day patterns of biodiversity to infer past evolutionary processes, and (2) test those processes with manipulative experiments in laboratory populations. We use field observations, comparative analyses, laboratory experiments, molecular phylogenetics, and integrate them with theoretical modeling. Island systems (natural or experimental) are the main focus of our research attention.
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Photo of David Pfeiffer
David Pfeiffer, Ph.D.
Professor; Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
My general research interests focus on structure/function relationships, whether they be at the cellular level, tissue level, or organ system level. At the cellular level, I am particularly interested in the organization and dynamics of the cytoskeleton, including its interaction with adhesion junctions. I am also interested in the evolution of intercellular adhesion mechanisms.
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Ben Ridenhour at computer
Ben Ridenhour, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Research in the Ridenhour lab is focused around understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of infectious diseases. We are particularly interested in understanding disease transmission and evolution in hopes of discovering improved methods of controlling epidemics on the local scale and the pandemic scale.
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Dr. Barrie Robison
Barrie Robison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
My general research interests lie at the interface between genomics, evolutionary biology, and fisheries biology. Specific areas of research emphasis in my lab include the genetic architecture of complex traits, the evolution of locally adaptive phenotypes, and genomic analysis of behavioral variation in fish. I employ two study systems to investigate these issues, the rainbow trout and the zebrafish.
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Deb Stenkamp
Deborah Stenkamp, Ph.D.
Professor; Malcolm and Carol Renfrew Faculty Fellow
Stenkamp’s research interests center on the examination of cellular and molecular mechanisms of vertebrate retinal development and regeneration, with a specific focus on photoreceptor differentiation, using zebrafish as the primary experimental model.
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Dr. Jack Sullivan
John "Jack" M. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor; Director of IBEST
Our understanding of the processes of nucleotide substitution (DNA sequence evolution) has been expanding greatly over the last 10 years. Furthermore, it has become apparent that ignoring such processes as heterogeneity of base composition, substitution pattern, and rate variation among nucleotide sites can compromise attempts to estimate phylogeny from DNA sequence data. Therefore, model-based analyses of DNA sequence data have become increasingly wide spread because such approaches afford the investigator the opportunity to account for such processes explicitly.
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David Tank
David C. Tank, Ph. D.
Associate Professor and Director, Stillinger Herbarium
I am a plant systematist and am broadly interested in the investigation of the patterns and processes that shape plant biodiversity. In general, my research is focused on the use of molecular methods to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships in plants and the application of phylogenetic methods to understand plant evolution. The evolutionary causes and consequences of processes such as hybridization, polyploidy, pollination biology, biogeography, rapid diversification, and niche evolution can only be understood in light of a robust phylogenetic hypothesis, and these hypotheses are a necessary component of modern taxonomic treatments and classification systems. Research in my lab is directed at multiple levels of plant phylogeny and current projects range from comparative phylogeography of the Pacific Northwest inland rainforest communities, to the study of species boundaries and diversification among very closely related species, to patterns of diversification among some of the major lineages comprising the plant tree of life.
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Eva Top
Eva Top, Ph.D.
Professor; Director of BCB
My research is currently focused on the evolution and ecology of plasmids that transfer to and replicate in a broad range of bacteria. Plasmids are mobile genetic elements found in most bacteria. Because they readily transfer between different types of bacteria under natural conditions, they play an important role in rapid bacterial adaptation to changing environments. A good example is the current epidemic of multiple antibiotic resistance in human pathogens, which is largely due to the spread of multi-drug resistance plasmids. Although plasmid-mediated gene transfer is now recognized as a key mechanism in the alarming rise of antibiotic resistance, little is known about their host range, their ability to invade bacterial populations in the absence of selection, and their genetic diversity. We are addressing these questions using various Proteobacteria and plasmids as model systems.
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photo of Holly Wichman
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor
The Wichman Lab studies viruses and their subcellular relatives, transposable elements. These two lines of research are united by a molecular approach and a strong evolutionary context. L1 elements have been active in mammals for over 150 million years and make up about 20% of the genome. Most of the copies in the genome are ancient molecular fossils, so it is a challenge to sift through all of the old copies to find those that have been recently active.
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