Biological Sciences

Research Focus

Research in the Department of Biological Sciences is unique and ever evolving. Our department’s collaborative environment—along with Michigan Tech’s emphasis on research—fosters a wide variety of inter-university research projects. Faculty research strengths in health, environmental science, ecology and evolution, and biochemistry and molecular biology provide a strong foundation for many fields in biological sciences.

Our research centers, diverse research groups, and state-of-the-art facilities in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building and Great Lakes Research Center create an exciting research environment with exceptional opportunities for students and faculty members alike.

Research News

 

Researcher Focus

Robert Andersen

Robert Andersen

BS, Botany, North Dakota State University

Contact

906-370-1886
raa48@uw.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

My primary interest is in the systematic biology (nomenclature, phylogeny, taxonomy) of golden algae (heterokont and haptophyte algae).  I am also interested in growing both freshwater and marine species in culture.  I collect algae from bogs, ponds, lakes and streams in the Keweenaw, including the open regions of Lake Superior.

Nancy Auer

Nancy Auer

PhD, Michigan Technological University, 1995

Contact

906-487-2353
naauer@mtu.edu

  • Emeritus Research Professor, Biological Sciences

Conduct field studies with aquatic organisms. These studies involve fish feeding, reproduction, habitat and survival studies. Among the species studied are sturgeon, lake herring and lampreys. Reproductive success of both beneficial as well as deleterious species is dependent upon proper habitat condition and food availability.

Susan Bagley

Susan Bagley

PhD, Oregon State University, 1978

Contact

stbagley@mtu.edu

  • Professor Emerita, Biological Sciences

Dr. Bagley has over 30 years experience as an environmental microbiologist working in academia and government (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) on microbial-based treatment of air, soil and waterborne organic wastes, mutagenicity and toxicity of environmental pollutants, and microbial production of bio-based fuels and polymers. She has collaborated on multidisciplinary . . .

Purnima Bandyopadhyay

Purnima Bandyopadhyay

PhD, Molecular Parasitology, University of Calcutta

Contact

906-487-2940
pbandyop@mtu.edu

  • Research Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a molecular and environmental microbiologist. She studied the immunobiology of the protozoan parasite Leishmania spp., the causative agents of a wide variety of diseases ranging from the innocuous oriental sore to the fatal kala-azar. Her research in this field focused on the changes occurring in . . .

Jennifer Becker

Jennifer Becker

PhD, Northwestern University

Contact

906-487-2942
jgbecker@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Jennifer Becker joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty as an Associate Professor in January, 2010. Her area of research and teaching interests focus on biological treatment processes in environmental engineering. Specifically, her research interests include: the biodegradation, microbial ecology, and bioremediation of chlorinated organic groundwater contaminants; bioenergy production using microbial processes; and the . . .

Lanrong Bi

Lanrong Bi

Associate Research Scientist, Columbia Genome Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

Contact

906-487-1868
lanrong@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Chemistry

Colin Brooks

Colin Brooks

MEM (Master of Environmental Management), Duke University

Contact

734-913-6858
cnbrooks@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Instructor, Biological Sciences

I have over 25 years of experience in the application of remote sensing and GIS technologies to solving diverse problems in environmental assessment, transportation applications, changing ecosystems, agricultural areas, geohazard sites, and invasive species mapping. I've recently been focusing on developing, demonstrating, and deploying the capabilities of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for rapid, effective, safe, and timely collection . . .

Eunice Carlson

Eunice Carlson

PhD, Columbia University, 1962

Contact

ecarlson@mtu.edu

  • Professor Emerita, Biological Sciences

Dr. Carlson conducts research on microbial and environmental toxins and is particularly interested in a number of variants of toxic shock toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus.

Jason Carter

Jason Carter

PhD, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Contact

906-487-3456
jcarter@mtu.edu

  • Associate Vice President for Research Development

Qing-Hui Chen

Qing-Hui Chen

PhD, Kagawa University Medical School, Japan

Contact

906-487-1629
qinghuic@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Tori Connors

Tori Connors

Contact

906-487-1628
tconnors@mtu.edu

  • Departmental Coordinator

[ "> read more ]
Rupali Datta

Rupali Datta

PhD, University of Hyderabad, India

Contact

906-487-1783
rupdatta@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Datta’s primary research interest lies in the application of plant biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and microbiology in solving environmental problems,using phytoremediation, plant-microbe interactions and bioremediation. Dr. Datta’s research involves the study of interactions between plant, soil, microbial and water systems to understand the mechanisms of uptake and detoxification of specific environmental contaminants in biota . . .

John Durocher

John Durocher

PhD, Biological Sciences-Exercise Physiology

Contact

906-487-1659
jjduroch@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

John has done extensive work in the fields of applied human physiology and exercise physiology. Much of his research has involved the study of how the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system regulates arterial blood pressure at rest and during a variety of stressors. John’s other passion relates to the specificity of exercise . . .

Steven Elmer

Steven Elmer

PhD, Exercise Physiology, University of Utah

Contact

906-487-2324
sjelmer@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Elmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Technological University. His research goals are to find better ways to restore musculoskeletal function, maintain health, and improve performance in healthy and clinical populations. Specifically, his research is focused on three key areas: 1) mechanics of skeletal muscle contraction, 2) coordination of locomotor . . .

Karyn Fay

Karyn Fay

MS, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Contact

906-487-2254
kafay@mtu.edu

  • Director, Medical Laboratory Science Program, Biological Sciences

Karyn Fay graduated from Lake Superior State College (1975) with a BS in Medical Technology. She did her internship at St. Mary’s hospital in Saginaw, Mi and was certified as a Medical Technologist, MT (ASCP), she has a MS degree from Michigan Technological University (1989) and a Specialty in Hematology, ASCP, (1993).

. . .

Janice Glime

Janice Glime

PhD, Botany, Michigan State University, 1968

Contact

jmglime@mtu.edu

  • Professor Emerita, Biological Sciences

Dr. Glime is the founder and manager of Bryonet-l (the internet discussion group sponsored by the International Association of Bryologists) and is ex officio council member (2009-2013) of the International Association of Bryologists as its outgoing president (2005-2009). In addition to bryophyte ecology, her primary interest is in training college . . .

Paul Goetsch

Paul Goetsch

Contact

906-487-1790
pdgoetsc@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

In multicellular organisms, how do multiple cell types originate from one cell and one genome? A critical early cell fate decision is whether to develop as germline (reproductive) or soma (non-reproductive). My research focuses on assessing how the highly conserved DREAM transcriptional repressor complex maintains the germ vs. soma cell fate decision during embryogenesis. After a flurry of cell divisions from the . . .

Michael Gretz

Michael Gretz

PhD, Arizona State University

Contact

906-487-3175
mrgretz@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Our work is centered on the cell wall and associated extracellular polymers of algae. We are interested in what these algal extracellular matrices can tell us about: 1) the evolution of the land plant cell wall, 2) the unique characteristics that allow for life in aquatic habitats, 3) the interactions within complex biofilms, including the heterotropic utilization of complex macromolecules, and 4) the . . .

Raquel Heitor

Raquel Heitor

Contact

906-487-2025
raheitor@mtu.edu

  • Office Assistant, Biological Sciences

[ "> read more ]
Caryn Heldt

Caryn Heldt

PhD, North Carolina State University

Contact

906-487-1134
heldt@mtu.edu

  • James and Lorna Mack Chair in Bioengineering

My research group uses natural and artificial molecular recognition events to (i) remove and/ or purify pathogens and toxins to reduce disease burden worldwide and (ii) detect pathogens and toxins quickly and inexpensively with point-of-care devices.

Virus Removal and Detection 

A biotherapeutic . . .

Erika Hersch-Green

Erika Hersch-Green

MS, University of California, Davis - Population Biology

Contact

906-487-3351
eherschg@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Erika is a plant evolutionary ecologist. Her work integrates the theory and techniques from population and community ecology, evolution, and functional, molecular and population genetics to disentangle the mechanisms that drive changes in terrestrial plant populations and their extended communities.

Current projects in the lab are diverse but generally fall into two non-mutually exclusive . . .

Casey Huckins

Casey Huckins

PhD, Michigan State University, 1996

Contact

906-487-2475
cjhuckin@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Research conducted by my lab group is focused on ecology and restoration in aquatic systems including lakes, streams, coastal wetlands and the riparian ecosystems that connect them.  The research that my graduate students, our collaborators and I conduct tends to focus on ecological patterns and processes in systems influenced by human actions.  In many cases we apply the learned scientific understanding to inform the . . .

Kelsey Johnson

Kelsey Johnson

Contact

906-487-2120
kelseyj@mtu.edu

  • MLS Clinical Practicum Coordinator

[ "> read more ]
Chandrashekhar Joshi

Chandrashekhar Joshi

PhD, Biochemistry, University of Poona, India

Contact

906-487-2738
cpjoshi@mtu.edu

  • Department Chair and Professor, Biological Sciences

I am a plant molecular biologist who is interested in understanding of how trees make cellulose. Simply put, cellulose is a chain of glucose molecules, and a large number of such cellulose chains weave together with other polymers to form plant cell walls. Cellulose biosynthesis is also one of the most ancient and essential life processes of plants.

. . .

Robert Keen

Robert Keen

PhD, Michigan State University, 1970

Contact

rekeen@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Keen's laboratory studies animal plankton in Lake Superior and other surrounding inland lakes. His research focuses on the larger term changes (over decades) of the plankton. More specifically, on their food chain, they are near the bottom, thus, they very significantly affect the "life" of a lake. Dr. Keen's laboratory also develops . . .

Charles Kerfoot

Charles Kerfoot

PhD, University of Michigan

Contact

wkerfoot@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Marc Madigan

Marc Madigan

Contact

906-487-2546
mrmadiga@mtu.edu

  • Academic Advisor, Biological Sciences

Amy Marcarelli

Amy Marcarelli

PhD, Utah State University

Contact

906-487-2867
ammarcar@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

I am an ecosystem ecologist who studies biogeochemical cycles and linkages between physical, chemical and biological structure and function in watersheds. Linking these often requires understanding the underlying structure of microbial, algal, and animal communities. I am also working to place concepts of food webs into a broader ecosystem context by merging measurements of ecosystem production and food web pathways. Therefore, . . .

Brigitte Morin

Brigitte Morin

Contact

906-487-3373
bemorin@mtu.edu

  • Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences

Brigitte attended Michigan Tech in 2001 where she received a Bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), as well as a certificate in Secondary Education and minors in both General Science and Spanish. Following graduation in 2006, Brigitte taught high school Biology for 6 years in Illinois. After receiving an MS degree in . . .

Jill Olin

Jill Olin

Contact

906-487-1121
jaolin@mtu.edu

  • Research Scientist, Great Lakes Research Center

Michael Owen

Michael Owen

PhD, Agronomy and Weed Science, University of Illinois

Contact

515-294-5936
mdowen@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Owen has studied the management, ecology and genetics of weeds with an emphasis on evolved resistance to herbicides.  He is also studying the introgression of herbicide resistance genes in crops and weedy plants.  Owen plans to study the ecology and management of invasive terrestrial plants in the Upper Peninsula.

Gord Paterson

Gord Paterson

Contact

906-487-1120
gpaterso@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dibyendu Sarkar

Dibyendu Sarkar

Contact

201-216-8028
dsarkar@stevens.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Eric Seagren

Eric Seagren

PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Contact

906-487-2614
eseagren@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Zhiying (Jenny) Shan

Zhiying (Jenny) Shan

Contact

906-487-1757
zhiyings@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Zhiying Shan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Science at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests focus on the mechanisms of neurogenic hypertension and associated cardiovascular diseases, particularly developing novel targets for the treatment and management of those diseases.

. . .

Robert Shuchman

Robert Shuchman

Contact

734-913-6860
shuchman@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Thomas Snyder

Thomas Snyder

PhD, University of Kansas, 1976

Contact

906-487-2120
tpsnyder@mtu.edu

  • Professor Emeritus, Biological Sciences

Dr. Snyder conducts research in the area of genetics and molecular evolution. This research focuses in three areas: 1) the molecular basis of sex determination in biting diptera; 2) genetic changes that accompany speciation events in biting diptera; 3) biochemical systematics of closely related taxa.

The . . .

Robert Stottlemyer

Robert Stottlemyer

PhD, Forest Biogeochemistry, Duke University

Contact

jrstottl@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Guiliang Tang

Guiliang Tang

PhD, Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Israel, 2001

Contact

906-487-2174
gtang1@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Recruitment

One Graduate or Undergraduate Student Researcher in Computer Science is Needed to Do Research on Genome Browser (JBrowse) and RNA-seq on Hourly Pay . . .

Xiaohu (Mark) Tang

Xiaohu (Mark) Tang

PhD, The Weizmann Institute of Science

Contact

906-487-3068
xiaohut@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

  • The focus of the Laboratory of Cancer Metabolism and Functional Genomics is to characterize the regulation of cell metabolism and to determine the role of nutrients during cancer initiation and progression. In this perspective, we are aiming to understand the underlying . . .

Xiaoqing Tang

Xiaoqing Tang

PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, 2003

Contact

906-487-1872
xtang2@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Diabetes is caused by either the loss of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to a deficiency of insulin (type 1 diabetes), or insulin resistance, reduced insulin sensitivity, and reduced insulin secretion (type 2 diabetes). In both types of diabetes, the patients develop serious secondary complications, such as microvascular complications, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, . . .

Stephen Techtmann

Stephen Techtmann

PhD, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore MD

Contact

906-487-3250
smtechtm@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

I am an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. Microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) are ubiquitous in the environment and play essential roles in the cycling of elements. These environmental microbes are capable of catalyzing a wide array of chemical reactions, many of which may have industrial applications. I study how complex microbial communities can cooperate to perform functions . . .

Dave Toczydlowski

Dave Toczydlowski

Contact

906-487-2478
t-11@mtu.edu

  • Research Engineer/Scientist, Biological Sciences

[ "> read more ]
Ebenezer Tumban

Ebenezer Tumban

PhD, Molecular Biology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Contact

906-487-2256
etumban@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Tumban is a trained molecular virologist and vaccinologist; in the past, he conducted research studies aimed at understanding the molecular determinants of arboviruses (such as dengue and Langat viruses) mode of transmission. He also researched and developed antigens that could be used to develop immunodiagnostic kits for diagnosing infectious . . .

Travis Wakeham

Travis Wakeham

Contact

906-487-3435
twakeham@mtu.edu

  • Laboratory Supervisor/Instructor, Biological Sciences

[ "> read more ]
Thomas Werner

Thomas Werner

PhD, Umea Univeristy, Sweden, 2005

Contact

906-487-1209
twerner@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Werner became interested in the question “What is life?” as a four-year old child in his parent’s garden in former East Germany. With the age of 10, he began to develop a life-long interest in the biology of butterflies and moths. He has been breeding and collecting them ever since. For his Master’s thesis, he decided to shift his focus to . . .

Lucille Zelazny

Lucille Zelazny

Contact

906-487-2791
lzelazny@mtu.edu

  • Research Assistant, Biological Sciences

[ "> read more ]
 

Researchers

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Chemical biology: development of novel molecular probes for DNA sequencing analysis and disease gene discovery; Medicinal chemistry: development of new imaging and therapeutic agents towards cancer and cardiovascular disease; Design and synthesis of novel prodrugs of peptides and peptide mimetics.
Plant Biochemistry; Environmental Remediation; Plant-Microbe Interactions
Developmental Biology; Transcriptional Biology; Cancer Biology
Algal Extracellular Polymers and Biocomposites - Regulation of Biogenesis
Bioseparations; Virus removal and detection; Biosensors
Cellulose and lignin biosynthesis in trees; Wood formation; Tree growth and development; Engineering trees; Forest bioinformatics
Invasive plants; Herbicide resistance; Genetically modified crops; Gene introgression in plants
Gene Silencing; RNA Interference (RNAi); MicroRNA (miRNA); RNA Silencing in Plant Germ Extract and Drosophila Embryo Lysate.; Fungal RNAi and microRNA; MicroRNA Technologies: Small Tandem Target mimic (STTM) and MicroRNA Array; Plant Electrophysiology in Plant microRNA STTM lines and Venus flytrap.
Cancer Genetics and Metabolism; Mechanisms of Cancer Initiation and Progression; Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics; Interactions of Diet and Nutrition with Cancer
Infectious diseases, human papillomaviruses; Virus-like particles, prophylactic & therapeutic vaccines; Vaccine formulations; Peptide mimotopes discovery
Evolution; Genetics; Toxicology; Developmental Biology

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Fish Biology; Zooplankton ecology; Limnology; Conservation Biology
Bioremediation of Contaminated Groundwater Environments; Microbial Ecology and Kinetics of Chlorinated Aliphatic Solvent Biodegradation; Conversion of Organic Solid Wastes and Cellulosic Feedstocks to Electricity via Microbial Fuel Cells
Aquatic Ecology; Landscape Ecology; Invasive species mapping; Submerged aquatic vegetation monitoring; Applications of unmanned aerial systems; Assessment of transportation infrastructure condition using remote sensing; Automated road and bridge condition analysis; Multispectral sensing; 3D data creation and analysis; GIS and remote sensing; Development and deployment of decision support systems; Land cover change mapping and monitoring
Colin N. Brooks
Master of Environmental Management, Duke University, NC; BS, Pre-Forestry, Lenoir-Rhyne College, NC
Plant Biochemistry; Environmental Remediation; Plant-Microbe Interactions
Algal Extracellular Polymers and Biocomposites - Regulation of Biogenesis
Plant Evolutionary Ecology; Ecological Genetics; Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
Ecology of lakes, streams, and their riparian interface with terrestrial systems; Fish ecology, biology, functional morphology; effects of land use on ecological systems; Biomonitoring for research and restoration; Effects of Invasive Species
Cellulose and lignin biosynthesis in trees; Wood formation; Tree growth and development; Engineering trees; Forest bioinformatics
Aquatic Ecology; Paleoecology
Limnology; Ecosystem Ecology of Streams and Rivers; Biogeochemistry
Understanding species- and food web-level responses to environmental stressors using combined dietary biomarker, ecological and modeling approaches; Evaluating distributional patterns of organisms and the mechanisms that drive these patterns; Using abundance and biomass estimates to quantify nekton communities; Quantifying the mechanisms and processes that structure food webs and ecosystems; Developing ecosystem models to evaluate the effect of environmental change
Using pollutants as ecological tracers; Overwintering bioaccumulation and bioamplification; Energy dynamics in Great Lakes food-webs; Energetic costs of multiple stressors
Environmental biotechnology, including in situ bioremediation of contaminated subsurface environments, monitoring and evaluation of the performance of biological treatment processes, development of in situ biological treatment systems for urban storm water runoff, innovative reuse of waste materials, and in situ improvement of soils properties via microbially-mediated processes.
Oceanic Sciences/Natural Resources; AR, MS, and Photo-imaging Applied to Oceanography; Earth Resources; Military Coastal Environmental Assessment
Environmental Quality
Evolution; Genetics; Toxicology; Developmental Biology

Health

Autonomic and Cardiovascular Control in Humans; Neurovascular Responses to Mental Stress; Sleep and Autonomic Activity in Humans; Sex Differences and Sympathetic Activity; Aerobic and Anaerobic Balance in Elite Athletes
Cardiovascular physiology, neurophysiology and exercise science.; Neural mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders.; Neural mechanisms of exercise training in regulating autonomic and cardiovascular function.
Physiology education; Neuromuscular function and dysfunction; Adaptations to eccentric exercise; Exercise-induced fatigue; Functional losses following injury; Cycling biomechanics
Hematology; Immunohematology; Clinical Chemistry; Medical Laboratory Administration and Management; Medical Mycology/Virology
Clinical Lab Techniques; Clinical Immunology and Serology; Human Anatomy & Physiology; Human Nutrition; Parasitology
Mechanism of Neurogenic Hypertension; Brain Renin Angiotensin System and Hypertension; Neuroinflammation and Hypertension; Neuronal Mechanism of Metabolic Syndrome
Gene Silencing; RNA Interference (RNAi); MicroRNA (miRNA); RNA Silencing in Plant Germ Extract and Drosophila Embryo Lysate.; Fungal RNAi and microRNA; MicroRNA Technologies: Small Tandem Target mimic (STTM) and MicroRNA Array; Plant Electrophysiology in Plant microRNA STTM lines and Venus flytrap.
Cancer Genetics and Metabolism; Mechanisms of Cancer Initiation and Progression; Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics; Interactions of Diet and Nutrition with Cancer
Infectious diseases, human papillomaviruses; Virus-like particles, prophylactic & therapeutic vaccines; Vaccine formulations; Peptide mimotopes discovery
Evolution; Genetics; Toxicology; Developmental Biology