Faculty are involved in projects across a broad range
of sub-disciplines in the Department of Biology.

We truly believe that the best way to learn is by doing, and motivated students will find ample opportunities to participate in active research programs at FMU. It is increasingly apparent that basic biological processes will provide the foundation upon which solutions to some of the world’s most significant challenges will be built. In answer to these challenges, it is the Biology Department’s mission to produce scientifically literate graduates who display robust knowledge of biological principles across a broad spectrum of sub-disciplines. To that end, we train our undergraduate students to use their critical thinking skills and mastery of biological principles to perform inquiry into the biological world and effectively convey biological information. This is why we are fully committed to provide students with options for experiential learning including laboratory, field, and research experiences. As you learn which areas of biology that interest you, take some time to study the information below to identify faculty members that share your particular interests. Then use the links to navigate to their personal websites and feel free to contact them for further information.

Anatomy & Physiology

Research in this area focuses on comparative anatomy in fish and reproductive anatomy and physiology in reptiles and amphibians.

Contacts: Dr. Tamatha Barbeau, Dr. Norma Salcedo

Biodiversity & Conservation

Research projects are varied and include the monitoring of biodiversity in neotropic cloud and rainforests (specifically at the Wildsumaco Biological Station in Ecuador), beta-diversity and species turnover in montane regions, fish endemism in the Peruvian Andes, and effects of invasive species on biodiversity in aquatic environments.

Contacts: Dr. Jeff Camper, Prof. Travis Knowles, Dr. Jeremy Rentsch, Dr. Norma Salcedo, Dr. Jeff Steinmetz, Dr. Paul Zwiers

Cancer Biology

Research projects in this area focus on expression of the enzyme acid ceramidase.

Contacts: Dr. Erin Eaton & Dr. Lori Turner

Cell & Molecular Biology

Research in this area investigates cellular, biochemical, and biophysical aspects of plant growth and development, the use of adeno-associated viral vectors for gene therapy, and interactions between vector components and host cell machinery.

Contacts: Dr. Vernon Bauer, Dr. Erin Eaton, Dr. Jennifer Lyles, Dr. Tim Shannon, Dr. Henry Slone, Dr. Lori Turner

Ecology & Population Biology

Generally, projects in this area investigate questions at the community, population and organismal levels, some using non-vertebrate model species. Specific studies investigate parasitic infections of host populations, acoustic communication in freshwater fish, effects of megafauna on landscape and vegetation structure, and female preference of male sexually selected traits in manakins.

Contacts: Prof. Travis Knowles, Dr. David Malakauskas, Dr. Jeff Steinmetz, Dr. Ann Stoeckmann, Dr. Paul Zwiers

Education & Outreach

Efforts in this area involve the development of professional modules and life science curriculum activities for K-12 preservice and in-service teachers.

Contacts: Prof. Lisa Pike

Evolutionary Biology

Research projects include the use of molecular techniques such as barcoding and phylogenetics to investigate the adaptive nature of organisms, as seen in morphological traits in fish, behavioral traits in birds, and host/parasite and plant/pollinator coevolution.

Contacts: Dr. David Malakauskas, Dr. Jeremy Rentsch, Dr. Norma Salcedo, Dr. Paul Zwiers


Some of the research in this broad area includes characterizing the microbial profile of commercial probiotics and understanding the relationship between the human microbiome and overall health.

Contacts: Dr. Jennifer Lyles, Dr. Lori Turner


Research in this area investigates the behavioral and neural factors that underlie helping behavior in rats, as well as aspects of human social interaction.

Contacts: Dr. Shayna Wrighten

Organismal Biology

Many projects investigate organismal biology within the subfields of botany, mammology, ornithology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, and mycology.

Contacts: Dr. Jeff Camper, Prof. Travis Knowles, Dr. Gerald Long, Dr. Jeremy Rentsch, Dr. Norma Salcedo, Dr. Ann Stoeckmann