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Academics > College of Science, Mathematics, and Health > Department of Biology > Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities

Research projects are an integral component of many of the cognate and elective courses in biology. All senior biology students also conduct research in the capstone course or in the yearlong  independent research course. Prior to their final year at CU, students who are interested may conduct a research project with an individual faculty member for elective credit. Students that complete research projects usually participate in the annual Concord University Undergraduate Research Day, where they present a professional poster or oral presentation summarizing their work. Some students also have the opportunity to accompany faculty to professional conferences off campus.​

Information regarding our faculty’s research interests can be found below.​

 

My interests lie in the cell’s cytoskeleton, specifically actin. Actin forms the cortical structure of the cell, the fibrous matrix that supports and the membrane and gives shape to the cell. Ezrin, moesin and radixin (ERMs) are actin binding proteins that link the actin cytoskeleton to membrane proteins directly or through adapter proteins. When activated, Ezrin causes the formation of the actin rich membrane surface structures: microvilli. My current projects involve the examination of ERMs in creatures that contain only one homologue rather than all three ERMs. In these organisms we can better dissect the function of the ERMs without the problem of redundancy. I am also open to working with students on projects related to other topics in cell biology.​
I earned my doctorate in the fields of biochemistry, molecular and cell biology. These fields strive to understand how life emerges via interactions among nonliving matter. I have always been intrigued by the molecular logic of life. The fact that all of the complex activities and properties of living organisms come from a collection of lifeless molecules undergoing numerous chemical reactions is amazing! My research is focused on studying the molecular aspects of cancer.​
My research at Concord centers on the ecology, physiology, and evolution of animals, with particular emphasis on the rich diversity of salamanders native to our region. The Appalachian mountain region is the center of global salamander diversity, with dozens of species occupying overlapping ecological niches and displaying different adaptations to particular environments. The diversification of these amphibians, the differences in their physiology, and the interactions of related species are all topics of interest to ecologists and evolutionary biologists. My students and I have explored the phylogeography of salamanders in West Virginia and Virginia using molecular markers, examined niche overlap in related species with broadly overlapping ranges, and studied comparative physiologic performance in species with different sizes and morphologies. I am open to working with students with interests in zoology (especially herpetology) and evolutionary ecology.​

My students and I examine water quality issues impacting the streams and rivers in Central Appalachia. Some of our recent projects include:​

  • Impact of coal mining and urbanization on the ecology of streams. Both mining and urbanization within watersheds alter the water chemistry and physical structure of streams which in turn impacts the macroinvertebrate and fish communities.​
  • Impact of coal mining and urbanization on bacterial and fungal communities which play an important role in the energy flow of stream ecosystems.​
  • Monitoring levels of fecal coliforms and microplastics in rural and urban streams in southern WV. High levels of fecal coliforms, bacteria that normally live in digestive tracts of mammals, and microplastics can impact human health.​

I am also open to working with students on projects related to other topics in ecology and avian biology.​

A complete list of previous student projects can be found at the following website:  https://sites.google.com/site/streamecolconcorduniv/stream-ecology-lab/research-projects

I have examined several research areas (while working with students) in a variety of areas. The areas are typically, but not exclusively, centered around microbiology, microbiomes, genetics, and environmental areas. Some of my research endeavors have included:​

  • Examination of agricultural pathogens ​
  • Incidence of Rickettsia in local ticks by polymerase chain reaction​
  • Impact of methyl xanthenes, such as caffeine, on DNA replication in vitro​
  • Antibiotic resistance of bacteria and yeast to a wide variety of compounds, including essential oils and known foods​
  • Use of DNA sequence to identify putative genes​
  • The affect of bisphenol A and other bisphenol A alternatives in plastics on plant growth, germination, and photosynthesis​
  • Influence of metals on tissue decomposition​