Professor of Biology
Executive Director, Center for Faculty Innovation

B.A. - University of Rochester
Ph.D. - University of Virginia

Phone - 540-568-4846
Fax - 540-568-4990
Office – 5105 East Campus Library

Office Hours

Courses:   Organisms Laboratory - Honors (BIO 114), Contemporary Biology (GBIO 103)

Research Interests:  

Salamander Tail Development  

My research on the molecular aspects of segment formation in salamanders is a collaborative project with Sharon Babcock (JMU).  We are interested in analyzing the formation of embryonic and post-embryonic tail segments in Hemidactylium scutatum.  Axial elongation in the four-toed salamander, H. scutatum occurs throughout larval, juvenile and adult life history stages via the development and growth of additional caudal (tail) segments.  The morphogenetic problems that need to be solved to add caudal segments to post-embryonic vertebrate tails have never been addressed.  Insights into the underlying mechanisms for the continual addition of caudal segments throughout larval, juvenile, and adult stages may be rooted in processes that direct embryonic tail development.  Thus, our initial goals are to develop a normal table of embryonic development for H. scutatum, characterize embryonic segmentation by visualizing somites, and determine the molecular pathways involved in caudal segment formation throughout all life history stages.  Click here for more information on this research project.

Teaching Strategies and Emerging Technologies  

Another area of my scholarly endeavors focuses on the assessing the efficacy of classroom learning environments.  I have investigated the influence of learner-centered teaching in my non-majors biology course.  I allow students in this course to select course topics, determine the value of course assignments, and determine which in-class strategies (clickers, active learning, etc) have the most impact on their learning.  I am writing up my results now and so you will have to check back to see how these learner-centered changes influence student learning!

Curriculum Design & Programmatic Assessment  

To support departmental curriculum reform efforts, I expanded my educational research efforts to encompass the design and assessment of the biology majors-level curriculum.   My work in this area supports the development of the Bio 114 course and laboratory materials.  I also designed an assessment strategy to explore the educational impact of the biology curriculum and to disseminate products of our curriculum reform efforts.  

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