Biology

Academic Department

People

Faculty Administration

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    Austad, Steven, Department Chairperson 2014 -

    I am originally from Southern California, but my family moved a lot, so I lived in every part of the United States before heading to college. After gaining an English Literature degree, I had a variety of jobs — newspaper reporter, taxi driver, wild animal trainer.... Training lions for the movie business awakened my interest in biology, so I went back to school, eventually getting my Ph.D. in biology.

    My early research was field-based. I have done field research in several parts of the...

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    Mukhtar, Karolina, Administrator 2018 -

    Dr. Karolina Mukhtar is a broadly trained molecular plant biologist with over ten years of experience studying various aspects of plant-microbe interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. After obtaining her Biology degree she worked as a teaching assistant for Cell Biology and then became an IMPRS doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute. Her dissertation described the quantitative basis of plant resistance to two deadly phytopathogens. She graduated summa cum laude and was nomin...

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    Watson, R. Douglas, Interim Department Chairperson 2013 -

    Professor Watson is Associate Chair of the Department of Biology. His research interests are in the field of endocrinology ⎯ the study of hormone chemical messengers that influence life from embryonic development through old age. He has published numerous research articles on the endocrine regulation of growth and development in invertebrates.

    Watson is a recipient of the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He teaches General Endocrinology and Comparative Animal Physiology...

  • Faculty Position

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    Amsler, Charles, Professor (P) 2011 -

    I grew up along the south shore of Lake Erie with annual trips to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina and developed a life-long love of aquatic environments in general and the marine environment in particular. From a fairly early age I knew that I wanted to be a biologist working in marine ecosystems. I developed a strong interest in marine macroalgae working with my undergraduate advisor at Duke University and further developed that interest into a career focus during graduate work at UNC-Wilm...

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    Angus, Robert, Professor - Emeritus (P) 2011 -

    Being retired, I mostly advise graduate students these days. I have been involved, with students and colleagues, in numerous studies using the mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) as a model organism for evaluating the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. I have collaborated with Drs. McClintock and Amsler and graduate students on the effects of lowered seawater pH, due to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2, on the fitness of antarctic invertebrates that make calcareous shells.

    I have ...

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    Austad, Steven, Distinguished Professor (P) 2014 -

    I am originally from Southern California, but my family moved a lot, so I lived in every part of the United States before heading to college. After gaining an English Literature degree, I had a variety of jobs — newspaper reporter, taxi driver, wild animal trainer.... Training lions for the movie business awakened my interest in biology, so I went back to school, eventually getting my Ph.D. in biology.

    My early research was field-based. I have done field research in several parts of the...

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    Bej, Asim, Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Bej is a professor at the Department of Biology and also Co-Director of the UAB Genetics and Genomic Sciences Undergraduate Program (GGS) and an Affiliate Faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice. He studied microbial gene regulation and development and applications of molecular methods of rapid-diagnosis of human pathogens in environmental and clinical samples at the University of Louisville. He has published numerous research papers, review articles and book chapters, and is the lead ...

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    Biga, Peggy, Assistant Professor (P) 2012 -

    Dr. Peggy Biga is a broadly trained comparative endocrine physiologist, with primary research interests focusing on the mechanisms regulating growth patterns in animals. Her research questions revolve around what molecular and epigenetic mechanisms regulate skeletal muscle proliferation, differentiation, and atrophy. She uses comparative biology to understand the plasticity of regulatory mechanisms and how they translate to variability in overall organismal growth.

    For example, most, an...

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    Brown, Christopher, Professor (P) 2017 -

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    Challa, Anil, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2018 -

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    Cusic, Anne, Associate Professor - Emeritus (P) 2018 -

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    D'Abramo, Louis, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2014 -

    At the close of the 2012-2013 academic year, I retired from Mississippi State University, having served as Giles Distinguished Professor of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture; Dean emeritus of the Graduate School; and Associate Vice President emeritus for Academic Affairs. I worked at the university for a total of 30 years. Prior to arriving at Mississippi State, I served as a Postgraduate Research Associate at the Bodega Marine Laboratory of the University of California, Davis.

    I am ...

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    Fischer, Kathleen, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2014 -

    Dr. Fischer studied rainforest canopy ecology in the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea (PNG), where she worked for five years with local villagers and mining companies to establish the Mekil wildlife management area and research station on Mount Stolle. Following her work in PNG, the Wildlife Conservation Society asked her to conduct a marine survey of Lampi Island in Myanmar. The survey resulted in a management plan for the Mergui Archipelago designed to protect natural resources and the tra...

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    Ghanta PhD, Vithal, Professor (P) 2011 -

    I am originally from Southern part of India and came to Duke University to study for my Ph.D. in Biochemistry. I was very lonely at Duke and went through a major cultural shock — my English was not fluent and also, because I am a vegetarian, I didn’t know what or where to eat. I transferred to Southern Illinois University and worked with an outstanding scientist and very friendly group of graduate students. I received my Ph.D. in Biochemistry there; my project dealt with organisms and mechanisms...

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    Gibbs, Victoria, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2017 -

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    Gilchrist, Roger, Assistant Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Gilchrist and his staff educate over 1,000 undergraduate students per year, helping them with biological foundations for careers in Applied Health Sciences and Health/Physical Education careers. He enjoys teaching a wide range of biology subjects and is highly recommended by his students. He has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Biology since 1999. He is the Master Course Coordinator for the Human Physiology and Human Pathophysiology curriculum, and has served as interim Mast...

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    Gray, Rosianna, Assistant Professor (P) 2018 -

    Dr. Rosianna Gray joined UAB’s Biology Department in January 2018 as a teaching Assistant Professor. Dr. Gray teaches several courses, including Biology of Microorganisms, Introductory Biology I, and Introductory Biology II. Dr. Gray received her bachelor of science degree (2001) from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, followed by a master’s (2007) and PhD (2008) in Cell Molecular Biology at the University of Alabama. While in graduate school, her passion evolved from research to science education....

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    Hammer, Hugh, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2016 -

    Dr. Hugh Hammer earned his B.S. in Biology from Bowling Green State University, before moving to Birmingham, AL to pursue M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in UAB’s Biology Department. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on “determination of dietary protein, carbohydrate, and lipid requirements for the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus fed semi-purified feeds.”

    In 2001, Dr. Hammer accepted a faculty position at Gadsden State Community College, where he is also the Program Manager for the Aquaculture Edu...

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    Harris, Melissa, Assistant Professor (P) 2016 -

    For Dr. Melissa Harris, getting a gray hair is cause for celebration! This is because Dr. Harris studies the melanocyte stem cells that reside within our hair follicles, and it is the loss of these stem cells that causes gray hair. She has found that melanocyte stem cells are an ideal somatic stem cell population to investigate the cell biology, genetics, and genomics behind the question, “Why do we age the way we do?”

    Dr. Harris’s training makes her well suited to this task; she’s stud...

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    Kemp, Dustin, Assistant Professor (P) 2016 -

    I am originally from Missouri. During high school I had the opportunity to travel to Australia and dive on the Great Barrier Reef. I was fascinated by the abundance of animals and the complex interactions occurring. I continued to develop a strong interest in marine biology during undergraduate work at Texas A&M University at Galveston and determined that I wanted to make a career studying marine ecosystems.

    During graduate work at Florida Atlantic University and Harbor Branch Oceanogra...

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    Krueger-Hadfield, Stacy, Assistant Professor (P) 2016 -

    I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in southern California. Regular trips to the seaside and tide pools along the central coast and Monterey Bay engendered a lifelong interest in marine biology. As an undergraduate I developed a keen interest in marine macroalgae, particularly mating system variation. Mating systems (i.e., which individuals exchange gametes) exert strong influence on the evolutionary ecology of a species. Though they have been extensively studied in plants and animals, we know ...

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    Lancaster, Winston, Associate Professor (P) 2014 -

    Winston Lancaster earned a B.S. in Zoology from Auburn University and an M.S. in Vertebrate Paleontology from the Department of Geology at Louisiana State University. His thesis research focused on archaeocete whales. After graduation he continued working on fossil whales as a preparator of vertebrate fossils at the Red Mountain Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, and also worked as a fossil preparatpry at the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello. He earned a Ph.D. in Anatomy from the Univers...

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    Marion, Ken, Professor - Emeritus (P) 2011 -

    My interest in the field and environmental areas of biology have their roots in my childhood growing up in the Ozark foothills of Missouri. Here I played in the creeks and rivers and turned over rocks and logs looking for critters. This led to me desiring to pursue an academic and research career where I could continue and expand my early interests. I have now been at UAB for 40+ years and have taught Introductory Biology, Natural History of the Vertebrates, Ecology, Environmental Biology, and B...

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    McClintock, James, University Professor (P) 2011 -

    James B. McClintock came to UAB in 1987 and has served as Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (1999-2003) and as Interim Dean of the Graduate School (2003-2005). His research has been funded continuously over the past 25 years by the National Science Foundation and focuses on aspects of marine invertebrate nutrition, reproduction, and primarily, Antarctic marine chemical ecology. His research has grown to include studies of the impacts of rapid climate change and ocean acidifi...

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    Monti, Denise, Assistant Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Monti's undergraduate work (biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution) led her to a position as a fellow at the Oak Ridge Institute Fellow for Science and Education. There she worked on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STARHS project, a joint epidemiology/wet lab research endeavor with the goal of more accurately estimating seroprevalence of HIV infection. Participation in this program solidified her desire to pursue graduate school and she entered the program at UA...

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    Morris, Jeffrey, Assistant Professor (P) 2015 -

    Dr. Morris studied aquatic ecology with Joseph Dirnberger at Kennesaw State University in North Georgia as an undergraduate before moving into marine microbiology during his graduate studies at the University of Tennessee under Dr. Erik Zinser. He was a NASA Astrobiology Institute postdoctoral fellow working in Richard Lenski’s lab at Michigan State University until 2014, where he studied the role of reductive evolution in structuring microbial communities.

    Jeff is currently an assistan...

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    Mukhtar, Karolina, Associate Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Karolina Mukhtar is a broadly trained molecular plant biologist with over ten years of experience studying various aspects of plant-microbe interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. After obtaining her Biology degree she worked as a teaching assistant for Cell Biology and then became an IMPRS doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute. Her dissertation described the quantitative basis of plant resistance to two deadly phytopathogens. She graduated summa cum laude and was nomin...

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    Mukhtar, Shahid, Associate Professor (P) 2012 -

    Dr. Mukhtar conducted his Ph.D. research on Arabidopsis transcriptional regulatory networks at the Max Planck Institute Cologne, Germany under the supervision of Dr. Imre Somssich. He was fortunate to continue his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Jeff Dangl, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He employed genomics, bioinformatics and computer-aided systems-level analyses...

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    Palazzo, Robert, Professor (P) 2013 -

    Dr. Robert E. Palazzo received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. After conducting four years of post doctorate research at the University of Virginia’s biology department, he received appointment as scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He joined the University of Kansas in 1992 where he served in a variety of roles including Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and Professor for the ...

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    Powell, Mickie, Assistant Professor (P) 2011 -

    I don’t have any aquaria at home because we maintain several hundred in our lab. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some very unique organisms. During my post doc I worked with hagfish and lampreys — some of the earliest vertebrates. I currently work with sea urchins, zebrafish, and our newest model a small killifish (Nothobranchius furrier) that has the distinction of being the shortest lived vertebrate in captivity.

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    Raut, Samiksha, Associate Professor (P) 2012 -

    Dr. Raut is a broadly trained biologist with an emphasis on Environmental Toxicology. She started at UAB in 2012 as one of the primary course masters for Introductory Biology. Prior coming to UAB, she was a tenure track faculty at Dalton State College. Besides Introductory Biology, she is involved in teaching non-majors microbiology and biology. Her teaching philosophy is focused on creating an all-inclusive classroom by introducing cutting- edge pedagogical techniques with an active emphasis on...

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    Riddle Ph.D., Nicole, Assistant Professor (P) 2012 -

    Dr. Riddle obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia, carrying out research in a maize lab. During her graduate work at Washington University in St. Louis, she first learned about epigenetics, a research field that focuses on heritable changes in phenotypes that are not associated with changes in the DNA. At the time, epigenetics was poorly understood, and her fascination with this field has grown with the scientific community’s increasing appreciation for the...

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    Sandel, Michael, Professor - Adjunct (P) 2018 -

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    Sun, Liou, Assistant Professor (P) 2015 -

    Dr. Sun's laboratory is exploring the genetic control of aging in mammals and vertebrates. We are studying the endocrine mechanisms and nutritional factors for their effects on longevity and aging.

    The physiological role of the somatotropic axis in the control of aging in mammals and vertebrates
    The dietary factors on aging and longevity: calorie restriction vs. methionine restriction
    Interventions studies of age-related diseases such as Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease

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    Tollefsbol Ph.D., Trygve, Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Tollefsbol is a professor of Biology and a senior scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, Nutrition Obesity Research Center, and the Comprehensive Diabetes Center. He is director of the UAB Cell Senescence Culture Facility, which he established in 1999.

    Dr. Tollefsbol holds doctorate degrees in molecular biology and osteopathic medicine and has published over 120 articles related to the fields of epigenetics, telomerase, aging, and c...

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    Watson, R. Douglas, Professor (P) 2011 -

    Professor Watson is Associate Chair of the Department of Biology. His research interests are in the field of endocrinology ⎯ the study of hormone chemical messengers that influence life from embryonic development through old age. He has published numerous research articles on the endocrine regulation of growth and development in invertebrates.

    Watson is a recipient of the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He teaches General Endocrinology and Comparative Animal Physiology...

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    Watts, Stephen, Professor (P) 2011 -

    Dr. Stephen Watts began his career in aquatic science in the 9th grade, when he became enthusiastically interested in all things aquatic. Having completed degrees in marine and aquatic biology, he joined UAB in 1987, and has developed a strong program in aquatic and marine science. His interests include basic science, as well as applied science (aquaculture) and subsequently medical application of aquatic animal models.

    He is widely known as an expert in aquatic nutrition science, and h...

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    Wibbels, Thane, Professor (P) 2011 -

    I developed an intense interest in marine biology during my undergraduate studies, which led me to the Marine Science graduate program at the University of Houston, located on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) base in Galveston. NMFS was part of an international program trying to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and was “headstarting” about 2,000 turtles per year in Galveston. I quickly became involved in that project and studied their beha...

  • Faculty Secondary Appointments

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    Wyss, James, Professor (S) 2019 -

  • Non-faculty Academic Position

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    Breland, Kelly, Credentialed Course Instructor 2018 -

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    Duquette, George, Credentialed Course Instructor 2017 -

    I was born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama, but left to complete all of my professional education and training. I returned to Birmingham and practiced plastic surgery for 31 years. During this time, I was actively teaching diverse college-level courses such as Ornamental Plant ID, Pesticides and Pest Management, and Commercial Turf Management after receiving earned degrees in both Landscape Design and Landscape Contracting. Since retirement my teaching has been aimed at the undergraduate allie...

  • Organization Within