Bio @ Clark

Quite simply, this is why you should study science (specifically biology) at Clark. I have been very happy with my undergraduate experience at Clark, and would be happy to answer any of your questions.

Clark Faculty and Research

Each professor has an array of Ph.D., Master's, and undergraduate students working in their labs (with the exception of Dr. Bergmann, who is the most recent biology appointment to have lab activity). This is a list of biology faculty who have offices and labs in Lasry, Clark's biology building. (There are additional adjunct biology faculty members at Clark not listed here)
  • Dr. David Hibbett (my former undergraduate adviser) - taxonomy of fungi (taxonomy, fungi)
    • Dr. Hibbet's lab studies evolutionary biology and ecology of Fungi, principally Basidiomycota (mushroom-forming fungi and relatives). Much of their work is focused on molecular systematics and the uses of phylogenetic trees for studying the evolution of morphological and ecological characters. Other projects involve molecular ecology, evolution of lignin-degrading enzymes, and phyloinformatics.
  • Dr. Heather Wiatrowski - microbial stress resistance and survival in metal-contaminated environments (microbiology)
    • Dr. Wiatrowski is interested in microbial stress resistance and survival in metal-contaminated environments. Microorganisms are currently being exploited for their ability to remediate both metals and organic contaminants, which often occur together at one site.  However, metal contaminated environments exhibit a marked decrease in the diversity of microbial taxa relative to pristine environments.
  • Dr. Deb Robertson (my graduate adviser) - the molecular evolution of genes in algae and the regulation of nitrogen assimilation in marine algae and vascular plants (biochemistry, molecular biology, marine biology)
    • Dr. Roberton's lab uses molecular phylogenetic approaches to understand the evolution of nitrogen assimilating enzymes and regulatory pathways in several lineages of photosynthetic eukaryotes (primarily marine diatoms--unicellular algae that account for approximately 40% of the carbon fixed in the oceans). Their physiological studies incorporate a broad range of techniques including molecular biology, biochemistry and physiological methods.
    • Dr. Robertson teaches the very popular Ecology of Atlantic Shores course where like Ecology of Disease Vectors (below, taught Dr. Livdahl), students travel to Bermuda for a week to do research.
  • Dr. Justin Thackeray - understanding the cellular pathways involved in development of the eye and wing in the fruit fly (genetics and cellular/molecular biology)
    • Dr. Thackeray's lab uses a combination of genetics and cellular/molecular biology to understand the cellular pathways involved in development of the eye and wing in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (which is one of the most important biology models, especially for genetics). Both tissues are dispensible, and there is a unique set of genetic tools in Drosophila that make it an ideal model in which to study development.
  • Dr. Philip Bergmann - understanding how phenotypes evolve and diversify and how they function in a comparative context (evolutionary functional morphology, herpetology) 
    • The research focus of the Bergmann Lab is evolutionary functional morphology and they use an integrative approach to studying how phenotypes evolve and diversify, and how they function in a comparative context. Toward this end, they integrate measurement of organismal form, growth, performance and kinematics both in the field and through lab experimentation, and ecology using phylogenies and statistics. The subjects of most of this research are Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes). The Urodela (salamanders) will also be a focus of future research.
  • Drs. Susan Foster and John Baker - evolution of reproductive and antipredator behavior, color, morphology, and life history in fish (evolution, adaptive radiation, ecology)
    • The Foster-Baker lab has a fantastic website (one that I shouldn't abbreviate here) that you should check out if you're interested in evolution and ecology.
  • Dr. Todd Livdahl - We understanding factors that influence natural population abundance, specifically of container-breeding mosquito species (ecology, population dynamics, disease vectors)
    • Dr. Livdahl's lab investigates factors that influence natural population abundance, focusing on species interactions and the evolution of properties that affect the potential for population growth. Most of their experimental work is done with container-breeding mosquito populations, particularly within the genera Ochlerotatus and Aedes. The treehole habitat and its most common species provide a convenient system for addressing basic ecological and evolutionary questions.
    • Dr. Livdahl teaches the widely popular Ecology of Disease Vectors where students travel to Bermuda for a week to do science!
  • Dr. Denis Larochelle - Analysis of centrosome associated proteins to investigate cytokinesis (cell biology)
    • Dr. Larocholle's lab has a long-standing interest in cytokinesis which has led them to explore the roles of a number of genes/proteins involved in this process. Recently they  have turned their attention to centrosome-associated proteins, proteins involved in vesicle trafficking, and components of the SIN/MEN pathways.
On a personal note, I've had special experiences with Dr. Hibbett, Dr. Robertson, and Dr. Foster because of intense, tightly-knit, and interactive biology seminars.
  • Dr. Hibbett was my first biology professor at Clark, and he reaffirmed my desire to become a biology-minded major.
  • I work in Dr. Robertson's lab for a lot of good reasons, namely because of her drive to enhance the learning of her students and her fun, easy-going personality.
  • I took Dr. Foster's Animal Behavior seminar which radically changed how I think about behavior, ecology, and evolution. She is an excellent teacher and I learned a lot in her class.
I've also had Dr. Thackeray for a semester of genetics, Dr. Livdahl for two semesters of ecology and infectious disease, and Dr. Larochelle for half a semester of introductory biology. I'd like to add that Dr. Livdahl has one of the best senses of nerdy humor possible (cite: his love for honey badgers & ridiculous exam questions such as, [Bird A] murders the babies of [Bird B].) All in all, I'm very impressed with the biology department at Clark. Every professor in the biology department is worth taking a class with and getting to know. This sentiment is shared with most, if not all, biology majors I know. I'm sad I never got to take a class with Dr. Wiatrowski (I took microbiology in Australia, where I luckily met my two best Aussie mates), and Dr. Bergmann is too recent of an appointment for me to have taken any classes with him.