Faculty

Find a Mentor

M.S. in Integrative Biology = One program, two departments!

Our program integrates through all levels of biological organization, from groups of molecules to communities of organisms - and back! We have two exclusively life sciences departments that jointly administer the MSIB. Faculty in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology tend to investigate at the organismal level and above; faculty in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology tend to investigate the cellular level and below. Nonetheless, many of our research projects span these somewhat artificial boundaries. Browse MSIB faculty listed below to find a mentor.

    • Premila Achar, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: The goal of my research is to transform peanuts with resistant genes such as chitinase and β-1, 3-glucanase against A. flavus, the most common aflatoxin producing Aspergillus sps. in peanuts and other food and agricultural products. The intellectual merit of this research is to produce basic information about a little studied area, the characterization of PR proteins and disease resistance in transgenic peanuts. In addition to gene manipulation to control Aspergillus sps in peanuts, my research also focuses on use of plant based antimicrobial compounds such as essential oils/vapors and probiots to prevent Aspergillus contamination.
    • Eric Albrecht, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Snake venoms disrupt cell anchorage by inhibiting integrin attachment to the extracellular matrix. Loss of contact with the extracellular matrix, during venom exposure, promotes apoptosis in adherent cell types. Integrins are critically linked to this process by providing "outside in" survival signaling. Alpha 5 Beta 1 and alpha v Beta 3 integrins utilize FAK, PI3K/AKT, and Bcl2 cellular signaling cascades to modulate changes or loss of adherence to the extracellular matrix during cellular stress. Thus, the goal of my laboratory is to examine a novel cell survival mechanism involving integrins and metallothioneins, during venom induced loss of cellular adherence.
    • Estella Chen, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: The potential role of mitochondria in cancer formation.
    • Marcus Davis, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Our Lab studies the gene regulatory networks that drive vertebrate morphogenesis, with a focus on the development of appendages (fins & limbs). We take a broadly comparative approach, utilizing basal vertebrates such as the American paddlefish Polyodon spathula, chondrichthyans, and amphibians to test hypotheses about gene regulation and function.
    • Lisa Ganser, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Coming soon...
    • Melanie Griffin, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Coming soon...
    • Martin Hudson, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Defects in nervous system development underlie many neurological disorders including schizophrenia and autism. We use C. elegans genetic tools and stem cell models to understand how ephrins, Eph receptor tyrosine kinases, and heparan sulfate proteoglycans influence neural development. Time-lapse analysis of developing C. elegans embryos provides us with detailed information on the roles of these proteins in cell migration, while GFP reporter assays give us clues to their function in mature neurons.
    • Jennifer Louten, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Coming soon... 
    • Jean Lu, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Our current research is focused on three areas: (1) biocontrol of major foodborne bacterial pathogens by using bacteriophages, (2) ecology and genetics of bacteriophages in industrial vegetable fermentations, and (3) antibacterial activity of photochemicals against foodborne bacterial pathogens.
    • Donald McGarey, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Water-borne diseases pose a major threat to human health, and to many other animals as well. The research in my lab centers on Aeromonas hydrophila, an aquatic bacterium that can cause various diseases in animals including highly destructive, soft tissue infections in humans and fish. Our work is focused on the mechanisms of pathogenesis used by strains of this bacterium (pathotypes) to cause diseases. A related project is microbial source tracking (MST) where we develop and employ diagnostic tests to detect the levels of water-borne pathogens or fecal-associated microbes as a means of monitoring the sanitary condition and safety of natural bodies of water.
    • Jonathan McMurry, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: My group is broadly interested in biomolecular interactions. I have two major projects: development of novel cell-penetrating peptides for delivery of biomolecular cargos to living cells for therapeutic and research purposes and understanding assembly of the bacterial flagellum. We are also engaged in many collaborative projects in which we can bring our optical biosensing and other kinetic expertise to bear on a variety of research questions. I'm always on the lookout for ambitious and talented students for research projects. 
    • Scott Nowak, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: The Nowak lab uses myogenesis as a model system to study mechanisms of gene regulation during organismal development.
    • Susan Smith, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: My lab uses evolutionary comparisons and experimentation to explore the structure, function, and control of proteins involved in cell signaling. A current focus in the lab is the voltage gated proton channel HV1, which has important roles in a variety of organisms and cell types, and functions from innate immunity to control of bioluminescence. We use a variety of experimental methods drawn from molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and drug discovery to attack our experimental questions.
    • Tsai-Tien Tseng, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Coming soon...
    • Dale Vogelien, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: My research interests lie in three distinct areas: plant stress physiology, the development of a fingerprint analysis for daylily varieties, and curriculum development.
    • Bill Ensign, Ph.D.

      Research Interest: My students and I focus on the effects of landscape change (particularly urbanization) on population and community ecology of freshwater organisms. Kennesaw State’s location in metro Atlanta provides access to watersheds subjected to a range of anthropogenic impacts. Current work focuses on the life history, trophic ecology, and habitat associations of Campostoma oligolepis, an omnivorous minnow that does remarkably well in urban streams. We are also working on defining the distribution of a number of pleurocerid snails in local streams.
    • Joseph Dirnberger, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Coming soon...
    • Daniel Ferreira, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Dr. Ferreira is a soil chemist and investigates the behavior of ions at the mineral / water interface, especially in ion-exchange reactions. Ion exchange processes play a role in many important environmental soil functions such as the retention of nutrients and the fate and transport of pollutants in soil and ground water. By studying the competition between ions for adsorption sites on soil minerals, particularly clay minerals, Dr. Ferreira is better able to understand the nuances of the behavior of these ions in natural environments.
    • Sigurdur Greipsson, Ph.D.

      Research Interest: The impact of invasive alien plant species in natural ecosystems is an emerging environmental problem. Members of my lab have been actively carrying out research on the most notorious alien plant species in Southeastern USA such as kudzu. Integrated restoration strategies that aim at establishing aggressive native plants in kudzu monopopulation have been the aim of this work. The initial work has shown that allelopathic effects of certain native trees can slow down kudzu invasion. Current research focuses on the extent of allelopathic effect of native trees on kudzu and their impact in controlling kudzu invasion.
    • Paula Jackson, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: My research involves studying the ecology and physiology of plants. Specifically I am interested in the interplay between water availability, plant photosynthetic rates, and plant distribution patterns.
    • Thomas McElroy, Ph.D.

      Research Interest: My research interests are in molecular ecology. We quantify spatial structure, delineate barriers or corridors for gene flow across landscapes to identify the potential for local adaptation within and among populations. Our research asks how ecological and evolutionary factors interact with genetic variation within and among natural populations and communities. We use descriptive field work to generate hypotheses that can be tested through field and laboratory experimentation.
    • Joel McNeal, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: My research primarily involves Cuscuta (dodders), a large genus of stem parasitic angiosperm vines in the Morning Glory Family (Convolvulaceae) that lack roots and functional leaves.
    • Jared Taglialatela, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: The evolutionary origins of human language. Nonhuman animal communicative behavior and the biological substrates that mediate these behaviors. Animal cognition and its biological basis. The evolution of neuroanatomical asymmetries as well as their behavioral relevance.
    • Matthew Weand, Ph.D.

      Research Interests: Invasive plant species effects on ecosystem processes.
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