Wei-Jen Chang, associate professor of biology, joined the Hamilton faculty in 2006. Chang earned a bachelor’s degree from National Taiwan University and his master’s degree and doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo. During his postdoctoral work at Princeton University, Chang studied gene evolution and genome organization in unicellular organisms. He has written or co-written several professional articles in Gene, Protist, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Simon Coppard will be teaching courses in marine biology, invertebrate biology and molecular phylogenetics. He earned his B.Sc (Hons) and Ph.D in marine biology from the University of London and conducted fieldwork and taught at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Coppard specializes in echinoderms (sea urchins, sea stars and sea cucumbers), particularly how species have diverged morphologically, ecologically and genetically through time, and how species maintain their integrity when geographic distributions change and sister-species come into contact. For the past six years he has been a senior research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where his research included work on transcriptomics and the evolution and expression of genes responsible for temporal reproductive isolation among species that spawn on different lunar phases.
Cynthia Downs is an ecological physiologist who investigates how the diverse physiological traits expressed by animals alter an animal’s interaction with its environment and mediates the animal’s ecology and evolutionary trajectories. Her research focuses on the organismal level, but she integrates across levels of biological organization to ask questions about how animals work. Downs' research program seeks to understand (1) mechanisms that mediate physiological traits and trade-offs, (2) how physiological traits determine life histories, and (3) how environmental conditions affect physiological phenotypes. She received a Ph.D. from University of Nevada Reno, and completed postdoctoral appointments at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and University of Nevada Reno.
David Gapp concentrates on comparative endocrinology of reptiles, with a focus on the action and evolution of gastrointestinal and pancreatic hormones. His recent identification of "diabetes" in a local population of snapping turtles may provide an interesting model to pursue the study of this serious metabolic disease that affects a significant portion of the American population. Gapp has written and reviewed manuscripts for notable journals including The Journal of Comparative Endocrinology and Physiological Zoology, and he has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Herm Lehman's research is focused on the development and function of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are molecules released by neurons and mediate communication throughout the nervous system; thus, the proper expression and maintenance of neurotransmitter levels is a critical, yet largely unknown, aspect of the metabolism of the neuron.
Mike McCormick is a member of the Biology Department with a shared teaching commitment in the Geosciences Department. He came to Hamilton after he completed a Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan. McCormick's current research focuses on electron transfer processes between metal respiring bacteria and metal oxides, the transformation of environmental contaminants by biogenic minerals, the microbial ecology of naturally occurring redox interfaces and the development of microbial fuel cells as a novel energy source. He has published in the journals Environmental Science and Technology and Water Research.
Miller has presented her science and approaches to education in Asia, Europe, Latin America and all over North America. At Hamilton she investigates influence of cell division and cell death on shaping early vertebrate embryos. Her published work can be found in Developmental Biology, Development, Developmental Dynamics, The Anatomical Record, the Journal of Experimental Zoology, The New Anatomist and Anatomical Sciences Education. Miller was co-author and illustrator of a book as an undergraduate, and she has subsequently published research with her own undergraduate collaborators. Extensive world travel enriches her broad view of biology that she shares with students.
Rajinikanth (Raj) Mohan received his master’s degree in plant science from the University of Hyderabad in India and Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University. At Hamilton he will be teaching biochemistry, microbiology and senior seminar in addition to mentoring senior research students. Mohan’s research interest is in understanding plant immune responses, the knowledge of which can be used to enhance disease resistance in plants. He is also interested in the mechanism of natural senescence that results in the spectacular colors of Autumn as well as stress-induced senescence in plants.
Pfitsch earned his doctorate in botany at the University of Washington. He studies how plants meet the challenges of living in potentially stressful conditions. Of particular interest are the interactions with soil microorganisms that help plants meet those challenges. In recent years, research in the Pfitsch lab has also focused on the ecological implications of invasive plants in local forests in terms of community composition and ecosystem structure and function.
Pat Reynolds received his Ph.D. from the University of Victoria, Canada. A National Science Foundation grantee, Reynolds is an expert on marine invertebrate biology, particularly the evolution of Mollusca. He has worked with student research assistants on cruises and at field stations along both coasts of North America and in Antarctica. His recent publications have appeared in Advances in Marine Biology, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, and in Molecular systematics and phylogeography of mollusks (Smithsonian Institution Press). He is the editor of Invertebrate Biology, an international journal of the American Microscopical Society.