Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quamen
Madame Marie Curie
FAVORITE TV SHOW:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Piano, SCUBA diving
AWARDS & HONORS:
2005 Outstanding Honors College Faculty Award; 2006 USM Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching
What research are you working on now?
“My research involves identifying and characterizing new strains of bacteria. I work with spiroplasma, a unique group of bacteria without cell walls that are found in many different types of insects and crustaceans like crabs and shrimp. Almost every insect we look in has spiroplasmas living inside them. My students and I have identified several new strains of these microbes. We’re trying to find out how they are related to each other, and why some are pathogenic to their hosts while others cause no harm and may even help their hosts.”
How did you become interested in working with spiroplasmas and insecticide research?
"I first started working with spiroplasmas as a postdoctoral fellow with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Insect Biocontrol Laboratory. I was fascinated by how widespread these microbes were and how adaptive they have been to be able to grow in such a wide range of insect hosts--I was definitely hooked at that point."
What other projects are on your plate?
"I’m also conducting research on population genetics in fish, specifically the native black-nosed dase stream fish inhabiting the Chesapeake Watershed region. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Joel Snodgrass, professor of biological sciences, and was initially funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The research focuses on how fish population structure changes as a result of urban and rural environment."
Is it an advantage to have students work with you in the lab?
"I usually have anywhere from two to five graduate and undergraduate students in my laboratory working on independent research components. I help them find original research projects with potential for publishing. It’s a priority to have students in the lab–with their help, I’m making great progress in my own research."
How does small class size affect a student’s research experience?
"Because of small class sizes and close interaction with faculty members, TU has a unique environment that you don’t see at bigger schools. There are more opportunities for independent research and professors know who you are. We like to say Towson is a big school with a small school feel, so students get the best of both worlds."
Why study biology at Towson?
"Undergraduates get to do the same work you’d expect graduate students to be doing. Students conduct their own research in the lab and also travel to present their results at conferences."