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Biology

Wei-Jen Chang, the Sidney Wertimer Associate Professor of Biology for Excellence in Advising and Mentorship

B.S., National Taiwan University; M.S. and Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
wchang@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: molecular biology, molecular evolution, genome structures and bioinformatics

Wei-Jen Chang, associate professor of biology, has written or co-written several professional articles in Gene, Protist, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During his postdoctoral work at Princeton University, Chang studied gene evolution and genome organization in unicellular organisms. He 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.

Simon Coppard, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

B.Sc. and Ph.D., University of London
scoppard@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: marine biology, coral reef ecology, invertebrate zoology, speciation, molecular phylogenetics and evolution, next-generation sequencing, echinoid systematics

Simon Coppard specializes in echinoderms: sea urchins, sea stars and sea cucumbers. He particularly specializes in 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. Coppard's research there included work on transcriptomics and the evolution and expression of genes responsible for temporal reproductive isolation among species that spawn on different lunar phases. He's conducted fieldwork and taught at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Coppard earned his bachelor's of science (honors) and doctorate in marine biology from the University of London.

Cynthia Downs, Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Ph. D., University of Nevada
cdowns@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: ecoimmunology, vertebrate physiology and evolutionary physiology

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 several things: mechanisms that mediate physiological traits and trade-offs; how physiological traits determine life histories, and how environmental conditions affect physiological phenotypes. She received a doctorate from the University of Nevada Reno, and completed postdoctoral appointments at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Nevada Reno.

Jessica Fellmeth, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., The College of New Jersey; Ph.D., Rutgers University
Areas of expertise: Molecular genetics and microbiology

Jessica Fellmeth’s research focuses on how to make a good egg, specifically understanding the checkpoints involved in female meiosis and the signaling events involved in oogenesis. She received her doctorate in molecular genetics and microbiology from Rutgers University and her bachelor's degree in biology from The College of New Jersey. At Hamilton Fellmeth teaches Developmental Biology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, among other courses.

David Gapp, the Silas D. Childs Professor of Biology

B.S. and A.M., College of William and Mary; Ph.D., Boston University
dgapp@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: endocrinology of reptiles, with a focus on the action and evolution of gastrointestinal and pancreatic hormones

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.

Herman Lehman, Professor of Biology

B.S., University of West Florida; Ph.D., Florida State University
hlehman@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: cellular neurobiology and neuroethology; measurement and detection of neurotransmitters; isolation and identification of novel chemical messengers; cellular metabolism in the nervous system

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, Chair, Associate Professor of Biology

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Ohio State University; M.S. Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan; Ph.D. Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
mmccormi@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: environmental geomicrobiology, specifically cell/mineral interactions; fate of environmental contaminants; solid-state respiration by bacteria; and molecular microbial ecology

Mike McCormick's current research focuses on the microbial ecology of geochemical gradients in Antarctic sediments and meromictic lakes, electron transfer processes between bacteria and solid surfaces, and the transformation of environmental contaminants by biogenic minerals. He has published in the journals Environmental Science and Technology, Environmental Chemistry, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Journal of Physical Chemistry B and Water Resources Research. 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 doctorate and post-doctoral fellowship in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan.

William Pfitsch, Associate Professor of Biology

B.A., Oberlin College; M.S., University of Washington; Ph.D., University of Washington
wpfitsch@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: the biology, ecology, physiological ecology and physiology of plants; community, ecosystem and invasive plant ecologies; habitat restoration; tropical and alpine ecologies; and biology teaching

William Pfitsch 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. He earned his doctorate in botany at the University of Washington.

Patrick Reynolds, the Stone Professor of Natural History

B.Sc., National University of Ireland, Galway; Ph.D., University of Victoria
preynold@hamilton.edu
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Areas of expertise: marine invertebrate biology, particularly the evolution of Mollusca

A National Science Foundation grantee, Pat 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. He received his doctorate from the University of Victoria, Canada.

Mark Sasaki, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

B.A., Oberlin College; Ph.D., University of Chicago
msasaki@hamilton.edu
Areas of expertise: cancer biology

Mark Sasaki received the National Institutes of Health Ruth Kirschstein postdoctoral fellowship to study zebrafish development at the University of Oregon. Sasaki, who earned his doctorate in cancer biology at the University of Chicago, returned there to work as a research associate. In that position he utilized next generation sequencing analysis to identify mutations in several families predisposed to developing cancer. Sasaki is now focused on determining how these genetic mutations change the function of the resulting proteins using molecular and developmental biological approaches, including using zebrafish as a model organism. Sasaki will be teaching the introductory biology and an upper level seminar on cancer biology in the fall and genetics in the spring. He received his bacehlor's degree in biology from Oberlin College.

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