Collaborative Research Projects with Elon Faculty

The following list contains the names of fulltime Biology faculty, their research interests and their research projects that have involved undergraduates in the past or are open to undergraduate students presently.

Matthew Clark: My scientific research background and interest covers the areas of musculo-skeletal dysfunctions (low back pain), forensic medical science (parasitology/entomology), prostate and breast oncology (epidemiology/molecular biology), sickle cell anemia (epidemiology/molecular biology), and neuroendocrinology (prolactin hormone regulation), respectively.

Jeffrey Coker: My research includes both educational and biological projects. First, I develop and assess teaching pedagogies, innovative learning tools, and a database for longitudinal research in science education. Second, I analyze DNA, cDNA, and protein sequences (using bioinformatics tools) to better understand gene expression in plants. Feel free to contact me and visit my website ( if you are interested in a student project.

Kathy Gallucci: I obtained my M.S. in marine sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and continued research there on algal-bacterial interactions before coming to Elon University in 1984. Two papers have been published as a result of this research in Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Science.

Dave Gammon: My research interests are primarily in bioacoustics (the study of the sounds of animals) and animal behavior. Most of my research takes an evolutionary focus and involves working with birds in the field. I am interested in starting up several similar projects with Elon undergraduates, so if you are interested in chasing and recording animals, or manipulating and playing back sounds to them, please contact me. I have a lot of research ideas, but I am also open to suggestions from motivated students.

Greg Haenel: My research interests are in the fields of ecology and evolution. I am currently investigating the factors that influence reproductive success in a natural population of lizards. I generally use lizards as a model system but have had students work on other organisms as well. My current lizard study population is in North Carolina. I am in the process of documenting the life history of this population of fence lizards through a mark-recapture project. There are many ecological questions that students could address in this population including questions about food availability and habitat use. I am also developing DNA fingerprinting markers (microsatellites) for these lizards. These will allow me to measure reproductive success of lizards under totally natural conditions. This project provides research opportunities for students with interests in DNA fingerprinting and/or the process of natural selection.

Nancy Harris: I would have to say that my primary research interests lie in the areas of plant anatomy and histopathology.

Herbert House: My research interests involve any project that involves human physiology. Currently I am interested in studying the dichrotic notch as it relates to aging. Students should contact me to begin a new project or continue the dichrotic notch project.

Antonio Izzo: My research interests fall into the ecology of soil and root-associated microbes, especially fungi. How do they get dispersed? What are their population dynamics across space and time? How do these dynamics impact plant health? How are they impacted by natural or human-mediated disturbances? As so many of these microbes are not easy to cultivate I commonly use DNA-based approaches to identify and track microbes in the environment. I am interested in establishing projects with students in any of these areas, but am open to other ideas as well. Projects may range from field-based to lab-based, microbe-oriented to DNA-oriented depending upon student interests and goals. Feel free to contact me or visit my website ( to learn more.

Mike Kingston: My research interests are centered on the ecology of marine and freshwater organisms. My current research focuses on the daily movements of microscopic algae living on the sand banks of a stream near the university. These organisms migrate into and out of the sand with the aid of a biological clock. Currently, I am also mentoring an undergraduate research project examining the seasonal changes in zooplankton morphology in Lake Macintosh. Past student research projects (Bio 499) that I supervised included vertical migration of pond phytoplankton and hurricane effects on North Carolina forests.

Janet MacFall: Nearly all plants have fungi growing on their roots which help them in nutrient and water uptake, making them more competitive in nature. My research focuses on these relationships from a physiological and an ecological perspective. I named a new species of mushroom which was symbiotic on pines, and studied their interactions. Additional research interests include the study of soil ecology and plant/microbe interactions. I have used magnetic resonance imaging, a state of the art medical technology, to study these relationships.

Yuko Miyamoto: I am interested in establishing projects for Elon students in the areas of immunology, cell migration and signalling. My graduate work was focused on integrin adhesion molecules and their effects on T-lymphocyte activation and my postdoctoral work was on cell migration and the MAPK signaling cascade in mammalian cells utilizing small interfering RNA (siRNA).

Linda Niedziela: The undergraduate research I mentor includes a combination of toxicology and molecular biology projects. Several ongoing projects include: the refinement of a brine shrimp toxicity model to evaluate the toxic potential of chemicals or environmental contaminants and the investigation of the basic biochemical and molecular mechanisms of the toxic response processes in brine shrimp. Other toxicology models include African clawed frog embryos and Japanese killifish. These model organisms can be used to evaluate general toxicity and developmental toxicology as well as evaluate the bioactivity of chemicals early in the drug discovery process.

Brant Touchette: I conduct research on the eco-physiology of aquatic plants. The primary goal of my research is to understand how plants have adapted to aquatic environments. Over the past ten years, I have used freshwater and marine macrophytes as models of plants living in stressful habitats.

Robert Vick: Part of my postdoctoral work involved remyelination of the adult central nervous system, with emphasis on the role of the oligodendrocyte. Another part of my postdoctoral work involved examining gene changes in response to recurrent seizures, specifically in the hippocampus. I am currently interested in the role of glial cells in the central nervous system in both remyelination and seizure.

David Vandermast: I have broad interests in all aspects of plant ecology and my research typically involves field work in concert with work in the herbarium or experiments conducted in a greenhouse or germination chambers. I have investigated such topics as long-term changes in forest structure and composition, plant allelopathy, forest understory responses to prescribed fire, patterns of invasive species establishment, and the community and habitat characteristics of medicinal plants.