Department of Biological Sciences


students doing PCR

Biology faculty and students engage in research in the following major areas, with several faculty spanning multiple areas. Adjunct faculty from other USM departments and from local nongovernmental organizations and federal agencies bring additional expertise. For more information about their work, click on the faculty member's name. For an overview of research opportunities and information about what our students do post-graduation, download this PDF.

Undergraduate research               Graduate student research


Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Physiology

Hormonal control of insect metamorphosis - Dave Champlin

Effects of arsenic on the developing nervous system - Doug Currie

Mosquito and tick vectors that transmit bacterial and viral pathogens to humans - Catherine Miller

Trade offs between form and function in fishes - Jeff Walker

Genetic determinants of wing shape in Drosophila - Ken Weber

Role of brown and beige adipose tissue in obesity - Aaron Brown (adjunct faculty)

Signaling mechanisms impacting vascular development and remodeling - Lucy Liaw (adjunct faculty)

Role of bone marrow cells in progression of multiple myeloma - Michaela Reagan (adjunct faculty)

Interactions between immune and cardiac cells after heart injury - Sergey Ryzhov (adjunct faculty)

Ecology and Evolution

Predator-prey dynamics in marine systems - Rachel Lasley-Rasher

Evolution of mammalian social behavior - Chris Maher

Salt marsh plant ecology - Terry Theodose

Evolutionary models of trade offs between form and function - Jeff Walker

Long term selection for wing shape and flight performance in Drosophila - Ken Weber

Algal physiological ecology and marine agronomy - Ira Levine (adjunct faculty)

Mortality threats and factors affecting reproduction in loons - Jim Paruk (adjunct faculty)

Ecology of pelagic seabirds - Iain Stenhouse (adjunct faculty)

Freshwater-marine linkages and salt marsh restoration - Karen Wilson (adjunct faculty)

Estuarine ecology, restoration, and protection - Curtis Bohlen (adjunct faculty)

Marine ecology and fisheries in the Gulf of Maine - Marissa McMahan (adjunct faculty)


Undergraduate Student Research

experimenting with gills

Most Biology faculty work closely with undergraduates, and research experience can be invaluable in helping students not only decide which career to pursue but also to land a job after graduation. Often, research experience is critical for gaining admission to graduate schools, too.

Find out more information about opportunities for undergraduate research in Biology and other USM science departments.



Graduate Student Research

Student standing in phragmites on marsh

The Biology Department offers a MS degree in Biology, and graduate students conduct research projects that reflect the strengths and diversity of the faculty. Find out more about our graduate students' research.










Research Facilities

  • cell imaging equipment including epifluorescence microscopes, confocal laser scanning microscope and flow cytometers
  • equipment for molecular biology, such as gradient and quantitative PCR thermocyclers, DNA sequencer, fluorescence microarray reader, various electrophoresis supplies for DNA and protein analysis
  • constant temperature lighted growth chambers for plants and phytoplankton
  • liquid scintillation counter for radioisotope work
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) facility
  • HPLC system