Faculty and Staff

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Sterling Wright
Sterling Wright
Associate Professor, Chair
Wright Lab
2112B Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Wright

BS, Texas Tech University; MS, Texas Tech University; PhD, University of Texas at Austin. The research in our laboratory examines the pharmacology and biophysics of voltage-dependent sodium channels. We investigate the influence of local anesthetic agents and naturally occurring neurotoxins on the gating kinetics of the channels

Alexey Arkov
Genetic Cell Biology
Arkov Lab
2112I Biology Building 
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Arkov

BS, MS, Moscow State University (Russia); PhD, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center. We are interested in understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of germline and stem cell development. In addition, we aim at the identification of novel molecular factors which promote longevity of living organisms.

Oliver Beckers
Associate Professor
Behavioral Ecology
Beckers Lab  Beckers Lab YouTube
1112B Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Beckers

MS, Friedrich-Alexander University (Germany); PhD, University of Missouri Columbia. I am fascinated by the evolution of animal behavior. More specifically, I study how the environment (i.e., phenotypic plasticity), female choice (i.e., sexual selection), and parasitoids (i.e., natural selection) affect the evolution of reproductive communication in insects. My lab is currently working on two of the only three described Orthopteran species that exhibit phenotypic plasticity in their mating calls.

David Canning
Associate Professor
Developmental Biology
1112G Biology Building
Murray, Ky 42071
About Dr. Canning

BSc [hons], Manchester University; DPhil, University of Oxford. Research Interests: We study the epigenetic factors affecting the differentiation of neural stem cells in the stem cell niche. We also take examine theoretical aspects of gene expression profiles in morphogenetic fields.

Andrea Darracq
Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator
Wildlife Biology
Darracq Lab
2309D Engineering and Physics
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Darracq

BS, University of Maine; MS, University of Arkansas-Monticello; PhD, University of Florida. I am interested in how wildlife respond to management and anthropogenic stressors, including urbanization, agriculture, and invasive species. I address these impacts on individuals (e.g. predation risk and stress) and populations. I aim to understand the broader implications of individual and population level impacts on ecosystem health and for my research to help inform the management and conservation of wildlife.

Michael Flinn
Professor, Director of Hancock Biological Station
Aquatic Community Ecology
Flinn Lab
1112I Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Flinn

BA, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota; MS, Kansas State University; PhD. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. I am an aquatic community ecologist with a wide range of interests which have recently included the use of aquatic macroinvertebrates for bioassessment in stream restoration and Arctic scaling studies, the role of invasive Asian carp on reservoir biology, and the reintroduction of native fish species.

Claire Fuller
Dean of Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology
201A I&T Building
Murray,  KY42071
About Dr. Fuller

BA, University of California, San Diego; MS, PhD, Oregon State University. I study how environmental factors affect the host-parasite ecology of terrestrial insects. I am especially interested in how climate change affects Caribbean termites and how agricultural chemicals affect dragonflies.

K. He
Kate He
Plant Ecology
He Lab
1112F Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. He

BS, MS, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China; PhD, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. I am interested in large-scale species distribution modelling using information derived from remote sensing and biophysical traits of plant species. I also study the characteristics of invasive plants and their impacts on native ecosystems.


Christopher Lennon
Assistant Professor
2112J Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Lennon

BA, MS, University of Montana; PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison. My lab is broadly interested in the biological importance and biotechnological application of inteins. Inteins, or internal proteins, are self-catalytic, mobile genetic elements removed from host genes through protein splicing. Abundant in the microbial world, inteins have recently emerged as adaptive regulatory elements, representing a novel and potentially widespread form of posttranslational regulation. Further, the power of inteins to make and break peptide bonds has been utilized extensively in biotechnology, and my lab seeks to develop new applications of this chemistry.

Jessica (J.B.) Moon
Assistant Professor
Wetland Ecology
Moon Lab
2309C Engineering & Physics
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Moon

BS in Biology, Behrend College, Penn State University; MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Penn State University; PhD in Ecology, Penn State University. I study landscape and ecosystem ecology, with a focus on wetlands. My current research examines how the landscape context affects microbial communities and nutrient cycling in freshwater and salt water wetlands. I use a combination of field studies, laboratory experiments, and spatial modeling tools to understand these dynamics.

Suguru Nakamura
Associate Professor
Renal Cardiovascular Biology
Nakamura Lab
2112D Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Nakamura

MD, Jiangxi Medical University; PhD, Tokyo Medical and Dental University. My research laboratory is focused on determining the physiological and pathological role of H+ secretion pumps of H+-ATPase (potassium-independent) and H+-K+-ATPase (potassium-dependent) in normal tissue homeostasis and disease processes.

Suman Neupane
Assistant Professor
Botany, Systematics, and Phylogenetics
Neupane Lab
1112G Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Neupane

BS and MS, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Ph.D., University of Connecticut. I am a plant evolutionary biologist. I study how plants and their complex set of interacting traits have evolved through time (in million years) and space. I do that by building phylogenies (evolutionary trees) of mostly modern (extant) plants using DNA and morphological data.

Timothy Spier
Associate Professor, Graduate Coordinator
Fish Ecology
Spier Lab
2309F Engineering & Physics
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Spier

BS, Truman State University; MS, Morehead State University; PhD, University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale. I am a fish ecologist interested in fish, watersheds, and all things involved with aquatic ecology. I study both game and non-game native fishes.

Laura Sullivan Beckers
Assistant Professor
Evolutionary Biology
Sullivan Beckers Lab   Sullivan-Beckers Lab Facebook
2112E Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Sullivan Beckers

BA, University of Tulsa; BS Northeastern State University; PhD University of Missouri-Columbia. I am an evolutionary biologist interested in understanding the ecological conditions that influence the evolution of reproductive traits. I am particularly interested in exploring the role of the social environment in shaping selective environments. My current research program uses wolf spiders to examine the evolution of cognitive traits involved in the mating displays and decisions of these spiders.

Christopher Trzepacz
Assistant Professor
Cell and Molecular Biology
2112H Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Trzepacz

BS, University of Massachusetts Amherst; PhD. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio. My research group explores the conserved pathways and mechanisms that regulate fertility in multicellular organisms, primarily through the cellular, molecular, and genetic dissection of the amazing model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Dena Weinberger
Assistant Professor
1112H Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Weinberger

BA, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota; PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I study nervous system development and function using the zebrafish as a model. I am investigating two related projects: 1. Is there neurotransmitter-receptor plasticity in the zebrafish neuromuscular junction? and 2. What is the role of Cabin1, a calcium-dependent repressor protein, in the development and function of the cerebellum, the site of motor learning and coordination.

Howard Whiteman
Professor, Director of Watershed Studies Institute
Evolutionary Biology
Watershed Studies Institute   Whiteman Lab
0105 Biology Building 
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. Whiteman

BS, Allegheny College; PhD, Purdue University. My interests span evolutionary ecology and conservation biology, particularly in aquatic systems. My research focuses on the evolution of alternative strategies, ecological consequences of predator-prey interactions, and understanding the distribution and restoration of biodiversity.

Gary ZeRuth
Associate Professor
Houston Endowed Chair of Pre-Medicine
Cell Molecular Biology
ZeRuth Lab
2112F Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
About Dr. ZeRuth

BS, PhD, University of South Florida. My lab’s research is primarily focused on understanding how transcription factors mediate development, function, and disease. The principal focus is on the transcription factor, Glis3 and its role in the development and maintenance of the endocrine pancreas and the pathogenesis of diabetes.




Dana Vinson
Administrative Assistant
2112K Biology Building 
Murray, KY 42071

Amanda Wetherington
Accounting Assistant
2112C Biology Building
Murray, KY 42071
Karen Baumann
Research Technician
1112A Biology Building
Murray, KY
About Karen

BS, Beloit College; MS, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I am a research technician studying ecological responses to riparian wetland restoration. My past research has focused on macroinvertebrate community responses to disturbance in a hydrologically altered river, native mussel populations and life history, and building a cDNA library for a marine polychaete worm.

Adjunct Faculty

Joe Caudell
Adjunct Professor
Wildlife Biology
About Dr. Caudell

BS, University of Georgia, MS, Utah State University, PhD, Utah State University (wildlife biology) (2001). Indiana Department of Natural Resources, State Deer Research Biologist.

Dayle Saar
Associate Professor Emeritus, Adjunct
About Dr. Saar

BS, Benedictine University, Illinois; MBA, North Texas State University, Denton, TX; MS, PhD, Northern Illinois University. I study molecular plant systematics and population genetics, biogeography, conservation of rare and endangered species as well as the biology of invasive plant species.

Graduate Students

 Feden Photo

Melody Feden. (Advisor: Dr. Howard Whiteman) My field site is in western Colorado where I am looking at the influence of beaver activity on a degraded stream in a desert ecosystem. Specifically, how beavers effect stream temperature, macroinvertebrate communities, and decomposition.  mfeden@murraystate.edu



Hewlett photoJohn Hewlett.  (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Darracq) My research is at the interface of endocrinology, wildlife disease epidemiology, and ecology. Specifically I study how stress physiology affects disease susceptibility and behavioral ecology with methods ranging from radio-telemetry to molecular techniques.  jhewlett@murraystate.edu

Lydeard PictureAndrew Lydeard (Advisor: Dr. Tim Spier)  I am an ecologist studying ecology and population structure of fish found in Land Between the Lakes Recreational Area and the surrounding agricultural watersheds.  alydeard@murraystate.edu


Pease photoJacob Pease.  (Advisor: Dr. Howard Whiteman)  My research pertains to the multidisciplinary reintroduction of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) in some of Kentucky’s public lands. This project focuses on combining principles of GIS, conservation, forestry, remote sensing, and forest ecology to streamline the reintroduction process for native tree species that face extirpation or         extinction by anthropogenic factors.  jpease@murraystate.edu 

 K. RogersKyler Rogers. (Advisor: Dr. Oliver Beckers) I am interested in how the communication system in Neoconocephalus katydids are exploited by the eavesdropping parasitoid fly Ormia lineifrons. I study this arms race in multiple species of  Neoconocephalus throughout the year. I am specifically trying to answer (i) if there are any katydid host preferences for O. lineifrons, (ii) what the parasitism rate of these species are over the course of their respective season, (iii) are there differences between the communication systems in males that are parasitized and not parasitized, and (iv) if there are differences in host quality among the utilized katydid species. krogers31@murraystate.edu

 Schoenberg Picture

  Dan Schoenberg. (Advisor: Dr. Laura Sullivan Beckers) The focus of my research is on the development and use of biochemicals in communication and aggression in the context of courtship/copulation of spiders.  dschoenberg@murraystate.edu


Soldo PictureChristy Soldo. (Advisor: Dr. Michael Flinn) My research focuses on the responses of macroinvertebrate communities following wetland restoration.  csoldo@murraystate.edu


Youngquist PictureKiersten Youngquist. (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Darracq) My research takes a look at interactions between native and invasive species and how they play a role in the physiological stress response of the native species. Specifically, I hope to take a deeper dive into understanding the relationship between native freshwater mussel species and the invasive Asian clam using bivalve filtration rates and an understanding of the stress response of the mussels.   kyoungquist@murraystate.edu

Recent Emeritus Faculty

Dr. Terry Derting


Derting, Terry, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences. BA, Mount Holyoke College; MS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; PhD, Indiana University. My research interests are twofold. As a mammalogist, I study impacts of anthropogenic stressors, such as habitat fragmentation, on the health of small mammals. As an educator, my research focuses on effective approaches to faculty professional development and improved student learning in higher education



Dr. Duobinis Gray

Duobinis-Gray, Leon F., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences (parasite populations, dynamics of freshwater vertebrates and invertebrates, histology, pathology). BS, MS, East Tennessee State University; PhD, Louisiana State University. 


We are sad to report that our good friend Leon passed in August 2019.





 Johnston, Timothy C., Professor. BA, Harding College; MS, Murray State University; PhD, Southern Illinois University.   email Dr. Johnston




Martin, Robert A., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences (mammal evolution, paleoecology) (1993). BA, Hofstra University; MS, Tulane University; PhD, University of Florida. email Dr. Martin.





Timmons, Tom J., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences (fisheries biology) (1982). BS, Iowa State University; MS, Tennessee Technological University; PhD, Auburn University.

 email Dr. Timmons.





White, David S., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences AB (1988), MA, DePauw University; PhD, University of Louisville. My research continues to focus on aquatic ecology.  I am working with long-term and real-time physicochemical and biological databases to assess changes caused by anthropogenic disturbances and climate change.

Visit my website at David S. White (murraystate.edu)

 email Dr. White.

 Steve White Picture

White, Stephen B., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences (ornithology, wildlife biology and management, animal damage control) (1981). BS, West Virginia University; MS, Colorado State University; PhD, Ohio State University.





Zimmerer, Edmund J., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Emeritus (behavioral genetics, molecular genetics, herpetology) (1989). BS, Moravian College; MS, PhD, Rutgers University. email Dr. Zimmerer.



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