Welcome to the Alumni Webpage
University of Akron
Department of Biology

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Hello!   We thought you might want to know about some exciting things that are happening in Biology.  We also want to know about you!  Please fill out our   Alumni Guest Book-tell us when you graduated, where you are working, what you thought about your education here at Akron, and anything else that might be helpful.  Your response will be immediately posted on the website, and we will use the information to continually improve our program.  You can use the guest book to find out what your fellow alums are doing.  Below you will find updates on what the faculty are doing, links to their email, and general department news.  We hope to add new features in the future (e.g. Alumni profiles), so please stop back here often.  If you have friends who graduated from Biology, please tell them about our website.  Any feedback about the website should be directed to Dr. Richard Londraville (londraville@uakron.edu).

DEPARTMENT NEWS
updated 9/01

Bath Field Station:bath.gif (7799 bytes)
Recently the Biology Department has reached an agreement with Bath Township to establish a biological field station on 400 acres of the old Firestone estate. The site has old-growth forest, several ponds, and is ideal for field studies. In fact, some studies have already started! Dr. Niewiarowski's lab is monitoring long-term population demographics of salamanders in a pond bordering the BNP;  Dr. Fraser's lab is investigating several aspects of wetland restoration, and Dr. Londraville's lab has investigated hormone levels in overwintering populations of bluegill sunfish.  We are currently raising funds to build a world-class facility. Find our more here, and stay tuned for updates.

We Have a WINNER!!
You may have received a postcard awhile ago, directing you to this website.  On that postcard we said we would give a pair of binoculars to one lucky alum.  Well...Dr. Lauren Wentz of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater won!  She writes:

"I'm delighted to know I won the binoculars, and very pleasantly surprised. Bird-watching is my "thing"--I teach ornithology at UW-Whitewater--so having a new set of binocs will certainly come in handy!  As far as updates are concerned, I'm still working as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I teach courses in introductory biology for non-majors, Writing in Biology, Ornithology, and Animal Behavior. I also lead a summer travel-study course to Alaska, with the next tour planned for summer 2002, depending on the travel/political situation at that time, of course. My research concerns the vocal behavior of Common and Pacific Loons, and the ecology and conservation of these species in southcentral Alaska(and Common Loons in the Upper Great Lakes). Finally,I was recently awarded the 2001 College of Letters & Sciences Excellence in Service Award for my contributions to many dept., college, and university committees, and for coordinating the lab program for our large non-majors' course. I often think about and remember all of my UA profs, and especially Dr. Orcutt, Dr. Olive, Dr. Macior, Dr. Stoutamire, and Dr. Sheppe. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learned from them, and how much of that knowledge I'm able to pass on to my students. Please convey my best wishes to all of the biology faculty,and tell them I'm very proud to be among their "success stories"!"

Thanks to Dr. Wentz for giving us such a good update.  We would like to hear from you too-please send any news/info you would like to share to londraville@uakron.edu.

A Blast From The Past:

Recognize anyone?  This is a photo from Dr. Ott's Phycology class in Spring 1993.  If you have photos to share, send them by email attachment to londraville@uakron.edu along with information as to year, course, and semester.  We will post them for all of us to wonder-did I ever really look like that?

We Are Growing:
Many faces have changed in the Biology Department recently.  Some of the faculty you had in class have retired, including Dr. Mostardi, Dr. Gwinn, Mr. Amos, and Dr. Macior.  In addition, the 2001-2002 academic year will be Dr. Orcutt's last year before retirement.  Dr. Orcutt has taught literally thousands of students in his years here, and in doing so he has made an enormous contribution to Biology education.  We will miss him as we scratch our heads about how to replace such a fine scientist.  

Recent additions to the faculty include Dr. Peter Lavrentyev (hired 1998, environmental microbiologist), Dr. Joel Duff (hired 1999, plant systematist), Dr. Lauchlan Fraser (hired 1999, wetlands ecologist), Dr. Qin Liu (hired 2000, developmental neurobiologist), Dr. Brian Baggato (hired 2001, animal physiologist) and Dr. Francisco Moore (hired 2001 evolutionary biologist).  This next year (2001-2) we hope to hire 2 new faculty- both of which will be partially supported by recent donations to the Biology department. 

Our goals for Biology are to 1) build a PhD program, and 2) build a field station on the Bath Nature Preserve.  Both are large projects, but with our excellent new faculty, we are confident of success.  Just one example of our success-the total $ won in external grants is now more than $1,000,000 per year! The Biology department is seeking a Ph.D. program in Integrative Biology, which will encompass all research efforts in the department and offer a unique educational experience.  In the meantime, 6 Ph.D. students are enrolled at Kent State University, but carrying out their research in the laboratories of Drs. Ely, Milsted, Fraser, Weeks, and Salisbury.  These faculty have joint appointments with Kent State University School of Biomedical Sciences or Dept. of Biology.

FACULTY UPDATES

Dr. Dan Ely:rat.gif (24589 bytes)
1. One of my honors students in biology, Lisa Curtis graduated with highest honors in College and will be starting PT school at Univ Pitts.

2. Another honors student, Eric Kensicki is going to OU med school and had his project on sodium appetite accepted with revisions for pub in AJAppl Phys.

3. Tom Jones, MS UA 98 successfully defended his PhD proposal at MCO in molecular

4. Ann Caplea, MS, UA ? will defend her dissertation in the KSU_NEOUCOM program in September 2001. She just had a manuscript accepted in AJ Appl. Phys on norepinephrine turnover in hypertensive rats.

5. I was invited to be an associate editor for the Ohio J. Science which will impress Jerry to no end!!!

EMAIL DR. ELY

Dr. Lauchlan Fraser:plant.gif (113066 bytes)

Dr. Fraser, a community ecologist, joined the faculty in 1999.  During the last two years, the Fraser lab, consisting of one PhD student (B. Patrick), three MSc students (M. Bradford, S. Carty and J. Karnezis) and a lab manager (A. Landaw), has developed three major areas of research.  (1) Wetland research at the Bath Nature Preserve.  We are interested in wetland restoration and the effects of hydrology, fertility and herbivory on the establishment of wetland plant communities. Microcosms are being used to study these factors.  (2) Constructed wetlands for the treatment of wastewater.  We are monitoring treatment wetlands across Ohio to understand their function and performance.  We are also running small-scale microcosm experiments to determine whether certain plants are better than others at treating wastewater.  (3) Grassland experiments on the Bath Nature Preserve.  Here, we are investigating energy flow in ecosystems and how trophic dynamics can potentially affect plant composition and diversity.  Dr. Fraser teaches General Ecology, Community/Ecosystem Ecology, Wetland Ecology and Field Ecology (with Drs. Niewiarowski, Mitchell and Weeks).  In addition, Dr. Fraser will be team teaching a writing course for Biology graduate students with Dr. Ely this Fall, 2001.

EMAIL DR. FRASER

Dr. Richard Londravillewpe1.gif (3557 bytes):

Dr. Londraville joined the faculty in 1996; his specialty is Cell Physiology. Currently his lab is working on various projects centered around understanding fat metabolism in fish. In 1997 he traveled to South Africa to study great white sharks, and his research was featured in Outside Magazine and The Learning Channel. Currently he is funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to study the hormone leptin in lizards and fish.  This work has been mentioned by CBS news website, Science, and The Scientist.  He teaches Cell Physiology, Principles of Biology, Ichthyology, and Structure and Function of Proteins.  Past alumni of the Londraville lab are currently in graduate school (Kent State, MCO), in medical school (MCO, NEOUCOM), or working as biologists (Akron Health Dept., Case Western Reserve).  Dr. Londraville teaches Principles of Biology, Ichthyology, Cell Physiology, and Structure and Function of Proteins.

EMAIL DR. LONDRAVILLE

Dr. Randy Mitchell:plant.gif (113066 bytes)

Dr. Mitchell joined the faculty in 1995. His specialty is evolutionary ecology, with an emphasis on plant-animal interactions. Currently his lab is working on various projects centered on understanding how plant mating patterns are influenced by pollinator behavior, and how pollinator behaviors are influenced by plant attributes. Those projects involve fieldwork in the threatened Oak Openings habitats of northwest Ohio, and in wetlands of central Wisconsin and northeast Ohio. Past field sites include Colorado, California, and Southern Australia. In 1998, his work in New Mexico was profiled in "Science News." He teaches Introductory Ecology, Field Ecology, Flora and Taxonomy, and Entomology, and is helping to organize plans for the University’s new Bath Field Station.

EMAIL DR. MITCHELL

Dr. Amy Milsted:dna.gif (67595 bytes)

Dr. Milsted has been a member of the Biology Department for 8 years. She studies hypertension in female rats and collaborates with Drs. Ely and Turner on studies of the role of the spontaneously hypertensive rat Y chromosome in high blood pressure in males. Courses taught: Molecular Biology, Basic DNA Techniques, Cell & Molecular Biology. Current student projects: Jim Treacle, Ph.D. student, Sry gene expression in hypertensive and normotensive rats; Atossa Shaltouki, MS student, Effects of a low salt diet on female SHR/y and WKY rats; Lisa Bowe, Honors student, Transfection studies with Sry expression vectors. A former student, Tony Lee (MS 1996), completed his Ph.D. this summer atUC Santa Barbara and is now working for Pharmacia.

EMAIL DR. MILSTED

Dr. Peter Niewiarowski:lizard.jpg (63176 bytes)

Peter Niewiarowski joined the faculty in 1995 and teaches Vertebrate Zoology, Herpetology, Principles II, Advanced Ecology, and Field Ecology. His research includes projects on the ecology and evolution of amphibians (mole salamanders) and reptiles (fence lizards). Since arriving at Akron, he has concentrated on putting together a comprehensive research laboratory to study the physiological ecology of herps, especially energetics and locomotor performance. Current research projects with graduate and undergraduate students include measuring sprint speed ability (using a computer controlled racetrack), endurance and VO2max (using a lizard treadmill) of fence lizards. Peter has also started a collaboration with Dr. Richard Londraville to investigate the possibility of using the hormone leptin to manipulate the age at which lizards start reproducing (recently funded by NSF). Finally, Peter and his student continue to monitor an amphibian breeding pond near the new Bath Field Station. Peter can mark and recapture all amphibians entering or leaving the pond and study the population dynamics of several species.

EMAIL DR. NIEWIAROWSKI

Dr. Scott Orcutt:

Dr. Orcutt joined the department in 1971.bird.gif (193668 bytes) Most alumni will remember him as one of the Principles of Biology profs. He continues doing this course year round as well as Biology of Behavior and Ornithology. In 1988 with the help of former department head Dale Jackson, he began a Tropical Field Biology course taught at a marine lab in Jamaica. This course continues annually with Dr. Steve Weeks as the other instructor, following Dr. Jackson's retirement. In 1990 Dr. Orcutt was also appointed Assistant Department Head, and in this capacity he continues as the chief "paper-pusher" for the department.  As mentioned above, the 2001-2002 academic year will be Dr. Orcutt's last before retirement.  Here are some recent projects with Dr. Orcutt's students:

  • Carolyn Kurtz earned the MS from our department in Fall, 2000, studying daily time budgets in black-and-white ruffed lemurs in a semi-free ranging setting at the Duke University Primate Center.
  • Renee Fetters is currently studying the development of cooperative behavior and possible correlations to social dominance in a small troop of chimpanzees at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

EMAIL DR. ORCUTT

Dr. Ron Salisbury: brain.gif (45808 bytes)

My laboratory is currently working on the role of estrogen in the masculinization of the nervous system. Presently, we are developing the superior cervical ganglion as a model for this work. The ganglion of the male rat has 25-30% more neurons than that of the female and estrogen is necessary to obtain the extra neurons. Some of our questions are (1)What cells within the ganglion make estrogen during development?, (2) Are the target cells of the estrogen neuronal or non-neuronal?, (3) Does the estrogen stimulate cells to divide in the male ganglion or does it spare them from programmed cell death?, and (4) What developmental molecular messages are "turned on" as a result of estrogen action?

I no longer teach "DVA" , but I still teach Vertebrate Embryology, Histology and the Biology of Reproduction. In addition, I have assumed the responsibility of teaching Histotechniques since Dr. Moses retirement. The Dept. Of Biology has grown in many ways and I love working here more than ever. Oh and yes, I still manage to find time to get out my fly rod!

EMAIL DR. SALISBURY

Dr. Steve Weeks:

Dr. Weeks Dr. Weeks joined the faculty in 1994 as the resident invertebrate zoologist. He works on an unusual freshwater crustacean (Eulimnadia texana) studying the evolution of their unique mating system (mixtures of males and hermaphrodites). Projects funded by the National Science Foundation include genetic and ecological studies examining the effects of mating between close relatives (inbreeding), relative survival of males and hermaphrodites, and the effectiveness of males in fertilizing hermaphrodites. Currently he is working with Dr. Duff as well as Dr. Hoeh at Kent State University on three DNA-based projects to better understand the mating system of these shrimp: (1) constructing a DNA-based phylogeny of the family Limnadiidae, (2) estimating outcrossing rates in natural shrimp populations, and (3) estimating migration rates among pools of these shrimp.  Dr. Weeks is also interested in life history evolution in fish, and has sponsored several graduate students who have examined the effects of reproduction on swimming efficiency in mosquitofish and the effects of pollutants on life history traits in minnows. Dr. Weeks teaches invertebrate zoology, parasitology, tropical field biology, population biology, and field ecology , and is helping to organize plans for the University's new Bath Field Station.

EMAIL DR. WEEKS

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