People

Faculty

Stan Rachootin

Chair of Biological Sciences; David and Lucy Stewart Professor of Biological Sciences

Stan Rachootin teaches what evolved (Introductory Biology, Terrestrial Arthropods, Invertebrate Zoology), how evolution might work (Evolution, Macroevolution), and how evolution evolved (Darwin). He has advised theses on how flatfish evolved from round fish, why a tiny fly preserved in amber made eye lenses on its wings, and what the differences in shapes of closely related snails teach us about metaphor in statistics. Each project takes a new problem, though most find that development can help disentangle an evolutionary mystery.

Stan Rachootin

Jason Andras

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Jason Andras is interested in the ecological and evolutionary interactions between animals and their microbial symbionts. His previous research has explored these themes in deep-sea hydrothermal vent and coral reef communities. His current research focuses primarily on the coevolution between freshwater zooplankton of the genus Daphnia and one of their highly specific bacterial parasites, Pasteuria ramosa.

Professor Andras, PhD

Sarah Bacon

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Biologist Sarah Bacon is fascinated by the relationship between mother and fetus during pregnancy. "What I'm really interested in is fertility and miscarriage," she says. "Eighty percent of what humans conceive is lost before birth." Bacon says that most pregnancies end before a woman even knows she's pregnant. She's trying to find out why by studying reproduction in rats, which have very similar pregnancies to humans. Bacon also studies the ways in which mother and fetus communicate through the placenta. "It's so powerful, such an enigma," she says. "There's no other relationship that is that physiologically intimate."

Sarah Bacon

Patricia Brennan

Visiting Lecturer of Biological Sciences
 Patty Brennan, Visiting Lecturer of Biological Sciences

Renae Brodie

Chair of Neuroscience and Behavior; Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Renae Brodie is an ecological physiologist who investigates the reproductive and larval biology of crabs. Currently, she is studying fiddler crabs along the Atlantic coast, where she has established field sites from Massachusetts to Georgia to test hypotheses about how temperature and other factors― like population density, food supply and pollution―impact survival and reproduction. Ultimately, insights from these projects will allow Renae, her students and collaborators to predict how the health and geographic ranges of fiddler crab populations will shift as the planet’s climate continues to change.

Renee Brodie, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Amy Hitchcock Camp

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Amy Hitchcock Camp investigates how bacteria—once assumed to be antisocial organisms—“talk” with one another to coordinate complex biological processes. In particular, she studies a bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, that can transform itself into a dormant and nearly indestructible spore. Using molecular, cellular, genetic, and biochemical techniques, the Camp Lab “eavesdrops” on sporulating cells to discover the elegant and unexpected ways that they communicate and control gene expression.

Amy Camp, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Shannon Compton

Visiting Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Rachel Fink

Ida and Marion Van Natta Professor of Biological Sciences

Rachel Fink's current research deals with cytoskeletal dynamics in living fish embryos, with a focus on epithelial cell rearrangements during embryogenesis.  

Rachel Fink

Amy Frary

Chair of Biochemistry; Professor of Biological Sciences

Amy Frary's research focuses on studying the genetic architecture and evolution of plant genomes, largely through the analysis of quantitative traits and comparative genome mapping. She is equally at home among biologists who work at the molecular level and chemists who work at the biological level. Frary has worked with students on the Howard Hughes Summer Research Training program on such topics as the DNA fingerprinting of plants.

Amy Frary

Gary Gillis

Associate Dean of Faculty, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Director of the Science Center

Gary Gillis is interested in the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of animal locomotion. He has worked on systems ranging from swimming fish to running mammals and has been involved in projects exploring plasticity in muscle function and the effects of body size on locomotor movements. Most recently his lab has been using toads to study the control of rapid deceleration during landing. In 2012 and 2013 Gillis served as a Program Officer for the National Science Foundation. Gillis is the point-person for summer student programming, federal grant submissions, and Faculty Fridays.

Gary Gillis, Associate Dean of Faculty

Martha Hoopes

Professor of Biological Sciences, co-chair Nexus in Data Science

Ecologist Martha Hoopes is interested in how species coexist and even more in why they don't. Her research focuses on invasion ecology and conservation biology and the human interactions with the environment that lead to interactions between invasive species and rare species. Hoopes and her students study invasive plant species in the Quabbin, Harvard Forest, and on Mount Holyoke property, using fieldwork, mathematical models, and statistical approaches to explore spatial dynamics and metacommunities, or how communities interact through dispersal.

Martha Hoopes

Rebeccah Lijek

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Rebeccah Lijek is a molecular biologist who investigates how interactions between microorganisms and the immune system can lead to diverse outcomes such as pathogen clearance and protection or chronic inflammation and tissue damage. Her research examines the sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis and how it triggers immunopathology in the female genital tract. She welcomes students interested in using molecular biology, cell culture, and mouse models to study the intersection of microbiology, immunology, and women’s health. 

Rebeccah Lijek, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Shawn Massoni

Visiting Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Elizabeth Mearls

Visiting Lecturer in Biological Sciences

André White

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Andre White's research explores the neurobiological changes that underlie persistent cocaine-seeking behaviors in mice. Previously, he determined little-known known epigenetic mechanism, nucleosome remodeling, was critical for the formation of cocaine-associated memories and synaptic plasticity. This research was recently published in Nature Communications. Through teaching, White seeks to harness students’ curiosity about addiction and direct it towards a better understanding of the nervous system. In his courses, students have the opportunity to manipulate the reward pathway in mice then examine the contribution of those specific brain regions to drug-seeking behavior.

André White, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Craig Woodard

Christianna Smith Professor of Biological Sciences

Craig Woodard’s research group examines metamorphosis in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in an attempt to understand how steroid hormones control biological processes such as development, programmed cell death, tissue remodeling, and insulin signaling. By examining the mechanisms by which ecdysone regulates fly metamorphosis, Woodard hopes to gain a better understanding of how steroid hormones control biological processes in all animals.

Craig Woodard, Professor of Biological Sciences

Staff

Jennifer Atkins

Laboratory Instructor
Jennifer Atkins

Leszek Bledzki

Senior Research Associate

Leszek Bledzki is a limnologist, ecologist and forester, and senior research associate of the Miller-Worley Center for the Environment, Environmental Studies and Biology Departments. He provides curricular support for environmentally-related laboratories in science courses; manages the collection/archival of water quality and weather data; and is assisting faculty and students with independent research. Bledzki's research interests range from biostatistics and modeling, through ecosystems functioning, global climate change, nitrogen and carbon cycling in temperate peatlands to taxonomy, ecology and biogeography of Rotifera, Cladocera and Copepoda. Bledzki has published over 90 peer-reviewed and popular-press articles.

Leszek Bledzki

Blanca Carbajal-Gonzalez

Microscopy Director
Blanca Carbajal-Gonzalez

Colleen Fenton

Research Technician

Louise Grosslein

Lab Director/Instructor for Biological Sciences

Louise Grosslein teaches, preps and designs Biology labs. She taught computer programming for SummerMath at MHC for many years.

Louse Grosslein, Lab Director/Instructor for Biological Sciences

Sue LaBarre

Academic Department Coordinator

Amanda MacAvoy

Laboratory Instructor

Amy Mays

Laboratory Instructor, Biological Sciences

Justyne Ogdahl

Laboratory Instructor; Biological Sciences
Justyne Ogdahl

Deborah Piotrowski

Laboratory and Animal Care Facilities Director

Deborah Piotrowski's Research interests include: turtles, natural history, physiology, and conservation; Animal care & enrichment, and animal welfare. Piotrowski also serves on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Deborah Piotrowski

Alivia Price

Senior Lab Instructor