This page provides details about how to get involved in research with the Biology department here at Bowdoin. It includes general information, details on specific faculty research interests, and a form to indicate interest for those who would like to get involved.
Read about the process of getting involved in Biology research opportunities here.
Learn about the research happening in Biology labs by clicking on a faculty name below to see a summary of their specific research.
To indicate interest in engaging in research with the Biology department, please submit the online Biology Research Interest Form. Submissions must be received no later than December 1, 2021.
In the online form, students interested in summer fellowships can indicate the faculty research programs that interest them the most. There is no guarantee that students will get into their first choice, as space in faculty labs is limited. Students are not required to contact potential faculty mentors before filling out this form, although they are welcome to do so in order to find out more information.
Faculty research interests
My lab primarily studies how chromosomes are organized within the three-dimensional space of the nucleus, and how physical interactions between chromosomes can influence gene expression. We focus on Drosophila melanogaster in part because of the amazing genetic tools available, and in part because of the simple organization of chromosomes in this system. We use tools of molecular biology (PCR, CRISPR, transgenic organisms), microscopy of fixed and living tissues, and computational tools for image and sequence analysis. Some of our projects branch out into developmental biology, genomics, and some weird stuff.
I am an evolutionary biologist primarily interested in micro-evolution. I have an inordinate fondness for marine organisms, but have dabbled in some intriguing terrestrial systems, including the Hawaiian flycatcher radiation. My research has drawn on a variety of methods, but the approach and tools of Molecular Ecology unites ongoing work in my lab.
The goal of my research is understanding the mechanisms that underlie the ability of the nervous system to generate flexibility in patterned movements. Many activities, such as breathing and locomotion, require repeated patterns of movement. These rhythmic movements are controlled by neural circuits that are "hard-wired", but are nonetheless able to generate multiple outputs, thereby allowing the same network to control multiple versions of a behavior, for example, running and walking. My lab uses two simple neural circuits in the lobster as a model system in which to examine the physiological and molecular mechanisms that drive this flexibility. We use a range of techniques, including physiological recordings of neuronal activity, recordings of heart contractions, immunohistochemistry, and some molecular techniques.
His research explores plant ecology using a combination of field sampling and molecular ecology tools to study clonal plants at the population and community scale. Representing a large proportion of the planet’s flora and naturally resulting in genetic replicates across heterogeneous environments, clonal plants are an excellent model species for the study of ecological dynamics particular to the plant kingdom.
We want to understand the cellular mechanisms by which adenosine receptor antagonists and agonist modulates the firing properties of the spinal CPG network for locomotion since adenosine receptors have been related to the reduction of inflammation and neuroprotection after a spinal cord injury. We are additionally studying the role of adenosine and dopamine in the pathological physiology of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which is a very prevalent neurologic disorder. Our Lab addresses these questions through a combination of electrophysiological and calcium imaging experiments integrating mouse genetics, neuroanatomy, and neurophysiology.
The Horch lab uses the cricket model system to examine the molecular neurobiological basis of a number of areas including regeneration, behavior, and development. Mainly, the lab focuses on how the auditory system of the cricket recovers from injury. Removing one ear induces auditory interneurons to sprout new dendrites, grow abnormally across the mid-line, and form synapses with intact auditory neurons from the opposite ear. This is an elegant and robust example of neuronal plasticity, and it happens in adult crickets. The Horch lab uses echniques such as fluorescent backfills, immunohistochemistry, Q-PCR, RNA interference, behavioral assays, and confocal microscopy to understand the consequences of the loss of an ear.
Our research investigates the genetic control of zebrafish embryonic tooth development. Students working in the lab learn about a wide variety of biological principles, including the regulation of gene expression, cell signaling, organogenesis, and evolution.
Biomechanics, functional morphology and ecophysiology of marine invertebrates and algae; mechanisms and modeling of growth of sea urchins, scaling of metabolic rate, neuromechanics of lobster heart contraction, and biomechanics of underwater legged locomotion, especially sea stars!
I am a behavioral ecologist working in diverse systems. My summer research occurs at the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island in New Brunswick, Canada. I examine the factors that influence animal foraging decisions including perception, learning, social learning, and memory. I am particularly fascinated by the role of animal cognition in shaping ecological communities. Current Kent Island research projects include how bee behavior influences pollination ecology, life-history trade-offs and climate change impacts in a long-lived seabird species the Leach’s storm-petrel, forest ecology and succession, and intertidal species interactions. Please see the Kent Island website for more information about Kent Island summer fellowships.
We use genetics, microscopy and biochemistry of Arabidopsis to understand cell adhesion, and how cell surface receptors regulate plant development and the response to pathogens. We focus on the Golgi ELMO proteins and Cell Wall Associated Kinases, WAKs, that serve as pectin receptors required for both normal cell elongation and for an induced stress response.
Professor Logan examines plant responses to environmental stress, with a particular interest in photosynthesis and mechanisms protecting leaves from intense light. He works across North America, from conifer forests in interior Alaska to the Florida panhandle, and in a relict urban forest near Washington D.C. He seeks to understand the faint fluorescent glow emitted by plants and its ability to reveal aspects of plant function. In another project, he examines the impacts of parasitic mistletoe on spruce trees along the Maine coast.
Candida albicans is a microscopic fungus that lives in human hosts. Although the presence of Candida cells does not affect the health of most human hosts, if the host’s immune system is compromised, C. albicans can cause a range of human diseases, from non-life threatening vaginal or oral infections to severe bloodstream infections that are often fatal. The ability of C. albicans to switch growth forms between circular yeast cells and elongated hyphal cells is required for this fungus to cause disease in animal models. We use genetics, biochemistry and microscopy to understand how RNA-binding proteins, which help control what proteins are made by cells, impact this yeast-to-hyphal transition.
My research interests are centered within the field of evolutionary genetics—studying how genes and genomes evolve, and why we see these patterns. My lab is currently focused on studying the evolution of enhancers, which are short stretches of DNA that regulate transcription of a nearby gene(s). In particular, we are assessing how variable enhancer function is within and between species of fruit flies. To do so, we are measuring the way DNA is folded throughout the genome (termed chromatin conformation), since active enhancers are almost always very open in structure, whereas inactive enhancers tend to be folded up tightly. This work involves both laboratory research and the use of computers to analyze the genome-wide data.
Environmental impacts, including pollution and climate change, can dramatically affect the species we find in ecological communities and how these species interact. Human impacts can also trigger rapid evolutionary changes in populations strong enough to affect population dynamics, species interactions, and nutrient fluxes. In other words, anthropogenic global change can drive eco-evolutionary dynamics. I use a combination of field studies and laboratory experiments to explore these dynamics in natural populations, mainly zooplankton assemblages in lakes. Some of my work has looked at these trends over century and longer time scales using lake sediment archives as well as “resurrection” of diapausing zooplankton eggs. There is a presumption that rapid evolution occurs in response to strong selection pressure, resulting in local adaptation, and that these evolutionary responses may, in turn, influence species interactions. My research has shown that these dynamics may not be that simple, particularly in human impacted systems.