Biosciences in the 21st Century
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Biographies of 2014 Lecturers

Berger | Burger | Careyva | Cassimeris | Chen | Cheng | Davis | Endy | Ferris | Haas | Iovine | Jellison
Kuchka | Lang | Layden | Liu | Lopresti | Lowe-Krentz | Marzillier | Miwa | Nyby |
Rice | Sands | Simon | Slee | Skibbens | Ware | Wynne | Zhou

  • Bryan Berger, Ph.D. studies several problems at the interface of biophysics and engineering, including membrane protein biophysics, the design of novel biosurfactants with new chemical properties, and synthetic biology.   His work is highly multidisciplinary, as he uses a wide spectrum of experimental and computational tools in his research.  Dr. Berger earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.  He is affiliated with Lehigh’s Bioengineering Program.  He has established several collaborations including one with Dr. Kathy Iovine, studying membrane protein interactions relevant to bone growth and development.
  • R. Michael Burger, Ph.D. - Dr. Burger’s research focuses on the neurobiology of hearing with an emphasis on electrophysiological techniques.  The objectives of his work include resolving the synaptic and systems level function of auditory brain circuitry.  He has published in several prestigious journals including the Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Neurophysiology, and the Journal of Comparative Neurology. His work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Burger received his BA from Ithaca College, his PhD from the University of Texas and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Washington Medical School and the University of Munich.
  • Beth Careyva, M.D. - coming soon!
  • Lynne Cassimeris, Ph.D. - Dr. Cassimeris’ laboratory focuses on mechanisms of cell growth and cell division and the role that components of the cell’s internal skeleton play in these processes. The primary cytoskeletal components of interest in her laboratory are microtubules, which are required for separating the duplicated genome equally into each daughter cell during cell division. Dr. Cassimeris earned a B.S. degree from Springfield College and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  She came to Lehigh in 1992 as an assistant professor of molecular biology and a Dana Foundation Faculty Fellow after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is the author of numerous journal articles describing the behavior of microtubules and their role in cell division, and most recently lead author of the popular textbook, Lewin’s Cells and Microtubules: In vivo.
  • Brian Chen, Ph.D. - Dr. Chen’s teaching interest is focused in Bioinformatics in the areas of protein engineering, drug design and the annotation of protein function.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Rutgers University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Rice University.  Before coming to Lehigh, Dr. Chen was a research scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University.
  • Xuanhong Cheng, Ph.D. has a long-standing interest in developing and applying engineering tools, including micro/nanotechnology, chemical and electrical approaches to study biological problems, especially those related to whole cells. Her research emphasis has been on biomaterials, surface modification, surface science, cell-surface interaction, biological microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS) and global health diagnostics.  She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wuhan University, China,  her master’s degree in electrical engineering, and her doctorate in bioengineering both from the University of Washington.  Dr. Cheng came to Lehigh from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she was a postdoctoral fellow.
  • Dena Davis, J.D., Ph.D. is a world renowned  expert in biomedical ethics, recently appointed as Lehigh’s first Presidential Endowed Chair in Health in the social sciences and humanities. Most recently, Dr. Davis was at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (Cleveland State University) where she was the James A. Thomas Distinguished Professor of Law.  She has published widely in biomedical ethics, including the books, Genetic Dilemmas: Reproductive Technology, Parental Choices, and Children’s Futures and Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religious Studies and Bioethics, and How Genes Tell Stories.  She is a member of the National Institutes of Health Embryonic Stem Cell Eligibility Working Group, has served as senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics, and is a legal consultant to the Committee on Bioethics at the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She serves on the boards of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and of the American Academy of Religion. She earned a B.A. in religion from Marlboro College, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Iowa. 
  • Andrew Endy, Ph.D. - Drew Endy helped start the newest engineering major, bioengineering, at both MIT and Stanford. His research teams pioneered the redesign of genomes and invented the transcriptor, a simple DNA element that allows living cells to implement Boolean logic. In 2013 President Obama recognized Endy for his work with the BioBricks Foundation to bootstrap a free-to-use language for programming life. He has been working with designers, social scientists, and others to transcend the industrialization of nature, most recently co-authoring Synthetic Aesthetics (MIT Press, 2014). Drew is also a co-founder of Gen9, Inc., a DNA construction company, and the iGEM competition. Esquire magazine named Endy one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century.
  • Craig Ferris, Ph.D. - coming soon!
  • Julie Haas, Ph.D. - Dr. Haas’ research focuses  on synaptic plasticity and how activity affects the strength of neural connections.  She uses electrophysiology techniques and high resolution imaging approaches in her work on plasticity of gap junctional  (electrical) and inhibitory synapses in brain slices. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Science, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, Journal of Computational Neuroscience, and Journal of Neurophysiology.   Dr. Haas earned a bachelor’s degree in Music and Mathematics from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University.  Thereafter, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Most recently, she was a research associate  in the laboratory of Dr. Carole Landisman at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University before coming to Lehigh. 
  • M. Kathryn Iovine, Ph.D. received B.S. degrees in Biology and Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University in St. Louis. She completed post-doctoral research training in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen L. Johnson in the Genetics Department at Washington University, and was supported by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD). Research in the Iovine lab focuses on the role of direct cell-to-cell communication in regulating bone size and shape. Since arriving at Lehigh, Dr. Iovine received an early career research award (K22) from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and her research is currently funded by the NICHD. Dr. Iovine is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University.
  • Kristen Jellison, Ph.D. - Dr. Jellison’ research interests center on the control of waterborne disease transmission. Her work focuses on watershed protection and drinking water treatment.  In her work on waterborne disease transmission, she works to understand pathogen ecology, particularly that of the pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum .  Additionally, she is developing detection methods to allow investigators to distinguish between pathogenic and nonpathogenic species of Cryptosporidium.  Dr. Jellison obtained her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in the same field from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.  In addition to her teaching and research interests in civil and environmental engineering, she works on several projects with Lehigh University’s Engineers Without Borders.
  • Michael Kuchka, Ph.D. - Dr. Kuchka’s research has focused on the regulation of expression of chloroplast genes as well as interactions between the nucleus and chloroplast in the unicellular green alga, Chlamydomonas  reinhardtii.  His laboratory is now focusing on genes involved in several metabolic pathways including the glyoxlate cycle.  Dr. Kuchka earned his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.  After postdoctoral work in the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Geneva, Dr. Kuchka came to Lehigh University in 1988.  Dr. Kuchka teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in cell and molecular biology and molecular genetics.
  • Gregory Lang, Ph.D. - Dr. Lang’s research interests focus on the mechanisms that underlie the genomic basis of evolution. Using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and related species, the Lang lab combines long term evolution experiments with comparative genomics to address fundamental questions in evolutionary genomics.  Dr. Lang earned a B.S. in molecular biology with minors in physics and biochemistry from Millersville University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Harvard University, working in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Murray where he studied variation in the mutation rate in yeast.  Following his graduate work, he moved to Princeton University for a postdoctoral position in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics under the mentorship of Dr. David Botstein.  Dr. Lang is a new faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences.
  • Michael Layden, Ph.D. - coming soon!
  • Jing Liu is a member of Dr. Yevgeny Berdichevsky’s neural engineering laboratory where the research focus is on the application of bioMEMS/microfluidic technology to problems in neuroscience.  Several projects are underway in the Berdichevsky laboratory, including the development of culture and recording technologies to screen drugs, studies of the signaling pathways in post-traumatic epilepsy, and studies of the architecture of neural circuits.  Jing received her bachelor’s degree in 2012 from Wuhan University in China in the Department of Physics.  She is now studying here at Lehigh University as a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • Daniel Lopresti, Ph.D. received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth in 1982 and his Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton in 1987. After completing his doctorate, he joined the Computer Science Department at Brown and taught courses ranging from VLSI design to computational aspects of molecular biology. He went on to help found the Matsushita Information Technology Laboratory, and later also served on the research staff at Bell Labs. In 2003, Dr. Lopresti joined the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Lehigh where his work focuses on fundamental algorithmic and systems-related questions in pattern recognition, with applications in bioinformatics, document analysis, and computer security. This past summer, he collaborated with Drs. Stefan Maas (Biological Sciences) and Ian Laurenzi (Chemical Engineering) as well as a student research team to develop computational techniques for searching large genetic databases for evidence of RNA editing events, a part of Lehigh's Biosystems Dynamics Summer Institute funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Other of his projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dr. Lopresti is co-director of the Lehigh Pattern Recognition Research (PatRec) Lab. He has authored over 100 publications and holds 21 U.S. patents.
  • Linda Lowe-Krentz, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Biological Sciences Department. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University. She then carried out research in cancer biochemistry at the Chicago Medical School. Her current research is focused on signal transduction and wound repair in the vascular system. Among other things, she teaches biochemistry of metabolism and a graduate course on signal transduction and cancer.
  • Jutta Marzillier, Ph.D. is on the faculty at Kutztown University and was the former head of he Genomics/ Proteomics Facility in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University, offering DNA sequencing, quantitative RT-PCR, microarrays, and protein analysis.  She earned her master’s degree from the University of Giessen and her doctorate from the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and did her postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA.  She then joined start-up biotechnology companies investigating the utilization of extracelluar matrix proteins for growth and expansion of human embryonic stem cells. 
  • Julie Miwa, Ph.D. - Dr. Miwa’s research  focuses on the genetics of learning and behavioral plasticity in the brain.  Her work examines what changes occur in our brain to alter learning potential as we age.  She discovered a gene in mice called lynx1, which is expressed during the time the brain transitions from its most “plastic” state in youth to its adult status.  Her work now focuses on understanding how lynx1 works on a cellular level and how the activity of the gene might be controlled. Her work encompasses molecular biology and genetics, electron, light, and fluorescence microscopy, slice electrophysiology, and behavioral research.   Dr. Miwa earned her undergraduate degree in neurobiology from the University of California at Berkeley and her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University in Neuroscience.  She remained at Rockefeller University for postdoctoral work and trained further at Yale University in the Psychiatry Department.  Most recently, she was a senior research fellow at California Institute of Technology before coming to Lehigh.  Dr. Miwa will teach courses in neuroscience, molecular genetics of the brain and behavioral plasticity.
  • John Nyby, Ph.D. - Dr. Nyby’s research focuses on understanding the role of reflexive testosterone release during sexual encounters in mammals.  The results from his laboratory not only address the relevance of testosterone in male sexual behavior, but also may provide insights into the addictive properties of anabolic steroid use in humans.  Dr. Nyby earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences here at Lehigh.  Dr. Nyby taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in behavioral neuroscience and is the founder of the BA and BS programs in neuroscience. Dr. Nyby retired in May, 2014.
  • Amber Rice, Ph.D. - As an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Rice has focused her research interests on the genetics of ecological speciation and hybridization using population genetic and genomics approaches.  Dr. Rice earned her BA degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from The College of Wooster and her PhD in biology from the University of North Carolina in 2008.  After postdoctoral work at the Evolutionary Biology Centre at Uppsala University in Sweden and back at the University of North Carolina, she joined the faculty here at Lehigh last year.  Her teaching interests include courses in evolutionary biology, ecology and population biology. 
  • Neal G. Simon, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, has over 25 years research experience in behavioral neurobiology. His research in drug development, hormone-neurotransmitter interactions, and behavioral regulation has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Ben Franklin Northeast Tier Technology Partnership, the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA, and the H.F Guggenheim Foundation, and private corporations. Dr. Simon serves on foundation and scientific advisory boards and consults for biotechnology companies. Dr. Simon received a B.A. with honors from the State University of New York at Binghamton, the M.S. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University, and was a National Research Service Postdoctoral Fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  In 1996, he served as a Distinguished Research Professor at Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France.
  • Joshua Slee, Ph.D. - coming soon!
  • Robert Skibbens, Ph.D. - Dr. Skibbens’ research lab focuses on chromosome segregation and cell cycle regulation.  His research has been supported by awards from the NIH, NSF and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Skibbens received his B.S. from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He went on to pursue his post-doctoral studies first at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and then at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Baltimore.  Dr. Skibbens teaches courses in molecular cell biology, the biology of cancer, and immunology.
  • Vassie Ware, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, received her BA from Brown University, her MPhil and PhD from Yale University, and did her postdoctoral training at Brown University.  Her laboratory studies species-specific differences in ribosome maturation in eukaryotic cells, with special interests in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) processing and rRNA-ribosomal protein interactions.  Dr. Ware is the Co-director of the HHMI-sponsored undergraduate education initiative at Lehigh.  She also serves as Co-director of the Distance Education MS Molecular Biology Program and is a member of the Graduate and Infrastructure Committees in the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Ware teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, primarily in the areas of molecular genetics and molecular cell biology.
  • Ryan D. Wynne, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at St. Thomas Aquinas College.  Ryan received his BA in biochemistry/chemistry from East Stroudsburg University, his PhD in biochemistry from Lehigh University and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester.  His past research focused on the role estrogen plays in protecting the brain from degeneration following injury.  Ryan’s current research focuses on understanding how hormones shape both the structure of the vertebrate brain as well as behavior. 
  • Chao Zhou, Ph.D. - Dr. Zhou’s research focuses on the development of novel optical imaging technologies for biomedical applications. His work on the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT) and microscopy (OCM) allows “optical biopsies”  of tissues to be generated without the requirement for tissue removal and processing.  He applies these technologies in a variety of biological and clinical settings,  including cancer research, neuroscience, developmental biology and tissue engineering. Dr. Zhou earned a B.S. in physics from Peking University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania.  He was a postdoctoral research associate from 2007-2012 in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Research Laboratory of Electronics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology prior to coming to Lehigh.

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