Faculty Research

The following is a brief description of research programs of full-time faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, and the institution that awarded their doctorate degree.

Bengt J. Allen, Ph.D.

Marine Community Ecology. Effects of climate change on the structure and function of rocky shore communities. Interactions between native seagrass and an invasive marine bivalve.

Renaud Berlemont, Ph.D.

Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics. Comparative (meta)genomics and polysaccharides processing by environmental microbial isolates/communities (e.g. cellulose degredation).

Judy A. Brusslan, Ph.D.

Plant Molecular Biology. Leaf senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetic and genome-wide analysis of histone modifications that accompany leaf senescence.

Ashley Carter, Ph.D.

Theoretical and Empirical Evolutionary Biology. Theoretical: mathematical and computer simulation models of evolutionary processes, comparative allometric studies. Empirical: insect quantitative genetics and morphometrics, fluctuating asymmetry.

Jesse Dillon, Ph.D.

Microbial Ecology and Evolution. Molecular diversity and ecophysiology of microbial communities in extreme environments. Please note that Dr. Dillon is not currently accepting new students.

Elizabeth D. Eldon, Ph.D.

Developmental Biology. Genetic and molecular analysis of receptor signaling in development and innate immunity.

Amanda E. Fisher, Ph.D.

Plant Evolution and Systematics. especially Acanthaceae and Poaceae. Floristics and plant conservation.

Deborah A. Fraser Ph.D.

Investigating Molecular Mechanisms of the Innate Immune Response. We are looking at the role of complement proteins in inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Editte Gharakhanian, Ph.D.

Molecular Cell Biology. Identify genes and gene products involved in trafficking of proteins to the lysosome of Baker's yeast; study their conservation in humans and their connection to human diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer. Please note that Dr. Gharakhanian is no longer accepting new graduate students.

Michael Harris, Ph.D.

Physiology. Our research is primarily focused around questions of how the body sets and meets the demands of metabolism. Studies of metabolic regulation, and of the cells and neuronal circuits that respond to CO2 and O2 and modulate breathing and blood flow. Also, the evolutionary origins and consistency of these mechanisms across species from invertebrates to mammals.

Raisa Hernández Pacheco, Ph. D.

Population Ecology. I am interested in understanding processes shaping the demography of populations. I center my research on structured population models with a particular focus on Cayo Santiago rhesus macaques.

Erika Holland, Ph.D.

Aquatic Toxicology. My aim is to understand the impact of pollutants on aquatic organisms, particularly fish. Ongoing research focuses on chemicals that alter Ca2+ signaling pathways essential physiological processes including neurodevelopment, striated muscle function and oocyte fertilization.

Darren Johnson, Ph.D.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Reef Fishes. Field studies of demographic rates and population dynamics. Quantitative genetics of growth and behavior. Natural selection in the sea.

Lisa S. Klig, Ph.D.

Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics. Analysis of inositol metabolism in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Inositol is a sugar that can serve as a precursor for a membrane phospholipid (phosphatidylinositol), a second messenger in signal transduction, an osmolyte, or an energy source. Disruption of inositol metabolism has been observed in patients with bipolar disease, developmental disorders, and diabetes. Inositol metabolism may also be involved in the pathogenicity of specific fungi that infect humans. Furthering the understanding of inositol metabolism may lead to effective therapeutic agents.

Brian Livingston, Ph.D.

Development and Evolution. We study the development and evolution of mineralized tissue in echinoderms. We use proteomics and genomics to identify genes that encode proteins involved in forming a skeleton. We use molecular techniques to study expression of these genes and to study how they evolve.

Christopher G. Lowe, Ph.D.

Physiological and Behavioral Ecology of Teleost Gamefishes and Elasmobranchs. Emphasis on bioenergetics, physiological and behavioral fisheries ecology, and movement patterns of gamefishes and elasmobranches.

Ari Martinez, Ph. D.

Behavioral and Community Ecology. My research interest lies at the intersection of behavioral and community ecology. How does sociality among species influence the organization of animal communities? To what extent does social information about predators and food drive patterns of species associations? How do social groups influence the organization of the larger communities of which they are a part? I rely heavily on field experiments and observations, using mixed species groups of birds. I am currently incorporating molecular techniques to understand how social behavior influences diet overlap (as a proxy for niche overlap) among co-existing species.

Douglas Pace, Ph.D.

Ecological Physiology. Physiological mechanisms of adaptation. Elucidation of the molecular and biochemical pathways that allow organisms to tolerate environmental stress and variability. Laboratory focuses on cellular physiology through investigations of the parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii and organismal physiology through research on marine invertebrate larvae.

Bruno Pernet, Ph.D.

Marine Invertebrate Biology. Development, functional morphology, and evolution of marine invertebrate larvae.

Peter Ramirez, Ph.D.

Viral Pathogenesis / Molecular Cell Biology. My research focuses on the interplay between viruses and the host immune response. Specifically, we are trying to characterize the mechanisms by which retroviral gene products modulate host cell pathways and antiviral defenses to cause disease in humans.

Bryan Rourke, Ph.D.

Integrative Animal Physiology. Vertebrate muscle physiology, effects of hibernation, exercise, and metabolism.

Kevin Sinchak, Ph.D.

Reproductive Behavioral Neuroendocrinology; Neuroscience and Neurosteroids. I study the gonadal steroid regulation of neural circuits that control reproductive behavior, and the physiology and function of steroids made in the brain (neurosteroids).

Ted Stankowich, Ph.D.

Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology. Evolution of predator-prey interactions, including antipredator behavior, defensive weaponry, predator recognition, coloration, risk assessment, and escape decisions. Main focus is on mammals but enjoys working on other taxa as well.

Houng-Wei Tsai, Ph.D.

Epigenetic Neuroendocrinology. My research interest is to understand the neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate reproductive function and behaviors at molecular, cellular, and systemic levels. I use epigenetic approach to identify the sexually dimorphic genes that control sexual differentiation in the mouse brain structure and behavior.

Christine Whitcraft, Ph.D.

Wetlands Ecology. Conservation Biology, Human Impacts on Salt Marsh Ecosystems and Food Webs.

Raymond R. Wilson, Ph.D.

Marine Ichthyology. Population genetics of marine fishes.

  • Contact: Ray.Wilson@csulb.edu
  • Ph.D. from University of California, San Diego-Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Kelly Young, Ph.D.

Reproductive Biology. Seasonal changes in reproductive physiology; photoperiodic regulation of ovarian/testicular function.

Mason X. Zhang, Ph.D.

Host-Pathogen Interactions. Genetic engineering of human antibodies; host defense mechanisms against microbial infection.