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Department of Biology

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Welcome to Biology at ECU! We are a broad department that emphasizes integrative approaches drawing from across the life sciences. We have particular strengths in biodiversity, coastal ecology, and several areas of molecular biology and biotechnology. We offer undergraduate majors in Biology and Biochemistry and graduate opportunities at both the MS and PhD levels. Our faculty, students, and staff have received a wide range of honors and awards and some of their achievements are highlighted on this site. We encourage alumni to keep in touch and prospective students to visit. I look forward to hearing from you!

Jeff McKinnon, Chair


Biology News


Congratulations to:

Jeff McKinnon and Chris Balakrishnan for their recent NIH grant

Dave Chalcraft and Heather Vance-Chalcraft for a Centennial Award for Service.

Anne Bunnell for a Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching.



The premiere of the new X-Men movie, and The Mythbusters, Kirk Johnson, Brian Greene, Sir Patrick Stewart, George Takei. 

Ten of the best Nerd Nite presentations of all time from across the country.

And Chris Balakrishnan, Founder/Godfather of Nerd Nite, and Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology

Nerd Nite has teamed up with the Smithsonian's second annual The Future Is Here Festival May 16-18, 2014 in Washington DC so you can learn about the merging of science and science fiction from the most prestigious minds in the world while having fun!



Biology Professor Awarded Grant to Purchase Ion Proton DNA Sequencer for ECU

GREENVILLE, N.C. (April 10, 2014) — Dr. Edmund Stellwag, director of the East Carolina University Genomics Core Facility and Biotechnology Education Program and associate professor of biology, has received a North Carolina Biotechnology Center grant for the purchase of an Ion Proton DNA sequencer that will benefit collaborators from both East and West campuses.

  SueMcRaeJune170 Teaching Associate Professor Susan McRae Wins Scholar Teacher Award


Graduate Students bring in Multiple Grants


Molly Albecker  (Dr. M. McCoy) was the recipient of two awards in support of her study of the long-term ecological consequences of sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into coastal freshwater animal communities. The first was from the North Carolina Herpetological Society, and the second was from the Explorers Club.

  Renee Fortner (Dr. Jolls) has been awarded the 2014 Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship for Conservation Horticulture from the Center for Plant Conservation of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Garden Club of America in support of her work "The Reproductive Ecology of the Federally Endangered Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi)." 

Amanda Clauser (Dr. McRae) was awarded the the 2014 GCA Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for her project "Climate-related challenges to reproductive success in costal populations of a threatened secretive marsh bird, the King Rail" by the Scholarship Committee of the Garden Club of America.


Associate Professor (and ICSP joint appointee) Dr. Dave Kimmel wins prestigious ECU 5-year Research Award for 2013-14.


Students Publish Toxicology Articles

  Two students studying in the Biochemical Toxicology lab of Dr. Xiaoping Pan were the first authors of two recently published papers featured by the Editor-in-Chief of the professional journal Archives of Toxicology (ATOX), a prestigious journal in the field of Toxicology. Yanqiong Zhang, a Ph.D. student in Pans lab, was the lead author of the first of a series of manuscripts from the lab describing some of the environmental impacts associated with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 The paper, "Chemical dispersant potentiates crude oil impacts on growth, reproduction, and gene expression in Caenorhabditis elegans". Archives of Toxicology 87(2): 371-82 was published in 2013 (abstract).

  Joseph Ryan Polli, an undergraduate student working in Pans' lab, was the first author of the second paper of the series, published in the current issue of ATOX titled "Dispersed crude oil amplifies germ cell apoptosis in Caenorhabditis elegans, followed a CEP-1-dependent pathway". Archives of Toxicology 88(3): 543-551 (abstract).


ECU Biology Students win Awards
at Sigma Xi Meeting

Two graduate students (Faten Taki and Dorothy Dobbins) and two undergraduate students (Joseph Polli and Erin Connolly) won presentation awards at the November 8-9 Sigma XI Student Research Conference, held at Research Triangle Park, Durham NC.

Faculty member (and Chair) publishes
invited commentary in Nature

Jeff McKinnon, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology, has published an invited commentary in leading journal Nature on the "rare male effect" in the guppy. Maria Servedio, Associate Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, is a co-author on the article.

David Chalcraft's article

was selected as one of the 100 most influential papers published by the British Ecological Society


Functional diversity within a morphologically conservative genus of predators: implications for functional equivalence and redundancy in ecological communities. Functional Ecology 2007, 21, 793–804.


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