Biology Research

The biology department maintains an active biological research program along several lines of scientfic inquiry.  The department emphasizes the participation of undergraduate students in research projects and such involvement is supported annually by competitive intramural scholarships.


Heather Ayala:  Genomics, genetic basis of drug resistance in Plasmodium sp.

Jeff Duerr: Bioenergetics and mitochondrial physiology (research lab)

  • Professor Duerr is currently working with two undergraduate students on the role of mitochondria in two human cancer cells lines:  MCF-7 breast cancer cells and LNCaP prostate cancer cells.  In addition, this summer starts year two in a four-year colloaborative study with PSU funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigating the mechansism of metabolic suppression in killifish embryos with ultimate application to human organ preservation and potentially long-term space travel.

Dwight Kimberly: Embryology, developmental biology

Don Powers:  Animal physiological ecology (Lab Web Page)

My current projects include:

  • Hummingbird flight energetics and biomechanics.  This work includes experiments on birds flown in wind tunnels (in collaboration with Dr. Bret Tobalske, University of Montana) and free-living bird both in Oregon and Arizona (in collaboration with Dr. Susan Wethington, Hummingbird Monitoring Network). 
  • Reproductive energetics in red-sided garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis).  Field work for this project is done in Manitoba, Canada in collaboration with Dr. Robert Mason from Oregon State University.
  • The role of aquaporin water channels in cutaneous water absorption and water regulation in rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa). Upcoming experiments include distribution of water channels in tissues in aquatic vs. terrestrial acclimated newts, studies of water uptake and water loss, and exploration of signaling pathways involved in regulating water channel insertion into cell membranes of tissue surfaces.  This work is being done in collaboration with Dr. John Schmitt (George Fox University).

John Schmitt: Molecular biology of cancer

  • Professor Schmitt is currently working with three undergraduate students of the role of estrogen and estrogen analogs in the signaling pathways of human cancer cell lines including MCF-7 breast cancer and LNCaP prostate cancer.  Professor Schmitt recently recieved a Murdock Charitable Trust life science research grant that will fund his research program for the next several years.

Jim Smart:  Molecular genetics, Neuroscience

Kathy Weiss:  Biomedical science

Click here to see a description of the Murdock Collaborative Undergraduate Research program and a list of recent undergraduate student research projects!

Learn more about us through the George Fox University Vimeo channel.