Heather Ayala, PhD
Office: EHS 215
I joined the Department of Biology and Chemistry at George Fox University in the fall of 2011. Prior to being at George Fox, I was teaching in the Life Sciences department at Bethel College in Indiana. When a position at George Fox opened up, I quickly applied as I recognized that George Fox has an outstanding program in biology and chemistry and I hoped to be a part of it. It also had the added bonus of bringing me back to Newberg near my family.
As a junior in college I decided that I wanted to teach biology at the collegiate level, preferably at a Christian liberal arts institution. This desire came out of the experience I had as an undergraduate student at a similar school. I hoped that I could combine my passion for biology, my love for teaching, and my desire to help students grow as individuals. Now after teaching at this level for several years I can honestly say that this job is a good fit for my God-given talents and abilities. I really enjoy being able to journey with students as they discern where God is calling them.
BS, Biology, Azusa Pacific University (2002)
PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame (2007)
Expertise and Research Interests
My research focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms of growth in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. As a graduate student I focused on developing several assays for ascertaining the growth of a set of parasites derived from a genetic cross between two genetically unique parasite isolates. One, HB3, is sensitive to the antimalarial chloroquine while the other, Dd2, is resistant to chloroquine and many other antimalarials. These growth measures were used in quantitative trait loci mapping to locate regions within the parasite genome that could be responsible for variability in parasite growth. In addition, I am trying to understand how differential parasite growth may be affected by long-term chloroquine pressure.
Currently I am working with undergraduate students to develop a growth assay using the fluorescent dye SYBR green that will allow us to do high-throughput assays in house. In the future I hope to continue to pursue my search for genes regulating parasite growth by performing knock-out and gene replacement studies in the parasite to determine what genes may alter the parasite's phenotype.
Select Research Bibliography
Primary Teaching Responsibilities
BIOL 211/212 - General Biology I/II
BIOL 331/332 - Anatomy & Physiology I/II
BIOL 460 - Invertebrate Zoology
BIOL 410 - Molecular Biology
BIOL 350 - Genetics
Outside the Classroom
Outside of teaching I stay busy as a full-time mom of three young children with which God has blessed my husband and I. Through these past years I am continuing to grow into my role as a mother and am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to help teach my children about him and his love for all of us. When I am not working you can find me teaching my children at home, visiting the library, zoo, beach, or family, playing at parks, going for walks, or enjoying a ‘treat’ at Coffee Cottage!