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Research

Research in the Department of Biological Sciences is focused in several areas, including aquatic ecology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, neurobiology and behavior, cell and molecular biology, and reproductive physiology. In addition, we are actively engaged in interdisciplinary research across the various foci of the department and with other academic units, such as the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Researchers in our department receive funding from a variety of sources including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Microbiology

Faculty and students in microbiology work on a wide range of projects on different microbial systems, including freshwater and marine bacteria, pathogenic bacteria and soil fungi. The research efforts are supported by a number of core facilities including a flow cytometer, the Microscopic Imaging and Visualization Center, Genomics and Proteomics facilities (real-time PCR and microarray) and a BSL-3 lab. Kent State's microbial research involves traditional culture-dependent methods, state-of-the-art gene-based techniques and cutting-edge approaches including metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. Most work focuses on the role of microorganisms in mediating ecologically significant processes, such as degradation of recalcitrant carbon of plant tissues, transformation of dissolved organic matter in aquatic systems, nitrogen loss through denitrification and anaerobic ammonium oxidation, antibiotic resistance, etc.

Research activities in Microbiology are generously funded by grants from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation , the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , the Lake Erie Protection Fund, US Geological Survey, and other state and federal agencies.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Students in Microbiology are enrolled in one of several different graduate programs depending on their primary interests. Some students participate in the M.S. or Ph.D. programs in Biological Sciences ( Ecology or Physiology specializations). Others are enrolled in the School of Biomedical Sciences in the Cell and Molecular Biology program.

Evolutionary Biology

Faculty and graduate students in the Evolutionary Biology group use a variety of experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches to address fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. Among current interests of Kent State evolutionary biology faculty are:

(1) evolutionary dynamics of interacting genes and genomes (such as developmental evolution, molecular evolution of gene families, or cytoplasmic-nuclear interactions);

(2) evolution, genetics, and ecology of intraspecific interactions (such as plant and animal mating systems, animal movement, and group behavior);

(3) ecological and evolutionary consequences of interspecific interactions (such as plant-pollinator, native-invasive, or host-pathogen relationships).

Members of our group are funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, and other agencies.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Students interested in the area of evolutionary biology can apply to the M.S. or Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences (Ecology specialization) or Cell & Molecular Biology program in the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Ecology

Faculty and graduate students in the Ecology group conduct research in forests, wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes (including Lake Erie), investigating questions at all levels of ecological complexity ranging from populations to ecosystems across taxa ranging from microbes and invertebrates to fish, in a variety of habitats, including properties owned by Kent State, as well as in modern laboratories using a wide range of approaches (including molecular methods, modeling, embedded sensors, etc.)  to address critical issues in basic and applied ecology. There are abundant nearby field sites for research, including locations on campus and other nearby properties owned and operated by Kent State, such as Jenning's Woods along the West Branch of the Mahoning River. The Kent campus is home to a unique experimental wetland facility, The Art and Margaret Herrick Memorial Aquatic Ecology Research Facility (AERF). The Kent region features numerous field sites including small streams, rivers, bogs, natural lakes and reservoirs.
Among current interests of Kent State Ecology faculty are:

1) examination of responses of populations or communities (microbial, invertebrate, or vertebrate)  to specific environmental features and conditions;

2) examination of the effect of community structure on ecological processes (such as aspects of nutrient and carbon cycles), and effects of environmental features and conditions on ecosystem functions. Diverse and abundant natural resources regionally, nationally and globally serve as the backdrop for ecology studies conducted by Kent State faculty and students.

Members of our group are funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other state and federal agencies.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Students interested in the area of evolutionary biology can apply to                 the M.S. or Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences (Ecology specialization), or Cell & Molecular Biology program in the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Cell and Molecular Biology

Faculty and student researchers in the Cell and Molecular Biology group work on cellular, molecular, and genetic processes in a variety of model systems. Researchers have access to excellent core resources, including a vivarium, tissue culture facility, confocal microscope/visualization facility, laser capture microscope, and genomics and proteomics facilities located within the department and the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Among current interests of Kent State Cell and Molecular Biology faculty are:
1)      mechanisms of genetic control of various pathways, including cancer, circadian rhythms, and cellular metabolism, as well as regulation of sperm and egg function;
2)      environmental regulation of cellular processes, including cellular effects of environmental pollutants and changes in bacterial function in microgravity conditions.

Members of the group are funded by the  National Institutes of Health National Science Foundation and other agencies.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Graduate students in Cell and Molecular Biology are enrolled in  the M.S. or Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences (Physiology concentration), or the  Cell and Molecular Biology program in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Students in these programs also interact with faculty and students at Northeast Ohio Medical University ( NEOMED) and the  Cleveland Clinic.

Neurobiology and Behavior

Research in the department covers a wide range of areas in neurobiology and behavior, from behavioral studies on circadian rhythms to neuroendocrinology to the identification of genes involved in cell death in Multiple Sclerosis. Research is supported by excellent core facilities, particularly in the areas of biological imaging and genomics. This group has extensive interactions with the School of Biomedical Sciences, as well as external connections to the Oak Clinic, the Lerner Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, and the Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine.

Funding for this group comes from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Ohio Board of Regents, and the Oak Clinic.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Graduate students in Neurobiology & Behavior are enrolled in the M.S. or Ph. D. program in Biological Sciences (Physiology concentration), or the Neurosciences or Cell & Molecular Biology programs in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Students in these programs also interact with faculty and students at NEOUCOM and the Cleveland Clinic who also participate in these programs.

Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology

Faculty and student researches in the reproductive physiology/ endocrinology group conduct projects investigating physiological processes that range from the cellular/molecular level to the integrative/ organismal level. Research interests include topics with clear relevance to human health, such as elucidation of aberrant signaling pathways in polycystic ovarian syndrome, prostate and ovarian cancer, and biochemical regulation of sperm motility and egg activation/ fertilization. Another area of active investigation focuses on the adverse effects of environmental pollutants in a variety of animal models. Basic questions regarding the underlying regulation of gonadal function, such as steroidgenesis, cell proliferation and apoptosis, are also under investigation. Researchers have access to excellent resources for physiological research,including a vivarium, tissue culture facility, confocal microscope/ visualization facility, laser capture microscope, genomics and proteomics facilities located within the department, and the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Graduate Training Opportunities:
Graduate students in Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology are enrolled in the M.S. or Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences (Physiology concentration), or the Neurosciences or Cell and Molecular Biology programs in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Students in these programs also interact with faculty and students at NEOUCOM and the Cleveland Clinic who also participate in these programs.
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