Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences

School of Biological Sciences

School of Biological Sciences Seminars

Sept 11 at 4:00 in MLT 210 Dr. James Bever of IN Univ.

Bever_JDMore than a Sea of Grass: Soil Microbes as Drivers of Prairie Plant Diversity and Productivity

Resource partitioning has historically been thought to be the major force structuring biological communities.  I will present evidence that interactions between plants and soil microbes play a profoundly important role in plant species coexistence, dynamics and productivity.  Soil organisms can have large direct positive and negative effects on individual plant growth.  I show that the composition of the soil community changes very quickly and this shift in composition often decreases the performance of the resident plant species.  As a result, the soil microbial change generates a negative feedback on plant composition that drives changes in plant community structure.  I illustrate these effects in tallgrass prairies as well as temperate and tropical forests.

Sept 4 at 4:00 in MLT 210 Dr. Lawrence Zettler of Illinois College

Zettler lFungus-Assisted Orchid Conservation in North America and Beyond.

In light of the ongoing demise of natural ecosystems worldwide, there is an urgent need to document and safeguard the full gamut of life forms in the landscape, and to understand how these biotic agents interact with one another in this age of extinction.  Among angiosperms, orchids are particularly vulnerable given their dependency on other organisms – namely mycorrhizal fungi and insect pollinators – to complete their life cycles in nature.  Thus, studying these connections becomes crucial for orchid conservation.  This talk will begin by presenting an overview of orchid biology from seed germination to maturity, with emphasis on how orchids have manipulated groups of higher fungi for their (unusual) nutritional needs.  The talk will then shift to the methods used worldwide to capture, utilize, and preserve orchid mycorrhizal fungi for long-term conservation though symbiotic seed germination.  Case studies from here in North America (e.g., Illinois, south Florida, Hawaii) as well as abroad (e.g., Madagascar) will be presented to highlight some of the techniques now being employed.

Full School of Biological Sciences Seminar Schedule (pdf)

Seminars Archive

Integrative Biology Seminar Series

Aug 26 at noon in 121SLB – Faculty Introductions part 1

Integrative Biology Seminar Logo very smallDrs. Perry, Edwards, Byers, Capparella and Juliano will give a short introduction to their research programs.

Full Schedule of the Integrative Biology Seminar Schedule (pdf)

Integrative Biology Seminar Archive

Molecular and Cellular Biology Seminar Series

April 16 at noon in 121 SLB – Samantha Atkinson

MCBlogo2sm-cropGenetic analysis of Ton2 dependent processes in microtubule organization in Arabidopsis

Nov 5 at noon in 121 SLB, Dr David Rubin

Zebrafish teeth and chicken eyes: Diverse usage of bone-regulating genes

Full Molecular and Cellular Seminar Schedule (pdf)

Molecular and Cellular Seminar Archive

Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences

Craig Gatto, School Director

Whether you are interested in plants, animals, or microbes, our interdisciplinary and collaborative research groups in the School of Biological Sciences have something for you! From investigations involving interactions at subcellular molecular levels, to function and communication within/between organ systems and organisms, to evolutionary and ecological dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems, see how ISU can set you on the right career path!

Biology News

Graduate Travis Mitchell’s Publication Generates Commentary

Recent graduate, Travis Mitchell, published “Sodium and Proton Effects on Inward Proton Transport through Na/K Pumps,” in collaboration with Craig Gatto and Pablo Artigas in the Biophysical Journal, which has generated New and Notable commentary.

Ph.D. Candidate leads a publication in the journal Ecology

2014 Bowers Edited

Doctoral candidate, Keith Bowers, leads a forthcoming publication in the journal Ecology entitled “Neonatal body condition, immune responsiveness, and hematocrit predict longevity in a wild bird population.”

ISU Biologists Attend the 15th International Behavioral Ecology Congress


Meghan Strange (M.S. student), Christine Hodges (M.S. alumna) Susan Gershman (former post-doc in the Sakaluk Laboratory) Scott Sakaluk, E. Keith Bowers (Ph.D. candidate) attend the 15th International Behavioral Ecology Congress at the City University of New York in August, 2014.

Stein Lab Awarded 3-Year NSF Grant

A three year grant from the National Science Foundation NSF has been awarded to Dr. Wolfgang Stein for a total of $510,000. The grant is entitled Identification of Mechanisms for Motor Pattern Selection During Multimodal Sensory Integration and studies the processing of sensory information and the neural control of rhythmic movements. The hypothesis that appropriate behavioral responses are encoded in the population activity of control neurons will be tested in the stomatogastric nervous system of crabs, a powerful model system with unique access to neurons.




Biology from CASNews

Senior’s Next Stop is Medical School
Illinois State University senior Jacob Birlingmair and his faculty mentor R. K. Jayaswal.

Illinois State University senior Jacob Birlingmair and his faculty mentor R. K. Jayaswal.

Jacob Birlingmair, senior biology major, began applying to medical schools last summer with the help of his faculty mentor R. K. Jayaswal, who advised him through the process. Overall, Birlingmair was asked to be interviewed at 13 of the 17 programs that he applied to. One of the three schools that have already accepted him has offered to pay half his tuition.

Birlingmair assesses that it was his time spent with Jayaswal that really helped him move forward in becoming a doctor. He has worked within Jayaswal’s research lab for about two years.

To read more of this story, visit




Williams Wins Mercier Service Award
Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams

College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Dr. Ronald Williams was presented with the E. Burton Mercier Alumni Service Award for 2014 during the annual Founders Day convocation on February 20. Williams graduated with a degree in biology and went on to receive a medical degree from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Williams is a staff pediatrician at MultiCare in Olympia, Washington. A biology graduate, Williams earned a medical degree at the University of Illinois. He also completed a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins University; a year at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania; a Fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Disease; and a residency in Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He is American Board Certified in pediatrics and preventive medicine.

As the commanding officer of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, he studied the defense of infectious disease of biological weapons. He was also commanding officer of the General Leonard Wood Army Hospital and deputy director and chief of medicine at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science, Bangkok, Thailand.

Past director of health programs research for the Department of Defense, he was a member of the U.S delegation to the Third Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, Switzerland, during the Gulf War.

He and his wife offered medical aid in Sri Lanka following the tsunami. He has also overseen the medical needs of incarcerated youth and cared for Native Americans. Now retired from the military, he remains a practicing pediatrician.