Our Biology Graduate Studies faculty have research interests that span the breadth of modern biology, from molecules to ecosystems. The Graduate Faculty serve as primary advisors.
The Biochemistry Graduate Faculty approaches the study of biological systems from the perspective of understanding how macromolecules are synthesized, assembled and regulated in cells and organisms. Studies are oriented toward examining the roles of protein structure and bioenergetics in controlling metabolic or physiologically important pathways.
Faculty and students interact with several other groups in the Departments of Chemistry at SU and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at SUNY Upstate Medical Center.
Cell Biology studies address how components within cells are organized and function to allow cells to proliferate and carry out specialized roles. They also seek to determine how the shapes, movements and other behaviors of cells contribute to different biological processes. Knowledge of how cell structure, cell shape and cell behavior are regulated is critical to understanding a variety of biological processes such as cell division, development and death and it is important for the design of effective pharmaceutical agents.
Cell biologists in our department take advantage of the tools provided by diverse areas of biology, including microscopy, molecular biology, pharmacology, biochemistry and physiology, to examine cell processes at the single molecule, single cell and cell population levels. This multi-technique approach to research problems affords students the opportunity to interact with a variety of research groups and develop a wide repertoire of scientific skills.
Specific areas of focus within the Department presently include mechanisms of cell survival, cell death and population heterogeneity, regulation of gene expression, signal transduction, and cell shape, cell type specification during development and the development of pharmacological agents.
The development of a complex, multicellular organism from a single-celled fertilized egg is a miraculous transformation that has been the subject of intense study for over a hundred years. The Developmental Biology graduate research group utilizes several well-studied experimental organisms including invertebrates such as the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, vertebrates such as zebrafish (Danio rerio) and mouse (Mus musculus), as well as the bacteria Myxococcus xanthus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the plant Populus. Specific aspects of development that are being studied include the role of chromatin remodeling in maintaining cell fate decisions, the signal transduction mechanisms that control germline development, the specification of different types of neurons in the vertebrate spinal cord, the role of regulated protein degradation in specific developmental events and the formation of bacterial biofilms.
The Ecology Graduate Faculty in the Department of Biology is a diverse and interactive group using molecular, physiological, computational, and field-based techniques to study fundamental ecological problems in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Research areas include plant and animal physiological/biochemical ecology, animal behavioral ecology, global change ecology, ecological genetics, and community/ecosystem ecology.
Evolutionary biologists attempt to interpret biological diversity and organismal design at all levels of biological organization. The diverse and integrative nature evolutionary biology is reflected in the Evolution graduate faculty in the Department of Biology. We are an interactive group with research interests in microevolutionary processes that link variation in traits to variation in reproductive success, the extent to which genetics, physiology and history can constrain trait evolution, and macroevolutionary patterns.
Specific research areas include molecular evolution of vertebrate visual systems, agonistic behavior of fish, the territoriality, foraging and incubation behavior of birds, population genetics and mechanisms of speciation in fruitflies, the evolution of insect life histories and reproductive strategies, sperm-egg interactions, ancient microbes and microbial systematics, the evolutionary ecology underlying trophic interactions and community structure, and plant adaptive response to climate change.
The field of Genetics is a central discipline of biological science that is increasingly relevant to everyday life. Breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture, forensic science, and biotechnology are fueled by our growing knowledge of the nature and function of genes, and the completion of the Human Genome Project ensures that Genetics will continue to be a rapidly growing area of research.
The Genetics graduate groupat SU consists of several laboratories that use experimental model systems, including yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), plants (Arabidopsis thaliana and Populus), worms (Caenorhabditis elegans), fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster), zebrafish (Danio rerio) and mouse (Mus musculus) to investigate a variety of topics, including how genes control specific cellular processes, how the development of a complex organism is orchestrated by its genome, and how mutations drive evolutionary change.
Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of biology encompassing the development, function, chemistry, and pathology of the peripheral and central nervous systems. Neurobiologists in the Department of Biology at Syracuse University examine aspects of this field at the sub-cellular, cellular, systems, and whole organism levels. Research in the Department applies molecular, biochemical, electrophysiologic, and pharmacologic tools, as well as microscopic imaging and transgenetic technology, in cell/tissue culture and animal models (mammalian and non-mammalian), with the ultimate goal of gaining a better understanding of the biology and pathobiology of the nervous system. The educational and scientific environment of students in the Department is enriched further by a close collaborative relationship between the Department of Biology at Syracuse University and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the adjacent campus of Upstate Medical University.
Updated December, 2009
Syracuse University • Department
of Biology • 114 Life Sciences Complex • Syracuse NY 13244