Student studying in front of the Harper mural in Pearson
Students studying in Pearson Hall in front of the Harper mural
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Letter from the Chair
Thomas Crist
Greetings Alumni and Friends!
It’s hard to believe it is my fifth year as chair of biology, and all of the changes that have occurred since fall 2015. Our department has grown considerably, with now over 1,000 majors and 75 graduate students in our various degree programs.
There have also been several changes to our faculty and staff. As the fall semester draws to a close, we congratulate Phyllis Callahan and James Janik, Professors of Biology, in their retirement after more than 30 years of teaching, service and leadership. Phyllis served as dean of the College of Arts and Science then as Provost of Miami University. Jim continued to teach physiology courses through this fall, and worked with colleagues to establish a new four-year applied biological sciences degree on the regional campuses. In summer, Jack Keegan also retired after more than 40 years as the greenhouse manger and horticulture instructor – read more about his contributions in the article below.
We welcomed M. Frances (Frankie) Clark as the new Greenhouse Manager. Frankie will take over the operation of the Belk Greenhouse as well as the newly renovated Pearson Greenhouse. These facilities are critical to our courses in botany and horticulture, and to the growing research programs of our faculty in plant biology.
After four years of construction phasing, the renovation of Pearson Hall will finally be completed in summer 2020, with the building re-dedication planned for August. Those of you who were students between 1986 and 2015 will barely recognize it when you enter, except for the Charley Harper “Web of Life” mural that was relocated to be the focal point of a new student study area inside the main entrance.
I wish you the all the best in the holiday season and in the New Year!
Tom Crist
Professor and Chair
Jack Keegan
Jack Keegan Retires as Greenhouse Manager
This summer John F. (Jack) Keegan retired after 42 years as Greenhouse Manager and Instructor. 
In addition to acquiring and maintaining live plants, Jack facilitated the use of the plant collection for classes in Biology, Art, and other disciplines, and cared for plants vital to the research missions of numerous faculty members. He also encouraged visitors from the community, especially during rare blooming events of spectacular plants, such as the corpse flower. Jack established the Belk Greenhouse as an All-American Selections display garden, and trained and supervised generations of student workers.
He was vital to the teaching mission of the Botany program, teaching courses in horticulture, landscaping, and plant propagation. But he was perhaps most widely known for his expertise in wine, as he is a Certified Wine Educator and earned the title of International Bordeaux Wine Expert in 2006. Each year since 1995 he taught his ‘Wines’ class (Viticulture and Enology), and several sections of the course are filled with majors, non-majors, and community members. Thanks to this expertise, and his engaging personality, Jack was asked to select wines for Performing Arts and other functions at Miami University, the Oxford area, and Miami alumni events around the country.
In 2007 he received a Miami Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to Botany and Performing Arts, and in fundraising for advancement.
Jack will continue teaching Viticulture and Enology in retirement.  We thank Jack for his hard work and dedication to plant biology, and wish him a long and enjoyable retirement!
Biology in the News
Jared Tangeman
Jared Tangeman
McKenna Burns
McKenna Burns
Miranda Strasburg
Miranda Strasburg
Mollie Sorrell
Mollie Sorrell
Jared Tangeman, a Ph.D. student, was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation for his research on retina regeneration with Katia Del Rio-Tsonis, Professor of Biology.
McKenna Burns, a Ph.D student with David Berg, Professor of Biology, along with Assistant Professors of Biology, Tereza Jezkova and Meixia Zhao, received a grant from the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle to develop a student advancement workshop, Computer Science in Modern Biology, which was held in August 2019.
Miranda Strasburg, a Ph.D. student, won the best poster award in Disease Ecology at the Ecological Society of America meetings in Louisville KY. Miranda is studying the effects of parasites on amphibian populations with her advisor, Michelle Boone, Associate Professor of Biology.
Mollie Sorrell, a Ph.D. student, was a recipient of a College of Arts and Science Graduate Student Teaching Award.  Her faculty nominators noted her effectiveness as a teacher in human anatomy and physiology, and as a research mentor of undergraduate neuroscience research. Mollie’s advisor is Kathy Killian, Associate Professor of Biology.
Savanna-Rae Fahoum
Savanna-Rae Fahoum
Rachel Pilla
Rachel Pilla
Savanna-Rae Fahoum and Rachel Pilla, Ph.D. students, were awarded top poster presenters at the Graduate Research Forum in November. Savanna-Rae is working on neuroscience research with Kathy Killian, Associate Professor of Biology, and Rachel is conducting aquatic ecology research with Craig Williamson, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Ecosystem Ecology.
Amanda Rainey, an M.S. student, was featured in a Miami News story for her creative artwork on the crab nervous system that is visible from the hallway of the newly renovated neuroscience lab of Dawn Blitz, Associate Professor of Biology.
Michael Vanni and Maria Gonzalez, Professors of Biology, were featured in a Miami News story for their 25 years of ecosystem research at Acton Lake supported by the National Science Foundation.
Jill Korach, Assistant Director of Field Programs in Project Dragonfly, received the 2019 Award for Outstanding Service to Environmental Education from the North American Association for Environmental Education.
Richard Edelmann, Director of the Center for Advanced Microscopy and Imaging, and the images from CAMI were featured in a Miami News video production on the convergence of science and art.
R. James Hickey, Professor Emeritus of Biology, was recognized at the Botanical Society of America meetings in Tucson, Arizona, with a series of talks given by his former students and colleagues as part of a special session, Questioning Species and Species Complexes: A Colloquium in Honor of Dr. R. James Hickey.
Tom Crist, Professor and Chair of Biology, was featured in Tradeline, a publication for a national organization of facilities planners and managers, based on a highly rated co-presentation he gave with architect, Eileen Pedersen, on the Pearson renovation at the national Tradeline conference.
The Roger Wilson Lecture in Botany was given in both spring and fall of 2019.
The Hefner Lecture was presented by Kay Holekamp, Professor in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior at Michigan State University, and was entitled A Hyena’s Tale.
College of Arts and Science at Miami University
212 Pearson Hall 
Oxford, OH 45056 
© 2019 Miami University. All rights reserved.
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