Pearson Atrium: coming fall 2018
Artist rendering of Pearson Hall's upcoming Atrium, coming Fall 2018
Support Biology
Pearson Hall
You can support biology with gifts of money, wisdom, or opportunity. Your financial gifts can be designated for student scholarships, travel and research, or for named professors and facilities.
Unrestricted gifts help support areas of greatest need in our programs. We also encourage campus visits by alumni for departmental seminars or classroom visits that inform our students about your professional experiences and career paths. We greatly appreciate your support!
Make a Gift
Email Us
Letter from the Chair
Thomas Crist
Greetings Alumni and Friends!
Now in my third year as chair, it has been privilege to lead a talented and hard-working people during a time of rapid change for our department and the university. In the past year, we continued to see growth in our undergraduate majors, several changes in our faculty and staff, and we are now well into the first phase of the Pearson Hall renovation. Our faculty and staff have worked hard to adapt to these new challenges, all while continuing to look forward as we complete our strategic plan for the next five years.
The renovation of Pearson Hall will support our changing needs for teaching and research, create new cutting-edge teaching and research labs, and provide a more open, collaborative and inviting environment for our students and visitors. Now that biology has nearly 1,200 majors and the largest number of graduate students in the College of Arts and Science, a renovated Pearson Hall will become an even larger focal point for the college and the university.
As the fall semester draws to close, we are celebrating the careers of Drs. Nancy Smith-Huerta, Alfredo Huerta, and Bruce Cochrane, with their retirements in 2017. They have dedicated themselves to years of teaching, research, and advising for generations of students. Dr. Jon Costanzo, Senior Research Scholar, and Mike Wright, Physiology Instructor and Lab Coordinator, have also announced their retirements this winter. We will miss their contributions to research and teaching in animal physiology.
We welcomed two new Assistant Professors in biology this academic year. Dr. Robert Baker is a plant evolutionary developmental biologist, and Dr. Tereza Jezkova is a global change biologist with a focus in ecology and evolution. Prior to their appointments in biology, Dr. Baker was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wyoming and Dr. Jezkova was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona. We also welcomed back Professors María González and Michael Vanni, after spending two years as program officers at the National Science Foundation. Currently, we are conducting faculty searches in agricultural ecology and in bioinformatics to build connections within our department and with other departments and programs.
We always welcome alumni back to campus for seminars, class visits, career events, or just informal conversation. Let us know when you are in the area. We would love to hear about your careers and professional accomplishments. Send a message to
I wish you the all the best in the holiday season and in the New Year!
Tom Crist
Professor and Chair
Dean Chris Makaroff
"Science has changed so much, and the way we teach science has changed, so in order to provide our students cutting-edge educational experiences we have to modernize our lab space."
- Dean Chris Makaroff
Pearson Hall Renovation Update
The first phase of the Pearson Hall renovation is well underway, and includes all teaching labs, collaborative spaces, and 20% of the research labs. Planning for phase 2 has already begun and, if funded, will complete the renovation of the entire building in summer 2020.
By fall 2018, the transformation of Pearson will be striking. A more spacious front entrance will open up into an atrium space. Most of the teaching labs will also be ready for use. We are excited about a future Pearson Hall that provides a more open and collaborative environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
There are several donor opportunities for named spaces or facilities. Please contact Tom Crist, Chair of Biology, or Evan Lichtenstein, CAS Senior Director of Development.
Undergraduate Research and Scholarships in Biology
Our faculty are involved in a wide range of undergraduate research projects and programs. Over 85% of our undergraduates gain research experiences using state-the-art instrumentation and techniques in labs and centers, and at field sites, which provide them with hands-on skills that are valued by employers as well as graduate and professional schools.
This year 22 undergraduates in biology were awarded Miami Undergraduate Summer Scholars and Doctoral-Undergraduate Opportunity Scholars through the Office of Research for Undergraduates, or Hughes Internships and Dean’s Scholars through the College of Arts and Science. These programs provide students with opportunities to work closely with faculty and graduate students on research projects supported by summer stipends or research expenses. Nine students were also supported through the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in ecology and environmental science. The REU program has been supported by the National Science Foundation for 15 years, led by Professors Ann Rypstra and David Berg with involvement of over 20 faculty from 5 departments.
Through alumni support, the biology department also has several academic and research scholarships for biology, botany, and zoology majors. With our growing programs, there is an ongoing need for funds to support our students. Please let us know if you would like to create a scholarship or research fund for undergraduate or graduate students.
Amber Rock
Amber Rock
Tyler Hoskins
Tyler Hoskins
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Biology in the News
Jessica Gephardt ’11 and Michael Markesbery ’15, both with bachelor’s degrees in zoology, were awarded the Alumni Association “18 of the Last 9” honorees for 2017. Jessica Gephardt was also a biology seminar speaker during her visit to campus. The “18 of the Last 9” program honors young alumni with postgraduate achievements in a variety of fields.
Amber Rock and Tyler Hoskins, Ph.D. students, were 2017 recipients of the College of Arts and Science Graduate Teaching Awards for their excellence and leadership of graduate student teaching in biology. In addition to their outstanding teaching, both have led pedagogy workshop sessions for incoming graduate students, and served as head TAs in general biology or physiology by providing mentoring to new graduate TAs.
Michael Robinson, Professor of Biology, was named as the James and Beth Lewis Professor, for his achievements as a teacher, researcher, and mentor in genetics and developmental biology. Mike’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Along with students and colleagues, he has published widely in journals such as Scientific Reports, Developmental Biology, and Epigenetics.
David Berg, Professor of Biology, received the University Distinguished Scholar Award for his excellence in research on the evolution and conservation of biodiversity. Dave’s integrative research on imperiled freshwater mussels and other aquatic invertebrates uses approaches from genetics, evolution and ecology. His publications include numerous graduate students and undergraduates, and his research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife service, and other sources. 
Joyce Fernandes, Professor of Biology, was named Director of the Undergraduate Research at Miami University. She has led several undergraduate research initiatives, including the First-Year Research Experience and a summer research program for high school students. Joyce was also principal investigator on a grant funded by the National Science Foundation to increase minorities in the biological sciences.
Susan Hoffman, Associate Professor of Biology, and her students were featured on National Public Radio Morning Edition for their research on geographic range shifts in mice associated with climate change in northern Michigan.
Craig Williamson, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Ecosystem Ecology, was showcased in Newsweek for a collaborative study published in Scientific Reports. Their study showed that lakes from around the world are becoming browner due to greater runoff of organic matter, reducing ultraviolet light penetration important to killing waterborne pathogens.
Michael Vanni, Professor of Biology, coauthored a synthesis paper in Ecology on nutrient recycling by aquatic animals that was highlighted in The Atlantic. Their synthesis was based on over 100 studies from marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Michael Vincent, Herbarium Curator and Instructor, was featured in a Miami News story on the Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium. He has been a curator and botany instructor for over 30 years, and has involved scores of students in plant taxonomy and herbarium work.
Jack Keegan, Greenhouse Manager and Instructor, was highlighted in a Miami Matters story on the Belk Greenhouse. This year marked Jack’s 40th year as greenhouse manager and botany instructor, supporting research and education in the plant sciences.
Mike Wright, Lab Coordinator and Instructor, also appeared in a Miami Matters story for his talents as a wildlife illustrator. His works have been published in The Amphibians of Ohio and The Reptiles of Ohio.
The Hefner Museum of Natural History boasts a new snow leopard in their collection of mounted displays called Cat Mountain. Olga the snow leopard was donated by Miami alumni.
The Roger Wilson Lecture in Botany was given by Dr. Susan Kalisz, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, on how species interactions are altered by plant invasions and deer overabundance in eastern forests.
The Ethel Belk Lecture in Botany featured Andrea Wulf, author of the award-winning book The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldlt’s New World, who presented to a full house in the Leonard Theatre.
The Hefner Lecture was delivered by evolutionary biologist and award-winning science writer, Dr. Sean Carroll of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
College of Arts and Science at Miami University
212 Pearson Hall 
Oxford, OH 45056 
© 2016 Miami University. All rights reserved.
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.