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School of Biological Sciences

School of Biological Sciences

OU Establishes School of Biological Sciences

School of Biological Studies Established

The Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma has announced the formation of the School of Biological Sciences.

By reorganizing the college’s current life sciences units, the school will accelerate faculty research and graduate training, and better serve undergraduate students by creating a set of unified, modernized degree programs. This new structure will position the biological sciences to help drive OU’s strategy of becoming a top-tier public research university.

“Improving lives through research and learning is at the heart of what we do at OU, and the life sciences are at the root of so many innovations to create a better world,” said Senior Vice President and Provost for the Norman Campus André-Denis Wright. “Building a robust network of exceptional academic programs dedicated to the biological sciences will empower OU researchers and students to push the boundaries of scientific inquiry even further, propelling OU research to even greater heights.”

Currently, the biological sciences are served by three independent units: the Department of Biology, the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, and the Oklahoma Biological Survey. Through the reorganization, the two departments will be integrated within the school to better align the graduate programs and research organization with existing faculty strengths and the OU Norman Research Strategic Verticals. The Oklahoma Biological Survey, a state agency and a unit within the college, will remain an independent entity; however, many of its faculty will hold appointments and teach within the School of Biological Sciences. By bringing the units under the same umbrella, the school will be able to provide new undergraduate curricula, broaden its research portfolio scope and profile, and spearhead new and impactful graduate training programs.

The recommendation to establish a new school of biological sciences, which has been approved by the OU Board of Regents and the State Regents for Higher Education, was made following an external review by a team composed of four internationally renowned biological scientists. The team conducted a thorough review of operations in the three biological sciences units, including the examination of data on the structures, facilities, programs and research operations and held town halls with faculty, staff and students.

“The formation of the school is a natural evolution in the growth of our programs and will enable OU to take a place at the forefront of research and education in the biological sciences,” said David Wrobel, dean of the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences. “As the COVID pandemic attests, future decades are certain to be a period of great challenges for the biological sciences. As we move with great intentionality, the new school reflects our standard of excellence and takes advantage of the many talents of our world-class faculty. In establishing a new school, we now have the appropriate instructional framework and structure for the college to effectively move us forward in our scholarly and educational endeavors.”

This fall, the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences will launch a national search for the inaugural director of the School of Biological Sciences, however, progress on the school is already being made under the direction of John P. Masly, associate director for the school.

The Curriculum Consolidation Committee was established with representatives from the faculty, academic advisors and the undergraduate student body in the biological sciences. This committee has been working to reorganize and elevate the undergraduate curricula to ensure graduates are equipped with cutting-edge instruction to excel in a changing landscape that is increasing STEM training requirements across a wide variety of post-graduation opportunities. 

School of Biological Sciences Faculty


Dahiana Arcila, Ph.D. (George Washington University, 2017), Assistant Professor and Assistant Curator of Ichthyology, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Evolutionary biology of fishes; phylogenetics; comparative genomics

Jessica Beyer, Ph.D., (University of Oklahoma, 2016) Research Assistant Professor. Plankton Ecology and Limnology Lab. 

Daniel J. Becker, Ph.D. (University of Georgia, 2017), Assistant Professor. Zoonotic pathogens of bats and birds; mathematical models; environmental change; ecoimmunology; phylogenetic comparative methods; meta-analysis; macroecology

Alexandra Bentz, Ph.D. (University of Georgia, 2017), Assistant Professor. Animal behavior; endocrinology; behavioral genomics; maternal effects; avian biology

Elizabeth A. Bergey, Ph.D. (University of California-Berkeley, 1992), Professor and Heritage Biologist, Oklahoma Biological Survey. Aquatic biology; stream ecology

Ari Berkowitz, Ph.D. (Washington University, St. Louis, 1993), Presidential Professor. Neurobiology and control of movements

Ricardo Betancur-R., Ph.D. (Auburn University, 2009), Assistant Professor. Evolutionary biology of fishes; phylogenetics; adaptive radiations

Eli Bridge, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, 2004), Associate Professor and Presidential Professor, Member Oklahoma Biological Survey. Bird migration, animal tracking technology, agent-based modeling, migratory connectivity, physiological ecology

Eric G. Bright, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2015), Instructor.

Richard E. Broughton, Ph.D. (Arizona State University, 1995), Professor. Molecular evolution and phylogenetics of fishes

Kara B. De Leon, Ph.D. (Montana State University, 2013), Assistant Professor. Microbial ecology and physiology, genetics and genomics, anaerobic microbiology

Anne K. Dunn, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, 2002), Associate Professor. Marine molecular microbiology, physiology, and symbiosis

Jess R. Eberle, M.S. (University of Oklahoma, 2015), Instructor.

Luca Fornelli, Ph.D. (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, 2014). Assistant Professor. Top-down proteomics; mass spectrometry; translational sciences

J. Phil Gibson, Ph.D. (University of Colorado, 1995), Professor. Evolutionary ecology, plant reproduction, plant-animal interactions

Cynthia Gordon, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2003), Professor. Human anatomy, functional morphology, evolutionary ecology

Tingting Gu, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2012), Assistant Professor.

K. David Hambright, Ph.D. (Cornell University, 1991), Regents' Professor. Limnology, plankton ecology and evolution, geographical ecology, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and microbial diversity

Randall S. Hewes, Ph.D. (University of Washington, 1993), Professor. Cellular neurobiology and molecular genetics

Bruce Hoagland, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 1995), Professor and Heritage Biologist, Oklahoma Biological Survey. Plant ecology; vegetation classification

Mariëlle H. Hoefnagels, Ph.D. (Oregon State University, 1997), Professor. Biology education

Keng-Lou James Hung, Ph.D. (University of California San Diego, 2017), Assistant Professor and Heritage Biologist, Oklahoma Biological Survey. Pollination, conservation, community ecology, global change biology

Carolyn Ibberson, Ph.D. (University of Iowa, 2015), Assistant Professor. Microbiology; infectious disease; microbial ecology and physiology; polymicrobial infections; genomics; ecology and evolutionary biology; molecular, cellular, and developmental biology

Elizabeth Karr, Ph.D. (Southern Illinois University, 2003), Associate Professor. Gene expression in Archaea

Michael E. Kaspari, Ph.D. (University of Arizona, 1992), Presidential Professor and George Lynn Cross Research Professor. Community ecology; biodiversity; entomology; macroecology

Jeffrey F. Kelly, Ph.D. (Colorado State University, 1996), Professor and Corix Chair. Conservation biology, avian ecology; stable isotope applications in ecology; distribution and abundance of vertebrates in Oklahoma

Heather Ketchum, Ph.D. (Texas A&M, 2002), Professor. Medical-veterinary and forensic entomology

Lee Krumholz, Ph.D. (University of Illinois 1988), Professor. Microbial ecology and physiology

Hayley Lanier, Ph.D. (University of Alaska, 2010), Assistant Professor and Assistant Curator of Mammalogy, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Evolution and ecology of mammals, phylogeography

Paul Lawson, Ph.D. (University of London, 1993), Presidential Professor. Microbial systematics and taxonomy, cultivation of novel microorganisms, and gut microbiology

Eric M. Lee, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2014), Assistant Professor. Cellular behavioral neurobiology; transcription factor regulation of neural crest development

Christian H. Lemon, Ph.D. (Binghamton University, State University of New York, 2001), Associate Professor. Sensory biology, thermosensation, taste, neural coding, perception

Michael R. Markham, Ph.D. (University of New Mexico, 1994), Case-Hooper Associate Professor and Presidential Professor. Neurobiology and energetics of animal communication systems

Katharine A. Marske, Ph.D. (University of Auckland, 2010), Assistant Professor. Comparative phylogeography, community ecology, and macroecology

John P. Masly, Ph.D. (University of Rochester, 2007), Associate Professor. Evolution and development of complex traits; evolutionary genetics; coevolution; reproductive biology

Wendy M. Martin, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2016), Lecturer.

Heather McCarthy, Ph.D. (Duke University, 2007), Associate Professor. Global change, urban ecology, environmental science

David McCauley, Ph.D. (University of Texas at Austin, 1997), Associate Professor. Evolutionary developmental biology; basal vertebrate development

Karen Meysick, Ph.D. (University of Ottawa, 1996), Assistant Professor. Science education and pathogenic microbiology

Abigail Moore, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley, 2010), Assistant Professor and Assistant Curator, Robert Bebb Herbarium, Member Oklahoma Biological Survey. Plant diversification and phylogenomics

Mojgan Padash Barmchi, Ph.D. (Lund University, Sweden, 2006), Assistant Professor. Cell and molecular biology; HPV-mediated cancer

Chongle Pan, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee, 2006), Associate Professor. Bioinformatics, machine learning, proteomics, environmental microbiomes, human microbiomes, prebiotics and probiotics

Wei Qin, Ph.D. (University of Washington, 2016), Assistant Professor. Microbiology, environmental microbiology, microbial physiology and ecology, biogeochemistry, genomics, nitrogen-cycling microorganisms

Jeremy D. Ross, Ph.D. (Bowling Green State University, 2011), Assistant Professor, Member Oklahoma Biological Survey. Migration biology; avian ecology; severe weather ecology

Ashlee Rowe, Ph.D. (North Carolina State University, 2004), Assistant Professor. Sensory and motor systems and their role in the evolution of adaptive behavior

Matt Rowe, Ph.D. (University of California at Davis, 1984), Professor. Coevolution between predators and prey

Scott D. Russell, Ph.D. (University of Alberta, 1981), George Lynn Cross Research Professor. Molecular biology of plant reproduction

Barbara Safiejko-Mroczka, Ph.D. (Medical Academy of Gdansk, 1987), Professor. Cellular biology; cytoskeleton and cell motility; wound healing

Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan, Ph.D. (Binghamton University, State University of New York, 2013), Assistant Professor. Microbial ecology, biogeography and evolution, human microbiome, hypersaline environments, bioinformatics, and ancient DNA

Kristen Savage-Ashlock, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2009), Lecturer. Science education, halophilic Archaea

Ingo Schlupp, Dr. rer. nat. (Universität Hamburg, 1995), Presidential Professor. Gynogenetic mating systems; evolution and maintenance of sexual reproduction; sexual selection; population biology of fishes including conservation biology

Susan J. Schroeder, Ph.D. (University of Rochester, 2002), Associate Professor. Viral RNA structure and function

Tarren J. Shaw, Ph.D. (Oklahoma State University, 2009), Lecturer. Cognition and behavior, educational technology, curriculum development

Cameron D. Siler, Ph.D. (University of Kansas, 2011), Associate Professor and Associate Curator of Herpetology, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Evolutionary biology; biogeography; herpetology

Lara A. Souza, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee, 2008), Associate Professor and Director, Oklahoma Biological Survey. Plant ecology and global change biology

Laura Stein, Ph.D. (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2015), Assistant Professor. Behavioral plasticity; transgenerational effects; neural mechanisms; parental care

James N. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D. (University of Cambridge, 1973), David Ross Boyd Professor. Population genetics; quantitative variation; mutation

Gordon E. Uno, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley, 1979), David Ross Boyd Professor. Science education and plant reproductive biology

Caryn C. Vaughn, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 1984), Presidential Professor and George Lynn Cross Research Professor, Member Oklahoma Biological Survey. Stream ecology; conservation biology

Seasson Phillips Vitiello, Ph.D. (University of Rochester, 2008). Lecturer. Biochemistry, biology education

Lawrence J. Weider, Ph.D. (University of Illinois, 1984), Professor. Evolutionary ecology; aquatic ecology; ecological genetics of zooplankton

Gary A. Wellborn, Ph.D. (University of Michigan, 1993), Professor. Population ecology; community ecology; evolutionary ecology; behavior

Katie L. Willis, Ph.D. University of Maryland. Lecturer. Principles of physiology, neurobiology

Gavin Woodruff, Ph.D. (University of Maryland, College Park, 2013), Assistant Professor. Evolution, development, genomics, and/or ecology of nematodes. 

Xiangming Xiao, Ph.D. (Colorado State University, 1994), Professor. Remote sensing and ecosystem modeling

Jizhong Zhou, Ph.D. (Washington State University, 1993), Presidential Professor and George Lynn Cross Research Professor. Microbial ecology and genomics

Faculty Emeritus

Joseph A. Bastian, Ph.D (University of Notre Dame, 1969), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus. Comparative neurophysiology

Janalee P. Caldwell, Ph.D. (University of Kansas, 1974), Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Herpetology, ecology, and behavior of amphibians

Richard L. Cifelli, Ph.D. (Columbia University, 1983), Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Mammalogy; systematics; evolutionary biology; comparative anatomy

David S. Durica, Ph.D. (University of Connecticut, 1977), Professor Emeritus. Developmental genetics; gene organization and expression

Wayne Elisens, Ph.D. (University of Texas, Austin, 1982), Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus, Robert Bebb Herbarium. Plant biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, systematic biology, and ethnobotany

Ola M. Fincke, Ph.D. (University of Iowa, 1983), Professor Emeritus. Behavioral ecology of insects; tropical ecology

Douglas D. Gaffin, Ph.D. (Oregon State University, 1994), David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus, Joseph Brandt Professor Emeritus, Presidential Professor Emeritus. Scorpion sensory biology

Howard B. Haines, Ph.D. (University of Texas, 1961), Professor Emeritus. Comparative and environmental physiology

Penny M. Hopkins, Ph.D. (Tulane University, 1970), Professor Emeritus. Endocrinology; hormonal control of molting and regeneration in Crustacea

Victor H. Hutchison, Ph.D. (Duke University, 1959), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus. Comparative endocrinology; physiological ecology; herpetology

Michael A. Mares, Ph.D. (University of Texas at Austin, 1973), Presidential Professor Emeritus, Joseph Brandt Professor Emeritus, and Curator Emeritus, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Evolutionary ecology; desert ecology; community development; biogeography; population ecology; mammalogy

Edie Marsh-Matthews, Ph.D. (University of Texas, 1980), Professor Emeritus. Evolutionary ecology, community ecology, ichthyology

William J. Matthews, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 1977), Professor Emeritus. Ichthyology; fish ecology

Michael J. McInerney, Ph.D. (University of Illinois, 1980), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus. Anaerobic microbial physiology, syntrophy, and oil recovery

Douglas W. Mock, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, 1976), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus. Social behavior of birds; evolution of behavior

David Nagle, Ph.D. (University of Califormia, Berkeley, 1980), Professor Emeritus. Physiology and genetics of anaerobes

Gary D. Schnell, Ph.D. (University of Kansas, 1969), Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Systematics; numerical systematics; evolutionary biology; ornithology

Patricia L. Schwagmeyer, Ph.D. (University of Michigan, 1979), Professor Emeritus. Behavioral ecology of vertebrates; social behavior

Frank Seto, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, 1953), Professor Emeritus. Avian developmental immunology

Frank J. Sonleitner, Ph.D. (University of Chicago, 1959), Associate Professor Emeritus. Population ecology; ecogenetics; entomology

Joseph M. Suflita, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University, 1980), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus. Anaerobic microbiology, biocorrosion, biodegradation, bioremediation, microbial ecology, environmental microbiology

Ralph S. Tanner, Ph.D. (University of Illinois, 1982), Professor Emeritus. Microbiology, biofuels

Laurie J. Vitt, Ph.D. (Arizona State University, 1976), George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus, Sam Noble Museum Of Natural History. Herpetology, ecology and life histories of reptiles