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Solidarity Statement for Racial Justice


Biology is the study of life and inherently recognizes the intrinsic value of diversity - all lives are unique, valuable, and contribute to the richness of our planet. The community that forms the Department of Biology at the University of Oklahoma (OU Biology) is repulsed by the 400-year legacy of social injustices, discrimination, and oppression and the present-day manifestations of racism that continue to profoundly impact our community every day. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black and brown people, often at the hands of law enforcement, have been a horrendous reminder of the cost of our complacency and how much work is necessary to have a society in which diversity is nurtured and flourishes. OU Biology condemns all discriminatory institutions, policies, practices, and behaviors that marginalize any member of our community. We stand in support of the Black Emergency Response Team at OU, Black Lives Matter, and Black Visions Collective in their battle against the oppression of Black and other marginalized populations. We not only stand with Black, indigenous, and people of color in the quest for inclusion and equity, but we are also resolute in our mission to provide leadership and promote a diverse and inclusive campus environment through action. We are currently working on a set of concrete actions to improve our department culture, accountability, and transparency, which will be approved and released prior to the fall semester 2020.  

OU Biology appreciates, studies, and works to preserve the diversity of life and we will no longer be passive in the movement towards social equality. To make the Department of Biology at the University of Oklahoma a paragon of justice and inclusivity will require our community to work collectively and continuously. We urge those interested in taking action to please contact the department’s Diversity Inclusion and Equity Committee.

 

Starting in August 2020


The OU Department of Biology is pleased to welcome our newest faculty member, Dr. Gavin Woodruff, who joins our faculty this fall. Woodruff serves as an Assistant Professor of Biology in the area of Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. His research seeks to connect functional genetics with evolution and ecology to understand the causes of phenotypic diversity. Woodruff currently uses the nematode Caenorhabditis inopinata as a model organism. C. inopinata can grow to be nearly twice as long as its close relatives, which include the highly-studied model organism, C. elegans.  

Furthermore, it thrives in the fresh figs and is associated with its pollinating wasps; figs and fig wasps together represent a classic system in evolution and ecology. C. inopinata is then well-positioned to connect multiple disciplines that aim to understand the bases of phenotypic variation. Woodruff harnesses genomic, evolutionary, and developmental genetic approaches to address these questions using this system.

Find out more about Dr. Woodruff’s research at https://gcwoodruff.github.io/

Starting in August 2021

Welcome to Dr. Alexandra Bentz


The OU Department of Biology is pleased to welcome Dr. Alexandra Bentz, who will join our faculty next fall.

Bentz will serve as an Assistant Professor of Biology in the area of Behavioral Physiology. Her research focuses on how social experiences are encoded into organismal function, leading to long-term changes in physiology and behavior both within and across generations. She uses experimental and observational approaches in the field and the lab that integrate tools from behavioral endocrinology and genomics across scales, from the molecular to the evolutionary. Bentz primarily works with free-living songbirds to explore how these processes function in dynamic social environments.

 

Find out more about Dr. Bentz’s research at https://abentz.wixsite.com/bentzlab

Welcome to Dr. Daniel Becker

Neuron and Network

The OU Department of Biology is pleased to welcome Dr. Daniel Becker, who will join our faculty next fall.

Becker will serve as an Assistant Professor of Biology in the area of Population / Disease Ecology. His research explores the ecological and evolutionary factors that determine infectious disease dynamics in wildlife reservoir hosts and cross-species transmission. Daniel combines a range of approaches, including spatiotemporal field studies of wild bats and birds, phylogenetic comparative methods, theoretical models, and machine learning, to understand how pathogens spread within and between animal populations and species and how environmental changes will alter infectious disease risks.

 

Find out more about Dr. Becker’s current research at http://danieljbecker.weebly.com/