Sue Dunford

[2/26/16] It is with the most profound sadness that I must inform you that our colleague and dear friend, Dr. Susan Dunford, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, passed away this last weekend.  Sue had been fighting a battle with lung cancer for three years, but through it all continued to teach her classes and advise students with the most admirable and unfailing dedication. 

Since joining our department in 1976, Dr. Dunford made vital contributions to the department, especially through her involvement in our large introductory level courses.  Sue was a botanist and plant physiologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Dayton and post-doctoral training at Harvard University.  She conducted research in collaboration with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Research on Endangered Wildlife (CREW).  She taught General Biology and supervised the labs, and also taught Plants and People and Plant Physiology.  Sue also advised large numbers of our undergraduate majors.  We have been most fortunate to have Sue Dunford as a member of our department, and she has clearly been a credit to the college and the university. We will all miss her terribly.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue's family. 

There will be a Celebration of Life of Dr. Susan Ann Dunford with Remarks from Family and Friends at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, on Saturday, March 5.  Information can be obtained from the Biology department at or 556-9700.

There is a remembrance book in the Biology office (614 Rieveschl) for students, friends and colleagues to sign and share their memories.

George Uetz, Head, Department of Biological Sciences

[2/2/16] Bed bugs beware!! Unfortunately bed bugs have become increasingly resistant to efforts to exterminate them. However, now help may be on the way. Dr. Josh Benoit recently published on the bed bug genome in Nature Communications, and this work was covered in a wide variety of media outlets including the New York Times. This increased understanding of the molecular basis of bed bug physiology may reveal a weak link that can be exploited to get rid of the pesky little critters once and for all.

[12/17/15] Dr. Bruce Jayne's research was highlighted in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. Although the shape of many species of snakes superficially resemble a cylinder, some snakes that live in trees can form ridges along both sides of their belly. This anatomical specialization allows brown tree snakes over four feet long to snag projections as small as only one millimeter, which allows them to slither up vertical surfaces without slipping downward.

brown tree snake keel

[12/1/15] Dr. Trinity Hamilton is getting settled in after recently (January 2015) joining our tenure-track faculty as an assistant professor. Her PhD is from Montana State University, and she was a Postdoctoral researcher at Penn State before coming here. Her lab aims to understand the interactions of microorganisms in natural and engineered systems and how these interactions shape community structure and function. Her goal is to isolate and characterize environmentally-relevant strains and combine these data with transcriptional studies and in situ measurements of activity to examine microbial communities and processes related to testing a variety of hypotheses. Her research employs traditional culture-based and molecular techniques as well as next generation -omics approaches in combination with high resolution geochemical and geological data.
Examples of ongoing projects in her lab include:
    1)      Examining microbial primary productivity in Proterozoic ocean analogs (Little Salt Spring, North Port, FL).
    2)      Competitive interactions and microbial community assembly in relation to bioavailable nitrogen (Yellowstone National Park).
    3)      Ecology and physiology of toxin-producing cyanobacteria (Great Lakes Basin).
    4)      Supraglacial primary productivity and the consequences for the global carbon cycle (Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest, Permanent snowfields in the Beartooth Mountains).

[11/23/15] Dr. Elke Buschbeck's research with insect eyes was recently highlighted during an interview on public radio station WVXU for an article on her work that appeared in Discover magazine. For many elderly humans the only hope for seeing clearly up close and far away is a trip to the optometrist to get a pair of bifocals. By contrast, the predatory larvae the sun burst diving beetle that Dr. Buschbeck studies may be unique in the animal kingdom because they have a unique anatomy of their eye that duplicates the function of bifocal glasses!

Alex Sweger

[10/27/15] At the Ohio Valley Entomology Association meeting in Lexington, KY on 10/23, two UC biology students won awards. Congratulations to Alex Sweger (left) for third place in the Ph.D. student paper competition and to (REU) research student Maddi Lallo for 2nd place in the undergraduate competition.

[10/14/15] Dr. Takuya Konishi will be attending the meetings of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Dallas, Texas to present his work on the extinct group of marine reptiles known as the mosasaurs. A key problem for the ability of animals to live in marine habitats is the different need for maintaining water and salt balance, and anatomical evidence suggests that some mososaurs may be yet another group of reptiles that has independently evolved a salt gland to accomplish this.

mososaur skull

[9/24/15] Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Wagenaar for receiving 5 years of research support from NIH totaling more than 1.6 million dollars. Dr. Wagenaar will be using medicinal leeches as a model system to gain a basic understanding of the organization and function of neural circuits.

[8/8/15] We are pleased to announce that as of August 15, 2015, Dr. Eric Tepe will be joining our tenure-track faculty as an assistant professor. For nearly five years as an adjunct professor in our department Dr. Tepe has had a vital role for curating and modernizing the historically and scientifically important holdings of the herbarium, and he recently obtained NSF support to create a digital archive of the entire collection. Much of Dr. Tepe's research involves field work in the New World Tropics where he is investigating an evolutionary lineage of plants with an incredibly large number of species, and he has been successful in repeatedly obtaining NSF funding to support his work.

Eric Tepe


[8/4/15] An article by professor George Uetz and collaborator Dr. David Clark (Alma College) was recently published and highlighted in the journal Animal Behaviour, and it received considerable media coverage including Science Daily. As explained in more detail here some male spiders are nosy neighbors as they exploit the courtship signals of neighboring males in an attempt to obtain a mate. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation

[6/9/15] City workers, city dwellers and city tourists consider green roofs the lush, enchanted gardens that bring the inspiration of nature into an urban setting. A new book includes research out of the University of Cincinnati that explores the dynamics of nutrient cycling in green roof systems. The research by Ishi Buffam, a UC assistant professor of biological sciences, and Mark Mitchell, a doctoral student in Biological Sciences, is featured in the book, “Green Roof Ecosystems” by Springer Publishing. Read more by clicking here

Ishi Buffam green roof
Caroline Hensley

[ 4/27/2015] Congratulations to Caroline Hensley, an undergraduate student from Wheaton, Ill., who is one of only two McMicken students awarded the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence. She will be graduating from McMicken College of Arts and Sciences this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. To read more click here

[4/2415] Congratulations to Ph.D. student Elizabeth Brown for winning one of only five University of Cincinnati Graduate School Dean's Fellowships (formerly know as the Distinguished Dissertation Completion Fellowship). Elizabeth's research on the genetic basis of olfactory behaviors is being conducted in the lab of Dr. Stephanie Rollmann. Click here to read more about Elizabeth's experiences as a graduate student in the department of Biological Sciences.

Elizabeth Brown

[4/23/15] Congratulations to professor David Lentz and his collaborators for securing $250,000 in funding from the Duke Energy Foundation for monitoring water quality and for environmental education outreach. Click hereto read about the details of this effort involving the Cicncinnnati Center for Field studies

[4/15/15] Congratulations to Ph.D. student Emily Jennings who is one of only four UC students to receive a Sigma Xi grant to support her research. Emily is working in the lab of Dr. Joshua Benoit. To understand how stress on mothers may affect their offspring, she studying an unusual species of cockroach that bears live young. Click here to learn more details about this award and her work.

Emily Jennings
Elke Buschbeck

[4/2/15] Congratulations to professor Elke Buschbeck and co-investigator Dr. Tiffany Cook for receiving a 4 year grant from the National Science Foundation of $600,000 than to support their research on the development and function of visual systems. Click here to read more details.

[3/12/15] Congratulations to assistant professor Joshua Gross in being receiving two grants totaling! The grants from the National Science Foundation ($519,00 for 3 years) and the National Institutes of Health ($1,900,000 for 5 years) are to support Dr. Gross investigating the genetic, developmental, and evolutionary basis of how traits are lost using different populations cave fish with varying degrees of loss in traits such as eyes and pigment. Click here to read more details


Theresa Culley

[2/18/15] Congratulations to associate professor Theresa Culley who has been selected to be the first provost fellow (beginning fall 2015) to oversee the university's honors programs. Click here to read more of the details.

[1/28/15] Alumni Updates. Congratulations to Dr. Randall W. Franz (class of 1988, Biology major) whose vascular surgery program at OhioHealth has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for quality and medical excellence by CareChex, a hospital ranking organization. Click here to read more about the impressive accomplishments of this distinguished UC alumus.

Randall Franz
Bethany Stahl

Congratulations to Bethany Stahl, recipient of a 2013 Grant-in-Aid of Research from the University of Cincinnati Sigma Xi Chapter. Bethany received a $3000 award to support her doctoral studies investigating the genetic mechanisms mediating pigmentation loss in cave-dwelling animals. Bethany is a fourth-year doctoral student in the lab of Dr. Gross.

Uetz and spider



[1/12/12] An article by George Uetz and colleagues (former UC students Dr. Dave Clark and Dr. J. Andrew Roberts) was published on-line in Biology Letters and highlighted in several recent news stories such as one on National Public Radio and featured on the NSF website The study found that field-experienced male wolf spiders "eavesdrop" on other males and respond by initiating courtship behavior, as a likely means of stealing their mate. Moreover, the spiders exhibited a signal matching behavior, adjusting the rate of leg-tapping behavior to match and even outperform the behavior of rivals, most likely as a form of pre-emptive mate competition, which has only been seen before in vertebrate animals.

[1/5/12] As highlighted by Scientific American and The History ChannelEric Tepe recently named a new species of south American plant in honor of the first woman explorer who traveled around the world 250 years ago.


[1/27/11] An article by George Uetz and Shira Gordon was featured in the February 2011 issue of the journal, Animal Behavior and highlighted in several news stories. Male wolf spiders adjust the modes of their signaling (vibrations vs. visual cues) depending on the habitat (leaves, soil, rock, wood) on which they find themselves. Uetz's former doctoral student Shira Gordon is now a research fellow at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. Click here to see video.



[12/10/10] The Polak lab's laser handy work made Science Now's top 10 stories in 2010. This work was published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Polak's Lab

[12/1/10] For humans climbing ropes presents a formidable challenge, but snakes are adept at doing this, in part because they are able to change their gripping strategy as rope diameter changes. Research on this topic from Dr. Jayne's lab published in the December issue of Experimental Biology was featured in Inside JEB and covered by web sites such as Science Daily. Click here to hear an interview with Dr. Jayne on the CBC science radio program Quirks and Quarks, and click here to view a video.


[8/23/10] Research in Dr. Buschbeck's lab discovered that some aquatic beetle larvae have eyes that function as bifocals. This work was the featured cover article in Current Biology and was widely covered by the popular media including outlets such as Discover Magazine

Buschbeck Cover