student in water testing lab using microscope

Research

Our department is made up of highly skilled faculty with national and international recognition as researchers in their fields. Information about their research areas can be found below, or the faculty’s individual websites. Our faculty conduct research on campus in many different facilities: the Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Laboratory, the Institute for Sustainability Studies, and the New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology. Our reach extends beyond the campus in diverse locations both nearby and abroad in Ireland and St. Johns.

Faculty Research Interests

Matthew Aardema profile photo

Matthew Aardema

Assistant Professor

Phone
973-655-3584
Email
aardemam@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 129
Ecology and evolution of arthropod vectors & arthropod-vectored pathogens (predominately Anaplasma phagocytophilum); comparative genomics & convergent evolution, Phylogeography of the Culex pipiens mosquito complex
Sandra Adams profile photo

Sandra Adams

Professor

Phone
973-655-7527
Email
adamssa@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 123
My areas of specialization are molecular virology, molecular biology, and biology education.
Kevin Bilyk profile photo

Kevin Bilyk

Assistant Professor

Email
bilykk@montclair.edu
Understanding how sharp shifts in selective pressure act to reshape highly conserved gene networks, and through the proteome.
Paul Bologna profile photo

Paul Bologna

Professor

Phone
973-655-4112
Email
bolognap@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 112
Seagrass Ecosystems: New Jersey and in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Stinging Sea Nettles: Population Biology and Impacts on food webs in New Jersey
Invasive Jellyfish in New Jersey
Review of current projects and research interests can be found here.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Bologna
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James Campanella

Professor

Phone
973-655-4097
Email
campanellj@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 119
Molecular genetics, Population genetics, phylogenetics, and molecular evolution.
Ann Marie DiLorenzo profile photo

Ann Marie DiLorenzo

Professor

Phone
973-655-4396
Email
dilorenzoa@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 109
Utilizing in vitro techniques to study the effects of environmental chemicals on toxicity, mutagenicity or carcinogenicity. All projects study cells or organs grown in culture under normal conditions as well as conditions of stress. All research falls within the area of “Alternatives to Whole Animal Testing” and strives to reduce the need for, and use of, excessive numbers of animals in scientific research. These projects all are within the scope of my expertise and continued research interest in the study of the effects of stress on in vitro systems as an indicator of the effects of stress on the human population. The ability to withstand and cope with environmental insult from xenotoxic agents has been seen to diminish with the added insult of either mental or physiological stress.

Previous work focusing mainly on heavy metals is now being directed to the specific contaminants in the dust from the World Trade Center tragedy (WTC) which has been analyzed by the Rutgers team of Dr. Paul Lioy. I was able to justify a request to Dr. Lioy of the Environmental and Occupational Institute of Rutgers University, and he generously sent us this WTC dust sample in late 2007. I plan to continue to expand our research to include more molecular and cytogenetic techniques. Studies of chromosomal damage are being measured by the Micronucleus test which shows small broken pieces of chromosomes as small darkly staining outside of the normal nucleus. Apoptosis Assays are employed to study DNA damage from heavy metals and WTC dust . Embryonic bone of chickens is also exposed to the WTC dust to study development in presence of these toxins.
Charles Du profile photo

Charles Du

Professor

Phone
973-655-4405
Email
duc@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 124
Bioinformatics, Evolutionary Genomics
Colette Feehan profile photo

Colette Feehan

Assistant Professor

Phone
973-655-4248
Email
feehanc@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 132
Marine ecosystems; Host-pathogen interactions; Predator-prey interactions; Disease ecology; Climate-change ecology
John Gaynor profile photo

John Gaynor

Professor

Phone
973-655-7253
Email
gaynorj@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 114
Molecular biology of Cnidarians; jellyfish venomics
Reginald Halaby profile photo

Reginald Halaby

Professor

Phone
973-655-7982
Email
halabyr@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 120
Induction of lysosomal-mediated apoptosis in chemoresistant human breast and prostate cancer cells using triptolide (Thunder God Vine), a Chinese herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over two centuries. We have demonstrated that triptolide's apoptotic abilities are due, in part, to it being a lysosomotropic agent.
Lisa Hazard profile photo

Lisa Hazard

Associate Professor

Phone
973-655-3418
Email
hazardl@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 121
Conservation physiology and physiological ecology
Reptile and amphibian physiology, ecology, and natural history (emphasis on northeastern and southwestern U.S. fauna)
Julian Keenan profile photo

Julian Keenan

Professor

Phone
973-655-2112
Email
keenanj@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 207
Neuroimaging
Self-awareness and theory of mind
Deception and deception detection
Evolutionary cognitive neuroscience
Jennifer Krumins profile photo

Jennifer Krumins

Professor

Email
kruminsj@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 118
Microbial Ecology
Biodiversity
Food web ecology
Lee Lee profile photo

Lee Lee

Professor

Phone
973-655-7164
Email
leel@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 108
Molecular Microbiology
Medical Microbiology
Environmental Microbiology
Heavy metal effects on cyanobacteria
Robert Meredith profile photo

Robert Meredith

Associate Professor

Phone
973-655-7800
Email
meredithr@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 133
Vertebrate evolution, bristletail evolution, molecular and morphological systematics including the incorporation of extinct organisms, paleontology/paleobiology, biogeography, molecular dating, molecular evolution with particular interest in teeth, olfactory, and eye genes, pseudogene evolution, morphological evolution
Carlos Molina profile photo

Carlos Molina

Professor

Phone
973-655-3302
Email
molinac@montclair.edu
Location
Center for Environmental & Life Sciences, 400
Cancer Research
Biology of Reproduction
Kirsten Monsen profile photo

Kirsten Monsen

Associate Professor

Phone
973-655-7788
Email
monsenk@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 135
Conservation Genetics
Molecular Ecology
Wildlife Disease
Elena Petroff profile photo

Elena Petroff

Associate Professor

Phone
973-655-2027
Email
petroffe@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 110
Molecular Neuroscience
Ion Channel Physiology
Matthew Schuler profile photo

Matthew Schuler

Assistant Professor

Phone
973-655-7191
Email
schulerm@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 113
Community ecology
Freshwater biology
Limnology
Physiological ecology
John Smallwood profile photo

John Smallwood

Associate Professor

Phone
973-655-5345
Email
smallwoodj@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 117
Ornithology, ecology, animal behavior, conservation biology.
Quinn Vega profile photo

Quinn Vega

Professor

Phone
973-655-7178
Email
vegaq@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 122
Dr. Vega's research focus has been on cellular signal transduction and the mechanisms by which cells respond to external environmental and biochemical clues by activating specific molecular signals and activate transcription of specific genes. While his work has traditionally been in the field of mammalian cell signaling, including the study of cellular receptors and co-receptors, Dr. Vega has expanded his research to look at the bacteriophage life cycle and how these signals work at the microbial level.
Dirk Vanderklein profile photo

Dirk Vanderklein

Chairperson

Phone
973-655-5265
Email
vanderkleid@montclair.edu
Location
Science Hall, 116
My research focuses on how plants grow in the environmental conditions they live in and how plants affect the environment that they live in. Currently, my research is concentrating on these areas: the impact of Japanese knotweed (an invasive plant) on our water supply, what is the status of the street trees in Montclair, NJ, and how to help first-year first-generation students succeed in science and college. The Japanese knotweed research is in collaboration with Dr. Josh Galster of the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies. The street tree work is in collaboration with the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies. The first-year student work is in collaboration with Drs. Galster, Goodey, and Professor Dalley. All of this work has involved and continues to involve undergraduate and graduate students. Our results from the knotweed work suggest that for some of our local streams, Japanese knotweed is removing as much as 9% of our water supply during the summer months. Given that we are already experiencing water shortages in northern New Jersey, this additional loss of water is very worrisome. We are currently trying to understand the impact of this plant at the watershed scale. The rest of the research is too new to have any meaningful results.

I mostly teach BIOL113 (Principles of Biology 2), BIOL213 (Introduction to Ecology), and BIOL425/520 (Plant physiology). In my teaching I try to engage students in their learning. My goal is to have students become fully engaged in their learning so that they go beyond rote learning and instead try to achieve deep learning (i.e. true understanding). I try to achieve this through a combination of in-class exercises, group projects out of class, hands-on learning in lab, and student reflection pieces in class. I believe that making lectures entertaining and showing students how the information is relevant to their lives helps them become and stay engaged. My exams are not multiple-choice. My exams are essay style and I ask students to demonstrate that they can apply what has been covered in class to a novel situation. As part of my dedication to achieving deep learning by the students who attend my classes, I have joined the Office for Faculty Advancement at MSU as a fellow and mentor in the Engaged Teaching Mentors and Fellows Program.
Meiyin Wu profile photo

Meiyin Wu

Professor

Phone
973-655-7117
Email
wum@montclair.edu
Location
Center for Environmental & Life Sciences, 100D
Dr. Wu’s research focuses on human impacts on aquatic ecosystems, such as impacts of urban development on rivers and watersheds. Wu’s team studies water chemistry, soil chemistry, hydrology, geomorphology, pathogen indicators, aquatic flora and fauna, and riparian habitat. This research extends to watershed management, nonpoint source pollution reduction, storm water management and green infrastructures. Green infrastructures include an array of practices that use or mimic natural systems to better manage storm water runoff. Dr. Wu is currently working on flood prevention/mitigation strategies for NJ vulnerable communities. Green infrastructures are often included in the design for storm water management and flood prevention.

Her research emphasizes on sustaining biodiversity via rebuilding habitat connectivity and controlling invasive species. Due to high human population density and dense urban development, wildlife habitats are fragmented and/or destroyed. Extensive road network has been shown to create complete barriers to wildlife movement and cause mortality of wildlife. Dr. Wu’s research identifies and prioritizes wildlife crossing/mortality hotspots for mitigation planning to restore habitat connectivity and for the long-term persistence of wildlife species.
Exotic species invasion is a global environmental problem associated with increasing human activity, which causes significant global ecological and economic consequences. Dr. Wu’s research examines the impacts of exotic species introduction at population, community and ecosystem levels, efficacies of invasive management strategies, as well as development of new technologies to control invasive populations. Currently, Dr. Wu is working on development of ultrasonic treatment devices for invasive species management and disinfection.

Globally, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. Dr. Wu’s research interests extend to wetland ecology, management, restoration, and impacts of global climate change on wetlands. Scientific evidence suggests that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are having a discernible effect on the global climate, including acceleration of global temperature and sea-level rise. Dr. Wu’s research studies the role of wetlands in global climate change. Do wetlands produce a surplus of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere or retain them? Are wetlands acting as carbon sinks or carbon sources? Should wetland construction be used in exchange for carbon credits? Moreover, with sea-level rise, there could be substantial loss of floodplain and coastal wetlands. Conversely, many terrestrial ecosystems today may be flooded and become wetlands in the future. Invasive species, insects and pathogens may increase their competitive ability, expand their distribution ranges and move poleward, outcompete native species and occupy the newly developed wetlands. Dr. Wu’s research investigates the impacts of global climate change on wetland distribution, biogeochemical cycles, structure and dynamics, and ecosystem functions and services.

For more information on her research, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/wulab/

The Department of Biology is housed in Science Hall, a facility that includes well-equipped research laboratories, teaching laboratories and prep rooms, a greenhouse, and faculty/staff offices. Research is funded by agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), SeaGrant, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). It’s important to know the safety protocols when in the lab.

Student Research Opportunities

As a student in our department, you have many opportunities to pursue independent scientific research with faculty members. The first step is to find faculty members that are doing research exciting to you. Contact and visit those faculty members you find interesting – you might get a chance to conduct exciting and novel experiments with them!

Undergraduates can get academic credit for independent research by enrolling in Biology Independent Research (BIOL-418). Alternatively, utilize Externship in Biological Research (BIOL-409) for real-world career experience in addition to research credit. You can also participate in research through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

Graduate students can take Introduction to Biological Research (BIOL-599) or Master’s Thesis (BIOL-698). Both involve independent research under the direction of a faculty member; the thesis involves a longer, more in-depth research experience. Graduate students in our programs are strongly encouraged to conduct thesis research.

Scholarships may be available to support students conducting research; see our scholarship page to see available scholarships. Student researchers have the opportunity to present their findings at local, regional, national and even international research conferences. They have also authored and co-authored papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.