Biology Faculty & Staff Receive Multiple Awards and Honors at CHS Awards Ceremony

CHS Awards for Rachel Hill, Hebing Liu, Susan Polich, Tim Millican, and Chris Gough

A staggering number of VCU Biology faculty and staff received various awards and honors at this year’s College of Humanities and Sciences Faculty & Staff Awards and Retirees Breakfast.  The awards and honorees are as follows:

Chris Gough
Excellence in Scholarship Award (Math/Science)

Rachel Hill
Distinguished Advising Award

Hebing Liu
Distinguished Adjunct Award

Tim Millican
Impact Award

Susan Polich
Academic Year 2018 Retiree

The Department of Biology congratulates these faculty & staff and is privileged to have such talented and passionate people making the department so outstanding.

Biology Grad Student Awarded a Virginia Sea Grant Fellowship

2018 Commonwealth Fellows Announced. Lauren Pudvah shown on the left, Benjamin Nettleton shown on the right.  A faded seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia is seen in the upper right.

Virginia Sea Grant announced that Benjamin Nettleton (pictured above on the right), an MS student in biology, was awarded a Commonwealth Coastal & Marine Policy Fellowship.  Nettleton will be partnered with The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coastal Reserve.

Nettleton pursues his MS degree as a member of Assistant Professor Julie Zinnert’s Coastal Plant Ecology Lab.


Press Release: 2018 Commonwealth Fellows Announced

Summer Studies Faculty Read RateMyProfessor Reviews

Instructor Jonathan Moore reads RateMyProfessor reviews to promote Summer Studies at VCU.
Instructor Jonathan Moore reads RateMyProfessor reviews to promote Summer Studies at VCU.

Jonathan Moore, an Instructor in VCU Biology was among several faculty teaching summer courses this year who read RateMyProfessor reviews.  Moore will teach introduction to biological sciences II, ecology, a capstone seminar on animal behavior, and a new lab on animal behavior during this summer semester.

Watch the video below via YouTube!

2 Biology Students Received Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Awards

Baldacci Experiential Learning Award

On behalf of Interim Department Chair Bonnie Brown:

The inaugural recipients of the College of Humanities and Sciences Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund grants (resulting from a generous gift from David and Michelle Baldacci) have today been announced and Department of Biology students received 2 of 12 awards! These awards give financial support to academically promising College of Humanities and Sciences undergraduates so they can pursue internships, conferences, research, domestic or study abroad, and/or social entrepreneurship opportunities. Our students who received Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund Awards are:

Sean Hubbard (Biology, Class of May 2020) will participate on an expedition as a research assistant in Guyana, led by Operation Wallacea, which will journey to a protected reserve called Iwokrama in the undisturbed primary rainforest of the Guiana Shield region.

Samantha Moon (Biology, Class of May 2019) will study abroad,  with Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in summer and fall 2018.

Thanks also to Dan Carr and Sarah Golding in Biology who were among the 10 faculty who reviewed 108 applications!

2018 Awards Ceremony Honors Biology Students

Joseph Brown, Julie Zinnert, Benjamin Nettleton, and Chair Bonnie Brown pictured.  Joseph and Benjamin were honorees at the awards ceremony.
Pictured (left to right) are Joseph Brown (PhD student in Integrative Life Sciences), Julie Zinnert (Assistant Professor), Benjamin Nettleton (Masters Student in Biology), and Bonnie Brown (Interim Chair for VCU Biology).

On April 6th, the Department of Biology honored nine students at the annual College of Humanities and Sciences Award Ceremony.  The department recognizes these individuals for their outstanding work in their academic career, research, teaching, community contributions, and humanitarian efforts.  We congratulate these students and look forward to their continue excellence.

2018 Award Recipients

  • Sravya Uppalapati, Mohamed Shaaban Humanitarian Award
  • Sarah Ingram, Outstanding Biology Graduate Teaching Assistant Award
  • Benjamin Nettleton, Outstanding Biology Masters Student in Ecology
  • Farahnoz Khojayori, Outstanding Biology Masters Student in Evolution
  • Joseph Brown, Outstanding Biology PhD Student in Ecology
  • Rohan Kankaria, Outstanding Biology Senior Award
  • Nitika Gupta, Outstanding Biology Undergraduate Student in Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • Emma Davis, Outstanding Biology Undergraduate Student in Ecology
  • Heather Caslin, Outstanding PhD Student in Cellular & Molecular Biology

Grad Student in a Biology Lab Weighs In on Turtle Meat Trade

Ben Colteaux, P h. D., holds a snapping turtle.

Ben Colteaux, a recent Ph.D. graduate in Derek Johnson’s lab provided some important input to Virginia Public Radio on the turtle meat trade to China.

Full Article: “The Chinese Feast on Virginia’s Turtles” by Sandy Hausman

Nature Magazine interviews Biology faculty member

Flowering Plants Blooming

Assistant Professor Wenheng Zhang was interviewed in an article by Nature: International Journal of Science about the anatomy of the first flower to appear on the planet.  Zhang, an expert in the evolution and development of plants, gave input and perspective in the ongoing debate about the first flowering plant in the world.

Article: “Debate blooms over the anatomy of the world’s first flower”

VCU Biology Research Suggests Some E-Cig Flavors More Harmful Than Others

A man exhales smoke from an e-cigarette. Photo by Mark Blinch, Reuters.

Amanda Dickinson, Associate Professor in VCU Biology, coauthored a study that evaluated the effects of six e-cigarette flavors by testing the vapors on tadpoles.  The Atlantic reports her findings.

Biology Faculty Contribute to Study on Student Understanding of Evolution


Dianne Jennings and Jonathan Moore

Dianne Jennings (Associate Professor) and Jonathan Moore (Instructor) attended an Avida-Active Lens workshop prior to the 2018 academic year to receive training on a unique platform for delivering a curriculum of evolution to students.  They have created unique modules for in-class and online activities that students in their BIOL 151 and BIOL 152 courses will complete over the course of the 2018 academic year.

The data from these activities will help to develop effective teaching techniques for curricula in evolution that will benefit future biology students across the country.  Avida-ED, an application developed and deployed by Michigan State University, will be utilized by Jennings and Moore as a part of their participation in the study.  Learn more about Avida-ED here.

Biology course allows students to experience South Africa from ‘Summits to Sea’

Female Kudu Antelope
A female Kudu antelope is one in the wide variety of animals that VCU students in South Africa might spot over winter break. Photo by James Vonesh.

Over the winter break, a hardy cadre of Virginia Commonwealth University students will escape the cold to snorkel, hike, bike, raft and canoe during an exploration of the rivers of South Africa.  The South African Summits to Sea: Human and Natural History of KwaZulu-Natal biology course will take the group of nine students from the peaks of Drakensberg Mountains — the rooftop of Africa — to the low-lying freshwater lagoons of Kosi Bay. At points between, they will visit the Tugela, Pongola and Buffalo rivers, which begin in the mountains and end at the sea.

Read more at VCU News

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