Michael Baltzley: My primary interest is in how nervous systems evolve to create novel behavioral patterns. However, I enjoy investigating many aspects of animal behavior and physiology. I’ve had students study locomotion in gastropods (slugs and snails), sensory neurons in leeches, and orientation in fruit flies. My research involves quantifying behavioral patterns in different species, identifying neurons that underlie behaviors, and comparing the features of neurons across species.

Erin Baumgartner: My research focuses on teaching and learning in science. I am most interested in understanding how we build and improve scientific literacy in non-scientists. I also am mentoring students who are interested in engaging in animal behavior research.

Sarah Boomer: I use DNA techniques to describe microbial populations. I encourage students to develop their own projects to study microbes from local environments. Recent projects have examined bacterial populations in soils, rivers, and tooth-plaque! Given safety and technical issues, students need to have done well in General Microbiology (BI 331) before proposing project ideas. Students (1-2 per year) develop project ideas in fall, execute in winter, and present in spring.

Bryan Dutton: I study evolutionary relationships among flowering plants (especially members of the Buttercup Family), local floras, plant distribution and demographics in urban areas, and invasive plant species. I currently have students working on research projects dealing with the distribution of trees in municipalities near Western Oregon University.

Gareth Hopkins: I am an ecologist interested in how organisms are affected by, and respond to, stressors in their environment, both natural and anthropogenic. This research spans multiple layers of biological organization, from the behavioral and physiological responses of individuals to the evolutionary responses of populations and the ecological responses of communities. My research centers mostly around amphibians, reptiles, and insects, and is underpinned by natural history. I actively work with students in the field and the lab interested in conservation, ecology, animal behavior, entomology, and herpetology. You can find out more about my research here: garethrhopkins.com

Ava Howard: I study plant ecology and physiology focusing on water dynamics. Recent studies include the anatomy and physiology of invasive plants and Oregon oak-savannah ecology. Students in my lab read primary literature, learn experimental design, collect data and typically present findings at a local or national meeting.

Kristin Latham: I use the amazing fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to study genetics, development, and behavior. Currently I have two projects, both of which involve undergraduate students: 1) analysis of how the fly immune system copes with exposure to pathogens and 2) examination of directional preference in flies.  Link to Dr. Latham’s Research page.

Michael LeMaster: My research focuses on chemical communication among vertebrates. More specifically, I am interested in chemical cues facilitating the reproductive
process. The study of these sex pheromones involves both field- and laboratory-based experimentation using the garter snake as a model system.



Biology Department

503-838-8452 | or e-mail: duttonb@wou.edu