Skip to main content Skip to main content

Full-Time Faculty


 


Photo of Dr. Sheryl Zajdowics

Sheryl Zajdowicz
Department Chair


303-615-0223



swaltonz@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2042D

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Bill Baxendale
Professor Emeritus


303-615-0352



baxendal@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2047

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Erin Bissell
Assistant Professor


303-615-0242



ebissell@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2066

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Christy Carello
Professor


303-615-0236



carello@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2046

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

About Me

I am a first-generation college student from Southern California. However, I have now lived more of my life in Colorado than in California. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and my Master’s and PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder. My first academic position was at the University of Wisconsin Eau Clair and have been at MSU Denver since 2003. I love working at MSU Denver and I am so proud of the mission of the University and truly believe that you have access to a world class education.  When I am not working, I love spending time out in our great outdoors where you will find me hiking, skiing, biking and playing disc golf with my family or out on a run or even on the tennis court.

Research Interest

I consider myself a Conservation Ecologist or an Ornithologist (one who studies birds). Often times I combine these two areas and ask questions about how our actions affect birds in their natural habitat. I have long-term research projects in Colorado and Monteverde, Costa Rica. Students have worked with me on my research projects and/or I work with students to develop their own research projects.

Courses I Teach

Ornithology, Field Ornithology, Tropical Biology (students travel to Costa Rica for this one), Issues in Conservation Biology and the second semester of General Biology.



Maria Cattell
Lecturer


303-615-0305



mcattell@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2064

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

I received my doctorate from the University of South Florida, in Tampa FL, where I studied plant insect interaction in a plant hybrid zone. I was interested in the evolutionary implications of hybridization on the hybridizing plant species and on the insect herbivores that feed on them. I started as an ecologist but ended up spending a good chunk of my dissertation describing the population genetics of the plant hybrid zone and became a molecular genetic lab rat in the process. 

I have a lot of research experience in molecular genetics. After taking some time off to be home with my children I returned to research at CU Boulder as a Research Associate in an Evolutionary Developmental Biology lab. This lab is interested in understanding the evolution of the vertebrates.  To do this, we studied developmental gene expression, regulation, and function in three model organisms; lamprey (a jawless vertebrate), amphioxus (a basal chordate), and zebrafish (a jawed vertebrate). By comparing lamprey and amphioxus development with that of zebrafish, and other vertebrates like frog and salamander,  we aimed to reconstruct the genetic and developmental changes underlying the earliest events in vertebrate evolution, like the evolution of the head and jaw. 

From there I went on to work as a Research Associate at CU's Anschutz Medical Campus, where I worked in neurobiology and scoliosis labs. The primary focus of the work performed in the neurobiology lab was to investigate the genetic, molecular, and cellular basis of development and myelination of the central nervous system. In the scoliosis lab we utilized clinical specimens (maybe from you!) to achieve the goal of broadening the scientific community’s knowledge of the complex molecular underpinnings of idiopathic scoliosis. In both labs I used emerging CRISPR/Cas technologies to manipulate the zebrafish (our animal model) genome to study the effects of specific genetic manipulations on myelination and musculoskeletal phenotypes.

I have been teaching throughout the years while conducting research. In graduate school I was a TA for various labs including General Biology, Ecology and Genetics. I also taught non-majors biology courses like Environmental Science during graduate school. Since graduate school I have taught classes at Northern Virginia Community College and at CU Boulder including General Biology, Non-majors Biology, Genetics, Conservation Biology, and Evolution. Since joining the faculty at Metro State (3.5 years ago) I have taught General Biology (BIO 1080), General Biology Labs (Bio 1090), Cell Biology (BIO 3050), Genetics (BIO 3600) and Evolution (BIO 4850). 

Over the years my instructional philosophy has changed dramatically. Coming from a history of pedagogy that included lectures and high stakes exams almost exclusively, this was the model I employed for many years. As I have become more interested in different approaches to teaching and evidence based student success I have incorporated more active and collaborative learning into my classes. Today, while most of my classes still involve a large amount of lecturing, they also include numerous in and out of class activities that are performed in groups and individually. In class, small group work has become a central learning tool in all of my classes. My students grades are now based on a wide variety of work performed throughout the semester and the emphasis has been taken off of high stakes exams (we still have exams, but they are much lower stakes). I believe that my students benefit from this approach by gaining a deeper and longer lasting understanding of the biological sciences which is my fundamental goal in teaching. 

In addition to my academic life, I have two college aged children. One is working on his BA at CU Boulder in Neuroscience and the other is a freshman here at Metro majoring in math. I also have 3 cats, a snake and puppy! I love outdoor activities and am an avid hiker, skier and runner. 



Cindy Church
Professor


303-615-0217



churchcy@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2037

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Check out Dr. Church's website!  http://drchurchbiology.com/ 



Kristy Duran
Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research and Professor of Biology


303-605-7407



kduran16@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

I grew up in the San Luis Valley of Colorado surrounded by an extended family of educators. I earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of New Mexico, where I was first introduced research. I did research in a cardiology lab at UNM, at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, and in a population genetics lab at UNM. My first publication was from my undergraduate research on the population genetics of creosote bush. These varied undergraduate research experiences were instrumental in starting me on a career path in biology. I went on to study Neurobiology at Colorado State University where I earned my M.S. degree, but then decided to go back to population genetics and earned my Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. My dissertation focused on the phylogeography of the pinyon pine dwarf mistletoe and its host.

My research focuses on the effects of dwarf mistletoes on host physiology and ecology. I am interested in how host species allocate energy to defense, growth, and reproduction in response to dwarf mistletoe infection and how that response varies across host species. I am also interested in how aboveground infection might affect below ground nutrient cycling.

I am very passionate about undergraduate research and am excited to join the MSU Denver as both a member of the Biology department and the Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research.



Jonathan Dyhr
Assistant Professor


303-615-5954



jdyhr@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2030

Office Hours:

 

 

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

I have always had a broad interest in the sciences. As a consequence, I never settled on working within a single discipline. Coming out of my undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University, I was torn between my interest in understanding the world through first principles (physics) and my interest in studying how the brain perceives and interacts with the world (neuroscience).  I was able to marry these two seemingly divergent interests during my PhD work at the University of Arizona, where my research focused on reversing engineering the neural computations underlying motion vision in flying insects (bees in particular). I also developed a parallel interest in engineering, attempting to apply my models of visual computation to robotic systems.

After receiving my PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington where I combined my expertise in sensory processing with the motor output side of the nervous system. I was trained in biomechanics and control theory, a subdiscipline of engineering. I used this training to develop models and experiments to better understand how feedback between sensory and motor systems influences the structure of computation in the nervous system. While my research is complicated in the sense that I use advanced mathematical models to develop quantitative predictions, my biological experiments are relatively simple (and fun).  For example, training bumblebees to fly through a tunnel to collect a sugar water reward, or testing the ability of hovering moths to track (and feed from) robotically controlled flowers.

My favorite thing about teaching is sharing examples of cool “design” in biological systems and highlighting the incredible physiological feats that they achieve through clever manipulation of physical and chemical principles.

 

 



Rebecca Ferrell
Professor


303-615-0211



ferrellr@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2033

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Joan Foster
Professor


303-615-0429



fosterjl@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
SI 2034

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Jennifer Gagliardi-Seeley
Professor


303-615-0226



jgaglia1@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2041

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Jennifer Gagliardi-Seeley earned her PhD at Lehigh University in Integrative Biology with a concentration in Behavioral Ecology.  She currently is a full professor at MSU Denver in the Biology department.  Her dissertation was on territoriality and sexual selection in convict cichlid fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata), and she continues to conduct research on the mating system of these tropical fish both in the lab and in the field.  The most current cichlid lab project is investigating the sex ratio and pair bond formation.  The most recent cichlid field study is using DNA analysis to confirm that these fish exhibit social monogamy, determine if the offspring the pair is raising is related to both individuals of the pair, and how parental care may differ between pairs that exhibit social monogamy compared to those that exhibit genetic monogamy.  In addition to her studies on convict cichlids, Dr. Jen investigates ecological field studies on garter snakes (Thamnophis sp.) in CO.  Currently, she is investigating whether Thamnophis elegans and Thamnophis radix exhibit habitat partitioning using GIS. 

Dr. Jen teaches General Biology II lecture and lab, Vertebrate Zoology, General Ecology, and a senior-experience Animal Ecology.  She also enjoys co-teaching a study abroad course called tropical field biology with Christy Carello, where their class spends 10 days in Costa Rica.



Nicolette Giasolli
Lecturer


303-615-0777



ngiasoll@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2035

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Robert Hancock
Professor


303-615-0231



rhancoc5@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2044

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

MY ACADEMIC BACKGROUND:  

I am a native of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. I graduated with a B.S. in both Biology and Chemistry from Hastings College (Nebraska) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Medical Entomology from Ohio State University. 

 

I TEACH :  

My MSU Denver class offerings are diverse and include 1000-level courses in General Biology (I & II) and intensive upper division courses with labs in my fields of expertise including Animal Behavior, Entomology and Parasitology.  I am an “old school” board man so students take lots of notes, make lots of drawings and the classroom is bright, high-energy and fun.  We get to know each other.

 

I MAKE FILMS:

I have filmed mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects all over the world.  My close-up footage has been featured on network and cable television programs world-wide and my documentary series “Mosquito Man” has won significant international awards.  You can see some of my films at https://mosquitomanfilms.com/.  Perhaps the best thing about my filmmaking is that my students are my crew (even in other countries): they operate cameras, sound equipment, grip and even serve as researchers and “bug wranglers.”

 

I RESEARCH THE BEHAVIOR AND PHYSIOLOGY OF MOSQUITOES AND OTHER BLOOD SUCKING INSECTS:

As an authority on mosquitoes, bedbugs and other blood-sucking insects, I have authored many scholarly articles on their behavior and physiology (see selected publications below).  Most of my MSU Denver research is conducted in an awesome “Mosquito Lab” in the Auraria Science Building where I maintain several different species of mosquitoes.  During any given semester I typically have 6-10 MSU Denver students working in this lab.  They raise mosquitoes and perform experiments and analyze data.  I have posted links to videos of two of my research students describing their research below.  Many Hancock lab students also work in Mosquito Control during the summer.  All of them present their novel research findings at local (the MSU Denver Undergraduate Research Conference), regional and/or national scientific conferences.  Some have graduated and gone on to salaried jobs in mosquito control and others have gone to graduate/professional school. 

 

OTHER:

I currently live in Denver with my blues/jazz/soul singer/songwriter and wife Diane Jobe.  Outside of my professorial engagements, I play trumpet in Diane’s band, renovate a 1924 home, play in the Rocky Mountains and travel.

 

Videos By Hancock Lab Students:

 

Selected Publications:

Borovsky D, Hancock RG, Rougé P, Powell CA, Shatters RG Jr. Juvenile hormone affects the splicing of Culex quinquefasciatus early trypsin messenger RNA. Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2018 Nov;99(3):e21506. doi: 10.1002/arch.21506. Epub 2018 Sep 3. PMID: 30176073.

Zsemlye JL, Hancock RG, Foster WA. Analysis of a complex vertical copulatory-courtship display in the yellow fever vector Sabethes chloropterus. Med Vet Entomol. 2005 Sep;19(3):276-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2005.00570.x. PMID: 16134976.

Hancock RG, Foster WA. Exogenous juvenile hormone and methoprene, but not male accessory gland substances or ovariectomy, affect the blood/nectar choice of female Culex nigripalpus mosquitoes. Med Vet Entomol. 2000 Dec;14(4):376-82. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2915.2000.00253.x. PMID: 11129701.



Clare Hays
Professor


303-615-0210



haysc@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2032

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Check out Dr. Hays' website!  https://sites.msudenver.edu/haysc/advising/ 



Jason Kolts
Associate Professor


303-615-0219



jkolts@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2038

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Hsiu-Ping Liu
Director of Center for Advanced STEM Education (CASE) and Professor of Biology


303-615-0221



hliu1@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2039

Office Hours:

 

 

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

I am a first-generation college student. When I was in college, I thought we know everything. Research had never entered my mind until my physiology professor asked me to participate in research. I loved my undergraduate research experience, but more importantly, I met many people who encouraged me to pursue and obtain a Ph.D. degree. Since research changed my life and career path dramatically, I am passionate about encouraging undergraduate students in research. My research interests focus on the evolution and conservation genetics of freshwater mollusks. I enjoy working with mollusks because snails don’t have red blood cells, snails move slowly so I can catch them, and I can eat my experimental organisms.

I have a Ph.D. in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder, a master's degree in Fisheries Science from National Taiwan University, and a B.S. in Aquaculture from National Taiwan University of Marine Science and Technology.



Fordyce Lux III
Chair of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Professor of Biology


303-615-0230



fluxiii@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2028

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Christopher Meloche
Associate Professor


303-615-0234



cmeloche@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2045

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Portrait of Dr. Vida Melvin

Vida Melvin
Assistant Professor


303-615-0239



vmelvin@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2062

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Doug Petcoff
Professor


303-615-0208



petcoff@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2031

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Personal Biography

I was the first member of my family to go to college. I initially chose biology because I love the mountains, and I thought I might be able to work in them. I earned a B.S. in Biology from Fort Lewis College (in the mountains), an M.S. in Biology from Central Washington University (my master’s thesis involved spending a lot of time in the mountains studying the population genetics of water voles), and my Ph.D. was earned at the University of Denver, where my research involved molecular details of amphibian metamorphosis (lab work, no mountains). I did Post-Doctoral research at UCD studying cellular signaling pathways utilized in oocyte maturation and fertilization. I found an academic home when I started at MSU-Denver, which I continue to enjoy very much.

Teaching Interests/Philosophy

I teach Biology 1080/1090, Genetics, Cell Biology, Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology, and Biology of Cancer. I have whittled this down from the over 20 different courses I have taught over the years. I'm also a history buff who used to teach History of Science. I enjoy biology in general, but especially population genetics and evolution at a molecular level. I also enjoy talking to students and helping them navigate the bumps in the road on their way to finding their calling.

Research

These days, my research involves a collaboration with an excellent fisheries biologist from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. We study the thermal tolerance of various cutthroat trout populations and subspecies, including the endangered greenback cutthroat, which is Colorado's state fish. The methods I use for studying the molecular basis of the heat shock response include RT-qPCR and RNA-seq, which is a type of “massively parallel sequencing”. The analysis of the huge datasets that RNA-seq generates is bioinformatics-intensive. I study both differential gene expression and sequence differences between groups, especially those that are involved in stress pathways and those that affect growth, but also look at whatever else turns up, revealing some fascinating differences among these beautiful fish.



Photo of Dr. Anil Rao.

Anil Rao
Professor


303-615-0216



raoa@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2036

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile



Jeff Simpson
Professor


303-615-0235



simpsonj@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2035

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Dr. Simpson graduated from Colorado State University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Human Anatomy. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Texas Chiropractic College in 1989.

Dr. Simpson practiced chiropractic for ten years before retiring to pursue a full-time career in teaching. While in practice, Dr. Simpson served as an NCAA division II team physician, and a Wrangler Sports Chiropractic professional rodeo doctor, and has been involved in treating athletes on all levels. He still maintains an active chiropractic license in the state of Colorado as well as his certification through the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians.

At MSU Denver, Dr. Simpson currently teaches Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Endocrinology and Advanced Human Cadaver Anatomy and has previously taught Advanced Human Physiology, Human Biology for Non-Majors and laboratory sections of General Biology.

Jeff Simpson's Personal Website



Picture of Dr. Helene Ver Eecke

Helene Ver Eecke
Associate Professor


303-615-0238



vereecke@msudenver.edu

Position Role:
Faculty

Office Location:
SI

Office Number:
2060

Campus Box Number:
53


Directory Profile

Bio:

Helene Ver Eecke, Ph.D. specializes in extreme microbiology and applied environmental microbiology.  She is a founding member and intercollege-liaison of the Beer Industry program.

Ver Eecke served as senior microbiologist for an industrial fermentation company where her skills of screening, cultivating, and optimizing microbes were expanded to large scale processes. Her research lab on campus is used to study various projects including brewing, bioremediation and extremophiles.



Edit this page