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Research & Internships

Research & Internships2019-01-17T19:39:12-05:00


Dr. Jason Baker

Dr. Jason Baker
Protein biochemistry, bacteriocin discovery and characterization, science education and literacy, industrial and applied microbiology


Dr. Csengele Barta

Dr. Csengele Barta
Effect of global climate change on photosynthesis and volatile compound synthesis and emission, faculty co-sponsor for Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society


Dr. Cary Chevalier

Dr. Cary Chevalier
Vertebrate physiological ecology, evolutionary ecology, conservation biology, wildlife management & ecology, mammalogy, wildlife diseases


Dr. Todd Eckdahl

Dr. Todd Eckdahl
Synthetic biology, BioMath connections, using molecular cloning techniques to program bacterial computers for the optimization of metabolic pathways


Dr. Carissa Ganong

Dr. Carissa Ganong
Aquatic ecology, entomology, invertebrate biology, tropical ecology, biogeochemistry


Dr. Michael Grantham

Dr. Michael Grantham
Human flu virus


Dr. Julie Jedlicka

Dr. Julia Jedlicka

Wildlife conservation, Ornithology, Entomology, Predator-prey interactions, Agroecology and sustainable food systems


Dr. Karen Koy

Dr. Karen Koy
Ichnology, behavioral evolution, gastropod evolution, taphonomy, foraging ecology


Dr. Mark Mills

Dr. Mark Mills
Herpetology, vertebrate ecology, aquatic ecology, ichthyology, faculty co-sponsor for Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society


Dr. Tom Rachow

Dr. Tom Rachow
Travel abroad trips to study natural history, snorkel/SCUBA trips, genealogy


Dr. Tilottama Roy

Dr. Tilottama Roy
Understanding evolutionary origins and relationships among plants, as well as other organisms, with ecological and economic importance, including investigating their systematics/phylogenetics, speciation, and diversification processes


Dr. Kristen Walton

Dr. Kristen Walton
Intestinal physiology and disease, inflammatory bowel disease, interactions between normal microbiota and the host, biology education research



A variety of student research opportunities are available in molecular, cellular, organismal and ecological study as well as science education. The mission of the department is to provide a collaborative learning environment in which students and faculty can apply their biological exploration and discovery experiences as professionals and as informed citizens.

Students and faculty collaborate on a variety of independent research projects in the Biology Department. Projects are conducted during the academic year and in the summer as part of PORTAL (Program of Research, Teaching, and Applied Learning). Students get ample opportunities for applied learning while conducting research, and their coursework becomes relevant to the research questions under study.

The department laboratories are state-of-the-art. Along with the basic equipment, the labs have the capabilities to perform molecular cloning, DNA amplification, real-time PCR, and advanced microscopic imaging. Every classroom is a “smart room,” fully equipped with up-to-date technology.

Missouri Western has a Global Positioning Systems base station located at Agenstein Hall with telemetry equipment and Global Positioning Systems/Global Information Systems equipment and software that is used in field biology research.

Missouri Western boasts a 180-acre field study area on campus called the Otoe Creek Nature Area. This land contains a network of trails that run through various habitats and along ponds and a stream. There are two outdoor amphitheaters within the study area.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Northwest Service Center is located on the nature area with modern classrooms, research labs and a prep room for the Biology Department, along with an herbarium and the Biology Department’s natural history collection, which contains museum specimens of vertebrates and invertebrates.

All students are encouraged to present their research, and students often present their projects at state, national or international professional meetings. Here are some recent examples.

  • Regional and national meetings of the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society
  • Regional meetings of The Wildlife Society
  • Missouri Natural Resource Conference
  • Annual meeting of the Missouri Academy of Science
  • Federation of Associations for Experimental Biology
  • Annual Conference of the Institute of Biological Engineering

In the past five years, 72 undergraduate students have earned co-authorship on a peer-review professional publications. Examples of journals include Interdisciplinary BioCentral, BioScence, Journal of Biological Engineering and BioMed Central Genomics.


Practical hands-on experiences on and off campus give Missouri Western students the competitive edge. Through internships and research projects, students get real-world experience beyond the classroom.

Missouri Western students have landed internships at the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Arizona Fish and Game Department, the U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Bird Sanctuary and the International Wolf Center, just to name a few. Students also complete internships at local hospitals and medical or veterinary clinics. In addition, the region’s dynamic life science industry provides internship opportunities in top-notch research labs, like Boehringer Ingelheim.

Experience in the field is vital. Internships provide students with a valuable hands-on experience that takes them beyond the classroom.

NASA logo

Missouri Western student Sarah Fergione secured a three-month internship in laboratories at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.