Research

Cutting-edge research is essential to the mission of WPI’s Biology and Biotechnology Department: to make the world a better place through scientific discovery. Our state-of-the-art research facility, the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park, allows students, faculty, and biotech companies to work on problems that affect us all, in the lab, side by side. 

Learn more about three specific areas of research, and see our faculty in action doing what they love—shaping young minds through hands-on learning.

Molecular and Cellular Biology 

Areas of focus: Cytoskeletal dynamics, epigenetics/gene regulation, and signal transduction mechanisms
Model systems: C. elegans, Drosophila, M. Musculus, Physcomitrella, and S. cerevisae
Faculty: Dave Adams, Tanja Dominko, J. B. Duffy, Rob Gegear, Lauren Mathews, Eric Overström, Sam Politz, Reeta Prusty Rao, Liz Ryder, Jagan Srinivasan, and Luis Vidali
Focus on: Assistant Professor Luis Vidali

Vidali’s collaboration with Erkan Tüzel, associate professor of physics, embodies the spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration that runs through the Biology and Biotechnology Department. The two professors have worked together from day one, researching plant genes, microtubules, and molecular motors. Learn more… 


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BREWING YEAST INTO FUEL

Brewer's yeast may be the answer to renewable energy. Watch Assistant Professor Reeta Prusty Rao discuss how her lab is working to supercharge yeast to create ethanol.

Development, Neurobiology, and Organismal Biology 

Areas of focus: Cancer biology, regenerative medicine, neuronal migration and degeneration, pathogenic mechanisms, and plant biology
Model systems:
C. elegans, Drosophila, M. Musculus, Physcomitrella, and C. albicans/S. cerevisae 
Faculty:
Dave Adams, Tanja Dominko, J. B. Duffy, Rob Gegear, Liz Ryder, Sam Politz, Reeta Prusty Rao, Luis Vidali, Jagan Srinivasan, and Pam Weathers
Focus on: Professor Pamela Weathers

Malaria is a global health crisis that kills more than a million people a year, mostly young children. Research Weathers has conducted through WPI's Interdisciplinary Plant Research Group, in collaboration with Department of Chemistry Associate Professor and Department Head Kristen Wobbe, reveals that a plant-based compound might be the cure. Learn more…


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CELLS TO REBUILD THE BODY

Associate Professor Tanja Dominko is investigating plasticity of cells--manipulating skin cells, for example, to help wound healing. She discusses her NIH-recognized research.

Behavioral and Environmental Biology

Areas of focus: Animal behavior, biological diversity, brain plasticity, pollinator ecology, and plant biology
Model systems: Apis mellifera, Monarch butterflies, Orconectes, and Drosophila
Faculty: Rob Gegear, Lauren Mathews, J. B. Duffy, Jagan Srinivasan, and Pam Weathers.
Focus on: Assistant Professor Rob Gegear

Gegear’s lab researches brain-behavior relationships in pollinating insects. These insects are vital to agricultural systems. For example, bees pollinate two-thirds of worldwide crops, with an estimated economic value of $3 billion a year in the United States. Learn more… 

 
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Goddard Hall

In addition to Gateway Park, undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in Goddard Hall, home to the MQP project lab and state-of-the-art teaching labs for undergraduate instruction.  Learn more...

Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center

Graduate students pursue their research interests within professors' labs, such as Associate Professor and Department Head Joseph Duffy's lab space.  Learn more...

World-Class Equipment

Assistant Professor Reeta Prusty Rao uses a dissecting microscope to investigate a human fungal pathogen, C. albicans, in its filamentous form.  Learn more...