About the Department

Students in the Biology and Biotechnology Department at WPI not only learn the basics of the life sciences but get plenty of hands-on lab experience, starting freshman year. At the world-class Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park, biology and biotechnology students collaborate with those in the departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Chemistry and Biochemistry, in cross-disciplinary labs centered on research focus areas. Interdisciplinary teams combine strengths to further scientific discovery in areas such as neuroprosthetics, stem cells, and regenerative biology. And WPI’s project-based learning model, culminating in the Major Qualifying Project in the senior year, gives students the opportunity to work with local biotech companies and medical schools as well.

Proper guidance is essential to shaping scientific minds. Our distinguished faculty takes seriously its commitment to creating lifelong learners. Areas of faculty research interest include cell and molecular biology, genetics, ecology, environmental biology, organismal biology, developmental and regenerative biology, bioprocess technology, and computational biology.

From finding better ways to deliver health care and sources of renewable energy, to genomics and plant-based technologies, to the myriad other ways the life sciences touch our world, there has never been a more exciting—or important—time to be a life scientist. If you want to learn more about what WPI’s Biology and Biotechnology Department can do for you, please contact us.

 
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  • Srinivasn

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Jagan Srinivasan
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Assistant Professor

    Prof. Srinivasan’s work focuses on how the brain processes external sensory signals to enable social interactions in the model system C. elegans.

  • Adams

    Faculty Profile

    Name: David S. Adams
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Professor

    In 2008, Adams was named fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, largely for his work in biology. Adams replicated Alzheimer’s disease in a mouse model.

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  • buckholt-rotating-profile

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Mike Buckholt
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Instructor/Director, Project Lab

    Buckholt is principal investigator of The Connected Lab, an academic technology suite developed via a Davis Educational Foundation grant, which lets students share data.

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  • Tanja Dominko

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Tanja Dominko
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor

    With one of the first NIH EUREKA Awards--only one of 38--Dominko is exploring ways to turn adult skin cells into stem-like cells to replace tissue lost to injury or degenerative diseases.

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  • Joseph B. Duffy

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Joseph B. Duffy
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor/Interim Department Head

    Duffy joined WPI in 2006. He was lead author of the paper “Kekkon5 is an extracellular regulator of BMP signaling," published in the journal Developmental Biology.

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  • Robert J. Gegear

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Robert J. Gegear
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Assistant Professor

    Gegear’s research is on evolutionary ecology & behavioral neuroscience, studied through insect models like butterflies and bees. He discovered the molecular basis of animal magnetoreception.

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  • Mathews

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Lauren M. Mathews
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor

    Mathews, an ecologist, came to WPI in 2003. Her research focuses on genetics in conservation biology and molecular ecology in areas such as phylogeography and evolutionary processes.

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  • Karen K. Oates

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Karen Kashmanian Oates
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Dean, Arts & Sciences

    As Dean, Oates oversees seven academic departments. She helps promote WPI's life sciences endeavors, including Gateway Park and the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center.

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  • Overstrom

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Eric Overström
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Professor/Provost ad interim

    Overström’s leadership helped create the Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center (LSBC) at Gateway Park, WPI's life science and bioengineering education and research facility.

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  • Samuel M. Politz

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Samuel M. Politz
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor

    Politz worked with assistant professor Reeta Prusty Rao to develop a model system to study fungal infections. It can be used to screen potential drug targets for hard-to-treat conditions.

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  • Reeta Prusty Rao

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Reeta Prusty Rao
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor Chair, Grad Programs Member, CFAR at UMMS Visiting Scientist, Broad Institute

    Her research focuses on understanding and managing fungal diseases at the genomic and molecular levels.

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  • jillirulfs-rotating-profile

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Jill Rulfs
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor/Associate Department Head/Pre-Health Director

    Rulfs teaches Heal the World, part of Great Problems Seminars for first-year students, with Professor Helen Vassallo.

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  • Elizabeth F. Ryder

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Elizabeth F. Ryder
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Associate Professor

    In March 2010, Ryder received a three-year, $228,000 NIH award to study how nerve cells develop from a fertilized egg and then begin forming an organism’s nervous system.

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  • Luis Vidali

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Luis Vidali
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Assistant Professor

    Vidali joined WPI in 2009. His research, which garnered a major award from the National Science Foundation, focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying plant cell growth.

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  • Pamela J. Weathers

    Faculty Profile

    Name: Pamela J. Weathers
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Professor

    Weathers coauthored a paper discussing her research on creating interleukin-12, a naturally occurring protein essential to immune system function, from genetically modified tobacco plants.

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  • Whitefleet

    Faculty Profile

    Name: JoAnn Whitefleet-Smith
    Department: Biology & Biotechnology
    Title: Instructor/Senior Laboratory Instructor

    Whitefleet-Smith focuses on isolation and purification of natural products, as well as structure/function of clotting proteins and clot-dissolving proteins.

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