The work of the Biology and Biotechnology Department at WPI goes far beyond the theoretical. Our faculty members and students are creative problem solvers who are passionate about using biological concepts in innovative, applicable ways. Ranging from cancer biology and infectious disease research to studies of brain plasticity and pollinator decline, student-driven research at WPI is making an impact.

Our state-of-the-art research facilities housed at the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center support collaborations between students, faculty, and company researchers from across disciplines, enabling free exchanges of ideas that lead to important advances in healthcare, therapeutics, regenerative biology, the environment, and more.

Studying Mental Flexibility in Bees

Assistant Professor Rob Gegear studies how bumblebees make decisions as they forage, and explores the complex interconnections between bees and flowering plants. This is no small matter, as bees are vital to agriculture and to maintaining the Earth's ecological diversity.

Studying Mental Flexibility in Bees

The Life of a Scientist

Professors Scarlet Shell and Jagan Srinivasan, along with alumna Melinda Belisle '08, are among more than a dozen members of the WPI scientific community who shared what it means to be a scientist. 

Beating Cancer at Its Own Game

Assistant professor Amity Manning is leading a three-year research projected funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore the molecular mechanisms associated with the genetic mutations and chromosome instability observed in all cancer cells.

The goal is to turn the genetic tables against cancer by learning more about the molecular basis of cancer cells' uncontrolled growth.


Facts and Figures


project centers on six continents


student to faculty ratio


Faculty that best combine research and teaching

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (2016)

For 193 research awards 


Faculty Profile

Joseph Duffy

Department Head and Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology
Defining signaling pathways that program cellular diversity is one of the foremost problems in biology and is central to my research interests.  In the lab we use molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches to characterize the function of these pathways and to gain insight into their role in disease.  To date, the lab has focused on the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor network, a principal therapeutic target for a variety of human cancers.
Kamal Rashid

Director BETC
Biomanufacturing Education & Training Center
I have over thirty years of academic experience in both research and Biotechnology educational program development. During my career I have developed, directed and implemented biotechnology training courses at Utah State University, Penn State University and internationally. I joined Utah State University in July 2000 as the Biotechnology Center’s Associate Director and Research Professor of Toxicology.
Luis Vidali

Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology
I deeply enjoy teaching, in particular conveying the important roles played by plants. It is a great reward when my students realize that plants are more complex and interesting than they anticipated, and they want to learn more. I enjoy that students at WPI are open about thinking in new ways; this critical thinking is the result of intense project-based learning.
Tanja Dominko

Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology
Our lab investigates the molecular basis of phenotype switching in human fibroblasts that can be modulated using defined extracellular stimuli. We evaluate the role of oxygen and growth factor FGF2 isoforms independently and in combination in order to identify key molecular mechanisms and pathways, some of which closely mimic mechanisms described in human embryonic stem cells. Extended lifespan of these cells in culture also offers us a model for investigation of molecular mechanism that are regulating cell cycle in the context of both aging and cancer.