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Ken Yasukawa, Professor and Chair of BiologyKen Yasukawa
B.S., State University of New York-Stony Brook, M.A., Ph.D., Indiana University

Office: Center for the Sciences 335
Phone: 608-363-2314

Ken Yasukawa is a behavioral ecologist, meaning that he studies the way that an animal's behavior affects its interactions with the environment.  His research focuses on the reproductive behavior and ecology of birds, especially the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). He is also a field biologist because he studies birds in the wild, primarily at the Newark Road Prairie, which is about 8 miles from the Beloit College campus. Many of his research projects have been conducted with students and presented at national professional meetings or published in primary biological journals. He is also interested in improving science education, from elementary school through college. He teaches Zoology, Biometrics, Population Biology, and Animal Behavior, and topics courses in animal cognition and game theory.

Robin Altman, Visiting Assistant Professor of BiologyRobin Altman
B.S., University of California, San Diego, Ph.D., University of California, Davis

Office: Center for the Sciences 331
Phone: 608-363-2743

Robin Altman is a physiologist who specializes in human cardiovascular physiology and vascular biology. She is interested in how modifiable lifestyle and dietary factors influence the health of blood vessels throughout the body, particularly those of the brain. Robin uses tissue culture models, mouse models, and human studies to investigate the role of lipids in inflammatory injury and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and how this may be related to cognitive dysfunction. Robin also dabbles in the world of biochemistry and uses biophysical techniques to assess the anti-amyloid capacity of small molecule compounds and their potential therapeutic use for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from her academic interests, Robin enjoys classic literature and is thoroughly addicted to colorful fish, thus you can find her snorkeling or scuba diving whenever she has the chance to escape to warmer waters. Robin teaches Human Biology and Human Physiology.

Rachel A. Bergstrom, Assistant Professor of BiologyRachel Bergstrom
B.S., North Park University, Ph.D., Mayo Graduate School

Office: Center for the Sciences 334
Phone: 608-363-2367

Rachel Bergstrom is a neuroscientist with interests in cellular and molecular aspects of neurodegeneration. She uses tissue culture models (primary mouse neurons and cell lines), cell imaging, and cell and molecular biology techniques to address long-range cell-surface receptor signaling and to analyze how the loss of normal signaling regulation contributes to axon degeneration in particular and neurodegeneration in general. Outside of science, creative arts (especially knitting and sewing) and running keep her entertained. Rachel teaches Emerging Infectious Diseases, Cell Biology, and Neurobiology. 

Amy Briggs, Assistant Professor of BiologyAmy
B.A., Lawrence University, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: Center for the Sciences 333
Phone: 608-363-2349

Amy Briggs is a molecular biologist specializing in plant pathology. She uses biochemistry, microscopy, bioinformatics, molecular biology, and genetics techniques to study the molecular mechanisms by which the plant Arabidopsis thaliana responds to bacterial and fungal infections. Outside of the classroom and laboratory, Amy is an avid science fiction reader, gardener, and seamstress. She teaches Human Biology, Microbiology, Emerging Diseases, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and Genetics.

Tawnya Cary, Visiting Assistant Professor of BiologyTawnya Cary
B.S., Iowa State University, M.S., University of South Carolina, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: Center for the Sciences 330
Phone: 608-363-2267

Tawnya Cary is a zoologist with specific interests in aquatic ecotoxicology, the study of how environmental contaminants affect aquatic species. She performs whole animal studies with tadpoles and frogs to investigate how contaminant exposure influences growth, development and immune function at different life stages. In addition, her academic interests include investigating how students learn biology and develop a sense of identify and belonging to the scientific community. Outside of the classroom and laboratory, Tawnya enjoys canoeing/hiking/camping, and tending her garden to support her cooking habit. Tawnya teaches Zoology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy.

Ted Gries, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and ChemistryTed Gries
B.S., Indiana Univerity, Ph.D University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: Center for the Sciences 416
Phone: 608-363-2284

Ted Gries is biochemist interested in understanding how solution conditions affect the way proteins function. Undergraduate researchers in his lab are working to understand how solutes such as urea and glycine betaine, which are know to influence protein shape, may be used to probe the mechanisms of the binding proteins myoglobin and hemoglobin and the enzymes alkaline phosphatase and 6-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase. Ted enjoys hiking and riding his motorcycle, particularly in the driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin. He teaches General Chemistry, Nutrition and Metabolism: Biochemical Mechanism, DNA and Protein Biochemistry, and Thermodynamics and Kinetics.

Yaffa L. Grossman, Professor of Biology,Yaffa Grossman 2
Associate Dean and Director of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center
B.A., Amherst College, M.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D., University of California, Davis

Office: Center for the Sciences 332
Phone: 608-363-2219

Yaffa Grossman is a physiological plant ecologist with research interests in plant carbon allocation, growth analysis, modeling, sustainability, and restoration ecology in the urban context. She has strong interests in interdisciplinary education, has chaired the Environmental Studies program at Beloit, and is a P.I. of the Pathways to Sustainability Leadership program, Director of Beloit College Sustainability Fellows Program.  She teaches Botany, Biometrics, Environmental Biology, and Ecology, and topics courses in physiological plant ecology, conservation biology, environmental sustainability, and environment and society. She currently serves as Associate Dean and Director of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center.

Kathryn Johnson, Associate Professor of Biology Katie Johnson
B.S., Beloit College, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University 

Office: Center for the Sciences 336
Phone: 608-363-2429

Kathryn Johnson is a physiologist who is interested in how obesity and diabetes affect hormones related to glucose regulation in animals and humans.  Her academic interests also include investigating how students learn and how they interpret their learning.  Student involvement is an essential part of her research, and she is always interesting in talking to potential student researchers.  She also is an avid sports fan, and may often be found in the gym or on the field participating or volunteering, and, of course, supporting Buccaneer athletics.  Off campus, you may find her riding and showing her horse at a local dressage farm.  She teaches Human Biology, Zoology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Neurobiology.

Carol MankiewiczCarol Mankiewicz, Professor of Biology
B.S., M.S., University of California-Los Angeles, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: Center for the Sciences 337
Phone: 608-363-2371

Carol Mankiewicz is interested in the interactions of organisms with their physical environment. The organisms that fascinate her the most are those that have the potential to be fossilized; these organisms either have hard parts such as shells or they have some behavior such as making burrows in the sediment that can be preserved. She focuses on organisms that live in aquatic, particularly shallow-marine, systems, and studies both modern systems and their ancient counterparts preserved in the rock record. She teaches Marine Biology, Environmental Biology, and Sedimentology, and topics courses on water, estuaries, paleoclimate, soils, and the natural history of South America. 

Jim Schulte, Associate Professor of BiologyJim Schulte
B.S., Southeast Missouri State University, Ph.D., Washington University

Office: Center for the Sciences 338
Phone: 608-363-2784

Jim Schulte is an evolutionary biologist specializing in the application of phylogenetic systematic techniques to a variety of biological problems. Projects in his lab include macroevolutionary analysis of adaptive radiations, systematic and biogeographic history of numerous global animal groups, comparative gene expression analysis associated with live birth in reptiles, and the application of DNA barcoding for insect identification and testing commercial herbal supplements. Outside of class, Jim enjoys playing basketball, softball, and spending quality time with family. He has strong interests in integrating quantitative approaches in the classroom and teaches Evolution, Zoology, and Bioinformatics.

Marion Field Fass, Emerita Professor of BiologyMarion Fass
B.A., University of Pennsylvania; Sc.D., Johns Hopkins University


Marion Field Fass is interested in the intersection of individual biological, public health, sustainability, and environmental factors that lead to the emergence of new diseases.  She has engaged with the interdisciplinary perspectives necessary to understand these relationships, and the opportunities to build curricula for undergraduate students that combine scientific investigations with social and cultural understanding and that motivate students to work for social justice.  Her research has focused on the measurement of community health needs and on methods of assessment of student learning.  Her courses include Human Biology, Microbiology, Emerging Diseases, Global Health, and a first-year course on Slow Food (Beloit College Magazine, Summer 2008).  She received the 2012 William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.  

Richard Newsome, Emeritus Professor of BiologyDick Newsome_2
B.S. Western Michigan University, Ph.D., University of Saskatchewan


Dick Newsome is a plant ecologist who is active in environmental and ecological affairs. He founded the Rock County Conservationists in 1987, co-founded the Friends of the Welty Environmental Center in 1998, and has served these groups and many others at the local, regional, and state level. He received the George and Barbara Fell Award from the Natural Land Institute in 2007 for his outstanding dedication to land conservation.   Return to Beloit College Biology Department