Yaffa L. Grossman, Professor and Chair of Biology, Faculty Affiliate in Environmental Studies
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, and sustainability. She is beginning to explore restoration ecology in the urban context. She has strong interests in interdisciplinary education, has chaired the Environmental Studies program at Beloit, and is the 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.
Rachel A. Bergstrom, Assistant Professor of Biology
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 Biology
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.
Melissa Cordes, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
B.A., Wisconsin Lutheran College, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Office: Center for the Sciences 338
Phone: 608 363-2784
Melissa Cordes is a behavioral neuroscientist with interests in the interactions between steroid hormones and reward pathways as they influence motivated behavior. She uses a songbird model system (European starlings), behavioral observations as well as molecular techniques to identify links between androgen receptors and other neurotransmitters as they relate to sexually-motivated singing behavior. Outside of science, she enjoys cooking, baking, and outdoor recreation. Melissa is on campus as a visiting professor, teaching zoology.
Ted Gries, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry
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.
Kathryn Johnson, Assistant Professor of Biology
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 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.
Deanna Soper, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
B.S., Trine University, M.B.A., Indiana University Northwest, Ph.D., Indiana University, Post-Doc, University of Iowa
Office: Center for the Sciences 331
Phone: 608 363-2743
Deanna Soper is an evolutionary biologist with a focus on the evolution of reproductive behaviors and gametogenesis in the presence of coevolving host-parasite interactions. Sexual reproductive behaviors and method of gamete formation may impact the genetic diversity of host populations, which can be important within a coevolutionary context. She uses the Potamopyrgus antipodarum/Microphallus host-
Ken Yasukawa, Professor of Biology
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.
Emeritus faculty members
Marion Field Fass, Emerita Professor of Biology
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 Biology
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