Biology Dept

Faculty

Stephen Cessna
Professor of Biochemistry

Steve received his BA in chemistry and biochemistry in Colorado in 1991 and then taught middle school math and science in Lesotho in southern Africa, with the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief and development organization of the Mennonite Churches. After returning to the US in 1995, getting married and moving to Indiana, Steve finished a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000. His graduate research included genetically altering tobacco plants so that they express a gene from a bioluminescent jellyfish. Cellular calcium concentrations and hydrogen peroxide could then be easily measured in these glow-in-the-dark plants. At EMU, Steve continues this research, involving EMU students in the study of oxidation/anti-oxidation in plant stress, with applications in sustainable agriculture and invasive species ecology. Steve teaches courses in biochemistry, chemistry, and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Cessna’s research interests include:
- Developing and assessing multiple min-research projects for use in teaching labs
- Developing and assessing strategies for teaching the nature of science and higher order cognitive skills
- Comparing antioxidants in blueberries grown in different soil types and conditions
- Comparing photosynthesis and growth of various native and invasive vine species
- Testing gardening techniques in terms of their impacts on produce yield and nutritional quality

Jeffrey Copeland
Assistant Professor

Dr. Jeffrey Copeland has been at EMU since 2009 and teaches courses in genetics, cell biology, microbiology and immunology. Jeff earned his PhD in Biology from the California Institute of Technology and completed his post-doctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests include probing the genetics determinants in the aging process, the role of the mitochondria in hyperoxic resistance, and the genetic basis for multidrug resistance in E. coli. While not at work, Jeff spends his time at home with his wife, his three daughters, biking and gardening.

Doug Graber Neufeld
Professor

Click here for Research and Course Webpages

Dr. Graber Neufeld is Professor of Biology. He works primarily with the Environmental Sustainability program at EMU, with a concentration in issues that relate to environmental monitoring and toxicology. He teaches in the introductory biology course, Concepts in Biology, and in a variety of courses related to environmental issues (such as Environmental Toxicology, Sustainable Agriculture)

He has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in environmental physiology, and worked at the University of Arizona and the University of Otago (New Zealand) before coming to EMU. He served a two year term with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia, were he worked on environmental issues through the Royal University of Agriculture and the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Doug’s research is in collaboration with students and focuses on issues of environmental toxicology and monitoring. Currently he is working on two projects: 1) assessing pesticides in market vegetables using a novel combination of techniques, and 2) water monitoring in a local watershed. Also, he periodically monitors arsenic in clay used for ceramic drinking filters from Southeast Asia.

Doug lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, Cristina, and two young sons, Alex and Evan. They enjoy many outdoors activities, and take as many opportunities as possible to go camping and traveling.

Julia Halterman
Assistant Professor

Dr. Julia Halterman is an Assistant Professor of Biology at EMU who has taught Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Animal Form & Function, Mammalian Physiology, Mammalian Anatomy and Nutrition Fundamentals. Julia also serves as faculty for the MA in Biomedicine program and instructs the graduate-level Human Anatomy cadaver dissection course, a Biomedicine Transdisciplinary Seminar, Medical Terminology and Research in Biomedicine. Julia received her B.S. in Biology at Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Virginia. While completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia, Julia taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, and atherosclerotic plaque build-up in the arteries of the body can lead to heart attack or stroke. Julia’s research is focused on better understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive vascular disease. She is working to characterize the role of the transcription factor NFAT5 in its regulation of vascular smooth muscle cells and macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques. Apart from teaching and research, Julia enjoys time with her husband, family and friends and loves being active outdoors.

Greta Ann Herin
Associate Professor

Dr. Greta Ann Herin is currently on sabbatical at the Computational and Experimental Neuroplasticity Laboratory in the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies, George Mason University.

http://krasnow1.gmu.edu/CENlab/index.html

She has taught: Mammalian Anatomy, Faith, Science and Ethics, Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Neuropsychology, Advanced Neurobiology, Mammalian Physiology, Molecules, Genes, and Cells, Biological Explorations, a Senior Seminar called"Origins". She has also co-taught Concepts in Biology, a Senior Seminar “Form, Finitude and Faith” and a Colloquium “Passion and Obsession”.

Greta Ann usually serves as a Pre-professional Health Sciences advisor.

She has dual Bachelors Degrees in Biochemistry and Psychology from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Her dissertation was on interactions among modulators of NMDA receptors, an important glutamate receptor in the brain. In addition Dr. Herin did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. There she studied metabotropic glutamate receptors.
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Tara Kishbaugh
Associate Professor

Dr. Kishbaugh earned a B.S. in chemistry from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Dartmouth College where she studied the reactions of electron deficient indoles. While in graduate school, she taught Organic Chemistry for a year at St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont. Before coming to EMU, she was a Dreyfus Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts. During her post-doctoral position, she explored approaches to fluorinated allenes. She brings a background of significant research, publications and presentation with special concern for integrating faith and scientific study. Tara’s chemistry-related hobbies include photography, baking, and tie-dying. Tara’s research interests include chemical education, heterocyclic chemistry, and water quality studies.

Roman Miller
Professor

Dr. Roman J. Miller is the Daniel B. Suter Endowed Professor of Biology at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA where he has taught courses in physiology, anatomy, developmental biology, animal science, bioethics, and philosophy of science for the past twenty-two years.

Roman received his Ph.D. in biomedical science (physiology major with minors in cell biology and reproductive biology) from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio and completed a post-doctoral research program at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, prior to teaching at EMU. His research interests at EMU include the development and function of male accessory sex glands in rodents, creating conditions for sustainable organic blueberries, and the role of an Anabaptist perspective in bioethics and issues of science.

From 1999 through 2007, Roman served as the editor of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, the quarterly journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, a professional scientific organization of Christians interested in faith and science issues.

In 1990, Roman was ordained as a minister in the Mennonite Church and initially served as an associate pastor at the Dayton Mennonite Church; then for thirteen years he served as overseer for a cluster of congregations that comprise the Mountain Valley Mennonite Churches, terminating that assignment in the fall of 2005. More recently he preaches in various congregations upon invitation, gives talks on bioethics and faith & science topics, functions as a Sunday School substitute teacher, and sings baritone in the Dayton Mennonite Men’s Quartet.

Roman is married to Dr. Elva (Bowman) Miller, who retired this year from a part-time private practice as an optometrist. In 1998, the Millers returned from Ukraine with their two adopted daughters who were then 6 and 4 years of age. Today, Katerina Joy, who is now 21, lives in Oklahoma and assists in childcare; Zoya Marie, who is 19, graduated from Turner-Ashby High School and maintains a dog-sitting business. The Millers live on Knoll Acres, a small farm near Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they are busy raising and enjoying their family, as well as a flock of Barbados Blackbelly sheep, AKC registered collie puppies, and horses. The Millers enjoy riding horses, playing violin and viola, reading, gardening, blueberry horticulture, traveling, fishing, and working on their farm. They are active members at Dayton Mennonite Church, Dayton, Virginia.

Jim Yoder
Professor

Jim advises the Environmental Sustainability majors and teaches ecology and conservation biology courses. He earned his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University and his primary research interests include conservation biology, landscape ecology, behavioral ecology and GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Past research has focused on population and behavioral responses of species to habitat fragmentation. His dissertation research at The Ohio State University was in collaboration with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and examined the effects of fragmented habitat on the dispersal and population dynamics of ruffed grouse in southeastern Ohio.

In 2006 he began a longterm collaborative study working with Shenandoah National Park research botanist, Wendy Cass. The research is being conducted by 2-3 EMU undergraduates per year (including summers) as well as SNP personnel. The project includes intense on-site field sampling as well as mapping and analysis of exotic plant spread and impact using GIS. The project addresses two specific research questions that focus on the exotic plants invading the Shenandoah National Park: 1) What is the rate of spread of the three most threatening exotic species beginning to invade the Big Meadows Swamp Natural Heritage area and 2) What is the impact of these exotics on the continued viability of the eight rare plant species located within the area? Both of the questions are of intense interest to park biologists and land managers as well as contribute to the broader ecological study of exotic plant invasions of native ecosystems.

Jim also ventured into study abroad education by leading a 6-week cross-cultural trip to New Zealand in the summer of 2010 with his wife Kathy and returning for a semester long trip back to New Zealand in the fall of 2012. The trip focused on sustainability issues related to tourism, natural resource conservation, and agriculture as well as indigenous Maori culture, restorative justice and New Zealand history. He and Kathy will be leading another six-week summer experience to New Zealand in the summer of 2015.

In addition to teaching, Jim is the curator of the D. Ralph Hostetter Museum of Natural History and the faculty resource person and chair of the implementation team for the Peace With Creation Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a 5 year initiative drawing together EMU students, faculty and staff around the theme of sustainability and how it relates to Anabaptist beliefs concerning creation care, peace and social justice.

Staff

STEM Internship Coordinator
John Spicher
Anatomy Lab Instructor

John is the Chemical Hygiene Officer for the Chemistry and Biology Department and the Mammalian Anatomy Laboratory Instructor. He also has oversight responsibility for the greenhouse and the arboretum and supervises Biology and Chemistry work-study students. John has 30 years of experience as a safety engineer for Westinghouse Science and Technology Center and is a Certified Safety Professional. He holds a BS in Biology from EMU an MS in Organizational Leadership from Geneva College and has taken graduate courses in toxicology, anatomy and physiology.

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