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Photo of Dr. Acosta on a boat out on the water. It is a sunny day and he is wearing sunglasses.

Charles Acosta

Office: SC 245   |   Phone: (859) 572-5300   |   E-mail:

Dr. Acosta studies community ecology and populations of key species in aquatic ecosystems. His students have focused their research on applications to conservation science and resource sustainability. Dr. Acosta is currently studying invasive dynamics of crayfish, modeling fishing impacts on Caribbean lobsters, and documenting biodiversity patterns on coral reefs.

Dr. Bowling and a fellow researcher looking at data on a computer

Bethany Bowling

Office: SL 412   |   Phone: (859) 572-5415   |   E-mail:

Dr. Bowling's research interests focus on effective practices in genetics education, student misconceptions in genetics, and the incorporation of bioinformatics into genetics curricula. Some of her recent work has broadened into student success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and initiatives to increase retention such as peer mentors and early undergraduate research opportunities.

Photo of a tree growing on the side of a rocky hill

Richard Boyce

Office: SC 150   |   Phone: (859) 572-1407   |   E-mail:

A main area of Dr. Boyce's research centers around the effects of invasive woody plants, especially Amur honeysuckle. He's been examining how native plant communities recover after honeysuckle has been removed. He is also looking at how honeysuckle is responding to outbreaks of a native pathogen, honeysuckle leaf blight. Recently, Dr. Boyce extended his work to a recent invader, Callery (Bradford) pears, which has moved from yards to the wild. Another area of research centers around photosynthesis and water use by eastern red cedar, our only native evergreen tree. Measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence and sap flow show that carbon uptake is substantial outside of the growing season, which may explain why it can thrive in our region.

Photo of Dr. Cooper kneeling in the grass at the side of a pond, taking a sample of the water.

Joshua Cooper

Office: SC 346   |   Phone: (859) 572-1965   |   E-mail:

Dr. Cooper's research interests are centered around understanding the diversity, evolution, and physiological ecology of eukaryotic algae and their neighboring microbes in freshwater ecosystems. Additional projects include documenting and describing the diatom diversity of our local and regional watersheds. Dr. Cooper is in the process of curating and describing species from Ecuador housed in the NKU Diatom Herbarium collection.

Photo of Dr. Curran with mountains in the background.

Chris Curran

Office: SC 344   |   Phone: (859) 572-6914   |   E-mail:

Dr. Curran's research is in understanding how environmental toxicants affect the brain, leading to deficits in learning and memory and altered behavior. Understanding how genetic differences (polymorphisms) affect susceptibility or resistance to environmental toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Photo of Dr. Dahlem in a lab. He is sitting in front of a microscrope with boxes of specimen slides next to him on a worktable.

Greg Dahlem

Office: SC 248   |   Phone: (859) 572-5733   |   E-mail:

Dr. Dahlem's research involves the discovery of new structural features of flesh flies to allow species level identifications of New World flesh flies and blow flies (Sarcophagidae & Calliphoridae) by morphological features. He has been exploring the use of stacked digital photography and 3-D scanning to render high quality photos or (potentially) 3-D models of key morphological features to help non-specialists accurately identify specimens of these flies. He provides identifications for researchers in other disciplines. For example, he is currently working to identify a group of flies reared as predators of turtle egg clutches in Wisconsin. Dr. Dahlem also provide identifications and information on flesh flies reared from human corpses at crime scenes for crime labs around the United States. He writes a column on new and interesting entomological research for the magazine American Entomologist, and has given numerous forensic entomology demonstrations for school groups, libraries, and museums.

Photo of Dr. Durtsche outside. He appears to be on a mountaintop, hammering a marker into the ground.

Dick Durtsche

Office: SC 148   |   Phone: (859) 572-6637   |   E-mail:

Understanding how ectotherms (fish, amphibians, and reptiles) respond (physiologically) to varying ecological conditions, both biotic (invasive species) and abiotic (climate change), are drivers of the research questions addressed in Dr. Durtsche's lab. All of his research activities involve undergraduates collaborators. Current research topics include: 1) testing potential climate change impacts on the metabolism of Kentucky stream fishes; 2) monitoring the effects of invasive plant control on native amphibian and reptile populations; and 3) developing digital imaging tools to determine the nutritional quality of macroinvertebrates for use in ecological models of drift foraging by fish.

Dr. Ghosh Roy headshot

Subhomita Ghosh Roy

Office: SC 253   |   Phone: (859) 572-1542   |   E-mail:

Dr. Ghosh Roy’s research interest is in understanding the impacts of human-induced stresses on aquatic ecosystems using bioindicators. Some of the stress factors she has investigated are - nutrients from agricultural pollutants, metals from industrial contaminations, or antibiotics from human consumption. Currently, Dr. Ghosh Roy is working on a research project aimed at identifying potential bioindicators or bio remediators (specifically for metals and antibiotics) in a waste-water treatment plant in Kentucky.

Photo of Dr. Hopfensperger outside, kneeling in front of a metal table holding several small seedling trays.

Kristy Hopfensperger

Office: SC 247   |   Phone: (859) 572-5305   |   E-mail:

Dr. Hopfensperger began her career focused on using science to better understand our ecosystems and manage our environment for multiple stakeholder needs. This work focused on investigating feedbacks between plant communities and ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling, and how these dynamics change with human influences. Her current work also includes invasive species and terrestrial habitats. Her research hinges on working with many partners and disciplines to make our region more sustainable, equitable, and healthy for all. For her, the icing on the cake is getting to share all of this with NKU students - to get them in the trenches working on real environmental issues with real organizations in the space we all live, work, and play.

Photo of Dr. Mester with a student and her tri-fold presentation board.

Joe Mester

Office: SC 244   |   Phone: (859) 572-5277   |   E-mail:

Dr. Mester's research interests are in stopping disease causing microbes in their tracks by developing novel vaccines and antimicrobial treatments. Creating healthy foods and beverages via microbial fermentation.

Photo of Dr. Oluoch, outside in a wooded area


Office: SC 343   |   Phone: (859) 572-6929  |   E-mail:

Dr. Oluoch's research interests pivot around applying quantitative methods such as stated preferences, revealed preferences, econometrics, and modelling to answer key environmental concerns spanning both urban and rural societies, in both developing and developed world contexts. His research focus strives to integrate practical environmental science and management approaches to key research questions on energy transition, renewable energy, energy security, and environmental justice. Dr. Oluoch is  specifically interested in exploring how to integrate public perspective in the development of environmental policies. His main emphasis is to develop linkages in academic and research endeavors in the subject areas of sustainability science with a strong emphasis on human-environmental interactions, climate risks and responses, species conservation and natural resource management.

Photo of Dr. Parker, kneeling on a hiking trail, in a grassy area, next to a stack of auto tires.

Allison Parker

Office: SC 254   |   Phone: (859) 572-6674   |   E-mail:

Dr. Parker is an eco-epidemiologist, which means she studies the intersection between ecology and disease. Her research focuses on mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit in human-dominated landscapes. Since we do not have vaccines for many of the viruses spread by mosquitoes, controlling mosquito populations is the best way to prevent diseases transmission. She looks at how mosquito species distribution and abundance varies based on how humans have altered the environment and how humans knowledge, attitudes, and mosquito control practices affect potential for mosquito-borne diseases to spread. Dr. Parker then uses this information to create outreach tools to work to reduce mosquito populations. Her research allows her to work with her community partners and the public.

Headshot of Dr. Robertson

Denice Robertson

Office: FH 359D   |   Phone: (859) 572-5188   |   E-mail:

Dr. Robertson's research interests are broad. She has worked in both a marine environment on spiny lobster populations, and now on milkweed population recovery and management. The underlying theme is research at the population level regardless of the environment. she has and continues to explore the success of populations by better understanding population size over time, reproduction, growth and success of a population in the context of the greater environment in which they live. Her current research focuses on understanding the success of milkweed as this species of flowering plant is tied to the success of Monarch butterfly populations. Dr. Robertson is working with colleagues and students to better understand restoration and management impacts on the success of milkweed. They are also working to develop a sampling system using drone photography and GIS to map milkweed in restored areas over time and keep better track of population sizes and densities. Their goal is to promote better restoration and management of milkweed in hopes of positively impacting Monarch butterfly populations.

Brad Sarchet headshot

Brad Sarchet

Office: SC 354   |   Phone: (859) 572-5303   |   E-mail:

Dr. Sarchet researches water balance: aquatic vs. terrestrial environments; thermoregulation and energetics: ectotherms vs. endotherms; applications of logic in the scientific method: the roles of inductive and deductive logic; metaphysics and epistemology: how knowledge of the physical world is acquired, understood and applied; and the crossroads of ethics and science.

Photo of Dr. Schultheis working in one of the research labs on campus.

Patrick Schultheis

Office: FH 359G   |   Phone: (859) 572-5933   |   E-mail:

Dr. Schultheis uses molecular biology tools to study the function of P-type transport ATPase proteins. Most recently, using a mouse model, he has shown that mutations in ATP13A2 (PARK9) are associated with Kufor-Rakeb Syndrome, a rare genetic form of Parkinson’s disease, and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, a lysosomal storage disorder.

Photo of Dr. Shifley smiling in the lab.

Emily Shifley

Office: SC 347   |   Phone: (859) 572-1409   |   E-mail:

As a developmental biologist, Dr. Shifley is interested in understanding how organs develop in the early vertebrate embryo and she uses the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, as a model organism. Her research is focused on discovering and understanding the genetic signals that coordinate proper development. Even during early stages of development, embryonic tissues become differentiated from one another and eventually undergo morphogenesis to form the organs of the adult body. These tissues are guided by different molecular signals instructing them to differentiate into the various organs. Dr. Shifley's research is focused on discovering and understanding how these genetic signals coordinate proper embryonic development. This research is important because it can help explain why certain birth defects occur and it can help inform research aimed at directing stem cells into specific lineages for therapeutic purposes.

Photo of Dr. Strome working in one of the research labs on campus.

Erin Strome

Office: SC 204E   |   Phone: (859) 572-6635   |   E-mail:

Dr. Strome's research is in studying genes involved in regulating genome
stability. Her lab works to utilize the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and create gene mutations to identify roles in instability. Aneuploidy assays, looking for abnormal chromosome numbers, allows them to view mutations and their roles in this cancer-associated phenotype. Their goal is to discover genes whose human homologs might be studied for their roles in cancer incidence.

Photo of Dr. Thompson, in a lab setting, wearing a lab coat.

David Thompson

Office: SC 246   |   Phone: (859) 572-5301   |   E-mail:

Research projects in Dr. Thompson's laboratory examine the physiological and toxicological implications concerning waterborne metals and organic herbicides. For example, Atrazine is an herbicide used in no-till farming and is frequently found in surface water such as within the Ohio River watershed. While atrazine has been shown to have adverse effects on non-target species, there is a lack of information examining the potential impact of commercially available atrazine products, especially considering the additional ingredients often included in these formulations. His research also works with studies of the physiology of squirrelfish, which have shown that female squirrelfish preferentially increase their uptake of Zn during reproductively active periods and make this Zn available to the developing embryo. Dr. Thompson's lab is examining the possibility that differential Zn-transporter expression occurs at critical points in the reproductive cycle, under hormonal control.

Photo of Dr. Walters, outside in a grassy area, with a small bird sitting on her fingers.

Lindsey Walters

Office: SC 345   |   Phone: (859) 572-6390   |   E-mail:

Dr. Walters research investigates the reproductive behavior of wild cavity-nesting birds. It seeks to answer broad questions about how birds navigate parental investment decisions to maximize their evolutionary fitness. Like all organisms that provide parental care to their offspring, birds face a tradeoff between investment in their offspring versus investment in their own self-maintenance. This fundamental tradeoff forms the basis for the research questions that she investigates with her students about parental behaviors such as nest site selection, incubation, nestling provisioning, and waste removal. Dr. Walters also uses birds to study conservation-related issues such as factors influencing bird-window collisions and the use of nestling feathers as a bioindicator of environmental methylmercury contamination. Undergraduate students are involved in every aspect of her research, including planning, data collection, analysis, presenting, and publishing.

A photo of Dr. Whitson standing outside in tall grass with a student.

Maggie Whitson

Office: SC 101B   |   Phone: (859) 572-1411   |   E-mail:

Dr. Whitson's background is in flora of the southeastern US, molecular phylogenetic techniques, and taxonomy and systematics of the Solanaceae (Nightshade family), particularly the genus Physalis (ground cherries). She is the director and curator of NKU's John W. Thieret Herbarium, which is a research and teaching collection of about 30,000 dried plant specimens. Currently her work is focused on databasing and digitizing the herbarium collections and finding ways to use this data for educational purposes, as well as to inform growth and management of our collections. Dr. Whitson is also interested in flora of Kentucky and the Southeast, with a particular focus on under-collected native species and newly introduced non-natives.

Photo of Dr. Williamson taken with classmates while she was attending grad school.

Lauren Williamson

Office: FH 359F   |   Phone: (859) 572-1949   |   E-mail:

Our brains determine almost everything we do and our brains get inputs from the outside world at remarkable speed. How do our bodies, and especially our immune systems and responses to pathogens, change our brains? How do our brains change what we do to survive infection and resolve inflammation? How does inflammation affect learning and memory? All of these questions drive Dr. Williamson's work in a rodent model of early-life infection. In her lab, they look at rodent learning and memory behavior and how that behavior correlates with inflammatory responses both outside and inside the brain.

Photo of Dr. Xie taken outside, on the NKU campus, during the biology Olympics event.

Yingying Xie

Office: SC 342   |   Phone: (859) 572-1412   |   E-mail:

Dr. Xie is an plant ecologist. She is interested in the spatial and temporal interactions between plants and the environment. Her research focuses on the impacts from global change on plant phenology (i.e., the timing of life cycle events) and associated species interactions and ecosystem processes. Shifts in plant phenology (e.g., flowering time) can have substantial ecological and economic impacts. Understanding how plant phenology responds to environmental variation is critical in assessing the impacts and predicting the future. She works with scientists in multiple disciplines, undergraduate students, and local land managers. She uses integrated approaches including natural history, citizen science network, field observation, and a variety of remote sensing techniques (ranging from time lapse cameras to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems and satellites) to identify the mechanisms, patterns, forecasts, and consequences.