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Villani, Philip

Associate Professor - Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences


Academic/Professional/Personal Focus

Areas of Expertise
Plant development biology and Plant Microtechnique.  Current Interest is in plant/pathogen interactions in bryophytes (mosses).

Contributions: (published works or studies, conference presentations)

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

Winter, P.S., Bowman, C.E., Villani, P.J.,  Dolan, T.E., and N.R. Hauck. Systemic acquired resistance in moss: Further evidence for conserved defense mechanisms in plants.

Villani, P.J. and S.A. Etnier. 2008. Natural history of lily pad leaf (Nymphaea odorata ssp. tuberosa) growth. Northeastern Naturalist 15:177-188.

Etnier, S.A. and P.J. Villani. 2007. Differences in mechanical and structural properties of surface and aerial petioles of the aquatic plant Nymphaea odorata subsp. tuberosa (Nymphaeaceae). American Journal of Botany 94:1067-1072.

Villani, P., R. Dunlop, and B. Damitz. 2007. Investigating the process of diffusion using an analytical puzzle. American Biology Teacher 69:393-397.

DeMason, D.A. and P.J. Villani. 2001. Genetic control of leaf development in pea (Pisum sativum). International Journal of Plant Sciences 162:493-511.


"Pathogen Induced Hypersensitive Response and Systemic Acquired Resistance in Amblystegium serpens." C. Bowman and P.Villani. Undergraduate Research Conference, 2011.

"Food: Pasture, Table, Body and Mind - A post-course evaluation of an interdisciplinary course." T. Lineweaver and P. Villani, SENCER Summer Institute 2009, Chicago, IL.

"Auxin concentrations in foliar embryo of Kalanchoe pinnata during leaf development and leaf detachment via Agrobacterium transformation and DR5:GUS analysis." M. Trombley and P. Villani. Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, Butler University, April 2009.

"An examination of the correlation between shoot apical meristem size and leaf heterophylly in Pisum sativum." C. Halfman and P. Villani. Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, Butler University, April 2009.

"An analysis of the environmental and hormonal effects on the growth and development of the moss Ceratodon purpureus." M. Knight and P. Villani. Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, Butler University, April 2009.

Colloquium: Looking at the big picture: Food, Nutrition, and Public Health in the Community Context. M. Fass, M. Fisher, P. Villani, and P. Fernandes. SENCER, San Jose, CA, August, 2008. 

"Food: Pasture, Table, Body and Mind: an interdisciplinary course taught from the viewpoints of biology and psychology." P. Villani and T. Lineweaver. SENCER, San Jose, CA, August, 2008.

"Natural history of heterophylly in Nymphaea odorata ssp. tuberosa (Nymphaeaceae)." P. Villani and S. Etnier. American Society of Plant Biologists, July 2007.

"Comparative leaf development in Kalanchoe delagoensis and K. pinnatum." H. Pence and P.J. Villani. Butler Summer Institute, July 2007.

Butler Assignment (classes or work duties)

Course: Introductory Biology, Principles of Botany, Food:Pasture Table Body and Mind, Plant Development, Genetics.

Capstone topics: Medicinal Plants, Biotechnology, Cancer Biology.

Director of the Butler University Greenhouse.

Regional Director of the Bulter University Science Olympiad.

Treasurer of the Indiana Science Olympiad.

Personal Hobbies
Tennis, woodworking, model trains, beer brewing, gardening


Ph.D., Univeristy of California at Riverside; B.S. University of Wisconsin at Platteville

Association Memberships (professional/educational)

Botanical Society of America

American Society of Plant Biologists

Professional Experience
My major research area of interest is plant development biology, where I investigate the morphogenesis of leaves.  My students and I conduct descriptive studies of developing leaves using scanning electron and light microscopy, we analyze the genetic regulation of leaf development by investigating mutations in genes that affect leaf form, we conduct manipulative studies on developing leaves in tissue culture using hormones and hormone transport inhibitors, and we characterize the expression of genes believed to be involved in leaf formation by using molecular techniques.  More recently, we have been investigating the response of plants, mosses in particular, to pathogen challenge.  We are interested in how mosses initiate defense mechanisms