Department Chair
Philip Villani
Philip Villani
Associate Professor – Biological Sciences

Research Focus: My background and training are in plant developmental biology with a focus on molecular and cellular biology. Development is a series of complex events that control the formation of body form—taking a plant from a single simple cell to a multicellular complex organism. I find this aspect of biology completely fascinating. For example, how do factors such as the environment, maternal effect, etc., interact with genetic factors to control development? A soften happens to scientists, I have recently become interested in another area of biology. Just as how we get sick and have defense mechanisms, plants also get sick and have defense mechanisms. So, how do plants, more specifically an ancient group of plants called the mosses, response to being challenged by a pathogen?   

Main question: The main question that I am interested in is the genetic control of how plants generate form, or more recently how they respond to the challenges of a pathogen infection.

Research approaches: I typically use plant culture techniques to grow plants in controlled environments, which allows for careful manipulation of hormone treatments, hormone inhibitor applications, and environmental factors, and how these impact the development of the organs on a plant or how they impact the progression of the plant through its’ lifecycle. Similarly, in what way do these manipulations affect how a plant responds to an infection? To accomplish these goals, I use different microscopy techniques, such as light, fluorescent, and electron microscopy, to visualize developmental processes.

Selected publications:

Schenck, T. and P. Villani. 2018. Investigating Plant Pathogen Responses: Using a Common Moss and a Soil Pathogen to Demonstrate Plant Defense Mechanisms. American Biology Teacher. American Biology Teacher.80:35-39.

Etnier, S., Villani, P., and T. Ryan. 2017. Influence of Light Quality and Quantity on Heterophylly in the Aquatic Plant Nymphaea odorata subsp. tuberosa (Nymphaeaceae). Northeastern Naturalist.24:152-164.

Winter,P., C. Bowman, P. Villani, T. Dolan, and N. Hauck. 2014. Systemic acquired resistance in moss: further evidence for conserved defense mechanisms in plants. PloSOne Jul 7:9(7): e101880

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

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.

Villani,P.J. and D.A. DeMason. 2000. Roles of the Af and Tl genes in pea leaf morphogenesis: Shoot ontogeny and leaf development in the heterozygotes. Annals of Botany 85:123-135.

Coursestaught:

General Biology, Ethnobotany, Nutrition, Cell Biology, Fundamentals of Genetics, Advanced Genetics, Principles of Botany, Plant Development, Tropical Terrestrial Biology, Cancer Biology, Biotechnology.

Faculty & Staff
Sean Berthrong
Sean Berthrong
Associate Professor – Biological Sciences

Areas of Expertise
Microbial Ecology, Metagenomics, Biogeochemistry

I am interested in research at the intersection of microbiology and ecology.  I study how bacteria and fungi influence ecological processes, and in turn how the environment affects the types of species present and the abundance of microbes.  Most of my work focuses on microbes living in soils, since soils are one of the most complex, but least well understood habitats in the world.  In particular, I use metagenomic approaches to study how different plant communities affect the balance of bacterial and fungal species in soils, and then how those microbes in turn support plant growth by supplying nutrients and stabilizing soil.  If we better understand the connections between microbes, plants, and soils, we can use this knowledge to improve ecosystem health, sustainability, and usefulness to human society.

Shelley Etnier
Shelley Etnier
Associate Professor – Biological Sciences

Dr. Shelley Etnier’s research area is in the field of biomechanics–so the interface between biology and engineering.  She is particularly interested in why biological structures are flexible, particularly in comparison to the stiff structures that typify human construction.  Dr. Etnier has studied a wide range of systems, spanning both the plant and animal kingdom.  She has researched ontogenetic changes in dolphin backbones, the ability of squirrels to rotate their hind feet, as well as the mechanical properties of emergent lilypads, to name just a few systems.  Her students have focused on local species, including songbirds, turtles and sunfish.

Dr. Etnier’s teaching interests are broadly organismal.  She regularly teaches Comparative Physiology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, as well as Comparative Biomechanics and Zoology.  She also team-teaches a Coral Reef Ecology class that travels to Belize every other year with a small group of students.

Nat Hauck
Nat Hauck
Assistant Professor – Biology

Nathanael Hauck is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences with expertise in genetics.  He received his B.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Michigan State University.  At Butler, the Hauck Lab has been focused on plant-pathogen interactions in bryophytes.  Using various moss species, we have been studying the changes in gene expression throughout the plant following inoculation with a fungal pathogen. Recently, the Hauck Lab has initiated studies of telomeres and telomere maintenance in bryophytes as well. 

Dr. Hauck’s teaching interests are centered on genetics.  In addition to teaching an introductory course in the biology fundamental series (BI210 Fundamentals of Genetics), Dr Hauck teaches upper level courses inTransmission Genetics (BI434), Molecular Genetics (BI435), and Genomics and Gene Evolution (BI436). 

Jennifer Kowalski
Jennifer Kowalski
Professor – Biological Sciences

Dr. Kowalski is a cellular neurobiologist interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms hat control the ability of neurons to communicate with one another at specialized cellular junctions called synapses (synaptic transmission). The abundance of synaptic proteins impacts the strength of synaptic transmission, which changes during processes such as learning and memory and is disrupted in numerous neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.

Kowalski Research Lab

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Lindsay Lewellyn
Lindsay Lewellyn
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Dr Lewellyn received her B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego studying the process of cell division in the lab of Dr Karen Oegema. Dr Lewellyn then went on to do post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago with Dr Sally Horne-Badovinac. Dr Lewellyn’s research at Butler is focused on the cellular and developmental mechanisms that control the formation of the fruit fly egg. The fruit fly egg is generated from a multicellular structure called an egg chamber. The egg chamber is composed of a cluster of 16 germ cells (15 supporting nurse cells and 1 oocyte) that is surrounded by a layer of somatic cells called follicle cells. The germ cell cluster is formed through four rounds of mitosis, each of which is followed by incomplete cytokinesis. Instead of completely separating the two daughter cells, a connection is maintained through an intercellular bridge, which is called a ring canal. During the course of oogenesis, the ring canals expand ~20-fold; the stability and expansion of the ring canals is necessary to accommodate the transfer of mRNA, protein, and even organelles from the nurse cells to the developing oocyte. At stage 11 of oogenesis, there is a bulk transfer event that occurs in which the nurse cells squeeze their entire cytoplasmic contents into the oocyte, causing the oocyte volume to double in a ~30 minute period. Defects in ring canal stability and expansion block this transfer event and lead to sterility of the fly. The Lewellyn lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms that control formation, expansion, and stability of the ring canals. Because intercellular bridges are observed in the developing sperm and eggs of more complex organisms such as mammals, the fruit fly egg chamber can be used as a simple model system to study the proteins and pathways involved in intercellular bridge structure and regulation.

Marva Meadows
Marva Meadows
Marcia Moore
Marcia Moore
Interim Director, Herbarium

Marcia serves as Interim Director of the Friesner Herbarium and has been the Herbarium Assistant and Database Curator for the Friesner Herbarium for 28 years. Working with previous Herbarium Director, Dr. Rebecca Dolan, she has worked on a variety of projects including building the Herbarium specimen database, working on the specimen database digital imaging project (available at: https://palni.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/herbarium4), assisting in plant inventory projects for the IndyParks Department,and designing the website for the Herbarium. We have developed the Indiana Plant Atlas with assistance from the Butler University Innovation Fund. The Atlas is a customized, web-based, county-level interactive tool that compiles and shares research about Indiana flora with the world, starting with botanical resources from Butler University’s Friesner Herbarium.

The Herbarium specimen databases are also available through the Consortium of Midwest Herbaria, iDigBio (Integrated Digitized Biocollections), and GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility).

A long-time and active member of the Indiana Academy of Science, Marcia was named Fellow of the Academy in 2013, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2019.

The Herbarium was recently moved into state-of-the-art space as part of the Gallahue Hall Sciences Renovation Project. For appointments to see the Herbarium, or other questions relating to the Herbarium, contact Marcia at the email or phone number posted above.


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Lori Moore
Lori Moore
Administrative Specialist – Biology
Travis Ryan
Travis Ryan
Associate Provost/Professor

Travis Ryan is a Professor of Biological Sciences with expertise in urban ecology and conservation biology, and he is one of the founding faculty of the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University. He teaches an introductory course in the biology major curriculum (BI 230 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – Fundamentals), organizes the sophomore seminar (BI 299 – Biology Seminar), and teaches upper level electives in Advanced Ecology (BI 418) and Conservation Biology (BI 419). Dr. Ryan also collaborates with Dr. Phil Villani to offer Tropical Terrestrial Biology (BI 417), an intensive field course taught over the course of two weeks in Panama, every other summer. Dr. Ryan’s past research focused on the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, evolutionary ecology of amphibians and the evolution of life histories, and the ecology of turtle assemblages and the spatial ecology of turtles within urban aquatic habitats. Working with colleagues Drs. Carmen Salsbury and Julia Angstmann, he helps run Indy Wildlife Watch (Instagram: @indywildwatch), which documents the density, diversity, and distribution of of wildlife throughout the greater Indianapolis region. This is part of a nationwide research project, the Urban Wildlife Information Network. He is the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, is a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Herpetology, and is a member of the Board of Editors for Urban Naturalist. Dr. Ryan served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences (2013-2019), was twice elected vice chair of Faculty Senate (2016-2020), and was the faculty director of the Core Curriculum (2020-2021). He was appointed Associate Provost beginning July 2021.

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Carmen Salsbury
Carmen Salsbury
Professor – Biological Science

Carmen Salsbury is a Professor of Biological Sciences with expertise in the areas of behavioral and physiological ecology. Mammals have served as Dr. Salsbury’s primary study subjects over the years and she has a specific interest in the ecology of squirrels, both tree and ground-dwelling species. Dr. Salsbury has worked on the reproductive behavior and physiology of yellow-bellied marmots and on patterns of hibernation in woodchucks. Most recently, she has become more interested in urban ecological questions.  Dr, Salsbury has conducted studies in collaboration with students and Dr. Travis Ryan addressing patterns of distribution and abundance of tree squirrels within the urban/suburban landscape.  Dr. Salsbury current focus is to examine distributions of urban wildlife of all kinds throughout the city of Indianapolis.  She is working in collaboration with Drs. Travis Ryan and Julia Angstmann on a study, Indy Wildlife Watch, that involves a large-scale deployment of camera traps along transects throughout the city of Indianapolis to monitor the occurrence and movement of various species living within the city and the surrounding rural areas. 

Dr. Salsbury’s  teaching interests are varied although the central focus of all of her courses is evolutionary ecology.  Dr. Salsbury teaches an introductory course in the biology major curriculum (BI 230 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – Fundamentals), Mammalogy (BI 306), Zoology (BI 301), Vertebrate Biology (BI 307), Tropical Field Biology (BI 308), Advanced Evolutionary Biology (BI 423), and seminar courses in behavioral ecology.  Currently, Dr. Salsbury is the Director of the Science, Technology and Environmental Studies interdisciplinary program. She directs both the Science, Technology and Society major as well as the Environmental Studies major. 



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Kyryll Savchenko
Kyryll Savchenko
Assistant Professor – Biology

Areas of Expertise
Mycology, Evolution, Systematics


The systematics and evolution of smut (Ustilaginomycotina) and rust  (Pucciniomycotina) fungi are my primary research interests.  These two groups of plant parasitic basidiomycetes present unique research challenges and opportunities due to their obligate connections with hosts. The major challenges in both smuts and rusts include the limited number of morphological characters and obligate biotrophy. There are a number of cryptic species of rusts and smuts that can be discovered only by molecular methods, and there are large numbers of species that are known from only a single collection (every third species in smuts).One of the challenges in working with rust fungi is the lack of comprehensive monographs for North America and worldwide, but this also is an opportunity in that there is a great need for these types of resources.  Conversely, a world monograph on smut fungi, published in 2012, provides an excellent foundation and starting point for work on many different groups of these organisms. The ability to use phylogenetic and phylogenomic data to make inferences on co-evolution of host and pathogen, the increasing diversity of species in urban landscapes, the role of host jumps in speciation, and phylogeography are also some of the research opportunities with both of these groups of fungi.

Benjamin Spears
Benjamin Spears
Assistant Professor – Biological Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Plant genetics, Molecular signaling, and Transcriptional regulation.


Educational Background

Dr. Spears is a molecular plant geneticist/pathologist interested in the molecular ‘communication’ between hosts and pathogens. He graduated from Grinnell College with a B.A. in Biology in 2012 and from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Ph.D. in Plant, Insect, and Microbial Sciences in 2018. He continued working on several projects in the lab of Dr. Walter Gassmann as a postdoctoral researcher in 2019; though a scientific dabbler at heart, he focused on the broad molecular characterization of exciting new roles in plant immunity for the Arabidopsis transcription factor TCP8. He joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Butler in Fall 2020 and will continue studies of the TCP transcription factor family with a talented team of undergraduate researchers.


Research

Work in the Spears lab will address a fascinating question in plant science: If plants must activate their immune systems in the presence of a pathogen, but suppress their immune systems its absence to allow for growth, How can they do this in a timely and reversible manner? Preliminary research projects will dissect the molecular interactions, modifications, and activities of AtTCP8 (a protein conspicuously located at the interface of growth and defense-related signaling pathways) as a potential regulator of this key plant ‘decision’.

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Christopher Stobart
Christopher Stobart
Associate Professor, Biology


Background

Dr. Stobart is a microbiologist specializing in virus structure, stability, and function. He received his B.S. degrees in biology and chemistry from Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH) in 2008 and his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) in 2013. His doctoral thesis was titled "Structural and Functional Analysis of Coronavirus Cysteine Protease nsp5" and was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Denison. He continued his research in virology by completing a postdoctoral research fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Moore at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) where he played a central role in the development of a live-attenuated vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major human pathogen among infants and the elderly. Concurrent with his research training, he taught MCAT and DAT test-prep courses with The Princeton Review and was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Life and Earth Science at Georgia State University – Perimeter College (Dunwoody, GA) before joining the Butler University Department of Biological Sciences in the Fall of 2016.


Research

The Stobart lab aims to identify the fundamental structural and functional determinants that govern RNA virus environmental stability, infectivity, and replication. Studies in the lab focus on 3 different RNA virus systems: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV), and mouse hepatitis virus (MHV). 

Pnuemoviruses – RSV and hMPV

RSV is a pneumovirus with a negative-strand RNA genome that is associated with upper and lower respiratory disease in young infants and the elderly. To date, RSV is a leading cause of viral mortality worldwide for children under age 1. Although RSV is a human pathogen, it rarely causes clinical disease in healthy adults due to pre-existing immunity. Despite over 50 years of research, there remains no commercially-available vaccines and considerable work is currently underway to develop one. We recently showed substantial differences in the stability of RSV strains to temperature and that the stability was dependent upon the virus attachment protein (F). Preliminary study of RSV identified mutations in the RSV fusion (F) protein that govern virus thermal stability and contribute to stabilizing the prefusion conformation, which is required for infectivity.  Current research projects on RSV will focus on examining the environmental stability of reconstituted RSV clinical strains and site-directed mutagenesis to identify key regulatory regions governing RSV stability and replication.

HMPV is a pneumovirus that is very closely-related to RSV and is also associated with upper and lower respiratory disease in young infants and the elderly. Discovered in 1989, very little is known regarding its environmental stability and there remain no vaccines available for the prevention of hMPV disease. Current research projects on hMPV will focus on examining the environmental stability of a panel of hMPV clinical isolates. These studies may provide new insight into mechanisms to create stable live-attenuated vaccine candidates and novel approaches to limit hMPV spread in high risk environments.


Coronaviruses

MHV is a viral model for coronavirus biology. Coronaviruses are associated with upper and lower respiratory disease and are the 3rd leading cause of the common cold. Recent outbreaks of SARS-CoV,  MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19), three emerging coronaviruses, highlight the pathogenic potential of coronavirus evolution. Our work focuses on understanding the relationship between structure and function of the coronavirus protease nsp5. This work aims to identify key molecular determinants that are critical for coronavirus replication and may be targeted for antiviral or inhibitor design.

Students interested in doing research in the Stobart lab are encouraged to contact Dr. Stobart directly.


Stobart Lab Website

Dr. Stobart’s ResearchGate Profile


Andrew Stoehr
Andrew Stoehr
Associate Professor – Biology

I am an animal biologist interested in all things ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary. My current research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of wing pattern variation in the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae), with a particular focus on wing pattern plasticity. I also maintain an interest in ecological immunology, particularly in understanding how life-history influences sex differences in immunity. I regularly teach an Ecology and Evolution course in our "Fundamentals" series (BI 230) and an upper-level Animal Behavior course (BI 320). I also periodically teach Ornithology (BI 314), Zoology (BI 301), a non-majors "Biology and Society" course and a writing/speaking-intensive senior capstone (BI 480) on a variety of topics. My outside interests include fly fishing, photography, the five-string banjo and spending time with my wife and two boys.

More details about research in my lab can be found at: http://andrewstoehr.weebly.com

Some recent & representative publications are listed below:

Stoehr, A.M. and E.M. Wojan. 2016. Multiple cues influence multiple traits in the phenotypically plastic melanization of the cabbage white butterfly. Oecologia. In press.

Stoehr, A.M., K. Hayes, E.M. Wojan. 2016. Assessing the role of wingspots in intra-specific communication in the Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae L.). Journal of Insect Behavior. In press.

Stoehr, A.M., X. Tong, O. Podlaha and A. Monteiro. 2015. Progress towards germ-line transformation of the butterfly Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Gene Technology 4:123.

Prudic, K.L., A.M. Stoehr, B.R. Wasik and A. Monteiro. 2014. Eyespots deflect predator attack increasing fitness and promoting the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. 282:20141531.

Stoehr, A.M., J.F. Walker and A. Monteiro. 2013. Spalt expression and the development of melanic color patterns in pierid butterflies. EvoDevo 4:6.

Kelly, S.A., T.M. Panhuis and A.M. Stoehr. 2011. Phenotypic plasticity: molecular mechanisms and adaptive significance. In: Comprehensive Physiology (J.W. Hicks, T. Wang, T. Garland, Jr., Eds), Blackwell.

Stoehr, A.M. 2010. Responses of disparate phenotypically-plastic, melanin-based traits to common cues: limits to the benefits of adaptive plasticity? Evolutionary Ecology 24:287-298.

Zuk, M. and A.M. Stoehr. 2010. Sex Differences in Parasite Susceptibility: An Evolutionary Perspective. In Sex Hormones and Immunity to Infection (S.L. Klein and C. Roberts, Eds), Springer.

Stoehr, A.M. and H. Goux. 2008. Seasonal phenotypic plasticity of wing melanisation in the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Ecological Entomology 33:137-143.

Stoehr, A.M. 2007. Inter- and intra-sexual variation in immune defence in the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Ecological Entomology 32:188-193.

Ashlee Tietje
Ashlee Tietje
Instructor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Ashlee Tietje earned her BS in Biology Education for Southern Wesleyan University. She then went on to teach science at the high school level for four years before returning to school to pursue a PhD. In 2015, she earned her PhD at Clemson University in Biological Sciences. Her thesis focused on engineering a novel fusion protein as a means of activating natural killer cells to treat cancer. Following graduate studies, she worked at Southern Wesleyan University and Indiana Wesleyan University before becoming an Instructor here at Butler. At Butler, she teaches Introduction to Genetics (BI 210), Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (BI 220), Introductory Cell Biology (BI 105), and Biology and Society (NW 200-BI). Outside of Butler and biology, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, loves cats, and enjoys making science earrings.

Mike Trombley
Mike Trombley
Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences

Educational Experiences

In 2015, I earned my Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology with a minor in Life Sciences from the Indiana University School of Medicine, where I was a graduate student in Dr. Margaret Bauer’s lab.  My thesis research focused on how pathogenic bacteria were capable of evading the immune response by specifically studying the sexually transmitted infection Haemophilus ducreyi.  We discovered and characterized multiple genes and mechanisms involved in this bacterium’s ability to escape destruction by the human innate immune system, which is ultimately ineffective in controlling this infection.

I completed my undergraduate education at Butler University in 2009 with a B.S. in Biology and a Chemistry minor.  As a student at Butler, I was involved in a number of campus organizations and activities, including but not limited to the Student Government Association, the Butler University Student Foundation, Greek Life, the Dawg Pound, and the Biology Department as a Lab Assistant and Tutor. I was a member of the Butler University Football Team for a portion of my undergraduate years and continued participating in a number of intramural activities after.  Lastly, I partook in several years of undergraduate research in Dr. Villani’s Lab, and I participated in the 2008 Butler Summer Institute.

Prior to my time at Butler, I grew up in the Cincinnati area and attended Archbishop McNicholas High School.

Courses Taught and University Service

As an instructor, I aim to provide a high quality of education by promoting an intellectually stimulating environment, developing a foundation of critical thinking, and demonstrating a personal interest in all students.  The main courses I teach are Principles of Immunology (BI 323) in the fall and Principles of Pathogenic Microbiology (BI 325) in the spring.  I also am heavily involved in the Biology Fundamentals series, specifically teaching Genetics (BI 210).  I will also occasionally teach Biology and Society (NW 200-BI) and the senior Biology Capstone class (BI 480).

As a faculty member, I actively serve as a committee member or faculty advisor to a number of campus organizations.  I currently serve as the Pre-Health Professions Advisor, and I am a member of the Faculty Development Advisory Committee, the Butler University Undergraduate Retention and Success Task Force, the LAS Essay Contest Committee, and chair of the Biology Website Renovation and Maintenance Committee to name a few.  I currently serve as a faculty advisor for the Pre-Dental Club, the Butler University Club Hockey Team, the Sigma Nu Fraternity, and the Butler Cru Campus Ministry, and I participate every year at Bulldogs into the Streets.

I have previously served on the Butler Advance Faculty Steering Committee, Butler University Council for Independent Colleges Consortium for Instructional Excellence and Career Guidance, the LAS Teaching and Peer Review Guidelines Taskforces, the Top 100 Selection Committee, and I have informally served as a volunteer member on the Butler University Young Alumni Board.

Research Interests

Summative focus: Studying microbial resistance to antimicrobial agents, including components of the immune system, chemicals used to disinfectant, and antibiotics used for treatment

Current Projects

1.)  Do we find potential pathogens on common surfaces we interact with on a daily basis, and what percentage of these microbes are antibiotic resistant?  Are the disinfectants used to clean effective against these potential pathogens, and how long after disinfection do microbes recolonize the surface?  These questions may tell us more about how common drug resistance may be on common surfaces as within the everyday microbes.  Additionally, with so many products being advertised as effective against various microbes, it is important to actually put them to the test and see how effective they may be.

2.)  Do we find potential fecal coliforms within water ways such as the canal and/or the White River, and is this influenced by different times of the year and different amounts of rain?  Do these fecal coliforms harbor resistance to antibiotics?  These questions may tell us more about the impact that the combined sewer system of Indianapolis as well as the impact of northern septic systems and agricultural livestock on is having on our water systems.

Former Projects

1.)  We studied antimicrobial peptide resistance in two bacterial plant pathogens, Pseudomonas syringae and Erwinia amylovora.  By examining their ability to evade both plant defenses and the human immune system, we have found the potential presence of mechanisms that appear to confer resistance to a wide range of host antimicrobial peptides. This suggests the presence of conserved virulence mechanisms found among inter-kingdom bacterial pathogens, which could potentially have large implications on antibiotic resistance and human health.  Studies have shown that animal pathogens can transfer resistance genes to common human pathogens; by demonstrating the presence of these same or similar resistance genes in plant pathogens, we hope to further our understanding of the evolutionary development of antibiotic resistance as well as the possibility that how we treat our agricultural pathogens may have an impact on human bacterial pathogens.

2.)  We examined the microbial flora found on the Butler University squirrel population. In collaboration with Dr. Carmen Salsbury, we live-trap squirrels and swab their ears, feet, and abdomen for microbes.  We have seen not only the presence of a wide variety of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes, but there appears to be the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, commonly found as part of the human microbiota.  Additionally, initial findings have shown that there is also the presence of drug-resistant S.aureus, indicating that squirrels could be a vector for human pathogens such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus). It is well known that rodents such as rats can carry human diseases, and previous research has shown that small mammals such as dogs have been found to not only carry MRSA, but also potentially spread it to humans.  Our research is further evidence that animals which commonly interact with human environments are capable of becoming vectors to human diseases, and even more troubling, may be contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistance microbes that have become a significant burden on human healthcare in the last 40 years.

3.) I also collaborated with Dr. Berthrong and some of his students in their efforts to examine the microbial recolonization and presence of MRSA on cellphones, determine the presence of bacterial contamination in various water sources, and study the microbial diversity among various environments found on Butler’s campus.

Personal Life

In addition to my time spent here at Butler, I very much cherish my role as a husband to my wife Amanda and as a father to my daughter Olivia.  We love the Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum, going to the park,walking our 120 lb American Bulldog named Duke, and anything related to Disney!  When I’m not spending time with my family, I enjoy many different fitness activities, reading a good book, and I am an avid, although not outstanding, golfer.  I also find myself heavily involved with Butler Athletics, and you can probably find me at basketball or football games. Go Dawgs!

Emeriti Faculty

Dr. James W. Berry – Professor Emeritus, 1996
Email: jwberry@butler.edu or berryjw@ufl.edu

Dr. David L. Daniell – Professor Emeritus, 2001
Email: ddaniell@butler.edu

Dr. Thomas Dolan – Professor Emeritus, 2018
Email: tdolan@butler.edu

Dr. Michael S. Maloney – Professor Emeritus, 2013
Email: mmaloney@butler.edu

Dr. Richard W. Miller – Professor Emeritus, 2008
Email: rwmiller@butler.edu

Dr. John F. Pelton – Professor Emeritus, 1985

Dr. Stephen A. Perrill – Professor Emeritus, 2008
Email: sperrill@butler.edu

Dr. Philip A. St. John – Professor Emeritus, 1989

Dr. Katherine Schmid – Professor Emeritis
Email: kschmid@butler.edu

Dr. James Shellhaas – Professor Emeritus, 2016
Email: jshellha@butler.edu

Dr. Willard F. Yates – Professor Emeritus, 1989