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Biology Undergraduate Research

Take advantage of your Butler opportunities. Faculty members in Biological Sciences welcome students into their laboratories. Check out our Faculty page and click on a name to view a professor's area of expertise. Visit and talk with them as early in your career as possible. Although most undergraduate research is done in the junior and senior years, some students begin as early as the freshman year.

Students may earn credit (or, occasionally, money) by working one on one with faculty during the academic year. Research is also an important part of the Honors Program. Students interested in an intensive research experience are encouraged to apply for the Butler Summer Institute. More information about undergraduate research programs at Butler can be found at the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship website.

Every April, students present their results at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, which draws participants from more than forty midwestern colleges and universities. Students may also apply for funds to travel to other regional or national meetings, via the Holcomb Undergraduate Grants program.

Students may also want to apply for Biology Internships which are available throughout Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and surrounding states. Click on the link above or contact the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at 317-940-9224.

Ten Reasons to do Undergraduate Research

  • It's fascinating! (At least we think so.)
  • Looks great on graduate and professional school applications.
  • Do you really want graduate school? Helps you find out....
  • Valuable experience!
  • Required for the Honors Program.
  • Gives you a better feel for "real science" than classroom labs.
  • Resumé builder.
  • Fun!
  • Butler Summer Institute participants get summer housing and stipend.
  • Show off your results at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Examples of Undergraduate Research



Cindy Cifuentes, "Vegetation Structure and Urban Wildlife Occupancy". Fall 2018 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Julia Angstmann, Travis Ryan, Carmen Salsbury)

Jake Gerard, "Effects of an Urban College Campus Environment on Indianapolis Wildlife". Fall 2018 – December 2019 (Mentor: Julia Angstmann, Travis Ryan, Carmen Salsbury)

Lauren Goertzen, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions - Physiological plasticity in migratory birds: gizzard morphology.” Fall 2018 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Ethan Kitt, “Identification of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the microbiota of local squirrel population.” Spring 2017 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Mike Trombley)

Becca Lewis “Sustainable agriculture in urban systems of Indianapolis”. Fall 2017 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Sean Berthrong)

Spencer Lybrook, “Sustainable agriculture in urban systems of Indianapolis”. Fall 2017 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Sean Berthrong)

Elly Mawi “Localization and functionality of the SUMO conjugating enzyme UBC-9 in C. elegans neurons” BSI 2017 / Honors Thesis, Spring 2019 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Emily Nettesheim “Neuronal localization of FSHR-1 expression using CRISPR/Cas9 in C. elegans.” Fall 2017– Spring 2019, BSI 2018 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Taylor Prechtel “Investigation of SYD-2 as a neuronal substrate of the anaphase-promoting complex enzyme in C. elegans” BSI 2017 / Honors Thesis, Spring 2019 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

David Ryskamp “Investigation of the FSHR-1 receptor and its downstream pathway components in neuromuscular signaling” BSI 2018 / Honors Thesis, Spring 2019 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Matt Tille, “Identification of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the microbiota of local squirrel population.” Spring 2017 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Mike Trombley)

Kelsea Zitt, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions -  Mitigation proposal for ‘bird death zones’ on Butler's Campus.” Fall 2018 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier) 


David Emch “Investigation of the FSHR-1 Receptor as a Potential Substrate of the Anaphase-Promoting Complex at the C. elegans Neuromuscular Junction” BSI 2017 / Honor Thesis, Spring 2018 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Parker Hiday, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions - Cranial density of Swainson's Thrush.” Fall 2018 – Spring 2019 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Mahmood Kedo, “Gender neutral bathroom surfaces recolonized by bacteria faster than single gender bathrooms.” Fall 2017 – Fall 2018 (Mentor: Sean Berthrong)

Elissa Peck, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions – Window-strike Photo Atlas and Flight mechanics of Swainson's Thrush.” Fall 2017 – Spring 2018 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Salman Qureshi, “Gender neutral bathroom surfaces recolonized by bacteria faster than single gender bathrooms.” Fall 2017 – Fall 2018 (Mentor: Sean Berthrong)

Alexi Zaniker, "Indy Wildlife Watch: Impact of Vegetation Structure on Presence of Wildlife in Urban Environments". Spring 2017 – Spring 2018 (Mentor: Julia Angstmann, Travis Ryan, Carmen Salsbury)


McKenna Albers, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions - Characterization of Building Aspects which affect Bird Window-Strikes.” Spring 2017 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Lauryn Campagnoli “The investigation of SYD-2 Liprinα as a potential substrate of the Anaphase Promoting Complex in C. elegans.” USRP 2015-2016 / Honor Thesis Spring 2017 (Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Kowalski)

Victoria Kreyden “Investigation of the Neuronal Functions of the SUMO Conjugating Enzyme UBC-9 at the C. elegans Neuromuscular Junction” BSI 2016 / Honors Thesis, Spring 2017 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski) **2016 ASCB Undergraduate Poster Competition Winner**

Jacob Reeves, “Indy Wildlife Watch: A large-scale investigation of urban wildlife.”  Spring 2017. (Mentors: Julia Angstman, Travis Ryan and Carmen Salsbury)

Clayton Taylor, “Human Antimicrobial Peptide Resistance Discovered in Plant Pathogens Pseudomonas syringae and Erwinina amylovora” BSI/Honors Thesis, Spring 2017 (Mentor: Mike Trombley)

Gabrielle Vinyard, “Investigation of the anthropogenic effects on tree squirrel (Sciurus niger) distribution and abundance in urban residential areas.” Spring 2015 to Spring 2017. (Mentor: Carmen Salsbury)


Emily Burton, "Cyclopropane fatty acid synthase gene expression in cotton radicles." 2015-2016. (Mentor: Katherine Schmid)

Lauryn Campagnoli, “Investigation of SYD-2 as a potential substrate of the Anaphase Promoting Complex in promoting GABA release at the C. elegans neuromuscular junction.”  Fall 2016. (Mentor:  Jennifer Kowalski)

Kyle Cherry “Investigation of the localization and expression of the G-protein coupled receptor FSHR-1 in C. elegans neurons” Honors Thesis, Spring 2016 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Olivia Crowe, “Determination of the role of Dreadlocks (Dock) in the growth of the germline ring canals in the developing Drosophila melanogaster egg chamber."  Fall 2016. (Mentor:  Lindsay Lewellyn)

David Ediger, “B.E.A.K: Butler Explores Avian Kollisions - Mitigation approaches for new and existing buildings.” Spring 2016 (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Amber Kline “Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) rescues neuromuscular defects associated with expression of the mammalian Down Syndrome critical gene Dyrk1a in C. elegans motor neurons” Fall 2015 – Spring 2016. (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Ashley Kline,“Characterizing a Role for the Misshapen Kinase in the Growth of the Germline Ring Canals in the Developing Egg Chamber.”  Fall 2016. (Mentor:  Lindsay Lewellyn)

Victoria Kreyden, “Investigation of the neuronal functions of the SUMO conjugating enzyme UBC-9 at the C. elegans neuromuscular junction."  Fall 2016. (Mentor:  Jennifer Kowalski) **2016 ASCB Undergraduate Poster Competition Winner**

Shelby Miller, “The Developmental Mechanisms of Phenotypic Plasticity in Butterfly Wing Patterns.” BSI/Honors  Thesis 2016. (Mentor: Andrew Stoehr)

Allyson Munneke “Investigation of the Role of the FSHR-1 Protein in Regulating Synaptic Transmission at the Neuromuscular Junction of C. elegans” BSI 2015 / Honors Thesis, Spring 2016. (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Kayla Nienhaus, “Seasonal variation in wing patterns of the cabbage white butterfly.”  Fall 2016. (Mentor: Andrew Stoehr)


Morgan Blake, "The Role of Calcium in Pathogen Defense Responses in the Moss Mnium cuspidatum." Butler Summer Institute Summer 2015. (Mentor: Phil Villani)

Shataakshi Dube “A novel enzyme-activated fluorescence system is useful for studying the substrate specificity of gut hydrolases in Caenorhabditis elegans Honor Thesis, Spring 2015 (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Isabella Lambert, “Geographical and Temporal Variation in Wing Patterns in the Cabbage White Butterfly.” Honors Thesis 2015. (Mentor: Andrew Stoehr)

Daniel Lester “Investigation of the active zone protein SYD-2 Liprinα as a substrate of the Anaphase-promoting complex ubiquitin ligase at the C. elegans Neuromuscular Junction” Fall 2013 – Spring 2015, BSI 2014.  (Mentor: Jennifer Kowalski)

Tyler Schenck, "Determination of Hydrogen Peroxide Production during Hypersensitive Responseof Physcomitrella patens." Butler Summer Institute Summer 2015. (Mentor: Phil Villani)

Dakota Speck, "The ontogenetic effects on the shell strength of turtles." May 2015. (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Brad Weinstein, "Muscle mass, wing morphology, and related flight mechanics in passeriforme birds." May 2015. (Mentor: Shelley Etnier)

Billy Weldon, "The Role of Light in Mnium cuspidatum Hypersensitive Response Defense Mechanisms to Pythium irregulare Pathogen Infection." Honors thesis Spring 2015. (Mentor: Phil Villani)

Devin VanWanzeele, “Effects of temperature, photoperiod and nutrients on wing patterns in the cabbage white butterfly.” Honors Thesis 2015. (Mentor: Andrew Stoehr)

Recent Faculty Publications


Kelly CD, Stoehr AM, Nunn C, Smyth KN, Prokop ZM. Sexual dimorphism in immunity across animals: a meta-analysis. Ecol Lett. 2018 Dec;21(12):1885-1894.

Kasireddy V, Mitchell E, Murrell ZE, Gillespie, EL. Fifteen microsatellite markers for the Appalachian Rockcap Fern, Polypodium appalachianum (Polypodiaceae), and its relatives. Applications in Plant Sciences 2018 Dec; 6(11) e1195.

Ke Z, Dillard RS, Chirkova T, Leon F, Stobart CC, Hampton CM, Strauss JD, Rajan D, Rostad CA, Taylor JV, Yi H, Shah R, Jin M, Hartert TV, Peebles RS Jr, Graham BS, Moore ML, Anderson LJ, Wright ER. The Morphology and Assembly of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Revealed by Cryo-Electron Tomography. Viruses. 2018 Aug 20;10(8).

Kline A, Curry T, Lewellyn L. The Misshapen kinase regulates the size and stability of the germline ring canals in the Drosophila egg chamber. Dev Biol. 2018 Aug 15;440(2):99-112.

Schlingmann B, Castiglia KR, Stobart CC, Moore ML. Polyvalent vaccines: High-maintenance heroes. PLoS Pathog. 2018 Apr 5;14(4):

Rostad CA, Stobart CC, Todd SO, Molina SA, Lee S, Blanco JCG, Moore ML. Enhancing the Thermostability and Immunogenicity of a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Live-Attenuated Vaccine by Incorporating Unique RSV Line19F Protein Residues. J Virol. 2018 Feb 26;92(6).

Wei, B, Kowalski, JR. oxi-1 and fshr-1 are required for neuromuscular signaling under normal and oxidative stress conditions in C. elegans. MICROPUBLICATION:BIOLOGY Aug 28, 2018.


Stobart CC, Nosek JM, Moore ML. Rhinovirus Biology, Antigenic Diversity, and Advancements in the Design of a Human Rhinovirus Vaccine. Front Microbiol. 2017 Dec 5;8:2412.

Deffit, SN, Neff, C, and Kowalski, JR. Exploring C. elegans behavior: An inquiry-based laboratory module for middle or high school students. Am Biol Teach, Oct.8 2017. 79:661-667.

Dube S, Dube H, Green NB, Larsen EM, White A, Johnson RJ, Kowalski JR. In Vivo Delivery and Activation of Masked Fluorogenic Hydrolase Substrates by Endogenous Hydrolases in C. elegans. Chembiochem. 2017 Sep 19;18(18):1807-1813.

Hart AP, Kron KA, Gillespie EL. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the north-temperate Labrador Teas (Rhododendron Subsection Ledum) suggests a complex genetic history. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 2018 Sep; 11(1):53-66.

Gillespie EL, Pauley AG, Haffner ML, Hay NM, Estep MC, Murrell ZE. Fourteen polymorphic microsatellite markers for a widespread limestone endemic, Carex eburnea (Cyperaceae: Carex sect. Albae). Appl Plant Sci. 2017 Aug 21;5(8).

Etnier, S. A., P. J. Villani, and T. J. Ryan. 2017. The influence of light quality and quantity on heterophylly in the aquatic plant Nymphaea odorata subsp. tuberosa (Nymphaeaceae). Northeastern Naturalist, 24:152-164.

Cheerambathur DK, Prevo B, Hattersley N, Lewellyn L, Corbett KD, Oegema K, Desai A. Dephosphorylation of the Ndc80 Tail Stabilizes Kinetochore-Microtubule Attachments via the Ska Complex. Dev Cell. 2017 May 22;41(4):424-437.

Stobart CC, Hotard AL, Meng J, Moore ML. BAC-Based Recovery of Recombinant Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1602:111-124.

Beachy CK, Ryan TJ, Bonett RM. How Metamorphosis Is Different in Plethodontids: Larval Life History Perspectives on Life-Cycle Evolution. Herpetologica. 2017;73(3):252-258.

Savchenko KG, Carris LM. 2017. Two new Entyloma (Entylomataceae, Basidiomycota) species on North American Sanicula. Phytotaxa 327: 126-131.

Savchenko KG, Carris LM, Demers J, Manamgoda D, Castlebury L. 2017. What causes flag smut of wheat? Plant Pathology 66: 1139-1148.


Stobart CC, Rostad CA, Ke Z, Dillard RS, Hampton CM, Strauss JD, Yi H, Hotard AL, Meng J, Pickles RJ, Sakamoto K, Lee S, Currier MG, Moin SM, Graham BS, Boukhvalova MS, Gilbert BE, Blanco JC, Piedra PA, Wright ER, Moore ML. A live RSV vaccine with engineered thermostability is immunogenic in cotton rats despite high attenuation. Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 21;7:13916.

Kowalski JR, Hoops GC, Johnson RJ. Implementation of a Collaborative Series of Classroom-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences Spanning Chemical Biology, Biochemistry, and Neurobiology. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2016 winter;15(4).

Stoehr AM, Wojan EM. Multiple cues influence multiple traits in the phenotypically plastic melanization of the cabbage white butterfly. Oecologia. 2016 Nov;182(3):691-701.

Rostad CA, Stobart CC, Gilbert BE, Pickles RJ, Hotard AL, Meng J, Blanco JCG, Moin SM, Graham BS, Piedra PA, Moore ML. A Recombinant Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine Candidate Attenuated by a Low-Fusion F Protein Is Immunogenic and Protective against Challenge in Cotton Rats. J Virol. 2016 Jul 27;90(16):7508-7518.

Pepe-Ranney C, Campbell AN, Koechli CN, Berthrong S, Buckley DH. Unearthing the Ecology of Soil Microorganisms Using a High Resolution DNA-SIP Approach to Explore Cellulose and Xylose Metabolism in Soil. Front Microbiol. 2016 May 12;7:703.

Currier MG, Lee S, Stobart CC, Hotard AL, Villenave R, Meng J, Pretto CD, Shields MD, Nguyen MT, Todd SO, Chi MH, Hammonds J, Krumm SA, Spearman P, Plemper RK, Wang J, Jennings AK, Kowalski JR. The Anaphase-Promoting Complex (APC) ubiquitin ligase affects chemosensory behavior in C. elegans. PeerJ. 2016 May 10;4:e2013.

Currier MG, Lee S, Stobart CC, et al. EGFR Interacts with the Fusion Protein of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Strain 2-20 and Mediates Infection and Mucin Expression. PLoS Pathog. 2016;12(5):e1005622. Published 2016 May 6.

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 29:243-255.

Cetera M, Lewellyn L, Horne-Badovinac S. Cultivation and Live Imaging of Drosophila Ovaries. Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1478:215-226. Review.

Stobart CC, Hotard AL, Meng J, Moore ML. Reverse Genetics of Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1442:141-53.

K.M. Schmid. Lipid  metabolism in plants.  In N. Ridgway, R. McLeod, eds., Biochemistry of Lipids, Lipoproteins and Membranes, Amsterdam, Elsevier, pp. 113-147. 2016.


Meng J, Hotard AL, Currier MG, Lee S, Stobart CC, Moore ML. Respiratory Syncytial Virus Attachment Glycoprotein Contribution to Infection Depends on the Specific Fusion Protein. J Virol. 2015 Oct 14;90(1):245-53.

Chirkova T, Lin S, Oomens AG, Gaston KA, Boyoglu-Barnum S, Meng J, Stobart CC, Cotton CU, Hartert TV, Moore ML, Ziady AG, Anderson LJ. CX3CR1 is an important surface molecule for respiratory syncytial virus infection in human airway epithelial cells. J Gen Virol. 2015 Sep;96(9):2543-56.

Nelson G, Sweeney P, Wallace LE, Rabeler RK, Allard D, Brown H, Carter JR, Denslow MW, Ellwood ER, Germain-Aubrey CC, Gilbert E, Gillespie E, Goertzen LR, Legler B, Marchant DB, Marsico TD, Morris AB, Murrell Z, Nazaire M, Neefus C, Oberreiter S, Paul D, Ruhfel BR, Sasek T, Shaw J, Soltis PS, Watson K, Weeks A, Mast AR. Digitization workflows for flat sheets and packets of plants, algae, and fungi. Appl Plant Sci. 2015 Sep 10;3(9).

Trombley MP, Post DM, Rinker SD, Reinders LM, Fortney KR, Zwickl BW, Janowicz DM, Baye FM, Katz BP, Spinola SM, Bauer ME. Phosphoethanolamine Transferase LptA in Haemophilus ducreyi Modifies Lipid A and Contributes to Human Defensin Resistance In Vitro. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 22;10(4):e0124373.

Prudic KL, Stoehr AM, Wasik BR, Monteiro A. Eyespots deflect predator attack increasing fitness and promoting the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Proc Biol Sci. 2015 Jan 7;282(1798):20141531.

Stobart CC, Moore ML. Development of next-generation respiratory virus vaccines through targeted modifications to viral immunomodulatory genes. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2015;14(12):1563-72.

Armitage, K.B. and C.M. Salsbury. Pattern and variation of the time budget of yellow-bellied marmots, Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 2015.

Savchenko KG. 2015. Antherospora sukhomlyniae, a new species of smut fungi on Hyacinthella in Crimea (Ukraine). Mycotaxon 130: 57-59

Savchenko KG, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. 2015. Smut fungi of Israel. Ed. by Paul A Volz – Koeltz Scientific Books.


Fernandes VM, McCormack K, Lewellyn L, Verheyen EM. Integrins regulate apical constriction via microtubule stabilization in the Drosophila eye disc epithelium. Cell Rep. 2014 Dec 24;9(6):2043-55.

Savchenko KG, Carris LM, Castlebury LA, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. Stripe smuts of grasses: one lineage or high levels of polyphyly? Persoonia. 2014 Dec;33:169-81.

Cetera M, Ramirez-San Juan GR, Oakes PW, Lewellyn L, Fairchild MJ, Tanentzapf G, Gardel ML, Horne-Badovinac S. Epithelial rotation promotes the global alignment of contractile actin bundles during Drosophila egg chamber elongation. Nat Commun. 2014 Nov 21;5:5511.

Savchenko KG, Carris LM, Castlebury LA, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. Revision of Entyloma (Entylomatales, Exobasidiomycetes) on Eryngium. Mycologia. 2014 Jul-Aug;106(4):797-810.

Winter PS, Bowman CE, Villani PJ, Dolan TE, Hauck NR. Systemic acquired resistance in moss: further evidence for conserved defense mechanisms in plants. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 7;9(7):e101880.

Stobart CC, Moore ML. RNA virus reverse genetics and vaccine design. Viruses. 2014 Jun 25;6(7):2531-50.

Ryan, T. J., W. E. Peterman*, J. D. Stephens*, and S. C. Sterrett*. 2014. Movement and habitat use the snapping turtle in an urban landscape. Urban Ecosystems 17:613-623.

Berthrong ST, Yeager CM, Gallegos-Graves L, Steven B, Eichorst SA, Jackson RB, Kuske CR. Nitrogen fertilization has a stronger effect on soil nitrogen-fixing bacterial communities than elevated atmospheric CO2. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 May;80(10):3103-12.

Meng J, Stobart CC, Hotard AL, Moore ML. An overview of respiratory syncytial virus. PLoS Pathog. 2014 Apr 24;10(4):e1004016.

Kowalski JR, Dube H, Touroutine D, Rush KM, Goodwin PR, Carozza M, Didier Z, Francis MM, Juo P. The Anaphase-Promoting Complex (APC) ubiquitin ligase regulates GABA transmission at the C. elegans neuromuscular junction. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2014 Jan;58:62-75.

Savchenko KG, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. 2014. Rust fungi (Pucciniales) of Israel. II. The genus Uromyces. Nova Hedwigia 98: 393-407.

Savchenko KG, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. 2014. Rust fungi (Pucciniales) of Israel. III. The genus PucciniaNova Hedwigia 99: 27-47.

Savchenko KG, Heluta VP, Wasser SP, Nevo E. 2014. Rust fungi (Pucciniales) of Israel. I. All genera except Puccinia and Uromyces with Caeoma origani sp. nov. Nova Hedwigia 98: 163-178.