Research

Research in the Department of Biology

Research in the Department of Biology has two historic tracks: (1) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and (2) Cell and Molecular Biology. However, as new knowledge emerges and advances in technological tools become available to further resolve biological underpinnings, so as the focus and mission of the the Department's science evolved.

As such, the Department now has active research programs in neuroscience, microbial ecology, immunology, ichthyology, developmental biology, climate change, bioinformatics and infectious diseases.

These fields of discipline are supported by a top-tier research infrastructure. The Biology Department at Howard University uniquely has it's own green house, animal facilities, computational center, and a suite of high end instrumentation, which include: confocal microscopes, flow cytometric analyzers and sorters, a transmission electron microscope and suite of qPCR instruments and DNA/RNA sequencers.

Howard University, Department of Biology, is uniquely equipped to facilitate enriching student learning experiences by providing enriching tools for both academic and research practices and instruction.

Research in the Department of Biology

Department of Biology historically is categorized into two major concentrations. However, the breadth of the research areas the encompass these two concentrations is vast. Below highlights the major arms of research taking place in the Department of Biology at Howard University to which both undergraduate and graduate students can take part in. 

Research Areas

Cell and Molecular Biology

Cell and Molecular Biology is an interdisciplinary field of science that deals with the fields of chemistry, structure and biology as it seeks to understand life and cellular processes at the molecular level. More specifically, Molecular Biology deals with the study of biological underpinnings at the molecular level, which include DNA replication, transcription, translation and regulatory control of genes and proteins. Cell Biology is more akin to studying the components, interplay and networks that govern the multiple cellular parts to coordinate cellular processes and functions.

Students in this major study the processes that occur within and between the body's cells. Topics of study include genes, the way cells carry nutrients throughout the body, and how diseases attack healthy cells. 

Faculty members in the field

Anna K. Allen
Atanu Duttaroy
Clarence M. Lee
Michael Lipscomb
Michael Thomas
Hemayet Ullah

Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

The fields of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases studies the intricacies of microscopic singled cell organisms (i.e. microbes; bacteria and protozoa) and viruses.  Microbiology is the study of all unicellular or cell-cluster microscopic living organisms, which include bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions and protozoa. This discipline includes fundamental research on the biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, ecology, evolution and clinical aspects of microorganisms, including the host response to these agents. Infectious Disease investigations builds on the studies of microbiology in the context of human health and disease. As opposed to innocuous microbes, many can cause serious illness and disease in hosts. Therefore, infectious disease studies aim to study the etiology, host-pathogen interactions, and develop novel and innovative methods for intervention and therapies. 

Faculty members in the field

Broderick Eribo
Clarence M. Lee
Courtney Robinson
Michael Thomas
Hemayet Ullah

Developmental Biology and Neuroscience

Developmental biology is the study of the process by which organisms grow and develop. The field studies the genetics, molecular, cellular and physiological underpinnings that allow life to grow from a single fertilized zygote into a vastly complex multi-cellular entity. Areas include that of understanding cell growth and differentiation (into neurons, muscle fibers, hepatocytes, etc., as an example), morphogenesis and vasculogenesis in both animal and plant organisms. Neurobiology is the branch of life science that seeks to understand the basic mechanisms that compromise, direct development, and of the functional processes of the nervous system. Areas of specialization include central nervouse system and brain development, formation of memory and ability to exert recall, the biochemistry that directs synaptic signaling processes, and cell and molecular mechanisms that coordinate cell-cell interactions and communication. 

Faculty members in the field

Anna K. Allen
Atanu Duttaroy
Jack Frankel
Dominique Pritchette
Shaolei Teng

Ecology and Evolution

Ecology and evolution is an interdisciplinary field that studies elements of life on and across an organization scale, from genetics to cells, individuals to populations and interactions within the ecosystem. Additionally, the field is interested in how these elements co-evolve and vary spatiotemporally (i.e. in both space and time). The both multi- and crossdisciplinary fields incorporate genomics and allele polymorphisms within the population, co-evolution of species (both plant and animal life), anthropology, geosciences, climate change and public policy. 

Faculty members in the field

Janelle Burke
Michael Campbell
Fatimah Jackson
Mary McKenna
George Middendorf
Courtney Robinson
Shaolei Teng

Plant Sciences

Plant Sciences, also called botany or plant biology, is the science of plant life. At the basic core, the field studies growth, reproduction, evolution and adaption over time. Importantly, the field studies the important interplay with the earth, climate, and other animal life to understand and enrich the ecosystem. However, translational and application-based approaches study the use and advancement of techniques in plant production for food, fiber and ornamental purposes. Additionally, major emerging fields aim to invest in concentrations of plant computational biology (for Big Data), evolution and systematics, host-pathogen interactions, plants in human health and developing sustainable production to meet the needs of the growing human population.

Faculty members in the field

Janelle Burke
Fatimah Jackson
Mary McKenna
George Middendorf
Hemayet Ullah

Faculty Research Laboratories in the Department of Biology
Facilities Publications Seminars