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Biological Sciences

Research Overview

Encompassing six research area concentrations, the Department of Biological Sciences fosters a culture supporting collaborations linking faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduates with colleagues both within Purdue University as well as nationally and internationally. The diverse nature of the Biological Sciences provides endless opportunities for cross-discipline partnerships with other research enterprises including those in the physical sciences, agriculture, engineering, education and computational sciences.

Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases affiliated faculty conduct innovative basic research in the areas of cellular and molecular mechanisms of infectious disease, as well as the immune response and microbe-host interaction. They investigate microbial signaling systems, exploitation of host cell functions by pathogenic organisms, and mechanisms of protective host immune responses to infection.

Cell and Molecular Biology reveals the molecular basis of both normal and abnormal cell and tissue biology, focusing on cancer, regulation of gene expression, epigenetics of chromatin, non-coding RNA biology, cell biology and cellular dynamics, plant biology, developmental biology, and bioenergetics. Experimental approaches include cell signaling and differentiation, molecular biology, proteomics, genomics and genetics, and advanced cell imaging.

Structural, Biophysical and Computational Biology research focuses on determining structure and physical properties across diverse biological systems including plant cell walls and cytoskeletons, membrane biochemistry and proteins, macromolecular complexes, and viruses. This research area employs a variety of experimental approaches including x-ray crystallography, innovative spectroscopy, NMR, cryo-electron microscopy, and electron tomography. Using advanced computational techniques, this area also includes computational investigations of macromolecular interactions and systems biology.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology focal research areas include animal behavior and sensory ecology, ecological and evolutionary consequences of human impacts, ecology of emerging infectious diseases, and evolutionary genomics. Using laboratory, field, and computational methods, faculty, post-docs and students study individuals, populations and communities both locally and globally. A key resource is the Ross Biological Reserve, a living laboratory comprised of 92 acres of mature forest on the Wabash River.

Neuroscience and Physiology employs molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology, transgenesis, mutagenesis, experimental embryology, and behavior assessment to study the development, structure, function and regeneration of the nervous system as well as fundamental systems including vision, hearing, movement, and social interaction.

Biology Education focuses on teaching and teaching-related research, with a common goal to promote high quality instruction and enhance learning by applying educational research to course and curricular design. This area transcends sub-disciplinary boundaries by working with other research areas to answer discipline-specific questions related to teaching and learning methodology.

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