Biology News

Letter from the Chair

Hello, everyone, and Happy New Year!  I’m Steve Hayslette, and it’s been my pleasure to serve as chair of the Tennessee Tech Department of Biology since August of this year.  It’s a great time to be in Biology at Tech!  Our department currently is the largest in the College of Arts and Sciences, with 429 undergraduate students in our Biology degree program and 151 students in Wildlife and Fisheries program.

Additionally, we have 25 M.S. students in Biology and 13 Biology students in the EVS Environmental Science Ph.D. program.  Our 22 faculty members represent a wide variety of disciplines, including cellular and molecular biology, microbiology, plant and animal physiology, population and community ecology, behavioral ecology, and fish and wildlife conservation.  Our faculty in the Department of Biology excel in all aspects of their academic positions – teaching, research, and service to the university and community.  The Department of Biology has long history of putting our students first – in the classroom, in the laboratory, and in the field.  Creating meaningful hands-on learning opportunities for our students has long been our goal, and we’re proud of the quality of the learning experiences we provide.

Our department is now located in two buildings on campus. Pennebaker Hall is still the home of our field biology and wildlife and fisheries folks, while the new Lab Science Commons now houses our cellular, molecular, and microbiological scientists.  With the move to LSC have come some new, state-of-the-art equipment and exciting new opportunities.  Our Nextseq 1000 Illumina Gene Sequencer provides for in-house analysis of genetic samples to answer a variety of basic and applied questions.  Our three new Conviron PGC-Flex and GEN2000 Plant Growth Chambers will allow our faculty to perform studies on plants with ultra-precise control of environmental conditions, including CO2 levels, temperature, and water levels. One of our newest faculty members, Dr. Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz, is a plant physiologist that plans to utilize the chambers for her research and that of her graduate students. We are currently fundraising in order to cover the costs of the last aspects of their installation. We are excited that these chambers will facilitate high-impact, cutting-edge studies of climate change and its effects on plants. 

In addition to our strong teaching focus in Biology, our research programs in both Biology and Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences have never been stronger!  Last year, four faculty members in Biology earned the prestigious Wings-Up 100 Award, given to researchers who brought in at least $100,000 in outside research funding.  Congratulations to Brad Cohen, Justin Murdock, Mark Rogers, and Amanda Rosenberger for their outstanding grantsmanship!  Our faculty have been equally productive during Fall 2023; a number of our faculty have been awarded grants, including large federal awards to Drs. Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz, Brad Cohen, and Justin Murdock, as well as Drs. Mark Rogers and Amanda Rosenberger, our Tennessee Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit Leader and Assistant Unit Leader. Faculty also have published papers in Nature, the Journal of Wildlife Management, Castanea, Biological Conservation, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and many other peer-reviewed outlets. 

In short, it’s a time of great excitement and opportunity in Biology!  Please check our departmental and college websites for updates and good news from the department.  If you’d like to make a donation to the department, you can do so through the website, as well.  We’ll also be starting an I Heart Tech Students campaign in the new year to support our activities, so please be watching out for that opportunity to help.  Thank you!


Steve Hayslette
Professor and Chair, Department of Biology

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