Natural Sciences Research

Faculty Research Interests

Dr. Mark Botton:  I study the responses of marine invertebrates to environmental stresses such as temperature, osmotic shock, and pollution. In particular, we plan to continue our studies with horseshoe crab embryos and larvae, with emphasis on the roles of heat shock proteins (Hsp's) and other biochemical responses to physiological stress.

Dr. Martin DiGrandi: My interest is using medicinal chemistry to improve the biological activity of natural products for the treatment of viral infections and cancer; the total synthesis of natural products.

Dr. Stephen Keeley: My lab develops new machine learning and statistical methods to help understand neural processing and behavior. We work with collaborators from institutes around the world to analyze real neural datasets recorded in a variety of experimental settings and animal models, including datasets from flies, rodents, and humans. Current research topics include latent variable models, dimensionality reduction, neural dynamical systems, multi-region neural communication and human decision-making.

Dr. Deborah Luckett: My research interest involves mammalian aging and human genetic disorders.

Dr. Robert Madden: My general area of interest is the sensory foundation of animal orientation and navigation. My present work involves arthropods, which provide excellent models for behavioral and neurobiological studies. I will be continuing work on honeybee response to magnetic fields at the Calder station. Possible projects at the LC campus this summer include response to magnetic field in Drosophila, use of time-varying visual information by honeybees, and olfactory learning in honeybees.

Dr. Jason Morris: My area of interest is the genetic regulation of development and behavior of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Each summer, I work in collaboration with a small team of undergraduates where we focus on genetic and molecular tools to approach a new problem in this field that the undergraduates propose and that we refine together.

Dr. Joan Roberts:  With Dr. Dan-Ning Hu (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary), I examine the potential damage of various agents in the eye and attempt to block such damage with non-toxic antioxidants.

Dr. Guy Robinson: My research is in paleoecology, a multidisciplinary approach to reconstructing past landscapes and environments. I mainly work with core or excavation samples taken from wetlands to address questions concerning climate, vegetation cover, as well as human and large animal presence. I also manage Fordham’s Aero-allergen monitoring station, which takes air samples on a daily basis from March through October, posting daily reports on pollen and mold spores in the tri-state area.

Dr. Alma Rodenas-Ruano: My research is focused on understanding how external cues shape normal development of brain circuits via epigenetic mechanisms, and on the impact that aberrant environments have on survival, neuronal development and behavior.
Undergraduate students work as a team to address questions relevant to the following projects:
-Understanding the mechanisms that rule synaptic development in neurons. This includes understanding how environmental factors and hormones, like oxytocin, can change epigenetic factors and impact the balance of excitation vs. inhibition in neurons.
-Using aquatic animal models to understand how toxins in the environment impact nervous system development and function.

Dr. John Ruppert: I am a learning scientist with focus in public health, molecular biology, and sustainability.  Specifically, I investigate how people learn and reason with issues such as the management of infectious diseases, sustainability, and patient treatment.  This research has implications for the broader fields of epidemiology, teaching, and data science.  I approach this research through the study of multiple communities including domain experts, civic leaders, and classrooms, to get a broader understanding of the ways in which science is learned, defined, and practiced.  My research on domain experts helps to illuminate styles of reasoning in modern ideas in fields of science (such as ecosystem services and molecular genetics).   My research on civic communities helps to understand how to promote constructive problematizing of science knowledge as it is applied to complex socioecological contexts. Part of this research is to incorporate the role of constructive and ‘vice-based’ human learning into epidemiological models.  

Interestingly, my research on civic communities has led to implications regarding the Philosophy of Science that can impact domain practice and how we teach and mentor future scientists.  Specifically, my work has promoted a modification of the philosophy of science so that we distinguish between the aims, ideals, and practices that can help us better understand “responsible” scientific claims.  My research has shown that when scientists begin their discourse with others with a focus on consensus-style universal claims, they can come across as dismissive and condescending, disincentivizing deeper discourse.  Developing a skillful capacity for engagement with science is, therefore, important to domain scientists and non-scientists alike and necessary for improvements in areas like epidemiology and sustainability.

Students that engaged in my research have gone on to work in public health communications, medicine, and laboratory science. The skills they gained from this research helped them better engage others (e.g., patients) in construction of knowledge and/or treatments.   My lab welcomes Freshmen-Juniors and requires at least a two-year commitment to achieve the skills necessary for success.

Dr. Marie Thomas: My research is focused on the synthesis, physical properties and applications of ionic liquids and hybrid materials. I’m especially interested in developing materials for environmental remediation.

Dr. Ellen van Wilgenburg: I conduct research in ecology, evolutionary biology and behavior, with a specific focus on the behavioral and chemical ecology of insects. My current research investigates the impacts of urbanization on behavior and the evolutionary process. Research in my group encompasses a wide range of species, including ants and spotted lanternflies.