The Department has three areas of research:

Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB)

Cell and Molecular Biology encompasses study of the structure and function of organisms and biological processes at the level of cells, and the macromolecules that define them (DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates). Researchers in the CMB Group span many disciplines including Cancer Biology, Neurobiology, and Developmental Biology. Specific areas of research include:

  • Regulation of the cytoskeleton in cell and tissue shaping during brain development and disease.
  • Cell signaling in cancer development and progression.
  • Molecular genetic mechanisms of cell differentiation during plant reproduction.
  • Genetic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Gene regulatory mechanisms governing development and regeneration of wiring in the nervous system.
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating neural crest and cranial placode development in normal and pathological situations.
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.

Our research employs many model systems including Arabidopsis, C. elegans, Xenopus laevis, zebrafish, rodents and mammalian cell culture. Experimental approaches utilize advanced light and electron microscopy, quantitative histology, CRISPR-mediated gene editing, genetic screening, genomic analyses, viral vector engineering and proteomic analyses.

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB)

The EEB Research Group strives to understand the natural world through the lens of broad conceptual theory supported by empirical evidence. Our faculty and students share a common interest in understanding how organisms function, how they interact with other species and with the environment, and how reproductive strategies, sexually-selected traits, disease resistance, and physiology evolve over space and time.

We study the evolution, behavior, physiology, and ecology of animals, plants, and microbes that live in diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Our research often combines extensive field work in locations such as kelp beds off the coast of California, rainforest in Belize, and wetlands in Wisconsin with elegant experiments in the greenhouse and laboratory. Our interdisciplinary studies incorporate cutting edge approaches in population and quantitative genetics, genomics, ecophysiology and animal behavior.

Major areas of research emphasis include:

  • behavioral ecology
  • evolutionary biology
  • ecophysiology
  • ecology of disease transmission
  • plant-pollinator interactions
  • landscape genetics
  • aquatic ecology
  • global change biology
  • conservation genetics

Members of the EEB Research Group make extensive use of two outstanding research facilities at UWM.  The UWM Field Station at Cedarburg Bog has excellent experimental facilities for faculty and student research in ecology, evolution and animal behavior.  Located just 45 minutes from campus, the Field Station manages more than 2,500 acres of high quality natural communities, including one of the largest and most pristine wetlands in SE Wisconsin.

The Biological Sciences Greenhouse is a state-of-the-art botanical research and instructional facility which is visited annually by more than 1,200 UWM undergraduates. This 9,625 square foot greenhouse is located right on the UWM main campus, and supports year-round research projects involving 15-20 students annually.


Microbes are revolutionary. These ‘invisible’ cells vastly outnumber plants and animals and they have repeatedly and dramatically altered our planet and the course of human history. They were the first forms of life on our planet. They produced the first oxygen gas in our atmosphere, allowing the evolution of more complex multicellular life. Today, they continue to make our planet habitable through nutrient cycling, breakdown of organic matter and bioremediation.

Microbes provide us with food, and with drugs to maintain our health. They cause deadly diseases, but they also help develop our immune systems. Understanding microorganisms allows us to better understand our planet, control pandemics and improve the lives of people.

Research Areas in Microbiology:

  • Antibiotic production
  • Bacterial symbiosis and pathogenesis
  • Yeast genetics and molecular biology
  • Protein production and secretion
  • Regulation
  • Signal transduction


Return to the Biological Sciences Home Page