Master’s Degree in Biology at Western Washington University

The Biology Department at Western Washington University has openings for

graduate students starting Fall 2017.  Faculty members in the department

offer a wide range of expertise, from molecular biology to ecology. Graduate students are eligible for teaching assistantships, which fund the

majority of tuition and provide a stipend of $12,116 per year.  WWU is

located in Bellingham, WA, a coastal city north of Seattle at the base of

Mt. Baker in the northwestern part of the state.=20

More information can be found at:

or by contacting Dr. Ben Miner, Graduate Program Advisor, at benjamin.miner


Potential advisors

Marion Brodhagen: Microbiology, molecular biology, and chemical ecology. Our

lab studies the plant pathogenic fungus Aspergillus and aflatoxin, a potent

toxin produced by this fungus. Our current projects involve the ability of

certain plant secondary metabolites to stop growth and/or toxin production

by Aspergillus. Future research directions will include investigations of

the molecular mechanisms by which these plant compounds alter fungal

metabolism. We also are interested in the role of Aspergillus in

colonization of plastics labeled biodegradable, in agricultural settings.

Aspergillus is a key colonizer of such plastics but its ability to break

down polymers is unclear, as is the extent of toxin formation during plastic


Lina Dalberg: The Dahlberg Lab uses the model organism C. elegans to probe

the neurobiological, cellular, and behavioral role for proteins involved in

a ubiquitin-dependent processes called Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated

Degradation (ERAD). This project will use a variety of techniques, including

fluorescence microscopy, behavioral assays, and biochemical characterization

to investigate how ERAD targets neural receptors for degradation. A second,

NSF-funded project focuses on improving metacognitive skills in

undergraduate Biology students; students interested in this project must

have experience (via coursework or research) in education and pedagogy research.

Dave Hooper: Plant Community and Ecosystem Ecology.  I will be accepting one

graduate student in fall 2015.  My local research is currently focused on

assessing ecosystem services associated with different scenarios of riparian

restoration in Whatcom County.  Student work would combine GIS analyses of

ecosystem services and field work, particularly on nutrient retention, to

validate modeling results.  I also have opportunities focused on analyzing

large data sets to understand aspects of biodiversity loss and assembly of

plant communities.=20

Robin Kodner: Marine Microbial Metagenomics.  The Kodner lab does

interdisciplinary work integrating marine microbial ecology with comparative

genomics and bioinformatics for metagenomes. I am recruiting for one student

for work on bioinformatics projects.  Some experience with sequence analysis

and programming required.

Suzanne Lee: The long-term research goals of the Lee Lab are to better

understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie gene regulatory pathways

that target RNA. The biological importance of gene regulation at the

post-transcriptional level is underscored by the fact that many human

diseases result when RNA metabolism goes awry. Currently, the Lee lab is

investigating pathways that target aberrant RNA transcripts for degradation

through engagement of RNAi machinery or the nonsense-mediated decay pathway.

We use an early branching eukaryote, the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, as

a model eukaryotic system in our research, as it offers the unique

opportunity to uncover both broadly applicable mechanisms and interesting

points of organism-specific diversification.  Students pursuing research in

our lab have the opportunity to learn a broad array of experimental tools

used in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology.  Project opportunities

exist for 1-2 Masters=92 students with prior experience in cloning, PCR,

protein purification, and/or microscopy.

Craig Moyer: My interests are marine microbiology and geomicrobiology

focusing on molecular approaches for exploring microbial diversity,

community structure and ecological interactions. Presently, my lab and I are

focused on the study of iron-oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria acting as the

ecosystem engineers in microbial mats found at strong redox boundaries,

including seep, spring and vent habitats. We are also examining the

evolutionary divergence of surface and deep subsurface Zetaproteobacteria in

hydrothermal systems.

Lynn Pillitteri: Plant Molecular and Developmental Biology.  A potential

graduate project in my lab would be aimed at understanding the molecular

mechanisms driving cell type differentiation in the model organism,

Arabidopsis thaliana.

Dan Pollard: Cellular Systems Genetics and Genomics.  The Pollard lab has

opportunities to study the molecular mechanisms of natural variation in

protein expression dynamics in budding yeasts on an NSF supported project. The lab integrates microscopy, molecular biology, quantitative genetics,

genomics, and computational biology, providing a broad and diverse graduate

training experience.

Dietmar Schwarz: Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics,

Evolutionary Ecology. Schwarz’s lab offers opportunities to study

speciation, hybridization, and adaptation in host specific insects (apple

maggot flies and relatives). The Schwarz lab also collaborates with

Alejandro Acevedo on the molecular ecology of foraging in harbor seals.

Anu Singh-Cundy: Plant Cell Biology and Biochemistry.  We study cell-cell

interactions at the physiological, cellular, and molecular levels. Current

projects are focused on understanding the role of HD-AGPs, which are

extracellular glycoproteins that are expressed in the transmitting tissue of

the pistil and in the vasculature of roots and shoots. We also study pectins

and pectin-modifying enzymes found in the pistil of solanaceous species.