Faculty and Student Research

Biochemistry Graduate Career Statistics

All BCMB students are required to complete either a Senior Internship or a Senior Project. Of the graduates, 25% complete an internship. A list of sites of internships for recent graduates is included. One such opportunity is the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate program. The program is intended for students in the summer between junior and senior year to complete a research project at a university during a 10 week period of the summer.

The majority of the students complete a senior project done in the lab of a faculty member on campus. The faculty members that have supervised these projects and the research is included. All students completing the senior project or internship are required to present results at the BCMB symposium which is held at the end of every semester (link to the abstracts submitted for past senior symposia).



Faculty Research

Dr. Tara Harmer Luke

Associate Professor of Biology

Molecular systematics, bioinformatics, marine microbial ecology, and symbiosis

Dr. Luke is interested in the molecular evolution in prokaryotes and has studied genes responsible for carbon fixation and utilization in phototrophic and chemoautotrophic bacteria, including archaea found in the deep sea. With a broad interest in marine microbial ecology, Dr. Harmer has studied the relationship of the giant tubeworms from deep sea hydrothermal vents and their bacterial symbionts. Dr. Harmer is also interested in bioinformatics and participated in annotation of a microbial genome Thiomicrospira crunogena, a free-living chemoautotrophic-proteobacterium found at deep sea hydrothermal vents.

Dr. Kelly Keenan

Associate Professor of Chemistry


Protein characterization of the vacuole

My research interests focus on characterizing proteins found within the vacuole, an organelle found in plants and fungus including Neurospora crassa. The function of the vacuole in fungus is not defined completely but it does transport a number of molecules in and out; this process requires transport proteins. Similar proteins are used to transport neurotransmitters and are the targets for a number of drugs including anti-depressants. Such proteins have proven to be difficult to characterize and knockout mutants have been employed to study these proteins.


Dr. Michael Law

Assistant Professor of Biology

Throughout their lifetimes, cells are constantly bombarded by an ever-changing environment. They integrate these environmental changes with information about themselves to make important decisions of cell fate. Mistakes in these processes can lead to developmental defects or cancer. Research in Dr. Law's laboratory is interested in understanding how cells integrate information about themselves and their environments to make the correct cell fate decision. Using the budding yeast S. cerevisiae as an experimental model, we are currently focusing on the roles of post-translational histone modifications in controlling yeast cell fates. To understand this question, we regularly employ genetic, molecular, biochemical, and genomic approaches.

Dr. Elizabeth Pollock

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Metabolic Profiling of Stresses on Biological Organisms

The research projects I am currently engaged in involve investigation of the impact of environmental changes, be they physical or chemical, on the biochemical processes of impacted organisms. In particular, I am interested in understanding how metabolite levels in an organism change over time and whether or not these changes can be correlated to specific biochemical pathways or indicators of reduced fitness of an organism to its environment. All of my current research falls under the broad category of environmental metabolomics, specifically using NMR-based metabolic profiling techniques to assess changes in non-model organisms of ecological significance. Examples include assessing changes in cellular components during development and the impact of parasite load in young American eels, temperature stress and adaptation in algae and the consequences of exposure to ionic liquids on seedling growth and development.


Dr. Shanthi Rajaraman

Associate Professor of Chemistry


Synthesis of natural products, heterocyclic and medicinal chemistry

The common theme of all my research projects at Stockton revolves around medicinal and synthetic organic chemistry. My research centers on heterocyclic natural products with medicinal significance. Imidazoles, triazoles and herbal/alternative medicines offer a wide potential to do synthetic, mechanistic and structure-activity relationship studies. The specific projects I have worked on in this area are (1) developing new synthetic methods for substituted imidazoles that are cancer tissue markers, (2) developing novel synthetic methods to synthesize substituted triazoles with medicinal significance, and (3) Identifying constituents present in the ayurvedic medicine “Ashwagandha”, which acts as an adaptogen. Other ongoing projects are: developing novel synthetic methods to enhance reactivity of organic compounds; synthesis of novel materials with interesting structural and mechanical properties; developing new methods to identify and test active biological components in traditional Ayurvedic medicines. 

Peter F. Straub

Dean School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Tenured Professor of Biology

Impact of polluted environments on gene expression patterns in fish

Dr. Straub has been involved in developing biomarkers of pollution in marine fish. This work involved cloning and sequencing differentially expressed genes from the livers (and other organs) from contrasting habitats. The isolated genes are be studied by quantitative PCR and microarray analysis to determine which are suitable biomarkers of pollution. In addition, Dr. Straub has analyzed the fish for organic contaminants including PCB’s and pesticides.

Dr. Karen York

Associate Professor of Biology


 Molecular genetics, genetics, and microbiology

Dr. York's research has been in two different areas of study. Dr. York’s first project has focused on the effects that temperature fluctuations over time have had on microbes in the aquifers of the geothermal well- field at Stockton. Microbes have been identified using a molecular genetic strategy. Dr. York’s second project takes a molecular genetics approach to understand the cellular function and regulation of an important enzyme, protein phosphatase 2A from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.