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Biology and Agriculture

W.C. Morris Building
Room 306
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Dr. Fanson Kidwaro, Chair
Phone: 660-543-4933


Faculty and Graduate Student Research

Current Faculty

Dr. Kurt Dean

His research projects include: the ecology and energetics of neotropical woodland migrant Passerines at riparian stopover sites in the northern Great Plains, and the ecology and breeding biology of an extra-limital population of Virginia's Warblers (Vermivora virginiae) in the southwestern Black Hills of South Dakota.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2006 Debbie Foster MS NT Report - Population trend of Greater Prairie Chickens in relation to land use practices in Benton County, Missouri.
2006 Chrissi Johnson MS NT Report - Effects of temperature on American Toad (Bufo americanus) tadpoles: are they cannibalistic
2009 Matt Sailor MS Mallard usage of cylindrical overwater nesting tunnels on Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge
TBD Ruth Simmons MS Avian survey project
2014 Michael O'Keefe MA NT Report – Environmental Interpretation for Lions Lake
TBD Lynn Miller MS Raptor densities relative to highway buffer zone land use classifications
TBD Michelle Burdon MS Biology education project
2014 Chris Neimeyer MS Plant and Avian Communities of selected wetland reserve program sites and Locust Creek Floodplain, Pershing State Park, MO.
TBD Lynette Morris MA TBD
2014 Jennifer Smiley MS NT Report - Biogeography, phylogenetics and conservation concerns of pacific trout Oncorhynchus spp.
2015 Jamie McCallum MS NT - Report
2015 William Thomas MS TBD
2015 Cliff Fuller MS TBD
2015 Jesse Holmes MS TBD
2015 Eva Gann MS TBD


Dr. Joseph Ely

Dr. Ely continues collaboration with experts in his field and recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study multi-species competition in an agricultural setting for two years starting January 2004. This work includes experimental design, statistical analysis, simulation, and modeling of multi-species interactions

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2006 Jason McCauley MS Vascular flora and savanna restoration at Knob Noster State Park, Johnson County Missouri.
2013 Shannon Thompson MS Plant Communities of Oxbows along Clearfork Creek Floodplain, Knob Noster State Park, Missouri
2012 Stephanie Payne MS The distribution and characterization of vernal pools along Clearfork Creek Floodplain, Knob Noster State Park, MO.
2012 Ted Abel MS Life history and population dynamics of Phalaris arundinacea (Reed canary grass) and riparian plant community surveys of Prairies State Park, MO.
TBD Ryan Reece MS Plant and Amphibian Communites of selected oxbows and wetlands of Clearfork Creek Floodplain, Knob Noster State Park, MO

Dr. John Gole

His research interests include: neuroendocrine control of cockroach carbohydrate metabolism, and carbohydrate metabolism as a target for control of cockroach growth and reproduction.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2006 Scott Cowden MS Alpha-amylase as a putative biomarker of academic stress in undergraduate students
2007 Pam Bos MS NT Report – Restoration and reintroduction of the Blackfooted Ferret
TBD Robin Dean MS TBD

Dr. Scott Lankford

His research interests center on how the neuroendocrine system orchestrates the reallocation of biological resources to allow vertebrates to physiologically cope with environmental disturbances, while maintaining the biological functions that are essential to life. He is currently utilizing fish as a research model due to their intimate relationship with their environment.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2010 Matt Cook MS Intraovarian regulation of steroidogenesis in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss : implications of the TGFß superfamily members as regulators in the steroidogenic shift during oocyte maturation
2010 Julie Reeves MS The effects of gonadotropin hormones and maturation inducing hormone on BAMBI, INHININ BETA-A, INHIBIN BETA-B, and INHIBIN ALPHA subunit MRNA expression in the late-to-post-vitellogenic Rainbow Trout (Oncorhyanchus mykiss) ovary
2013 Jessica Little MS The Effects of IL-6 on Fatigued Rainbow Trout Skeletal Muscle In Vitro and In Vivo.
TBD Angela Lankford MS Biology education project
2014 Hannah Parrot MS Role of transforming growth factor beta superfamily (TGFB) on steroidogenic enzyme expression in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) oocyte somatic layer isolates
TBD Sarah Patterson MS TBD
TBD Courtney Knipp MS TBD
2015 Saherah Alyahya MS TBD
TBD Sara Jensen MS TBD
2016 Michael Van Horn MS TBD


Dr. Selene Nikaido

My research focuses around my interest in how photosynthetic organisms adapt to varying environments by altering genes and gene expression. For my graduate and post-graduate training, I studied cellular and molecular aspects of biological clocks. An extension of that work is to examine how the unicellular alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, responds to the changes in UV level throughout the 24-hour day. I am also collaborating with Dr. Jay Raveill on projects involved with population genetics of hybridizing plant species. With the recent acquisition of a DNA analyzer, we are training students on various molecular techniques including DNA sequencing for phylogenetic analysis and AFLP for population genetics studies. We are also engaging students in studies looking at floral pigment expression.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2001 Danita Bradshaw MS Identification of genetically distinct individuals of pawpaw, Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal (Annonaceae) using molecular markers.
2002 Steve Giambrone MS Investigation of day/night differences in the in vivo expression of the alpha subunit of transducin in chicken (Gallus gallus) pineal gland and retina.
2002 Ginger Miller MS Molecular phylogeny of selected higher taxa of Delphacidae (Homoptera:Fulgoroidea) based on 18S rDNA sequences, co-chair with Dr. Steve Wilson
2003 Hai Yan Lin MS The role of cell division in the phase-dependent daily variation in survival of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii from ultraviolet radiation.
2006 Sally Salah MS Genetic and morphological characterization of Red Mulberry (Morus rubra L.), White Mulberry (Morus alba L.) and their hybrids.
2010 Abdullah Alqahtani MS Anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in Hemerocallis and Dianella
2015 Nouf Alatawi MS  
2016 Sultan Alhusayni MS  


Dr. Anna Oller

Dr. Oller’s research interests include polysaccharide and melanin regulation mechanisms in the fungus Aureobasidium pullulans, Staphylococus aureus transmission mechanisms, antibiotic resistance mechanisms, food microbiology, and ecological relationships to disease. Almost any topic dealing with clinical microbiology is of interest. She has served as a mentor for over 32 undergraduate research projects, many with internal funding, and multiple graduate student projects.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2004 Kimberly Keane MS Identifying human characteristics via multiplex polymerase chain reaction for forensic science applications.
2005 Jessica Claxton MS Use of selective media for isolation, identification, and determination of antibiotic resistance in oral microbes.
2006 Adam Walter MS Prevalence of tick-borne diseases in field collected ticks and small mammals in central Missouri
2012 Clarissa Brown MS NT Report - Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer Knowledge Level Among College Students in a Midwestern University and Internet Educational Intervention Program
2013 William Kirby MS NT Report - The Professional Science Masters: A feasibility study on the creation and effectiveness of a masters program that combines Business and Biology
TBD Stephanie Tristani MS Bacterial inhibition to Echinacea plant extracts
2013 Geoffrey Vincent MS Tick-borne illness prevalence in Missouri.
TBD Johnathon Adams MS Aureobasidium pullulans morphology
TBD Roxanne Roberts MS TBD
TBD Dakota Shade MS TBD
2015 Kevin Knutson MS NT Report


Dr. Jay Raveill

My primary research focus is the taxonomy and phylogeny of North American representative of the leguminous genus Desmodium and related genera. Current or past projects include: documentation of the rare D. humifusum as a hybrid between two common species, D. paniculatum and D. rotundifolium; distribution of genetic (allozyme) variation among single species and mixed populations of two interfertile species, D. paniculatum and D. perplexum; and preparation of treatments of the genera Desmodium, Lespedeza and Kummerowia for volume two of Steyermark's New Flora of Missouri. I am presently sequencing chloroplast and nuclear DNA searching for highly variable regions for use in phylogeny construction.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2001 Grady Pettigrew MS Morphological analysis of a mixed species oak community.
2006 Jason McCauley MS Vascular flora and savanna restoration at Knob Noster State Park, Johnson County Missouri.
2010 Alex Harris MS The Uncultured Vascular Flora and Plant Communities of Powell Botanical Gardens
2011 Gary Blagg MA NT-Soil analysis & plant community in a degraded Osage Plain undergoing periodic inundation


Dr. Ray Voorhees

The History of Biology class takes a trip to the rare book room of the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. The library has a world-wide reputation as an outstanding science library. Prof. Voorhees is looking for a graduate student or two who would like to do some original research in some phase of the history of biology, with the original materials at Linda Hall as primary research material.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2001 Linda Johnson MS NT Report- Field guide to the overwintering stages of common Missouri wildflowers.


Dr. Steve Wilson

Dr. Wilson continues to work with students on research projects on insect taxonomy and ecology. Has published over 70 papers and 3 book chapters on planthoppers; 12 of the papers are with UCM students. Over the past five years these students include Chris Wooten and Ken McPherson who are officers in the US Army; Becky Freund who completed her Ph. D. working on insect ecology at the University of South Dakota was a faculty member at Northwestern Georgia State University and is now a U. S. Secret Service Agent; Carl Doud who finished his Master's degree in entomology at Oklahoma State University and is now an entomologist in the US Navy; and Amy Miller who completed a Master's degree at Emporia State University. Other students include Jennifer Plett who is working on her doctorate at the University of Alaska and Ginger Miller who completed a Master's thesis on using molecular techniques to infer planthopper phylogenies and is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas.

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2002 Ginger Miller MS Molecular phylogeny of selected higher taxa of Delphacidae (Homoptera:Fulgoroidea) based on 18S dDNA sequences. Co-chair with Dr. Selene Nikaido
2011 Aaron Bossert MS Comparison of the Life Histories of two dicot-feeding Pissonotus planthoppers (Hemipera: Delphacidae)
TBD Lauren Quick MS  
2012 Brian Connacher MS The effects of ungulate grazing on the Hemiptera (Heterophra; Homoptera, Auchenorrhynaha) at Prairie State Park, Missouri
2013 Matthew Stanfield MS NT Report
TBD Brandon Page MS TBD
TBD Heather Shields MS TBD


Emeritus/Former Faculty

Dr. Noor Babrakzai

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
1998 David Hout MS The histochemical nature of silver staining in the polar ring complex in Hepatozoon sp. under the light microscope

Dr. Stefan Cairns

Dr. Cairns maintains broad research interests that include applied aquatic biology problem solving, environmental stream ecotoxicology, environmental education, application of remote sensing to environmental assessment, eutrophication monitoring of lakes and reservoirs, restoration and recovery of damaged ecosystems, limnology, and aquatic ecosystem population dynamics.

Thesis or Report Title
Kim Erndt MS Culture and use of the amphipod, Hyalella azteca, in in situ ecotoxicological field studies and sediment toxicity tests.
Lisa Neerhof MS Eutrophication monitoring and management strategies of four ponds located in Pertle Springs recreational area.
Mike Nations MS Amphibian assessment of seven ponds in west central Missouri.
Angie Corson MS Topeka shiner, Notropis topeka, distribution and habitat characterization in selected Missouri streams.
Daniel Metcalf MS Evaluation of paddlefish spawning habitat and success of spawning efforts on the Marais Des Cygnes River.
Leslie Bilbrey MS Analysis of herpetofaunal diversity in selected riparian areas in southwest Missouri.
Danny Beam MS NT Report – History, classification, selected functions and natural restoration of wetlands in Missouri.
Megan Hendrick MS Short-term tag retention rate and visibility of Visible Implant Fluorescent Elastomer (VIE) marking material in Blue Catfish, Ictalurus furcatus
Judson Meirs MS NT Report – Using internet technology to model breast cancer biomarkers
David Iott MS Efficacy of in situ growth of the Asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea, as a biomonitoring tool in west-central Missouri rivers.
Allen Brandes MS Effects of Hand Fishing on Nest Success in Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)
Sheri Medlock MA MA -NT Report – Integrating Appropriate Science Education for Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Jeff Ross MS NT Report – A History of Toxicology
Jacob Colehour MS Fecundity of Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish from the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Shelly Banks MS Temporal variation of habitat structure and fish communities in intermittent headwater prairie streams in west central Missouri.
Heather Krempa MS Effects of impoundments on amphibian communities of three seasonally-flooded riparian wetlands along the Marmaton River, west-central Missouri, USA
Christi Baron MS Effects of global climate change on the prevalence and distribution of plague.
David Penning MS Growth rates and prey-handling behaviors of hatchling corn snakes, Pantherophis guttatus (Colubridae)
Alvin Brass MA An evaluation of the effectiveness of government regulations on catastrophic oil spills
Jennifer Peek MS Parasites in Channel Catfish in the Blackwater River, Missouri
2013 Rachel Rush MS NT Report - An assessment of fungal and viral pathogens associated with amphibian population declines in North America
2013 Harold Ray MA Paleostraigraphy and paleoecology of Pleistocene deposits associated with the giant ground sloth recovered in West Tarkio Creek beds located in Page County, Iowa, USA - Dr. James Loch, co-chair
2013 Suzy Latare MA Networking agencies, communication, community groups and environmental issues: what works?
2014 Brandye Freeland MS Orconectes Hylas and its Impacts on Macroinvertbrates in the St Francois Drainage
2013 Alex Prentice MS Land use characterization in possible Topeka shiner reintroduction watersheds in Missouri and the use of Orangespotted sunfish as a spawning associate in refuge ponds.
2013 Ryan Dunwoody MS Aquaponics and Hydroponic: The effects of nutrient source and hydroponic subsytem design on sweet basil production.
2016 Hannah Rogers MA Co Chair Dr. Chenault
2014 Melissa Morrow MS NT Report - Coral bleaching and the physical response of the Rock Anemone, Aiptasia pallida, to elevated water temperature and UV radiation.
2014 Travis Lyon MA A minimally invasive evaluation of a urban population of Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in western Missouri.
2015 Brigid Cepauskas MS Lakewood Lake Monitoring and Management
2015 Chris Riggert MA Development of an online water quality assessment tool for citizen monitors
2016 Gabriel Kuer MA Jonglei Green Initiative to Transfors Livestock Sector
2015 Kim Watson MA Development of an Environmental Outreach Education Center - Co Chair Dr Dean
2016 Tom Foster MS TBD
2016 Melissa Schlinder MS TBD
2016 James Salisbury MS TBD
2016 Kyle Wilgers MS Reintroduction of Topeka shiners in selected stream segments

Dr. John Belshe

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
1999 La Roy Brandt MS Ecological characterization of the prairie mole cricket at Chapel View Prairie
2001 Zoe Geist MS Habitat selection of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in west-central Missouri
2001 Brandi Hackett MS Distribution of tardigrades on foliose lichen hosts on sandstone and limestone outcrops of the Missouri Springfield plateau.


Dr. Jack Butler

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2002 Matthew Parker MS Assessing biological control agents for area-wide control of leafy spurge with foci in Montana and South Dakota

Dr. Vicki Jackson

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2005 Keith Donaldson MS Evaluation of two foothold restraining devices used to capture raccoons in drowning sets.
2007 Donna O'Neill MS NT Report - Ecotoxicology
2007 Karla Sparks MS Relationship between landscape composition and lek stability of Greater Prairie Chickens
2008 Carlye Banks MS Morphometrics and Ecology of Peromyscus gossypinus in Missouri
2009 Erin Fanning MS Predictive models and the Missouri Natural Heritage database: Mammalian distributions
2009 Johnathan Slade MS Utility of trail camera users to assess deer population sex and age structure
2010 Liisa Niva MS Habitat use and coexistence of ground squirrels in northern Missouri
2011 Mike Cove MS Occupancy modeling of mammal diversity in a Central American biological corridor
2011 David Wisker MS Habitat fragmentation effects on selected species of small mammals
2012 Neena Williams MA Watershed delineation and sediment load characterization of Lions Lake in Warrensburg, Missouri
2013 John Platt MA Small mammal survey of Knob Noster State Park
2013 John Lisek MS Predicting occupancy from a community survey of medium-to-large sized mammalian carnivores and herbivores in the Tuli Game Reserve of Botswana.
2013 James Douglas MS Using maxent to estimate habitat suitability for the american badger (taxidea taxus) in Missouri.
2013 Barry Pabst MS NT - White Tail Deer management project
2015 Dawn Pauling MS TBD
2015 Joe Conner MS TBD
2015 Casey Zimmerman MS TBD
2015 Megan Scrutfield MS TBD


Dr. Harold Keller

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2002 Kenneth Snell MS Vertical distribution and assemblages of corticolous Myxomycetes on five tree species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2007 Sydney Everhart MS Assemblages and distribution of corticolous myxomycete species in the tree canopy of selected forest in Kentucky and Tennessee
2008 Courtney Kilgore MS Aerial reproductive structures of vascular plants as a microhabitat for myxomycetes
2008 Chris Crabree MS Macroscopic fungi and Myxomycetes in selected communities of Ha Ha Tonka State Park: Glades, open woodlands, close-canopy woodlands, flatwoods, and karst areas


Dr. Laura McLellan

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
1997 Rebecca Erickson MS Small mammal response to vegetation cover in two Missouri savannas.


Dr. Steve Mills

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
1997 Weiru Wang MS Development of temperature regulation in juvenile thirteen-lined ground squirrels.
2000 Aaron Alford MS The effects of ambient temperature change on metabolic responses in two populations of eastern chipmunks
2005 Cindy Harmon MS NT Report - Thermal regulation in small mammals


Dr. Cheryl Schmidt

Year Author   Thesis or Report Title
2000 Brenda Henry MS Small mammal habitat utilization along a forest-field edge
2000 Francisca Mendez-Harcierode MS Chromosomal polymorphism in a South Dakota population of the northern pocket gopher