Major in Biology
Bachelor of Science Degree • School of Arts and Sciences
The biology faculty of Utica College is noted not only for the quality of its teaching but also for the depth and breadth of its scholarship. Research conducted by faculty members involves students. These students earn research credit, gain valuable field and lab experience, and publish their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This student research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Geographic Society, The Alden Trust, The Community Foundation, and the New York Energy and Development Authority. Many biology professors have been honored with the college's awards for distinguished teaching, research, or both.
Note: For a listing of adjunct faculty, click here >
Members of the biology faculty and their research interests are:
Dr. Lawrence R. Aaronson , Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Office: 165 Gordon Science Center
A native Floridian, I earned a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Florida State University in 1979. In 1984 I received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Rutgers University where I studied the regulation of membrane fluidity during cold adaptation in fungi in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Martin. Later, I studied the biogenesis of the fungal plasma membrane proton pump as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human Genetics at Yale School of Medicine with Dr. Carolyn Slayman. I joined the faculty of UticaCollege in 1987, and teach Principles of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Immunology, and Virology, among other courses.
An advocate for undergraduate research, I presently serve as a Biology Councilor in the Council on Undergraduate Research and am a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Education of the American Society for Microbiology where I am leading the new Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship Program. I was honored at UC in 1996 with the Crisafulli Distinguished Teaching Award and with the Harold T. Clark Award for Research in 1997. In 2007, I received the American Society for Microbiology/Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. (http://www.asm.org/Academy/index.asp?bid=39527)
My hobbies include reading biomedical thrillers, rose gardening, making and throwing boomerangs, and all things Star Trek.
Research Interests and Research in Progress
My current research interests are focused on the study of natural antifungal defenses in animal skin. For the past 15 years my lab group has concentrated on the study of the antifungal properties of sphingolipids, which may create a natural antifungal barrier in the skin. These studies may identify new agents to combat deadly infections by fungal pathogens. Other ongoing projects include an investigation of the antifungal bacterial flora of red-backed salamanders, and the biodiversity of bacteria in PCB-contaminated sediments of the Utica Marsh. New projects include induction of swarming activity in Bacillus cereus, and photoregulation of melanin production in Pseudomonas sp. UC17F4.
Most Recent Research Publications (undergraduate co-authors in boldface)
Gerlach, J.A. , Bart, K.M., and Aaronson, L.R. 1997. Mitochondrial activity and morphology are affected by sphinganine in Neurospora crassa. Microscopy and Microanalysis 3: 69.
Gerlach, J.A., Bart, K.M., and Aaronson, L.R. 2001. Sphinganine induces osmotic instability and increased membrane permeability in Neurospora crassa. (Submitted for Publication.)
van Kessel, J.C., Scanlon, T.L., and Aaronson, L.R. 2003. Identification of the cutaneous antifungal microbial flora of the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus. (Submitted to Microbial Ecology; in review)
Aaronson, L.R. 2008. The “novel approach”: Popular fiction as a teaching tool in undergraduate microbiology courses. Focus on Microbiology Education 15: 2-4.
Recent Meeting Presentations (student authors in boldface)
Mikalajunas, D.M. , Van Slyke, G.M., and Aaronson, L.R. 2000. Biotin transport in Neurospora crassa. Abstracts of the 100th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Taylor, D.G. , Augusto, S.S., Bart, K.M., and Aaronson, L.R. 2001. The antimicrobial properties of sphingosines revisited: the vehicle affects toxicity. Abstracts of the 101st General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, pg. 39.
McGovern, E.M., van Kessel, J.C., Scanlon, T.L., Pilla, A.E., and Aaronson, L.R. 2002. Isolation and characterization of biotin transport-deficient mutants in Neurospora crassa. Abstracts of the 102nd Gen. Mtg. of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol., pg. 504
van Kessel, J.C., Scanlon, T.L., and Aaronson, L.R. 2003. Identification of the cutaneous antifungal microbial flora of the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Abstracts of the 103rd Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol. pg. 435.
Aaronson, L.R. 2003. Science and Fiction: A “novel” course in microbiology and molecular biology for science education graduate students. Abstracts of the 103rd Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol. pg. 655.
Szymanska, E. and Aaronson, L.R. 2004. Microbial contaminants in the gross anatomy laboratory: Isolation of Geotrichum sp. and Pseudomonas fluorescens from a phenolic waste mop bucket. Abstracts of the 104th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol. pg. 535.
Aaronson, L.R. 2005. “The Coming Plague”: An online course about emerging infectious diseases, biological weapons and public health for graduate teacher education and liberal studies students. Abstracts of the 105th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Butler, A.M. and Aaronson, L.R. 2006. Identification of two unknown antifungal Pseudomonas species and their effect on Neurospora crassa hyphal morphology. Abstracts of the 106th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Butler, A.M. and Aaronson, L.R. 2007. Pseudomonas antifungal secretions induce abnormal hyphal branching in Neurospora crassa through a putative calcium ionophore. Abstracts of the 107th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Szymanska, E., and Aaronson, L. R. 2007. Alteration of Candida albicans biofilm development by sphinganine. Abstracts of the 107th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Butler, A.M. and Aaronson, L.R. 2008. Chlortetracycline staining of fungal cells in the presence of Pseudomonas julanda and Pseudomonas fluorescens supernatants provides further evidence of a calcium ionophore. Abstracts of the 108th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Szymanska, E. and Aaronson, L.R. 2008. Inhibition of Candida albicans biofilm formation by sphinganine: Inhibition of ALS-1 gene expression and differential sensitivity in different hyphal-inducing media. Abstracts of the 108th Gen. Mtg. Of the Am. Soc. for Microbiol.
Aaronson, L.R. 2008. Using popular fiction in undergraduate microbiology courses to enhance learning and integration of knowledge. Abstracts of the 15th Annual Am. Soc. for Microbiol. Conference for Undergraduate Educators, pg. 84.
St. Louis, M.L., Cortese A., and Aaronson, L.R. 2010 Induction of Apoptosis in Candida albicans by Sphinganine. Abstracts of the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology
Galbraith, K.M., Bankowski, M., and Aaronson, L. R.. Inhibitory Effects of Sphinganine on Growth, Viability and Biofilm Formation in Staphylococcus aureus. Abstracts of the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology
Opportunity for Student Research
Over the past 23 years, as many as 60 Utica College students and 18 students from local high schools have worked on research projects in my lab. Many of these students have presented papers at national scientific meetings, and have received grants and fellowships from the American Society of Microbiology, The Microscopy Society of America and Sigma Xi to support their research. Some of the students from my research group have gone on to earn graduate degrees from institutions as Yale, George Washington University, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland, University of Rochester, University of Alabama – Birmingham, Mayo School of Medicine and Howard University.
BIO 432 - Principles of Microbiology
Survey of microbial groups including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protists, and some invertebrate parasites. Bacterial structure, physiology, genetics, infection and disease, and immune response. Laboratory experience in isolation, culturing, morphological and biochemical characterization and identification; chemical and physical control of microbial growth.
BIO 454 - Immunology
Advanced study of the immune system in animals. Emphasis on immunochemistry, cellular immunity, immunopathology, and role of immune system in transplantation, cancer, and AIDS.
BIO 455 – Virology
Biology of bacterial, plant and animal viruses. Virus structure, infective and replicative cycles, virus-host interactions. Role of viruses in infectious disease and cancer. Viruses as vehicles in biotechnology and gene therapy.
CHE 463 - Biochemistry II
Biological Membranes and Transport, Biosignaling, Metabolic Regulation, Urea Cycle, Biosynthesis of Amino Acids, Lipid Biosynthesis, Oxidative and Photophosphorylation, Integration of Metabolism.
BIO 528 - Science and Fiction
Popular fiction, cinema and video as a teaching and learning tool in biology.
BIO 654 – “The Coming Plague”: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Biological Weapons and Public Health
The impact of human activity on the emergence of new infectious agents through natural and artificial means, and the consequences for global public health and economics.
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"Without any doubt in my mind, one of the only reasons that I was able to complete my education and successfully enter my current position as a Ph.D. candidate in genetics was due to the constant support and guidance that I received at UC." "Without any doubt in my mind, one of the only reasons that I was able to complete my education and successfully enter my current position as a Ph.D. candidate in genetics was due to the constant support and guidance that I received at UC."
National Center for Human Genome Research
Susan A. Zullo'92
National Center for Human Genome Research