Major in Biology

Bachelor of Science Degree • School of Arts and Sciences

Biology Faculty

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:

Jessica H. Thomas, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology

Jessica Thomas
Phone: (315) 792-3755
Office: 161 Gordon Science Center


My studies focus on biomedical research, specifically how cells fuse in the developing nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).

 Cell-cell fusion is a developmental process during which individual cells merge together by fusing their plasma membranes and forming a shared cytoplasm.  The result is a multinucleated cell, which is also known as a syncytium.  Cell fusion is an essential process for fertilization to occur and to create, pattern, and maintain tissues such as skeletal muscle, bone, placenta, and the vertebrate eye lens.  In addition, cell fusion is shown to be involved in insect wound healing and fungal colony formation as well as cancer and stem cell biology (Shinn-Thomas and Mohler, 2011).  The only known proteins not of viral origin, EFF-1 and AFF-1 (a.k.a C. elegans fusion family (ceFF)), responsible for fusing cells have been identified in C. elegans (Mohler et al., 2002; Sapir et al., 2007)I investigate the molecular and cellular regulation of EFF-1 and AFF-1 in cells fated to fuse in C. elegans using a variety of genetic, molecular, cellular, and microscopy techniques in order to further elucidate a common cell-cell fusion mechanism.

Research with me usually involves working on some aspect of examining how cells fuse in C. elegans (a.k.a. “worms”).  However, I am also interested in and welcoming of collaborative research with other professors and their research.  After we discuss your interests, my interests, and the unanswered questions in which we are both interested, we will pick a problem for you to tackle, which very well may (and hopefully) lead to additional interesting questions.  Please visit the link to my lab web site to learn more about ongoing and potential research projects in my lab.



Dr. Daniel Kurtz
Chair of Biology

(315) 792-3923
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(315) 792-3006
1600 Burrstone Road | Utica, NY 13502