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, 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:
Sara E. Scanga, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Office: 195/199 Gordon Science Center
I grew up in Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, I majored in Biology at Drew University (New Jersey), intending to enter medical school upon graduation. However, during my third year at Drew, a number of experiences conspired to wrest me away from a career as an M.D. These experiences included a semester at Hampshire College (Massachusetts), where I participated in an excellent environmental science research seminar, followed by a semester learning about tropical and marine ecology in Belize.
Upon returning to the US, I assisted with ecology research at a field station in northern Minnesota. When I returned to Drew for my fourth year as an undergraduate, I had a completely different outlook on life (as well as an amazing suntan). I decided to pursue a career in ecological research.
After graduating with my B.A. in Biology, I took a position assisting with lake research at a field station in northern Wisconsin. After a few years of this job, I made a brief foray into molecular biology research, and then entered graduate school at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse.
My dissertation research focused on the management and conservation of the globally rare wetland plant Trollius laxus (spreading globeflower). Several wonderful teaching experiences at SUNY-ESF, including two years as a National Science Foundation GK-12 Graduate Teaching Fellow, sparked my interest in teaching. I realized during my time in graduate school that not only do I love ecological research, I also love teaching.
I study the ecology of plant populations and communities in both upland and wetland ecosystems. I invite motivated students to conduct research under my direction within the following—or any other—areas of plant ecology. Research activities generally include field work, which usually occurs in the summer, and data analysis and population modeling, which occur year-round.
Population-level studies: plant rarity, persistence, and invasiveness
• Long-term ecological and demographic studies of rare species
• Long-term ecological and demographic studies of non-native, invasive species that are of concern in the region
• Population modeling at the landscape scale using geographic information system software
Community-level studies: composition, diversity, and rarity in forested wetlands
• Investigating how succession and disturbance (in particular canopy gap formation) vary among forested wetlands and in comparison to upland forests
• The effects of hummock-hollow microtopography on plant communities in peatlands (bogs, fens, swamps)
Scanga, S. E. and D. J. Leopold. In press (2010). Population vigor of a rare, wetland, understory herb in relation to light and hydrology. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society.
Scanga, S. E. and K. L. Hajek. 2010. Adapting your research into inquiry-based lessons for public outreach in high school classrooms: an answer to the calls to action. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 91:244-256.
Scanga, S. E. and M. K. Fierke. 2008. “Say goodbye to sleep”: perspectives on building a family and a career at the same time. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6:448-449.
Webb, S. L. and S. E. Scanga. 2001. Windstorm disturbance without patch dynamics: twelve years of change in a Minnesota forest. Ecology 82:893-897.
Raynal, D. J. and D. J. Leopold, with contributions from M. Buff, A. Eallonardo, J. Gawronski-Salerno, S. Robinson, and S. Scanga. Population ecology, dynamics and conservation of rare plants in New York State. Invited presentation given at the International Symposium on Biology of Rare and Endemic Plants, Mu?la, Turkey. May 26 – 29, 2010.
Hajek, K. L. and S. E. Scanga. How to incorporate original research into student-directed lessons for multiple levels of education. Poster displayed at the Ecological Society of America 93rd Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI. August 3 – 8, 2008.
Scanga, S. and D. Leopold. How do light and water levels affect a rare wetland plant? Presentation given at the Northeast Natural History Conference X, Albany, NY. April 18, 2008.
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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."
Susan A. Zullo '92
National Center for Human Genome Research
National Center for Human Genome Research