Meredith Palmer '11 (pictured above) is a behavioral ecologist and National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. Frequently working in Africa, she investigates predator-prey dynamics with a special focus on direct and indirect predator effects on prey behavior, prey demography, and ecosystem functioning. In 2018, "National Geographic" featured her discovery that Tanzanian yellow‐billed oxpeckers roost in the armpits of giraffes.

A Sample of Biological Sciences Alumni

Ohio Wesleyan is one of America's leading university for producing graduates who doctoral degrees in the biological sciences. According to the National Science Foundation, OWU ranks #21 in the nation for producing female biological science graduates who receive Ph.D.'s and #68 in the nation for producing graduates who earn Ph.D.'s in any STEM field. Our graduates attended prestigious graduate programs, from Berkeley to Yale, and they are engaged in successful careers at universities, national laboratories, in medical practice, and in a vast range of fields doing fascinating work.

Abbi Turner '20, Zoology

University of Illinois, Graduate Study in Evolution, Ecology & Behavior
Abbi Turner's many OWU Connection experiences included travel-learning biology classes in the Galapagos Islands & U.S. Virgin Islands; a semester study-abroad program in Tanzania; a Summer Science Research project on wren behavior, and a Connection Grant internship at a wildlife orphanage in Zimbabwe.

Read about Abbi's OWU Connection Experiences

Serena George ' 19, Zoology and Environmental Studies

University of Wisconsin, Veterinary Medicine
Serena George's many OWU Connection experiences spanned four years, from a travel-learning class to Costa Rica and research project on basilisks, an OWU Connection Grant funding an internship at a wildlife orphanage in Zimbabwe, to field research at OWU and in Tanzania.

Read about Serena's work at Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage

Cole Jamieson '19, Genetics

Washington University in St. Louis, Biomedical Engineering &  Engineering Management
Cole Jamieson played on the lacrosse team, and he completed a summer research project in a toxicology lab at Michigan State University.

Elizabeth Sommerdorf '18, Zoology

Animal Keeper at Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, Red Lodge, Montana
Elizabeth Sommerdorf
provides daily care to native Montana animals that cannot be released due to injuries, habituation, or loss of parents at too young of an age to survive on their own. At Ohio Wesleyan, she was awarded an OWU Connection Grant to volunteer at the Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand for two months.

Read about Elizabeth's OWU Connection Project in Thailand

Jemil Ahmed '17, Biology

Pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular & Cellular Biophysics at University of Denver
When he was a junior at OWU, Jemil Ahmed received the Allan A. Ichida Undergraduate Research Excellence: Best Undergraduate Poster Award from the Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. The award recognized his research into how an extract from the spice turmeric may aid severely ill animals.

Read about Jemil's OWU Research

Kelly Summers '17, Zoology

Keeper at Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara, CA
As an undergraduate, Kelly Summers was an ornithology teacher’s aide, and at the Columbus Zoo she completed research with Dr. Shala Hankison on Asian Elephant dusting behavior.

Watch a Video about Kelly's Elephant Research

N'Toia Hawkins Maynor '16, Microbiology '16

University of Alabama Birmingham, Ph.D. Candidate in Microbiology
At OWU, N'Tonia Hawkins Maynor completed a Summer Science Research project at the University of Rochester. In addition to her work in microbiology, she completed a Spanish research project. She also worked as a lab manager at OWU.

Caitlin McNaughton '16, Zoology and Environmental Studies

Seasonal Keeper in the Australia and the Islands Region at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
At OWU Caitlin McNaughton completed internships at the the Ohio Wildlife Center and the Columbus Zoo. Under the She also completed a research project on the Geoffroy’s tamarin at a metropolitan park in Panama. She says, "Talking with your mentors about your interests is a great way to broaden your horizons and find opportunities for growth."

Read about Caitlin's Research in Panama

Nathan Scinto-Madonich '16, Botany

Cornell University, Pursuing Ph.D. in Plant Biology
In 2019, Nathan Scinto-Madonich was awarded a 3-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship valued at $138,000 to conduct research in the laboratory of Cornell professor Miguel Piñeros. He worked for two years after graduation as a research assistant for OWU Professor Chris Wolverton helping with Wolverton’s NASA-funded research into plants and gravity. 

Read More about Nathan's OWU Experience and NSF Fellowship

Briana Zellner '13, Microbiology

Microbiology Fellow at Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Briana Zellner was hired by the CDC after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Toledo and quickly became part of the CDC's COVID-19 response team. She says, "I took a scanning and transmission electron microscopy class at OWU, and we actually got to operate the microscopes ourselves. That's unheard of. Even in grad school, we weren't allowed to operate them."

Read "Rising to the Challenge of a Pandemic"

Allison Kolbe '12, Botany and Spanish

Science Policy Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Allison Kolbe earned a Ph.D. in Biology at Washington State University. She says, "My freshman year (at OWU) I did a freshmen tutorial class, and there were four students in the class. We were doing research in the lab, we were reading papers, we were doing the things that you do as a grad student, but we were doing it as freshmen. That just gave me a leg up that you don't get at other schools."

Read: Rising to the Challenge of a Pandemic

Bhavna Murali '12, Biology

Associate Consultant, Oncology and Specialty Therapeutics at Kantar Health, New York City
Bhavna Murali
received her Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology at Washington University in St. Louis. She worked in cancer research at The BALSA Group in St. Louis before moving to Kantar in New York. At OWU, Bhavna investigated gravitropic response in plants under Dr. Wolverton; the research is published in the American Journal of Botany, one of three pivotal publications that led to Dr. Wolverton’s research project being selected by NASA to be performed on the International Space Station.

Read about Bhavna's Published OWU Research

Evan Bai '11, Genetics and Biochemistry

Senior Research Scientist, Computational Genomics, at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston, MA
As a computational biologist with a background in both rare genetic diseases and oncology, Evan Bai analyzes large-scale genomic data to identify genetic causes of human diseases in order to develop novel therapeutics. He earned a Ph.D. in genetics from Yale University. He says about his OWU years, "I first studied with Dr. (Chris) Wolverton during a freshman honors tutorial course, where he worked closely with me and two other students on plant research in his lab. I was really struck by how patient Dr. Wolverton was when explaining the science to me, a non-native English speaker. Since then, I fell in love with scientific research and continued to study plant root development with Dr. Wolverton throughout my four years at OWU."

Kristen Lear '11, Zoology

Endangered Species Intervention Specialist at Bat Conservation International, Fort Collins, Colorado
Kristen Lear earned a Ph.D. from the University of George and leads a binational initiative to restore agave plants vital to bat migration in the Southwest. She says, "OWU prepared me to do this work. They gave me the tools to think critically, to design my own research program and questions."

Read about Kristen's OWU research & NSF Fellowship

Morgan Schroeder '10, Microbiology and Zoology

PulseNet Database Manager at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Decatur, Georgia
At the CDC, Morgan Schroeder helps detect and manage food-borne disease clusters and serves as a liaison between multiple stakeholders during outbreak investigations. She received her master’s degree in global health and infectious diseases at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. At Ohio Wesleyan, she served as a microbiology laboratory assistant, a bacterial culture curator and archivist, as well as an undergraduate student researcher.

Sara Koenig '09, Botany & Microbiology

Research Assistant Professor, Ohio State University
After earning a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at Ohio State University, Sara joined the OSU faculty. She also served as director of COVID-19 advanced technologies at OSU.

Read about Sara's work during OSU's pandemic response

Jimmy Johnson '08, Zoology and Chemistry

Staff Veterinarian at Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO
At the St. Louis Zoo,
Jimmy Johnson provides veterinary consultation for exotic canid species at the Endangered Wolf Center and elk and bison herds at Lone Elk County Park. He also has served as a veterinarian at Zoo Miami and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He is board-certified by the American College of Zoological Medicine and the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association. His research focuses on clinical and conservation medicine of zoo and wildlife species, and he is an adjunct scientist with Field School Scientific Training, participating in field research on the health of wild sharks and stingrays. In addition to his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ohio State University, Jimmy also completed an M.S. in veterinary clinical medicine in epidemiology from the University of Illinois.


Julie Peterson '07, Zoology

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Julie Peterson received her Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Kentucky. Her work focuses on integrated pest management in field crops, and her research examines insect behavior, resistance management, food web dynamics, and compatibility of pest-control strategies. At OWU, Julie participated in the Summer Science Research Program and took a travel-learning course to the Galapagos Islands.

Learn More about OWU's Galapagos Islands Class

Joshua Obar '01, Microbiology

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Dartmouth College, Giesel School of Medicine, Hanover, NH
The goal of Joshua Obar's research lab at Dartmouth is to understand the immune response against microbial infections. The immune system is critical in protecting the host against microbial infections, but an uncontrolled immune response can also be detrimental to the host. His laboratory is focused on understanding how the immune system balances clearing a pathogen without inducing too much tissue immunopathology.

Department Contact Info


Schimmel/Conrades Science Center
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH 43015

P 740-368-3907
F 740-368-3999

Social Media

Facebook OWU Zoology page

Department Contacts

Chair: Amy Downing
Professor of Biological Sciences
Schimmel/Conrades Science Center 325
740-368-3890 |

Academic Assistant: Joshua Seiders
Schimmel/Conrades Science Center 201
740-368-3907 |