Brian Avery, Ph.D. Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Dr. Avery teaches a variety of courses related to cells and genetics in Biology and Neuroscience. He and his students study patterns of genetic diversity and how that diversity affects the phenotypes of various organisms. For the last few years, they have concentrated on how genetic variation can affect complex behaviors in humans such as anxiety (in collaboration with their neuroscience colleagues) and the population genetics of the brine shrimp, Artemia, from Great Salt Lake in UT.
Bonnie K. Baxter, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Biology Program Chair
Dr. Baxter studies the photobiology of halophiles (salt-tolerant bacteria) and microbial diversity of Great Salt Lake (GSL)with her undergraduate students. She is interested in the astrobiology applications of extremely hypersaline ecosystems, in particular resistance to ultraviolet light and desiccation by halophiles. Recently her students have been engaged in projects involving ancient biomolecules in salt, microbial composition of GSL stromatolites, and lake microbial mercury methylation. Dr. Baxter is also dedicated to integration of research in undergraduate science education and to outreach efforts that inspire learning and stewardship. She is also engaged in efforts to support underrepresented groups in STEM fields. All of these interests merge in her role as Director of Great Salt Lake Institute.
Christy Clay, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies
Dr. Clay is an ecologist that is an expert in urban farming. She runs the greenhouse and organic garden program with her students. In past projects, she has worked on enteric contamination of the local watershed with the creek that runs through Westminster’s campus. She has also mentored projects on the migration and colony formation of American Avocets, a shorebird species that migrates to Great Salt Lake each year.
David Goldsmith, Ph.D., Professor of Geology, Geology Program Chair
Dr. Goldsmith is a paleontologist whose research concentrates on the fossil record of evolutionary processes as preserved in snails and clams found in the lake and pond deposits of Northern Utah. His second area of research is on the history of evolutionary theory, from its origins in Napoleonic France to its current struggle for acceptance in American classrooms. Biology students may encounter him in classes such as The Biology of Dinosaurs or History of Life on Earth. In his classes, Dr. Goldsmith challenges students to think like scientists, employing a case-based approach that teaches the general rules that govern the planet. He also emphasizes the importance of exploration. He has taken students to explore the rocks of Southern Utah, Hawaii, and Baja, Mexico.
Judy (Rogers) Hall, DVM, Professor of Biology
Dr. Hall’s research interests are in avian disease and treatment, both captives and wild birds. She has been involved in DNA sequencing projects in several bird species. In 2011, research students trapped avocet shorebirds on the Great Salt Lake to investigate endoparasite loads in the birds before, during and after nesting on the lake. Her undergraduate students work with the Tracy Aviary to quantify coccia loads in nesting species and correlating hatchling survival rates with parent parasite loads and develop protocols to analyze methylmercury content in feathers of birds who feed at Great Salt Lake.
David Kimberly, Ph. D. Assistant Professor of Biology
A central goal of Dr. Kimberly’s research is to understand the role anthropogenic (human caused) stressors play in shaping components of natural ecosystems. Specifically, he considers anthropogenic stress in a larger context of stress in general and to examine interactive effects such as predators, climate change, habitat alteration, and contaminants. Three main themes that permeate his current research interests: ecotoxicology of reptiles and amphibians, ecotoxicology of freshwater systems, and evolutionary responses to environmental stressors. Students in his lab are currently asking questions about the trophic transfer of mercury throughout biota on Antelope Island. To answer this question they are trapping lizards and snakes to collect tissue, which will then be analyzed for mercury and other environmental contaminants.
Will Deutschman, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Chemistry Program Chair
Dr. Deutschman teaches Biochemistry and Cell Biology in the Biology Program. His research background is in Protein Folding/Stability, Yeast Metabolism, Brewing Science, and Hop Genetics. With his students, he has investigated the stability of proteins from thermophilic organisms, protein unfolding on a solid surface, the balance of aerobic and fermentative metabolic pathways in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, genetic identification of Hop cultivars, and sugar mobilization in malt brewing. Dr. Deutschman co-teaches a very popular May term course on the Biology and Chemistry of Brewing.
Great Salt Lake Institute