Postdoctoral positions

Biology Faculty Research Laboratories:

Robert Blystone Cell responses to electromagnetic radiation
Mark Brodl Regulation of normal protein expression during the head shock response
Lawrence Espey Changes in ovarian gene expression during ovulation
Frank Healy Fermentative and secondary metabolism in bacteria
Jonathan King Cell and molecular biology of epithelial tight junctions in disease
Thomas Koppenheffer Cytokine-based communication in immune responses
Kevin Livingstone Adaptive genetics and speciation in tomatoes
Kelly Lyons Diversity and maintenance of ecosystem functioning
Denise Pope Behavioral ecology of signaling in animals
David Ribble Ecology and evolution of mammalian mating systems
James Shinkle Physiology of plant responses to UV irradiation

Opportunities in Faculty Research Laboratories in Other Departments:

Michelle Bushey Capillary electrophoretic separations, GC/MS/MAL DI-TOF
William Kurtin Membrane biochemistry and stress adaptation
Adam Urbach Sequence-dependent DNA-flexibility
Thomas Gardner Geomorphology and hydrology of terraces
Glenn Kroeger Geophysics and remote sensing
Daniel Spiegel Soft-matter dynamics using laser-induced transient gradients
Saber Elaydi Discreet models and chaos theory
Allen Holder Optimization in health care economics
Mark Lewis Numberical and simulation modeling

Two, 2-year biology postdoctoral fellows began in the fall semester of 2005 and as of June 2008 all of the postdoctoral opporutnities in this program have expired. These postdoctoral positions provided Trinity University biology faculty time to focus on introductory curriculum development. These positions were designed for PhDs interested in pursuing careers at primarily undergraduate institutions. Perhaps the most significant training occurred when the postdocs worked with Trinity faculty on the interdisciplinary teams that were redesigning the introductory courses. The paragraphs below were from the original program announcement.

This experience provides a unique opportunity to engage in sustained conversations with experienced faculty from several disciplines, an experience few established faculty have been able to enjoy. Each semester this work accounts for three semester hours of a normal nine-hour teaching load. In addition, they teach one or two laboratory sections of our current introductory courses (two sections in fall and one in spring for one postdoc, and one section in fall and two in spring for the other). This will provide the release time for Trinity faculty to engage in the interdisciplinary redesign teams. The material currently taught in the laboratory sections has been well worked out, and Biology staffers prepare the lab materials for faculty; therefore, teaching these laboratory sections is not an overwhelming assignment. At the same time, the postdocs gain real teaching experience. The remaining three hours of “assignable time” are available for research, with the option to teach a special topics course in the postdoc’s area of expertise. The reduced-intensity teaching assignments provides the postdocs with a reasonable opportunity to work in the laboratory during the academic year, and summers are used for working on research projects and helping to supervise undergraduate research participants. This gives the postdoctoral fellows valuable experience in balancing teaching and scholarship expectations.

Trinity faculty members in biology and biology-related fields have active research programs in a wide range of fields (see table on top), providing post-doctoral fellows a strong resource base as they shape their own research programs in a primarily undergraduate context. We also have the potential for a postdoc to do work that bridges two laboratories. Many of us have trained postdoctoral fellows, and we understand that it is important to develop projects that both develop key research skills and produce publishable results in a reasonable time frame. Finally, the postdocs are invited to participate in the full range of faculty life, including department meetings, faculty meetings, and faculty development programs such as teaching seminars and colloquia, as well as travel to professional meetings. The goal is for the postdocs to leave Trinity with a rich understanding and appreciation of the expectations of faculty at small, primarily undergraduate institutions and to position them well to begin academic careers of their own.

targeted courses and goals courses

Targeted Courses:

Biology: 1311 - Integrative Biology I Fall
  1312 - Integrative Biology II Spring
Chemistry: 1318 - Chemistry in the Modern World Fall
  2319 - Organic Chemistry Spring
Mathematics: 1307 - Calculus I for the Life and Social Sciences Fall/Spring
  1308 - New Course (Calculus II for Life and Social Sciences) Fall/Spring
Physics: 1309 - General Physics I Fall
  1310 - General Physics II Spring


The introductory courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics at Trinity University have historically been conventional in their scope and approach. In recent years we have begun some innovations that are further extended with funds from HHMI (see table for targeted courses).

For example, Biology 1311 serves both majors and non-majors and focuses on topics for understanding the process of scientific method. This course seeks to integrate approaches at the cellular, organismal, and population levels that are advancing the biological sciences. This course along with the subsequent Biology 1312 provides majors the big picture of biology before focusing on the details in their upper division coursework.

For non-majors, the topical approach allows us to present some of the most timely and important information in an accessible format. Our CHEM 1318/2319 sequence brings biologically relevant chemical principles to the front of the standard introductory chemistry curriculum, giving students taking these courses as a prerequisite for upper division biology courses. But none of our current courses provide for students the power of interdisciplinary insights at the levels we seek to achieve.

The Specific Goal of Our Revisions:

  • to make linkages between biology and other disciplines that are compelling and apparent to our students
  • to reinforce those linkages at multiple points in multiple courses of our introductory sequences
  • to teach biology students the ability to apply quantitative methods and reasoning to biology at substantially higher levels than they currently use
  • to stimulate an interest in the interface between biology and these disciplines (this applies to faculty as well as students)

Course revision process

  Fall Spring
Year One Biologist to CHEM 1318 Biologist to CHEM 2320
Biologist to MATH 1307 Biologist to MATH 1308
Biologist to PHYS 1309 Biologist to PHYS 1310
Year Two Physcist to BIOL 1311 Physicist to BIOL 1312
Chemist to BIOL 1311 Chemist to BIOL 1312
Mathematician to BIOL 1311 Mathematician to BIOL 1312

Each targeted course in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics is developed by a team consisting of the regular instructor, a postdoctoral fellow, consulting faculty from another department(s) (in the case of Biology courses, the consulting faculty comes from Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics), and one to three HHMI Peer Tutors.

The regular instructor, postdoctoral fellows, and consulting faculty are responsible for the development and presentation of course material. The process begins at least one week before the start of the course. The regular instructor presents the current goals, materials and approaches. With an overview of the course objectives in mind, faculty works through the syllabus and suggests insights from their disciplines that inform the concepts to be presented.

The guidelines for “A New Biology Curriculum” set forth in Chapter 2 of Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists is a basis for our planning. This process lays an important foundation for the course, and from here systematic revision is done while the course is being taught. It is from this vantage point of actually presenting the course that collaborating faculty best understands the context into which interdisciplinary perspectives must be situated. In planning the next class period, faculty can then develop learning experiences that are informed by the successes or failures of previous class presentations and activities. Though the regular instructor is responsible for a significant part of the teaching, the consulting faculty and postdoctoral fellows may be involved in teaching, if appropriate.

The Peer Tutors helps to gauge student comprehension and receptivity. The development team meets for a week after the end of the semester to critique the results, suggest additional or replacement material, document the outcomes, and plan for dissemination.

The revision process will require two years to complete (see table on top). We will begin in Year 1 with the modification of introductory courses in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. With the experience gained from these efforts, we will have a foundation for the more challenging integration of chemistry, mathematics and physics perspectives into the introductory biology in Year 2.

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