Newsletter of the BGSU Department of Biological Sciences

FALL 2020

Juan Bouzat


Dear Alumni and Friends,
It has been a little over a year since I was elected as the new Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. As you know, 2020 has confronted us with challenging times. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has forced us to re-think the role that we play as educators and scientists. Today, the pandemic makes STEM education, and particularly Biology education, very relevant to our current societal needs. In the era of “fake” news, when evidential arguments are commonly dismissed, the promotion of a scientifically literate, critical thinking society is essential in generating, more than ever, public good.

Our department plays a major role in the educational experience of all BGSU students and, thus, on the educational foundation of our future generations. As friends and supporters of our department, we thank YOU for sharing our educational goals, helping us to provide our students with an innovative learning experience.

In spite of the pandemic, we continued having one of the largest populations of BGSU undergraduate students enrolled in our programs. We have adapted our courses to include new teaching modalities, including the offering of remote and hybrid courses, which allowed students to enjoy their college experience while maintaining a safe environment to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With over 100 lab sections being taught at low student density to maintain social distancing, we continue offering meaningful experiential learning activities to ensure students’ progress toward graduation. Furthermore, our graduate programs continue recruiting highly competitive students, many of which help support the teaching mission of the university through graduate teaching assistantships.

Let me use this platform to acknowledge the fabulous work that our faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and staff have made under these challenging times. Both faculty and TAs have adapted rapidly to the new teaching modalities, maintaining their commitment to high quality teaching. In addition, our staff continues to support our faculty, and help students with enrollments, internships, class changes, and issues related to their progress toward degree completion. Please, join me in thanking our faculty, TAs, and staff for their commitment to our students and BGSU!

As supporting alumni and friends, you will be pleased to hear that our faculty and students have received multiple awards, which attest to the quality of our department. Julia Halo received the 2020 Outstanding Early Career Award and Hans Wildschutte received the 2020 President’s Award for Collaborative Research and Creative Work, which acknowledge their successful research programs. In addition, Shannon Pelini received the 2020 Women of Distinction Award for her dedication as a role model and mentor of women. Furthermore, nineteen of our faculty members have been recognized by students as someone who made a difference in their academic career. The nomination of Dan Wiegmann as fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, provide both national and international recognition to our faculty and BGSU.

Funds donated by YOU, our alumni and friends, allowed us to provide awards for both undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom received over $1000 to support research experiences and experiential learning activities. Furthermore, your funds helped support scholarships for over 30 undergraduate students for the 2020-2021 academic year. You can look at the list of recipients of these awards and scholarships in this newsletter. 

Our research programs have been essential sources for experiential learning and research experiences for our undergraduates, and the foundation of our graduate program. Research and creative activities play an essential role in the strategic plan of the university, as they show our commitment to the public good. During the past year, our faculty has been very successful in securing funds through external grants to support their research. Over nine faculty members have received grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, USDA, NOAA, and Ohio Sea Grant, among other highly competitive agencies. Research projects include work on ecologically relevant issues with high impacts to society, including studies on global change, contamination of wastewater and streams, invasive species, bees’ diversity, mosquito populations and disease transmission, and antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, the Center for Great Lakes and Watershed Studies continues expanding research on the dynamics of the Great Lakes ecosystems and associated biological communities, including studies on the impacts of agriculture on biogeochemical cycles, harmful algal blooms, and aquaponics. The direct impacts of our research programs on current societal issues play a major role on the strategic plan of BGSU, and show our commitment to the public good.

I would like to thank all alumni and friends of the department for your continued support over the years. Your contributions do make a difference! If you would like to continue supporting our programs, visit and enter “biology” to see our fund options.

Our Bio:Life Newsletter describes some of our recent activities, achievements, and student successes, which attest to our commitment to the teaching and research mission of our department. We wish you a good end of the year and hope you can visit us soon.

Once a Falcon always a Falcon!
Wash your hands, and let’s flatten the curve!

Juan L. Bouzat, Ph.D.
Chair and professor, Biological Sciences

BGSU researchers collect water samples

Novel virus leads researchers closer to the cause of Toledo water crisis

BGSU student researchers are credited with playing a key role in work with the Toledo Water Treatment Plant to identify a novel virus that may have led to a toxin release in the 2014 water crisis. What started as a call from the superintendent of the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant in Toledo, turned into a short-notice biological study and a continued collaboration with a public partner.

Learn how BGSU research is helping to improve water quality
biology student inspects an insect on a leaf

Savanna Brown is buggy about insects

Savanna Brown didn’t flinch when the pet cockroach perched on her arm gave birth to a squirming mass of baby insects as she talked to a group of middle school students attending Women in STEM Day at Bowling Green State University. Brown, a Cleveland-area native and first-generation college student, has always loved insects and found opportunities at BGSU that allowed her to do research, connect to like-minded people in science and the arts and prepare for her first job post-graduation.

Read more about this ecology and conservation biology 2020 graduate
BGSU alumna Amber Gombash in hospital scrubs

Not a typical first year of residency

BGSU biology alumna Amber Gombash ’15 rounded out her first year of a three-year residency in the midst of a global pandemic. Like most health care professionals in the last few months, she has been helping in the fight against COVID-19. She shares how BGSU prepared her for a career in health care.  

Read about Amber’s experience working in health care during a pandemic

Shannon Pelini

Three faculty receive awards in 2020

Shannon Pelini received the Women of Distinction Award which honors BGSU faculty, staff, students, alumnae and community members for excellence, ingenuity and the ability to overcome barriers that still exist for women. Julia Halo was honored with the Outstanding Early Career Award which recognizes scholarly accomplishments and supports the academic career of junior faculty members. Hans Wildschutte was given the President’s Award for Collaborative Research and Creative Work which recognizes innovative research and creative work conducted by faculty members in collaboration with graduate students.

bee pollinating flowers

Are pollinators sensitive to climate change and urbanization?

We don’t have to be farmers or gardeners to know that pollinators are key to some of the most essential foods that we eat. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the lab of Dr. Kevin McCluney, biology associate professor, is researching how bees are impacted by climate change and urbanization.

Read about Dr. McCluney's bee research

Students Recognize Faculty in 2020

Vipa Phuntumart and Zhaohui Xu were named as mentors who provided guidance and served as positive role models to students. The following faculty members were identified by a graduating senior as someone who made a difference and contributed to their success at BGSU: George Bullerjahn, Julia Halo, Ray Larsen, Mike McKay, Helen Michaels, Jeff Miner, Paul Moore, Paul Morris, Kevin Neves, Dan Pavuk, Shannon Pelini, Vipa Phuntumart, Karen Sirum, Eileen Underwood, Amy Wagner, Tamera Wales, Hans Wildschutte, Jill Zeilstra-Ryalls.

Donors to the Department of Biological Sciences (November 2019-October 2020)

We are forever grateful to our alumni and friends who provide support to the department and our students. Between November 2019 and October 2020, alumni, current and retired faculty, staff and friends have contributed $30,616. Again, we recognize and thank our donors for their generous contributions in the past year. If you have provided a monetary gift to the Department of Biological Sciences and are not included in the list, please let us know.

Biological Sciences General Activities Fund
David & Paula Alderfer
Angela Argoe-Mollison
Carol Augspurger
Glen & Lareen Bowman
Aaron & Cristin Brescia
Jennifer Kelly
Sundararajah Thevananther
Robert & Karen Weiland
Lamar & Sondra Zigler

Biological Sciences General Department Fund
Edwin Bartholomew
Allen & Joyce Blem
Mary Cronin
Paul Dahlhauser
Gregory & Karen DeCamp
D. Eric & Elizabeth Hanson
Terry & Janice Hufford
Richard Lyman
Gary Solamon

Biological Sciences General Scholarship Fund
Edward & Kimberly Durbin
Judith Downing
Carol Thatcher
Carol Wilkerson

Biology Alumni Scholarship
Keith Camburn
Edward & Anne Nolan
Michael Keffer

T. Richard Fisher Biology Scholarship
Robert Brodberg
Marjorie Smith

James D. Graham Memorial Scholarship
Gregg Gehring
Fred & Jaclyn Hendricks
David McCormick
Thomas & Virginia McQuistion
W. Patrick Monaghan

Marine Lab Operations Fund
Patricia Biesiot
Christine Downing
Phyllis Evans
Donald Macoy, Jr. & Janna
Joy Marburger
Ronald & Janet Partin

Barbara Long Masters Biological Sciences Research Fund
Barbara Long Masters

Rex Lowe Biological Sciences Graduate Student Endowed Fund
George & Anne Bullerjahn
James Cappy, Jr. & Gloria
Kevin & Terri Carrick
Justin Chaffin
Lisa Goodchild-Shauver
Charles & Carol Harper
Bryan & Constance Hausman
Kevin McCluney
Stephanie Meadows
Janice Mears
Jeff & Barbara Miner
Vipa Phuntumart & Casey Cromwell
Dennis & Patricia Sloan
Mark & Amy Wagner
Dan Wiegmann & Wendy Manning

McKinney-Whitwer Biological Sciences Scholarship
Patricia Bauer
Kevin & Laurel Sanville

Dr. Suzanne K. Miller Undergraduate Research Assistantships
Kenneth & Suzanne Miller-Kobalka

Myra L. Patchen Biology Scholarship
Gregg Gehring

Robert C. Romans Biology Scholarship
Robert Brodberg
Lee & Marge Meserve
John & Bonnie Mucha
Brent & Carla Takemoto

Cynthia Collin Stong Marine Biology Scholarship
Patricia Biesiot
Elaine Bublitz
Linda Hubbell

Cynthia Collin Stong Marine Lab Operations Endowment Fund
Richard &  Flora Hochenberg
Cynthia Collin Stong

Dennis R. Whitmore Memorial Scholarship
Catherine Sommer

Biological Sciences Scholarship and Award Recipients

Following is the list of scholarship recipients for 2020-21. This list includes awards for graduating seniors. Congratulations to these outstanding students and special thanks to our donors!

To view scholarship criteria, please visit our page.  

Biological Sciences Alumni Scholarship (incoming freshmen)
Audrey Sauter (Cincinnati, OH)

T. Richard Fisher Biology Scholarship
Samantha Lehker (Fairfield, OH)
Christopher Shell (Dublin, OH)

James D. Graham Scholarship
Kateland Sipe (Mason, OH)
John Spatafore (Wellington, OH)

Edward J. Karlin Memorial Scholarship
Maddison Fortman (Minster, OH)

Barbara Long Masters Graduate Research Award (graduate students)
Christopher Kemp (Norman, OK)

Ralph V. McKinney, Jr. – Eloise Whitwer Scholarship
Daniel Clark (Johnstown, OH)
Sabryna Creech (Dayton, OH)
MacKenna Starr (Vestal, NY)

Dr. Suzanne K. Miller-Kobalka Undergraduate Assistantships in Biological Science
Tessa Alloy (Circleville, OH)
Hailey Kurtz (Hilliard, OH)
Elizabeth Stahl (Findlay, OH)

Barry R. Morstain Biology Scholarship
Deja Scott (Huber Heights, OH)

Multicultural Student Scholarship in Biological Sciences
Keiarra Glenn-Walker (Akron, OH)

Larry & Linda Oman Graduate Research Award (graduate students)
Carrie Coy (Petoskey, MI)
Amanda Martin (Tonawanda, NY)
Brian Okwiri (Mamboleo, Kisumu, Kenya)
Kelsey Stoneberg (Orchard Park, NY)
Kaylee Wilburn (Oak Harbor, OH)

Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan Junior/Senior Scholarship in Biology
Emily Eberly (Fairview, PA)
Linnea Forbes (Cincinnati, OH)
Gena Leib (Solon, OH)
Morgan Nance (Amherst, OH)

Myra L. Patchen Biology Scholarship
Donovan Roberts (Boardman, OH)

Dawson S. and Sylvia A. Patterson Scholarship
Sarah Hennings (Lake Orion, MI)
Grace O’Hare (Bowling Green, OH)

Robert C. Romans Biological Science Scholarship (incoming freshmen)
Annika Keeton (Perrysburg, OH)

Joseph J. and Marie P. Schedel Scholarship
Melanie Edwards (Franklin, OH)
Samantha Muellauer (Bowling Green, OH)
Christina Norman (Wauseon, OH)

Michaline Slomka Sinkula Award
Savanna Brown (Bloomington, IN)
Katherine Marita (No. Olmsted, OH)
Nicholas Zeedyk (Bowling Green, OH)

Waldo and Evelyn Steidtmann Scholarship
Genna Hunt (Bowling Green, OH)
Andrew Sutton (Oak Harbor, OH)
Lauren Tucker (Sugar Grove, OH)

Harold E. Tinnappel Scholarship
Keely Fish (Toledo, OH)
Connor McHugh (Bowling Green, OH)

Dennis R. Whitmore Memorial Scholarship
Lauren Siffert (Bowling Green, OH)
Nicholas Zeedyk (Bowling Green, OH)

Visit for a list of funded scholarships that are available to our undergraduate and graduate students thanks to the generous contributions of alumni, friends and other donors. We thankfully accept donations to any of these scholarships for assistance of our students.

Updated: 02/25/2022 02:10PM