Anthropology and Sociology

What you’ll study.

You'll examine global processes of change. Understand human evolution, family, and kinship. And immerse yourself in topics ranging from education or religion to media, disability, and healing. All with a focus on exploring the current and historical social worlds that humans have created for themselves around the world. 

What you’ll do.

Conduct hands-on research. Create a senior honors thesis. And receive academic credit for internships, whether abroad or through programs at places like the Chicago Center or the Philadelphia Center. You'll have opportunities to work in the field alongside faculty, preparing you for advanced degrees and a wide variety of careers. 

Where you’ll go.

Recent Albion graduates can be found working in fields as diverse as public policy and veterinary medicine. Our alumni have pursued advanced degrees at many different universities, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin, UCLA, and the University of London. 

Career Opportunities

What can you do with a major in anthropology or sociology?  Our alumni have put their skills to work in an amazingly wide array of fields.  They include politicians, museum administrators, doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, social workers, school principals, city planners, human resource managers, market researchers, and journalists as well as professors of anthropology and sociology.

A major in anthropology and/or sociology provides you with a well-rounded education.  How students apply that education to specific careers depends on their particular interests and skills.  Some of our alumni have become influential anthropologists and sociologists.  Many of our students go on to medical schools, law schools, or other professional schools.  Professional schools value students with a strong record of research, writing, and analysis -- skills that can be put to work in fields that don't yet even exist.

Many students find that a career grows out of specific skills and work experience complementing their studies in anthropology and sociology.  Are you interested in learning another language?  One alumna now works as a teacher in a bilingual school; another works as a bilingual human services manager; and one runs a study abroad program in Spain.  Many recent students have found other specific skills enhance their career options.  Consider getting useful training in video making, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), or photography.  Our students often apply such skills in a senior thesis or other independent research.  Many have found such skills help them find jobs after graduation.

You can study almost anything anthropologically or sociologically.  That makes it possible to study anthropology or sociology and also explore all sorts of careers at the same time.  Our students often get academic credit for internships completed during semesters off campus -- in another country, or in programs such as the Chicago Center or the Philadelphia Center.

It is a big, fast-changing, and complex world out there.  Anthropology and sociology can help you find your place in it!

For more useful information, check out The Anthropology Graduate's Guide and our professional association websites:


Graduates from the Anthropology and Sociology Department at Albion College have gone on to pursue graduate training and careers in a number of fields. Knowledge and skills in anthropology and sociology are valuable for those pursuing careers in public administration, politics, social services, counseling, public health, journalism, market research, urban planning, and law. Our graduates have become biostatisticians, urban planners, lawyers, physicians, veterinarians, and news reporters. Graduates have also gone on to academic careers in anthropology, sociology, and related fields.


Student Research

One of the most unique features of an education at Albion College is the opportunities available for students to complete original research. Working closely with faculty mentors, students define the scope of their research and carry it through to completion.  Doing independent research allows students to pursue their intellectual passions and to make connections among diverse fields of knowledge.

Majors in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology are strongly encouraged to consider writing a senior honors thesis.  Writing a thesis is certainly not the best choice for everyone, but for many it is an important opportunity.  Completing a senior thesis can be especially valuable experience for students interested in graduate study and in possibly one day writing a master's thesis or a doctoral dissertation.  Completing a thesis allows students to work closely with a committee of scholars and learn about the process of doing scholarly research and writing.

Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible to submit a thesis for departmental honors.  Usually students begin thinking about possible topics in their 2nd or 3rd year and discussing ideas with faculty who might be appropriate advisors and committee members.  Students often use a thesis to explore possible career interests.  Others may feel their career plans are well set and see their thesis projects as opportunities to delve into something in which they are passionately interested before entering medical school, law school, etc.  Some students use off-campus study as the basis for a thesis project and find that the thesis helps build a bridge between their experience off-campus and their final year at Albion (students often feel their interests in another part of the world or the country have only been whetted by the time they complete an off-campus program--a thesis project might be a way to further explore those interests).

Ideally, students who want to write an honors thesis will complete some research prior to their senior year or at least write a well-developed proposal, literature review, or introductory chapter.  Senior year, thesis-writers typically register for a full unit of coursework with their dissertation advisor both fall and spring semesters.

For more information about research at Albion, visit the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA) website.

Faculty and Staff

Brad Chase, Anthropology/Sociology  Dr. Brad Chase, Associate Professor and Chair

Brad received his B.A. in anthropology from Northwestern University, his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007, and has been at Albion since 2008. He is an anthropological archaeologist who has participated in fieldwork in the American Midwest and Southwest, Turkey, Pakistan, and currently India, where he has been conducting research for over a decade. His teaching and research interests include the organizational dynamics of early urban societies in comparative perspective, the relationship between humans and their environments during periods of social change, and the role of material culture in the creation and maintenance of identities in the past and present. His ongoing research explores these issues in the context of the Indus Civilization in Gujarat, India, specifically focusing on changes in land-use practices and social organization with the emergence and decline of South Asia's first urban civilization. He can be reached by e-mail at .

Scott Melzer, Anthropology and Sociology

Dr. Scott Melzer, 

Scott Melzer joined Albion College in 2004, soon after completing his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California - Riverside. He also completed an M.A. at UCR after receiving a B.A. in sociology from the University of Florida. His teaching and research interests are in gender, social psychology, and criminology, with particular interests in intimate violence, men & masculinities, gun politics, and social change. Scott co-founded and codirects Albion College's Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Inside-Out brings together college students and people who are incarcerated for a semester-long seminar in a correctional facility. Scott's research examines how men respond to threats to their statuses and identities. His published articles include a study of men's motivations for participating in a fight club and the impact of men's work experiences on their rates of violence against women partners. His first book (
Gun Crusaders: The NRA's Culture War, NYU Press, 2009) analyzes the National Rifle Association's transformation from a recreational firearms interest group into a conservative social movement organization. He is completing another book (Manhood Impossible: Men's Struggles to Achieve, Maintain, and Transform What it Means to be a Man, Rutgers University Press, forthcoming) examining how men respond when they are unwilling or unable to fulfill body and breadwinner ideals. Dr. Melzer can be reached by e-mail at or 517/629-0421.

Lynn Verduzco-Baker, visiting assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at Albion College

Dr. Lynn Verduzco-Baker, 
Assistant Professor

Lynn earned her Ph.D. in sociology and women's studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor after receiving her M.S. in sociology from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in English from California State University, Fresno. Her current research investigates how discourses of motherhood are negotiated by women who were low-income and teenaged (i.e., “welfare queens” and “teen moms”) when they became mothers. The findings from her work challenge the discourses, stereotypes and images of good and bad motherhood and aim to shift the conversation about low-income mothers to one of compassion and respect. Lynn approaches teaching from a social justice perspective that can be traced to her experiences as a university instructor, an English teacher at an inner-city high school and an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her teaching interests include: intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality; poverty and inequality; popular culture; family; race and ethnicity; and social panics. Lynn can be reached by email at

Allison Harnish, Anthropology/Sociology Dr. Allison
 Harnish, Assistant Professor

"Alli” is a cultural anthropologist specializing in rural livelihoods, international development, and human-environment relations. She earned a Ph.D. in anthropology as well as a graduate certificate in gender and women's studies from the University of Kentucky after completing a B.A. in anthropology and sociology at Western Kentucky University. Prior to coming to Albion, Alli was a part-time instructor at Transylvania University and co-organizer of the annual Dimensions of Political Ecology (DoPE) Conference on Nature/Society in Lexington, KY. Her teaching integrates economic, ecological, and feminist anthropology. Her research, which has been externally supported by the Fulbright program and the National Science Foundation, explores the gender and age dimensions of development-induced migration, environmental change, and wildlife management in Zambia. Alli teaches Native North America, Africa: Peoples and Cultures, The Global Politics of Nature, Violent Environments, and Theory and Method in Anthropology. She can be reached by e-mail at .

Dr. Matthew Schoene

Dr. Matthew Schoene, 
Assistant Professor

Matt is a comparative sociologist specializing in global and transnational analysis, urban studies, social movement studies and quantitative methodology. He was awarded his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 2015 and a B.A. in Sociology from Villanova University in 2009. Prior to arriving at Albion, he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Davidson College in North Carolina. Matt’s research uses multilevel modeling and quantitative methods to uncover the effect of urbanization on social movement activity in a cross-national context. His current projects include an examination of how rising inequality influenced European protest activity in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, as well as a cross-national analysis of how international media sources covered anti-austerity protests. At Albion, Matt teaches courses in Statistics, Quantitative Research Methods, Urban Sociology and Globalization, as well as future area studies courses. He is particularly excited to work with students interested in doing their own quantitative research project. Dr. Schoene can be reached by e-mail at or 517/629-0603.

Faculty Secretary ~ Laura Wylie
Office: Robinson 318 
Phone: 517/629-0309 

Faculty Emeriti

  • Dr. Len Berkey, Professor Emeritus

Dr. Berkey received a B.A. from Colgate University in 1969 and a Ph.D in sociology from Michigan State University in 1982. In the interim, he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He retired in 2012 and moved with his wife Ramona to Tacoma, WA to be closer to family. He has taught part-time at the UW Tacoma for the past two years. Len's research and teaching interests are in racial and ethnic relations, white privilege, and the formation of personal identities in multicultural societies.

Contact Us

The Albion College Department of Anthropology and Sociology is located on the third floor of Robinson Hall. Contact the department at 517/629-0414 or through the form below.

Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input

Anne McCauley

Anne McCauley, Art/Art HistoryAnne McCauley
Professor and Chair
Printmaking and Book Art
M.F.A. Michigan State University, 1978

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0249

Lynne Chytilo

chytilo-lynne-2013Lynne Chytilo
Ceramics and Sculpture
M.F.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984

Office: Bobbit Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0373

Art and Art History

What you’ll study.

We develop both the artist and the art historian. We teach you the foundations of art and art history then challenge you to create new ideas and approaches. You will produce art in well-equipped studios and study original artwork from the 15th century to the present from our collection. We also offer classes for non-majors. Majors and minors.

What you’ll do.

Participate in internships. Work in a museum or a gallery. Or spend a semester working alongside a professional artist in a studio. The New York Arts Program offers a range of internships tailored to your interests. You can also study around the world through our study-abroad programs. Art and art history internship opportunities.

Where you’ll go.

Our graduates know how to think and that's a skill you can take anywhere. You'll be confident in both critical and creative thought, not to mention technical knowledge and skills. Add that to Albion's broad-based approach to problem solving, and you're set for success. Potential career paths.

Learn More

Internships and Off-Campus Studies

There are numerous intern opportunities and apprenticeships available through the New York Arts Program, sponsored by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA). Students may obtain practical experience in museums and galleries, or spend a studio semester working with artists involved in printmaking, photography, painting, graphic design, medical illustration, architecture, art therapy and other specialties.

Through GLCA programs in Philadelphia, Britain, France, Germany, Mexico, Africa and Asia other opportunities to study off-campus are available.

Internships - Within Michigan

Thompson House, Hudson, MI

Assistant to the Curator at the Thompson House, an historic home in Hudson, Michigan. Built in the 1890s, the house was the long-time home of the Thompson family. The architecture has been maintained or restored to perfect Victorian authenticity and the house is filled with fine and decorative art objects. The collections are especially strong in Asia objects, including carved jade and Oriental carpets, Victorian and Edwardian furniture, nineteenth century paintings, and Tiffany glass.

Interns will undertake one or more projects designed in consultation with the Thompson House curator and an Albion College faculty member. Such projects may include accessioning objects and writing condition reports, researching groups of objects and writing reports or informational panels, helping with publicity for the museum, assisting with preparing exhibitions, or web page design and maintenance. In order to receive credit for this internship, students will keep a journal of their experiences and responses to them, they will prepare a semester-end paper, the subject of which will be determined by the student in consultation with the faculty supervisor and the Curator.

Contact: Bille Wickre, Department of Art and Art History (). This internship is available over the summer as well as during the academic year. Housing adjacent to the Thompson house may be furnished in some cases.

Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History

The Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History, an accredited institution, is firmly committed to providing educational experiences in professional museum practices for the young professional. Internships are available during the summer and during the academic year. Most interns are enrolled in a related academic program at an university or community college but independent applications are accepted. Academic credit and a stipend are provided in many cases. Interns generally work 10-15 hours per week depending on their academic schedule. Summer interns may work longer hours depending on their specific project.

While interns are specifically assigned to a department and generally to a specific project, all interns receive regular training in collections management and artifact handling. Visit The Ella’s website,, for an overview of the museum and its programs.


Andrews Gallery of Wildlife Art – Exhibit Specialist

An intern in this department will learn the specifics of how to design, fabricate, interpret, and install an exhibition of wildlife art from the renowned Andrews Collection of Wildlife Art. Specific activities will concentrate on curatorship, visual communication, and program development. Additionally, interns will learn inventory control, collections management including artifact handling, and professional practices in museum management.

Education Department – Education Specialist

The Education Department is in charge of all public programming as well as the interpretation of exhibits. An intern in this department will learn the specifics of program design and planning as well as the implementation of outreach programming and school relations. Related activities will center on learning artifact handling and professional practices in program development.

Marketing and Visitor Services Department – Marketing Specialist

An intern in this department will learn the specifics of developing and implementing a marketing plan in a nonprofit organization. Specific activities will center on crafting press releases, media advertising, radio/TV copy, promotions, and special event coordination.


Interested candidates must submit the following: a cover letter describing their level of interest, a resume or academic transcripts, and an example of creative or expository writing. Any questions pertaining to applications should be directed to the intern coordinator.

Inquiries may be made to:

Dean Adkins, Intern Coordinator
Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History
3225 Fourth St.
Jackson, MI 49203
Phone: 517/787-2320

Internships - Within the United States

New York Arts Program (Bille Wickre) Internship/Credit (4 units of college credit)

Chicago-Urban Semester (Len Berkey) Internship

Washington DC - Washington Center (Marcy Sacks) Internship/Credit
Washington Semester Internship/Credit

Philadelphia (Trisha Franzen) Internship/Credit
Art Therapy, arts internships, museum work

Internships in Europe

London-Educational Programme Abroad (Marcy Sacks) Internships Art Therapy, arts internships, museum work

Art Schools

Europe and Australia: Italy
SACI Studio Art Centers International (Anne McCauley)

Burren College of Art (Lynne Chytilo)

Glasgow School of Art (Lynne Chytilo)

Marchutz School (Lynne Chytilo)


This is not an inclusive list—there are many more programs available.

College Year in Athens

United Kingdom
University of Aberdeen, Scotland (Bille Wickre)
University of Sussex, England

Please consult with the Center for International Education for more information and application forms.

Art and Art History Scholarships

Albion College offers scholarships for students interested in Art or Art History. Awards are based on an evaluation of each candidate's artwork and/or scholarship.

Any student accepted to Albion College is eligible for the scholarship. All scholarships may be renewable for as long as you are enrolled in an art or art history class each semester. You are not required to major or minor in art or art history to be eligible.

Prospective Student Scholarship

Studio Art

The purpose of the Art Scholarship is to encourage students to pursue their passions in a creative, stimulating, and intellectually engaging environment.

To be considered for a scholarship, students must present a portfolio for review by members of the Art and Art History faculty. This allows the prospective student to share their work and process.

Students may submit a portfolio of 10-15 of their strongest works in any medium; it may include work you have done in class or independently. The portfolio should represent who you are as an artist.

We encourage students to bring a sketchbook in the form of a traditional book of drawings, a journal, visual scrapbook or even a well designed blog or website.

In preparing for your portfolio review, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What artists do I look at for inspiration?
  • What is my creative process?
  • What am I trying to communicate with my art?
  • Why did I choose the respective media/ forms to express my ideas?

Art History

The Art History Scholarship promotes the study of art history at Albion College. The study of art history encourages students to better appreciate and understand the visual world around them, and it reveals interconnections between the arts and other kinds of intellectual and cultural achievements.

Application Process: Students who wish to be considered for the Art History Scholarship should submit an example of written work and plan to interview with members of the Art and Art History Department.

Scholarships for Current Students

Upper-class Majors and Minors

Albion College offers scholarships for students majoring or minoring in Art or Art History courses. Awards are based on an evaluation of each candidate's artwork and faculty nominations. Ten to fifteen scholarships are awarded each year.

The Ballard Family Endowed Scholarship

This merit scholarship is awarded to a second year or above student intending to major or minor in art or art history.

Elizabeth Harmon Carpenter, '74 Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a female, sophomore, junior or senior who has maintained a 3.2 GPA.

Williemay Cheek Endowed Scholarship in Ceramics

This scholarship honors Williemay Cheek who for many years created beautiful pottery in our ceramics studio. Mrs. Cheek requested that it be given to a student of outstanding achievement and promise in ceramics.

Janson Scholarship

Students that have demonstrated outstanding abilities in art or art history beyond their first year as an art major are eligible for the Janson Scholarship.

Geoffrey Morris Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to meritorious junior or senior art or art history majors. In awarding this scholarship the department recognizes both the commitment to art and art history, and the high quality of the work produced thus far.

Douglas Goering Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an art or art history major or minor that exhibits strong academic achievement, ability, desire and commitment.

Taup Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an art or art history major or minor that exhibits strong academic achievement, ability, desire and commitment.

Evelyn Taup Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an art or art history major or minor that exhibits strong academic achievement, ability, desire and commitment.

Milton Taup Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an art or art history major or minor that exhibits strong academic achievement, ability, desire and commitment.

Bobbitt Visual Arts Center 2010-11 Exhibition Schedule

The Art and Art History Department conducts a continuous exhibition program during the academic year. Art from collectors, artists and regional museums is exhibited regularly and the shows are augmented with selections from the College's permanent collection as well as the work of the art faculty and students.

Exhibit Starts Ends

Munro Gallery:  Jill Marie Mason
Dickinson Gallery:  Prints from the Albion Collection

August 28

October 23

Munro Gallery:  John Battenberg
Dickinson Gallery:  Gregory Sale

October 30
December 4

Munro Gallery:  Rory Golden & Tim Donaldson
Dickinson Gallery:  Prints from the Albion Collection

January 22
February 19

Munro Gallery:  Lisa Iglesias
Dickinson Gallery:  Prints from the Albion Collection

February 26
March 26

Albion College Senior Art Majors Exhibition
April 2
April 30









Gallery Hours

Monday - Thursday 9am-9pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 10am-2pm





*Galleries are closed on Sunday and during all College breaks and Holidays

Department of Art and Art History Diversity Statement

The Department of Art and Art History at Albion College is committed to providing an open and welcoming environment to individuals of diverse ethnic, religious or racial backgrounds, geographic and cultural origins, class status, sexual orientation and to those of all physical abilities. We believe that individual expression in the form of artistic creation, analysis, and dialogue is essential to the maintenance of human life and the creation of a humane and just society. To this end we will:

  • Maintain facilities that are accessible to all.

  • Attempt to include within our curriculum broad perspectives.

  • Encourage artistic creation and analysis that reflects a diversity of viewpoints and individual experiences.

  • Provide in our galleries and collections of prints, objects, and other visual materials art work that reflects the broadest spectrum of the human experience.

  • Provide opportunities for advanced study that explores issues of diversity.

  • Cooperate with other areas of the College to further the diversity efforts of the institution.

Career Opportunities

Art and Art History career opportunities

Albion graduates in both art and art history bring outstanding abilities to professional careers or graduate studies -- in critical and creative thought, technical knowledge and skills, and a broad-based approach to problem-solving fostered by the liberal arts tradition. Recent graduates have pursued advanced studies in many specific studio areas, art history, arts management, animation, graphic art and architecture. Many enjoy careers in design, communications, World Wide Web design, advertising, museum and gallery positions, art therapy, and education.

These are some of the careers to consider when thinking about getting a degree in art and art history:

Advertising Foundry Worker
Animator Furniture Designer
Antiques Dealer Furniture Maker
Appraiser Gallery Director
Architect Grant Writer
Architectural Historian Habitat Sculptor
Architectural Model Maker International Art Trade
Art Critic Interior Designer
Art Historian Jewelry Designer
Art Restorer Landscape Designer
Art School Technician Lawyer, Specializing in Art
Art Teacher Librarian for Art Museum
Art Therapist Make up Artist
Artist Manager of a Corporate Collection
Arts Management Marketing
Author Medical Illustrator
Book Artist Mould Maker
Book Binder Museum Educator
Book Illustrator Package Designer
Ceramicist Painter
Cinematographer Paper Maker
Community Arts Programmer Photographer
Computer Graphics Photo Journalist
Conservator Poet
Costume Designer/Creator Printer
Cultural Critic Printmaker
Curator (museum, gallery, auction house, corporate collection, public institution, private collection or foundation) Professor
Registrar (museum, gallery, auction house, corporate collection, public institution, private collection or foundation)
Display Designer Reviewer for Magazine or Newspaper
Documentary Filmmaker Sculptor
Educator (museum, gallery, auction house, corporate collection, public institution, private collection or foundation) Set Designer
Entrepreneur Underwater Cinematographer
Event Planner Video and Film Editor
Fabric/Textile Designer Videographer
Fashion Designer/Buyer Website Designer
Film Maker Writer-Contemporary Art Criticism

Faculty and Staff

Anne McCauley, Art/Art History Anne McCauley
Professor and Chair
Printmaking and Book Art
M.F.A. Michigan State University, 1978

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0249

chytilo-lynne-2013Lynne Chytilo
Ceramics and Sculpture
M.F.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0373

Michael Dixon, Art/Art History Michael Dixon
Assistant Professor
Painting and Drawing
M.F.A. University of Colorado at Boulder, 2005

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0616

Ashley Feagin, assistant professor, Art and Art History, Albion College Ashley Feagin
Assistant Professor
M.F.A. Louisiana Tech University, 2012

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0753

Bille Wickre, Art/Art History Bille Wickre
Art History
Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1993

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0375

Jessica Merrild, Art and Art History Jessica Merrild
Department Secretary

Office: Bobbitt Visual Arts Center
Phone: 517/629-0246

Emeritus Faculty

Douglas Goering
Professor Emeritus
Drawing and Painting
M.F.A. University of Michigan

Frank Machek
Professor Emeritus
M.F.A. Cranbrook Academy of Art

Contact Us

The Albion College Department of Art and Art History is located in the Bobbitt Visual Arts Center, at 805 E. Cass St. Contact the department at 517/629-0246 or through the form below.

Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input

Program Resources

CELLS alive!

A visual tour of cells, bacteria, viruses and their interaction with one another.

A Gene Map of the Human Genome

The Human Genome Project is expected to produce a sequence of DNA representing the functional blueprint and evolutionary history of the human species. However, only about 3% of this sequence is thought to specify the portions of our 50,000 to 100,000 genes that encode proteins.

UCMP Phylogeny Wing: The Phylogeny of Life

Life! It's everywhere on Earth; you can find living organisms from the poles to the equator, from the bottom of the sea to several miles in the air, from freezing waters to dry valleys to undersea thermal vents to groundwater thousands of feet below the Earth's surface.

Microbe Zoo

A digital earning center for microbial ecology.

National Center for Biotechnology Information

The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.


What you’ll study.

Living organisms. Biospheres. And the relationships and mechanisms that tie all life on earth together. Through active involvement with organisms and the systems of life, you’ll learn how to observe, analyze, and communicate. Then you’ll build on your expertise by applying these skills to your area of specialization. Majors and minors.

What you’ll do.

You will formulate and test hypotheses through course projects and independent research. You’ll work in the field, both here—at our 135-acre Whitehouse Nature Center—and at more distant locations, such as the forests and coral reefs of Belize and southern Florida. Biology internship opportunities.

Where you’ll go.

Advisory groups. Meetings. Visits with professionals and representatives for postgraduate opportunities. The close ties you’ll make with our faculty will lead you to what’s next, whether it’s a career in medicine, natural resources, or any number of health or science fields. Potential career paths.

Faculty Research

Biology-researchOne of the great benefits of attending a small college such as Albion is the ability to work closely with faculty members in the classroom and laboratory. This opportunity is evident in course work, but also exists in independent student research projects conducted under faculty supervision. The Department of Biology at Albion has a long history of undergraduate student research that has led to presentations and/or publication in scientific journals. As a student you are encouraged to seek out a faculty member whose research interests most closely match your own, and to conduct a research project under her/his direction.

Dr. Roger Albertson is a cell and developmental biologist who investigates one of the most fundamental processes of life: cell division. Proper cell division is essential for development of an organism and has particular relevance in cancer and stem cell biology. Dr. Albertson's interests lie primarily in two aspects of cell division: 1) how cells coordinate cleavage furrow invagination with vesicle transport and 2) how asymmetric cell divisions specify the fates of mother / daughter progeny.

Cytokinesis relies on a contractile ring that drives plasma membrane invagination from the cell cortex. Recent studies have revealed that vesicle trafficking is also important for cytokinesis. This insight has raised new and exciting avenues of research: what are the sources of vesicles, how vesicle transport to cleavage furrows is regulated, and whether vesicles deliver proteins required for cytokinesis. Dr. Albertson has recently addressed these issues by conducting a genome-wide screen in the fruitfly, Drosophila, that revealed several new genes involved in cytokinesis. Current and future research goals include mapping these genes and characterizing their function using genetic and molecular approaches.

A second area of interest lies in factors that influence cell fate specification. During Drosophila development, neuronal stem cells undergo asymmetric cell divisions that yield daughter cells with unique fates. A recent study has indicated that a Drosophila strain infected with the bacterium Wolbachia are unable to properly specify neuronal cell fates. Yet, how Wolbachia influences cell fate determination at a cellular level is a complete mystery. Genetic, molecular, and cellular approaches will be used to monitor subcellular Wolbachia localization and to identify which cellular pathways the bacteria affect. Wolbachia is the pathogen that causes African River Blindness in humans. Thus, in addition to learning about Drosophila development, these studies will further our understanding of host-pathogen interactions at a cellular level.

Dr. Jeffrey Carrier's shark researchDr. Jeffrey Carrier was the department's physiologist until his recent retirement in December 2010. His primary research interests concern aging, growth, migration, and reproductive biology of nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) in the Florida Keys. Carrier and his colleagues have systematically studied a breeding population of sharks for more than a fifteen years and have documented the relationship between the breeding population and the research site, now a protected area. The studies have further revealed the gestation period for this species, demonstrated multiple paternity in litters, and have begun to unravel an intricate social order in this little studied group of marine fish. His most recent investigations have employed remote sensing technologies to track short and long-term movements of sharks and, in collaboration with the Remote Imaging Laboratory of the National Geographic Society, have used animal-borne video and data recording systems (CritterCam) to explore more intimate aspects of shark mating behaviors. Carrier and his students have appeared in 15 shows produced for network and cable television ranging from National Geographic Explorer, CritterCam Chronicles, and Discovery Channel specials to Florida Public Television documentaries and segments for Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures and Fox's Wild Animal Moments.

Dr. Dale Kennedy, Albion CollegeDr. Dale Kennedy is a behavioral ecologist whose research focuses primarily on factors that affect clutch size (number of eggs laid) and breeding success in birds. She carries out field studies on mating and feeding behaviors, clutch size, hatching and fledgling success, and nestling growth rates of a variety of cavity-nesting birds. In recent years she and her students have examined sex ratios of nestling House Wrens and Tree Swallows, patterns and variation in songs of House Wrens and other birds, effects of nest box microclimate on breeding success of wrens and swallows, and dominance and movements of local Black-capped Chickadees. Almost all her work is done in the Whitehouse Nature Center at Albion College. In addition, as Director of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Dr. Kennedy assists students college-wide to develop their research interests into a senior honors thesis.

Dr. Sheila Lyons-Sobaski is an ecologist whose research utilizes both field and molecular genetic techniques to investigate the ecology and evolution of plant populations. In particular, she is interested in how gene flow maintains genetic variation within isolated plant populations to better understand the ecological patterns and evolutionary processes which structure them. Her research was a comprehensive study of gene flow and its influence on the genetic structuring of a regionally-endangered annual plant, Sabatia campestris (Gentianaceae). Her research is important because, at the level of an individual, she empirically demonstrated the significance of the soil seed bank in conserving genetic variation over time. In addition to studies of local gene movement, she has explored regional genetic differences for S. campestris by comparing peripheral populations, those located at the edge of a species range, with centrally located populations where the species is common. Her future research plans include further studies in the molecular ecology and gene flow of regionally endangered species.

Dr. Ola Olapade is primarily a microbial ecologist/microbiologist interested in the delineation of microbial community composition and structure, especially those in biofilms in various aquatic systems such as lakes, streams, and rivers. He currently employs both standard microbiological and molecular techniques to examine and describe the abundance and distribution of various bacterial populations in response to changes in hydrodynamics, seasonality, nutrient and organic C availability, as well as predation in freshwater environments. Apart from his interest in taxonomic diversity, he is presently exploring diversity amongst various functional groups as well as their enzymatic activities.

Dr. Brad Rabquer uses fruit flies in his research as a molecular and cellular physiologist.Dr. Brad Rabquer is a molecular and cellular physiologist interested in human inflammatory and angiogenic diseases. Inflammation and angiogenesis play key roles in the pathogenesis of many cancers, and in autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic sclerosis (SSc). State-of-the-art therapies for select cancers and RA target angiogenesis and inflammation, respectively. However, while these treatments have shown to be effective, many patients do not respond adequately to them. Therefore, more research is needed to understand the pathological basis of inflammation and angiogenesis.

The first aspect of Dr. Rabquer's research focuses on angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. He is interested in determining the role of a novel family of soluble adhesion molecules, junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs), in mediating facets of angiogenesis. For these studies, Dr. Rabquer employs a number of cell and molecular biology approaches including quantitative PCR, Western blotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), and cell culture techniques. In addition, Dr. Rabquer is studying how the upregulation of angiogenic chemokines affects the development of blood vessels in patients with SSc. As SSc progresses, a loss of arteries and capillaries is observed in many organs, including the skin. However, despite the loss of vasculature, compensatory angiogenesis is dysregulated and does not occur normally. Various studies have demonstrated a paradoxical increase in proangiogenic molecules in both the skin and serum of patients with SSc. Dr. Rabquer's research will attempt to explain how the overexpression of these angiogenic factors affects microvascular endothelial cells in SSc skin.

The second aspect of Dr. Rabquer's research focuses on the role of monocytes in inflammation. He is interested in determining the role of soluble JAMs (sJAMs) in monocyte migration. To date, he has found that these molecules are upregulated in the synovial fluid (joint fluid) of patients with RA and therefore may play a role in inflammation. For these studies, Dr. Rabquer employs a number of cell and molecular biology approaches including quantitative PCR, Western blotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), and cell culture techniques including chemotaxis assays.

Dr. Ken Saville is a geneticist and molecular biologist whose primary research interests are transposable elements and DNA repair, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Transposable elements are discrete segments of DNA with the ability to "jump" into and out of chromosomes. Dr. Saville's research is primarily focused on a particular genetic element called hobo. When hobo jumps out of (excises from) a chromosome it causes a particular type of DNA damage- a double strand DNA break, sealed at the end with a hairpin loop structure. This damaged DNA must be repaired by the normal cellular DNA repair machinery in order to maintain genomic integrity. There are two main mechanisms for repairing double strand breaks in DNA: Homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ). Under certain conditions it appears that hobo generated damage is repaired with a strong preference for the NHEJ pathway, Similar DNA damage and repair processes are involved in the formation of antibodies and other important molecules in vertebrate immune cells. Failure to repair this type of damage in mammalian cells leads to severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) and a high susceptibility to cancer. The goal of Dr. Saville's research is to develop hobo excision as a unique model of DNA damage and repair and to ultimately apply the knowledge learned from this system to a further understanding of similar processes in mammalian cells, particularly those processes that, when compromised, lead to increased cancer susceptibility in humans. This work has been supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has been the source of research projects for more than twenty Albion students over the past several years.

A second area of interest is the basic genetic processes that control animal development. In this area, Dr. Saville has studied a gene essential for Drosophila development. This work revealed that the protein, now called pros26, encoded by this gene is a subunit of the Drosophila proteasome, which is essential for the degradation of cellular proteins via the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. The relationship of this function to development remains a mystery, however similar genes are present in virtually all organisms, suggesting their fundamental significance in biology. Recently, a second mutation was identified by genetic interaction with the a mutant allele of pros26, and its protein, too was shown to be a proteasome subunit. This research relates to Dr. Saville's overall interest in cancer in that proteasomes have been shown to be an effective drug target for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Finally, Dr. Saville has also collaborated with Albion Professor Dr. Jeff Carrier to apply molecular techniques to the analysis of nurse shark mating behavior. This work led to the discovery of multiple paternity in nurse sharks and publications with Albion student co-authors.

Dr. Ruth Schmitter is a cell biologist who was initially drawn to a career in biology by a strong and persistent interest in natural history and nature study. Her research interests are centered around the fine structure and physiology of dinoflagellate algae. First, intracellular digestion is uncommon in actively photosynthetic organisms, yet she has discovered by light and electron microscope studies that several dinoflagellate species possess enzyme activity typical of animal cell lysosomes. Undergraduates have carried out publishable work on this topic. Second, certain freshwater dinoflagellates have recently been shown by others to be acidophilic, and Dr. Schmitter is beginning studies on dinoflagellate algae as potential acid rain indicators in Michigan waters. Finally, she has extensive experience with some of the more exotic properties of marine dinoflagellates -- bioluminescence, circadian rhythms, and the formation of toxic blooms called red tides.

Dr. Dan Skean researches flowering plants, including the ghost orchid.Dr. Dan Skean is interested in the systematics of angiosperms, i.e., the classification and evolutionary relationships of flowering plants, especially those belonging to the family Melastomataceae. Skean has conducted floristic inventories in the southeastern United States and West Indies, and has current research projects in southern Michigan and on the island of Hispaniola. Skean's research involves data from many sources--morphology, anatomy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and field ecological studies, which are used in computer-assisted phenetic and cladistic analyses to estimate phylogeny, i.e., evolutionary history. Presently Skean is studying the systematics of the genus Calycogonium DC. Incorporating data from diverse approaches, Skean's research makes many different undergraduate projects possible. Dr. Skean also manages the Albion College Plant Image Database.

Dr. Doug White is an ecologist whose research focuses on coevolutionary interactions between fruit-eating animals, particularly birds, and fleshy- fruited plants. He has studied the nutritional composition and physical characteristics of temperate and tropical fruits, avian feeding preferrences, seasonal patterns of fruit use, interactions between feeding capacities of birds and fruit size, and patterns of avian seed deposition. His other research interests are (1) avian population biology including studies of interspecific competition and nesting microclimate in cavity-nesting birds, (2) ptilochronology, using feather growth rates to assess nutritional status in birds, and (3) evaluation and conservation of remnants of native forest which are jeopardized by development. Outside biology, Dr. White enjoys building reproductions of Shaker furniture.

Dr. Abigail Cahill's research interests center around evolutionary ecology of early life stages of marine species. She is interested in questions relating dispersal of marine invertebrates to other ecological and evolutionary processes, especially how dispersal type can influence local adaptation to temperature regimes and ultimately how these species may or may not evolve in response to global climate change. She is also interested in how marine invertebrate population dynamics are driven by recruitment and subsequent survival, and how these crucial processes are affected by environmental, phenotypic, and genetic variation. Answering these questions involves labwork using molecular methods, as well as lab and fieldwork with live organisms. At Albion, she will be branching out into freshwater invertebrate systems to ask some of these same questions regarding connectivity, dispersal, and life history.

More Articles ...