Biology | Chemistry | Computer Science | Environmental Studies
Mathematics | Physics | Assessment Team
There are Austin College faculty participating in the STAR Leadership Program from many departments and programs in the Science Division. Below is an alphabetical list of our participating faculty. Click the links above to see faculty in a specific program or department.
STAR Steering Committee
Director of the STAR Leadership Program
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Research Interests: The Richardson lab focuses on understanding the mechanistic basis of protein folding and the misfolding process with respect to the disease dialysis-related amyloidosis (DRA). The protein under investigation is b-2-microglobulin (b2m), the fibrous component of amyloid deposits in DRA. b2m is particularly well suited for study due to its small size and the observation that misfolding is a triggered event that can be controlled in a laboratory environment. Furthermore, the associated downstream effects on long-term cardiac, renal, and cartilaginous joint health make it an ideal candidate for study, not only for the advancement of fundamental scientific knowledge, but also for the broader application to public health.
STAR Courses Taught: Chem 111 – Principles of General Chemistry, Chem 112 – Chemical Equilibria, Chem 351 - Introduction to Biochemistry, Chem 352 – Biochemical Metabolism, Sci - 201 Politics of the Scientific Method
Associate Professor of Biology
Research Interests: Research in the Aiello lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms of intracellular calcium homeostasis in eukaryotic cells, in particular the genetic model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Proper intracellular calcium homeostasis is an essential process whereby calcium ions that cross the plasma membrane into the cytosol of the cell are rapidly sequestered into intracellular compartments thus keeping cytosolic calcium concentrations low (50-200 nm). Highlighting the essential nature of this process, recent reports suggest that the molecular basis of the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease may be fundamentally due to altered calcium homeostasis in affected patients. Specifically, we are examining the role intermediates in carbohydrate metabolism may play in regulating the intracellular sequestration of calcium ions. We are currently conducting a genetic screen to identify proteins that bridge the gap between the two distinct biochemical processes of calcium homeostasis and carbohydrate metabolism. Students will learn to use both classic and modern genetic techniques in addressing this question.
STAR Courses Taught: Biol 116 – Cell Biology, Biol 228 – Genetics, Biol 343 – Molecular Biology of the Chromosome, Biol 344 – Molecular Biology of Gene Expression, Biol 480 – Research Discussions
Professor of Physics
STAR Courses Taught:
Mari Elise Ewing
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Research Interests: People and places are inextricably linked in social-ecological systems around the world. My research examines the influence of manmade and natural capital on the resilience and adaptive capacity of agricultural systems. My mixed methods approach utilizes historical data, interview data, and agent-based modeling. An agent-based model simulates the actions and interactions of individual entities, exploring how system behavior emerges from aggregate decisions. I model landowner decision-making processes and land use patterns. I extend this study of decision processes to the classroom. In the environmental studies capstone course, students employ policy sciences frameworks to explicitly and systematically guide their study of environmental problems.
STAR Courses Taught: CI 101 – Environmental Impacts of Consumerism, ENVS 135 – Fundamentals of Environmental Studies, ENVS 245 – Food Systems, ENVS 359 – Resilient Systems, ENVS 439 – The Decision Process
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Research Interests: Research in the Felix lab focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and applications of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) borenium ions. Recent research has shown that borenium ions, which are tricoordinate boron compounds with a net positive charge, have unique applications as extremely reactive Lewis acids. The Felix lab is investigating whether borenium ions can be used to transform acyclic, poly-unsaturated organic compounds into cyclic structures. This research could have applications in the synthesis of complex molecules with medicinal and pharmaceutical properties, such as synthetic hormones, many of which have polycyclic backbones.
STAR Courses Taught: Chem 111 – Principles of General Chemistry, Chem 112 – Chemical Equilibria, Chem 221 – Organic Chemistry I, Chem 222 – Organic Chemistry II, Chem 421 – Advanced Organic Chemistry
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
STAR Courses Taught: