Biology Dept


Tara Kishbaugh
Department Chair

Dr. Tara L.S. Kishbaugh obtained her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Wheaton College and her graduate degree in organic chemistry studying the reactivity of electron deficient indoles at Dartmouth College under the mentorship of Gordon W. Gribble. During graduate school, she spent a year teaching organic chemistry at St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont. Afterwards, she was a Dreyfus postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth campus. During this position, she taught as well as studied fluorinated allenes. At EMU, Tara has taught a variety of courses, including organic, general, medicinal, and environmental chemistry as well as seminars on ethics, land use, and food chemistry. Since 2013, she is chair of the biology and chemistry departments. Tara has been involved in a number of trans-disciplinary projects on campus, such as EMU Common Reads, a common reading program. Tara’s chemistry-related hobbies include photography, baking, and tie-dying. Tara’s research interests include chemical education, heterocyclic chemistry, and water quality studies.

Dr. Kishbaugh’s research interests include
- Chemical education projects, such as assessing non-content learning in laboratory research projects, or
- Assessing student familiarity with and understanding of green chemistry, or
- Improving student’s engagement with math coursework by adding contextual relevance to the assignments
- Writing review chapters on heterocyclic chemistry- in particular indoles and pyridines
- Water quality monitoring in the local watershed related to bacterial contamination, run-off or hydrofracking.

Stephen Cessna
Professor of Biochemistry

Steve received his BA in chemistry and biochemistry in Colorado in 1991 and then taught middle school math and science in Lesotho in southern Africa. After returning to the US in 1995, getting married and moving to Indiana, Steve finished a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000. At EMU, Steve teaches courses in chemistry, biochemistry, plant physiology and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Cessna’s research interests include:
- STEM student retention
- Teach the nature of science
- Assessing means of teaching through course-embedded research projects in college settings
- Measuring oxidant and anti-oxidant content in plants responding to stresses
- Comparing photosynthesis, antioxidant content, and growth of various plants in different stress conditions

Jeffrey Copeland
Associate Professor

Dr. Jeffrey Copeland has been at EMU since 2009 and teaches courses in genetics, cell biology, microbiology and immunology. Jeff earned his PhD in Biology from the California Institute of Technology and completed his post-doctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests include probing the genetics determinants in the aging process, the role of the mitochondria in hyperoxic resistance, and the genetic basis for multidrug resistance in E. coli. While not at work, Jeff spends his time at home with his wife, his three daughters, biking and gardening.

Doug Graber Neufeld

Click here for Research and Course Webpages

Dr. Graber Neufeld is Professor of Biology & Director of the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions.

In the Biology&Chemistry Departments, he works primarily with the Environmental Sustainability program, with a concentration in issues that relate to environmental monitoring and toxicology. He teaches in the introductory biology course, Concepts in Biology, and in a variety of courses related to environmental issues (such as Environmental Toxicology, Natural History of the Shenandoah Valley). He has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in environmental physiology, and worked at the University of Arizona and the University of Otago (New Zealand) before coming to EMU. He served a two year term with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Cambodia, were he worked on environmental issues through the Royal University of Agriculture and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. More recently, he served another two year term with MCC, as water & livelihoods advisor in Kenya, splitting his time between WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programs in informal settlements (“slums”) of Nairobi, and water provision and conservation agriculture projects in ASAL (arid and semi-arid lands) regions of eastern Kenya. Doug lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, Cristina, and two sons, Alex and Evan. They enjoy many outdoors activities, and take as many opportunities as possible to go camping and traveling.

Doug’s research at EMU is in collaboration with students and includes projects:
- water monitoring assessing stream health in a local watershed, and the effects of stream restoration
- baseline water monitoring in an area that was proposed as a hydrofracking site
- assessing pesticides in market vegetables using a novel combination of techniques, and
- using zebrafish startle response as a sensitive toxicity indicator

Julia Halterman
Assistant Professor

Dr. Julia Halterman received her BS in Biology at Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Virginia. She additionally completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia as an extension of her Ph.D. work researching cardiovascular disease. She currently serves as faculty for the Masters in Biomedicine program and undergraduate biology department at EMU. Julia teaches Interdisciplinary Biomedicine Seminar I, Research in Biomedicine, Human Gross & Microscopic Anatomy lab, and Medical Terminology. In the past, Julia has taught other courses such as Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Advanced Human Physiology, Animal Form & Function and Nutrition Fundamentals. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with her family and loves doing anything outdoors.

Dr. Halterman’s research interests include:
- Investigating the role of diet in hypertension
- Determining how diet influences gene expression and alters organ function
- Utilizing rats to understand how consumption of a high-salt or high-fructose diet alters expression of the NFAT5 gene
- Identifying other genes regulated by high-salt and high-fructose diets

Greta Ann Herin
Associate Professor

Greta Ann Herin has taught a wide variety of courses in general biology, biomedicine, and general education. Courses include: Advanced Human Anatomy; Faith, Science and Ethics; Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II; Neuropsychology; Advanced Neurobiology (undergraduate and masters-level students) ; Mammalian Physiology; Molecules, Genes, and Cells; Biological Explorations; and a Senior Seminar “The Elephant and the Rider”. She has also co-taught Concepts in Biology; a Senior Seminar “Form, Finitude and Faith”; a Senior Seminar “Origins”; and a Colloquium “Passion and Obsession”.

Greta Ann serves as a Pre-professional Health Sciences advisor.

She has dual Bachelors Degrees in Biochemistry and Psychology from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Her dissertation covers interactions among modulators of NMDA receptors, an important glutamate receptor in the brain. In addition Dr. Herin did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. There she studied metabotropic glutamate receptors.

Kristopher Schmidt
Assistant Professor
Jim Yoder

Jim advises the Environmental Sustainability majors and teaches ecology and conservation biology courses. He earned his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University and his primary research interests include conservation biology, landscape ecology, behavioral ecology and GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Past research has focused on population and behavioral responses of species to habitat fragmentation. His dissertation research at The Ohio State University was in collaboration with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and examined the effects of fragmented habitat on the dispersal and population dynamics of ruffed grouse in southeastern Ohio.

In 2006 he began a longterm collaborative study working with Shenandoah National Park research botanist, Wendy Cass. The research is being conducted by 2-3 EMU undergraduates per year (including summers) as well as SNP personnel. The project includes intense on-site field sampling as well as mapping and analysis of exotic plant spread and impact using GIS. The project addresses two specific research questions that focus on the exotic plants invading the Shenandoah National Park: 1) What is the rate of spread of the three most threatening exotic species beginning to invade the Big Meadows Swamp Natural Heritage area and 2) What is the impact of these exotics on the continued viability of the eight rare plant species located within the area?

In the fall of 2014, Jim began a stream restoration and monitoring project in the German River and Crab Run watersheds near Bergton, VA. This is also a long-term collaborative project with initial funding provided by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant that includes partnering with EMU colleague Dr. Doug Graber Neufeld, Brian Wagner of Ecosystem Services, LLC., Tom Akre at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and EMU’s Center for Justice and Peace. The immediate goals of the project are to conduct a watershed assessment and restore two sections of stream as well as assess potential strategies to encourage adoption of best management practices by community members. His students are specifically working on stream macroinvertebrate monitoring of restoration impacts and long-term population trends of Wood turtles in the watersheds.

Jim is also heavily involved in study abroad education and has lead cross-cultural trips to New Zealand in the summer of 2010 (6 weeks), fall 2012 (full semester) and summer of 2015 (6 weeks) with his wife Kathy. The trips focused on sustainability issues related to tourism, natural resource conservation, and agriculture as well as indigenous Maori culture, restorative justice and New Zealand history. He also co-led a 3 week summer cross-cultural to Navajo Nation in Arizona with Dr. Gloria Rhodes in the summer of 2017.

In addition to teaching, Jim is the curator of the D. Ralph Hostetter Museum of Natural History and was recently the faculty resource person and chair of the implementation team for the Peace With Creation Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a 5 year initiative drawing together EMU students, faculty and staff around the theme of sustainability and how it relates to Anabaptist beliefs concerning creation care, peace and social justice.

Adjunct Faculty


Brinton Domangue
Lab Coordinator

Brint Domangue is lab coordinator in the Suter Science Center, serving primarily the departments of Biology and Chemistry, and he also teaches courses in environmental science. Brint’s educational and research interests are in botanical studies. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Biology from James Madison University by investigating vascular flora in the Shenandoah Valley. After graduation, Brint spent some time as an adjunct at Mary Baldwin College and continued research at JMU and Virginia Tech. Brint has been with EMU since Fall 2014 and is grateful to serve others in a family-like community. In his spare time, he enjoys landscaping and gardening outdoors.

Diane Farrar
Office Coordinator

Diane Bowman is the Office Coordinator in the Suter Science Center, serving the biology, chemistry, and mathematical sciences departments. Diane is a two-time alumnus of EMU, earning a B.A. in 1995 (Liberal Arts with lots of music) and a Master of Arts in Church Leadership in 2005 (with a focus on congregational education). Prior to seminary, Diane maintained a private piano teaching studio for many years. After seminary, she enjoyed a stint of curriculum writing with Menno Media, and then worked for seven years providing administrative support for Virginia Mennonite Conference and Virginia Mennonite Missions, while further exercising her educational gifts in the church on a volunteer basis. Diane has been in her current role at EMU since July of 2014. She enjoys using her skills in an educational environment with lots of variety and relevance, and with that wonderful sense of community she learned to value in her student days. She still plays the piano in her free time, and loves to go contra dancing for exercise!

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