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 and associated programming. 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. His graduate research included genetically altering tobacco plants so that they express a gene from a bioluminescent jellyfish. Cellular calcium concentrations and hydrogen peroxide could then be easily measured in these glow-in-the-dark plants. At EMU, Steve continues this research, involving EMU students in the study of oxidation/anti-oxidation in plant stress, with applications in sustainable agriculture and invasive species ecology. Steve teaches courses in biochemistry, chemistry, and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Cessna’s research interests include:
- Developing and assessing multiple min-research projects for use in teaching labs
- Developing and assessing strategies for teaching the nature of science and higher order cognitive skills
- Comparing antioxidants in blueberries grown in different soil types and conditions
- Comparing photosynthesis and growth of various native and invasive vine species
- Testing gardening techniques in terms of their impacts on produce yield and nutritional quality

Jeffrey Copeland
Assistant 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. He works primarily with the Environmental Sustainability program at EMU, 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 in Cambodia, were he worked on environmental issues through the Royal University of Agriculture and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Doug lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, Cristina, and two young sons, Alex and Evan. They enjoy many outdoors activities, and take as many opportunities as possible to go camping and traveling.

Doug’s current research 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 is an Assistant Professor of Biology at EMU who has taught Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Animal Form & Function, Mammalian Physiology, Mammalian Anatomy and Nutrition Fundamentals. Julia also serves as faculty for the MA in Biomedicine program and instructs the graduate-level Human Anatomy cadaver dissection course, a Biomedicine Transdisciplinary Seminar, Medical Terminology and Research in Biomedicine. Julia received her B.S. in Biology at Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Virginia. While completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia, Julia taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends and enjoys doing anything outdoors.

Dr. Halterman’s research interests include:
- Determining how diet influences changes in gene expression in hypertension (chronic high blood pressure)
- Understanding how high-salt diets alter organ function
- Utilizing rats to determine how consumption of a high-salt diet will alter expression of a protein called NFAT5
- Identifying genes regulated by NFAT5 in hypertension using a computational bioinformatics approach

Greta Ann Herin
Associate Professor

Dr. Greta Ann Herin is currently on sabbatical at the Computational and Experimental Neuroplasticity Laboratory in the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies, George Mason University.

She has taught: Mammalian Anatomy, Faith, Science and Ethics, Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Neuropsychology, Advanced Neurobiology, Mammalian Physiology, Molecules, Genes, and Cells, Biological Explorations, a Senior Seminar called"Origins". She has also co-taught Concepts in Biology, a Senior Seminar “Form, Finitude and Faith” and a Colloquium “Passion and Obsession”.

Greta Ann usually 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 was on 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.

Roman Miller

Dr. Roman J. Miller is the Daniel B. Suter Endowed Professor of Biology and the Director of the MA in Biomedicine program at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA where he has taught courses in physiology, anatomy, developmental biology, animal science, bioethics, and philosophy of science for the past thirty years. Roman received his Ph.D. in biomedical science from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio and completed a post-doctoral research program at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, prior to teaching at EMU.

Roman is married to Dr. Elva (Bowman) Miller a retired optometrist. The Millers live on Knoll Acres, a small farm near Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they are busy raising and enjoying their family, as well as a flock of Barbados Blackbelly sheep, AKC registered collie puppies, and horses. The Millers enjoy reading, gardening, blueberry horticulture, traveling, fishing, and working on their farm. They are active members at Dayton Mennonite Church, Dayton, Virginia.

Current research interests:
*Blueberry organic horticulture
*Creating conditions to enhance nutrient-dense blueberries
*Alcohol teratogenesis on mouse embryonic development
*Anabaptist perspective in bioethics

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? Both of the questions are of intense interest to park biologists and land managers as well as contribute to the broader ecological study of exotic plant invasions of native ecosystems.

Jim also ventured into study abroad education by leading a 6-week cross-cultural trip to New Zealand in the summer of 2010 with his wife Kathy and returning for a semester long trip back to New Zealand in the fall of 2012. The trip 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 and Kathy will be leading another six-week summer experience to New Zealand in the summer of 2015.

In addition to teaching, Jim is the curator of the D. Ralph Hostetter Museum of Natural History and 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
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