Program Director

Harney Science Center 219C

Professor Naupaka Zimmerman is broadly interested in the intersection of microbial community and ecosystem ecology. His lab research focuses on the ecology of plant-microbe interactions, with a particular focus on asymptomatic foliar fungi (also known as fungal endophytes).

Born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai'i, Professor Zimmerman continues to conduct some of his research there, focusing on the endemic Hawaiian tree Metrosideros polymorpha. At USF, he has expanded his research to...

  • PhD, Biological Sciences, Stanford University
  • BA, Environmental Science, Public Policy, Cultural Anthropology, Harvard University

Full-Time Faculty

Harney Science Center 270

Jennifer A. Dever is Professor in the Department of Biology. She received her PhD from Texas Tech University. Professor Dever studies the genetics of threatened and/or endangered populations of vertebrates, including crocodiles and foothill yellow-legged frogs. She employs molecular markers to assess the genetic structure of these populations, with the goal of species conservation. Several graduate and undergraduate students are collaborating with Professor Dever on this research.

Watch her...

  • PhD, Texas Tech University
Harney Science Center 236

Professor Sangman Kim is broadly interested in the interaction between hosts and microbes. His current research focuses on a family of receptors called toll-like receptors (TLRs) that are used by host immune systems to distinguish between different classes of microbes, in order to drive a tailored immune response. He is utilizing a variety of molecular methods to dissect signaling downstream of TLR activation, and investigating the impact of commonly-occurring TLR polymorphisms on microbial...

  • University of Chicago, PhD in Immunology, 2018
  • Seoul National University, MS in Biological Sciences, 2010
  • UC Davis, BS in Biological Sciences, 2006
Harney Science Center 238

Scott Nunes is Professor in the Department of Biology. He earned his BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his PhD from Michigan State University.  His research focuses on the behavioral ecology of mammals.  His recent work with Belding’s ground squirrels in the Sierra Nevada has examined breeding dispersal in adult males, and short- and long-term benefits of play behavior for young animals.

  • PhD, Michigan State University
  • BA, UC Santa Cruz
Harney Science Center 263

John R. Paul, Assistant Professor, earned his BS degree from The Evergreen State College and a Masters in Zoology from the University of Florida. He earned a PhD in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, working on the phylogenetics and ecology of the tropical plants in the lab of Stephen J. Tonsor. He held two postdoctoral researcher positions at Colorado State University, and also served as a general biology lecturer there for three semesters. His research program at USF focuses on the...

  • PhD, Biology, University of Pittsburgh
  • MSc, Zoology, University of Florida
  • BSc, Evergreen State College
Harney Science Center 223

Professor Sikes is interested in the evolution and development of regeneration and asexual reproduction in invertebrates, particularly marine and freshwater flatworms. Current research focuses on understanding developmental mechanisms that allow some flatworms to regenerate and the molecular developmental processes that lead to diversification of asexual reproductive strategies.

  • PhD, University of Maryland
  • BS, Furman University
Harney Science Center 261

John Sullivan holds the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair. He received his AB from Dartmouth College, and his MS and PhD from Lehigh University. Prof. Sullivan investigates the role of the molluscan immune system in responding to parasitic infection and foreign tissue transplants. He is specifically interested in the interaction between the schistosome parasite, a major cause of human disease, and the snail intermediate host.

  • PhD, Lehigh University
  • MS, Lehigh University
  • BA, Dartmouth College

Professor Suni is interested in how environmental change and ecology influence the evolutionary trajectories and conservation status of populations. Her current research focuses on how drought and deforestation affect plant-pollinator interactions, and how we can increase positive feedback between human-dominated and natural areas.

  • PhD, Biology, Stanford University
  • BA, Biology, Colorado College
Harney Science Center 219H

Dr. Nicole Thometz is a broadly trained physiological ecologist who specializes in marine mammal physiology, ecology, and behavior. She has spent her career studying the ontogeny of energy demands, development of diving capacities, reproductive energetics, and foraging behavior of southern sea otters.

In addition, Dr. Thometz has studied the physiology and behavior of Weddell seals in the Antarctic, the metabolic demands and diving capacities of Hawaiian monk seals, and the physiology of...

  • PhD, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz, 2014
  • BS, Biology, University of Portland, 2008
Harney Science Center 229 & 231

Prof. Tzagarakis-Foster studies the transcription factor, DAX-1, which is a member of the nuclear hormone receptor family and is linked to the human disease X-linked Adrenal Hypoplasia Congenita (AHC). Specifically, her research explores the role of DAX-1 in human development as well its involvement in the initiation of breast cancer.

  • UC Davis, PhD in Microbiology, 1999
  • University of San Francisco, BS in Biology, 1990
  • Cancer biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell and molecular biology

Faculty Emeritus

Raymond James (Jim) Brown joined the USF faculty in fall 1970 as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. Over his 37 years at USF, Jim taught General Biology, Organic Evolution, Comparative Anatomy, Vertebrate Embryology, and California Wildlife. Later in his career, he directed the Graduate Environmental Management Program and helped establish the Environmental Science Department. He was the first chair of the department and taught Environmental Science and Environmental Monitoring...

Paul K. Chien is Professor of Biology. He received his BS in both Biology and Chemistry from Chung Chi College, N.T., Hong Kong, and his PhD from the University of California, Irvine. Prof. Chien is interested in the physiology and ecology of inter-tidal organisms. His research has involved the transport of amino acids and metal ions across cell membranes and the detoxification mechanisms of metal ions.