Department of Biological Sciences

Keynote and Workshop Speakers

Opening Keynote Speaker

Dr. Gary Felton

Dr. Gary W. Felton
Professor and Department Head of Entomology
Penn State University

Dr. Felton is an entomologist whose research focuses on the chemical ecology of plant-herbivore interactions.

  • His research identified that infected caterpillars (with polydnaviruses from wasps) decrease defense-gene expression on tomato plants.
  • This demonstrated that polydnaviruses shape phenotypes expressed by the wasp, caterpillar, and tomatoes. Therefore, indicating the potential significant role of polydnaviruses on plant–herbivore interactions.

Visit his website to learn more about his research.


Closing Keynote Speaker

Dr. Scott Mills

Dr. Scott Mills
Associate Vice President of Research for Global Change and Sustainability
Wildlife Biology Professor
University of Montana

Dr. Mills is an applied wildlife population biologist, whose current research projects focus on:

  • Adaptation by animals to global change
    • Especially those who seasonally change coat color for camouflage against snow (snowshoe, arctic fox, etc).
  • Snow leopards, tigers and elephants, that cross international boundaries, in Bhutan and northern India.

Visit his website to learn more about his research.


R for Biology Workshop

Dr. Jim Lamer

Dr. Jim Lamer
Director of the Illinois River Biological Station
Illinois Natural History Survey

Dr. Lamer is a large river ecologist whose research focuses on biotic and abiotic interactions in aquatic systems.

  • Dr. Lamer has a vast experience on using and teaching R programming to analyze biological data.
  • He will host MEEC's workshop on R Programming for Biology on February 29, 2020. (All levels are invited).

Visit his website to learn more about his research.

Workshop Abstract

This course in an introduction to the R programming language and statistical application through the RStudio text editor. This is designed for an audience that has had little to no experience with R. By the end of the course, the participant should be familiar with the architecture of the R code, be able to import and manipulate their own datasets, run basic statistical tests, and generate basic plots. Ultimately, it should provide a foundation and familiarity with the program that the student can build upon. Please bring your own laptop to the workshop.


Grant Writing Workshop

Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro

Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro
Rotating Program Director, National Science Foundation

Dr. Porras-Alfaro is currently rotating as a NSF Program Director in the Population and Community Ecology Cluster.

  • She will be the speaker for our workshop on Grant Writing on February 29, 2020.
  • Dr. Porras-Alfaro is a fungal ecologist whose research focuses on understanding the ecology of plant-associated fungi. She is an Associate Professor at Western Illinois University.

Visit his website to learn more about her research.