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Biology Research & Grants

NSF STEP to Success Grant: $500,000.00 for recruiting STEM majors and supporting them through their educational careers at WVSU.  Grant leaders: Mr. Gary Adams, Dr. Katherine Harper, Dr. Charles Byers, Dr. Upali Karunathilake, Dr. Xioahong Zhang, and Ms. Leah Turner

WVSU’s Research and Development Corporation continues to play a vital role in advancing the University’s research mission. Recently, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the University more than $1.6 million in USDA 1890 Capacity Building Grants. These seven grants are the largest funding total WVSU has ever received from this competitive program. The grants will support faculty, graduate and undergraduate research, and will strengthen the University’s research capacity in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
image-up-arrowimage-down-arrowBiology Research Efforts

As an 1890 Land-Grant Institution, West Virginia State University has a Research Mission to address the agricultural, environmental, economic and social issues of the people of West Virginia, the region, and the nation.  Conducting collaborative applied and basic research in the pursuit of new knowledge provides experiential learning opportunities for students and more relevant curricula.


  • Dr. Mark Chatfield – Plant Physiology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology
  • Dr. Sean Collins - Social Insect Biology, Insect Population Biology, Ecology
  • Dr. Jonathan Eya - Fish Biology and Nutrition, Aquaculture, Nutrigenomics, Nutritional Immunology
  • Dr. Gerald Hankins - Tumor Biology, Gene Therapy
  • Dr. Rob Harris - Muscle Physiology
  • Dr. David Huber - Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Microbial Genomics, Microbial Diversity, Biofilms, Anaerobic Digestion
  • Dr. Umesh Reddy - Plant Genomics
  • Dr. Tim Ruhnke - Systematics and Evolution of Parasitic Platyhelminths, Environmental Parasitology
  • Dr. Barbara Liedl - Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Reproductive Barriers, Speciation, Sustainable Agriculture
  • Dr. Padma Nimmakayala - Quantitative Genetics, DNA marker assisted plant breeding

Research Administration


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  • Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer

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image-up-arrowimage-down-arrowGraduate Theses

Master of Science Graduate Theses

In Vitro Screening of Hibiscus Sabdariffa Extract for Anti-Tumor Properties and Effects on Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Migration and Proliferation. Christopher R. Racine. Gerald R. Hankins, Advisor. August 2010.

Identification of Glucose-Utilizing Anaerobic Bacteria in a Thermophilic Anaerobic Digester Using Stable Isotope Probing (SIP). Tandiwe Mpabanga. David H. Huber, Advisor. December 2008.

Understanding Microbial Community Structure and Performance During the Co-Digestion of Stillage Waste and Poultry Litter by a Thermophilic Anaerobic Digester. Deepak Sharma. David H. Huber, Advisor. May 2010.

The Role of Mitochondrial Function and Gene Expression in the Growth of Performance and Feed Efficiency of Juvenile Rainbow Trout. Charles F. Pomeroy. Jonathan C. Eya, Advisor. December 2009.

The Genus Anthobothrium (Van Beneden, 1850): Molecular Systematics and Description of Six New Species. Leah M. Wilson. Tim R. Ruhnke, Advisor. December 2009.

Systematics of Selected Phyllobothriid Species Utilizing the Entire Large Ribosomal Subunit. Joshua Greenwood. Tim R. Ruhnke, Advisor. November 2007

Morophological and Molecular Identification of Three New Species of Paraorygmatobothrium Ruhnke 1994 from Carcharhiniform Sharks. Katherine E. Cappellari. Timothy R. Ruhnke, Advisor. June 2009.

DNA Methylation in alteration of US Watermelon Heirloom Genetic Diversity and Regulation of Growth and Development in Arabidopsis Ecotypes. Renee Gist. Umesh K. Reddy, Advisor. July 2009.

Microarray Analysis of Gene Expression in Mechanically Stretched Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. Phillip R. Jones. Robert T. Harris, Advisor. April 2009.

Resveratrol Alters Stretch Induced Changes in Morphology and Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Signalling in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. Shaik R. Sharif. Robert T. Harris, Advisor. December 2006.

DNA Sequencing Variation in Geographic Diverse Samples of Paraorygmatobothrium(Tetraphyllidea: Phyllobothriidae) Collected from the Blacktip Shark,Carcharhinu Limbatus. Robin Le Turner. Tim R. Ruhnke, Advisor. December 2006.

A First Linkage Map of Sesamum (Sesamum indicum L.) using AFLP and SSR Markers. Jooha Jeong. Umesh Reddy, Advisor. April 2007.

Effects of Progesterone and 17-beta-Estradiol on Proliferation and the Expression of DLC1, CAV1, and JUN in Meningioma Cells in Culture. Velvet L. Worstell. Gerald R. Hankins, Advisor. December 2008.

Co-Localization of Fruit Yield Related Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) to Understand Domestication Footprints in Cultivated Capsicum Complexes. Srinivasa Rao Asturi. Umesh K. Reddy, Adivsor. November 2007.

Dynamics of Genetic Diversity in Cotton as Revealed by the Methylation Profiles. Venkatagopinath Vaija. Umesh K. Reddy, Advisor. July 2008.

The Fate of 17-beta-Estradiol in a Thermophilic Anaerobic Digester System. Steven Wade Monday. J. Mark Chatfield, Advisor. November 2005.

Biomining of P, K, Mg and the Metals Al and Cu from Thermophilic Anaerobically Digested Poultry Litter UsingAgrocybe aegeritaandPleurotus ostreatus. Jeremy Michael Sisson. J. Mark Chattfield, Advisor. April 2008.

Differential Actin Isoform Involvement in Cytoskeletal Remodeling in Smooth Muscle Cells. Stacie Lynne Franson. Robert T. Harris, Advisor. December 2007.

Transient Phosphorylation Events Mediate Contractile Tension Maintenance During Inhibition of Ca2+-Dependent and Ca2+-Independent Contractile Pathways in Rat Aorta. Brenda M. Hill. April 2007.

Mapping Quantitative Trait Loci in Tetraploid Watermelon. Mohammad A. Rahman. Umesh K. Reddy, Advisor. December 2008.

Evaluation of HEK 293 Cells as a Human in vitro Model for NSAIDs Nephrotoxicity. Sophia N. Brown. Gerald R. Hankins, Advisor. December 2010.

Resveratrol Attenuates Fluprostenol Indiced Hypertrophy of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. Rahul Nagmal. Robert Harris, Advisor. May 2011

Nuclear Localization Mediated Function of CHMP1A in the Regulation of Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Signaling. Sumanth Manohar. Dr. Maiyon Park, Advisor. Dr. Gerald R Hankins, Thesis Committee Chair. May 2011


WVSU Research Scientists Present to International Audience

Institute, WV – Drs. Umesh Reddy, Padma Nimmakayala, and Barbara Liedl, researchers in the West Virginia State University (WVSU) Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institute, traveled to San Diego, CA on January 14-18, 2012 to present their research findings at the 20th International Plant & Animal Genome (PAG) Conference.

Dr. Umesh Reddy was one of five researchers to make a presentation in the Genomics of Genebanks workshop. Reddy’s project, Identification of SNP Haplotypes and Prospects of Association Mapping in Watermelon, is a multistate project that includes collaborations with Ohio State University and the USDA-ARS Vegetable Laboratory in South Carolina.

Dr. Padma Nimmakayala presented her work on Mining and Mapping of SSR Motifs from BAC-end Sequences of Watermelon as one of the six presenters in the Large Insert DNA Library Workshop.  The project is in collaboration with scientists from Texas A&M University.

WVSU graduate student, Mr. Aldo Almeida, presented “Genomic Strategies to Mine Alleles That Control Capsaicin, Dihydrocapsaicin and Related Compounds”, a procedure to understand the effect of various alleles in the Capsaicin path way.

Finally, Dr. Barbara Liedl, along with her collaborators from Ohio State University, Michigan State University, UC Davis, Oregon State University, and North Dakota State University, presented an hour long workshop entitled: Plant Translational Genomics and Crop Improvement: Partnering with the Plant Breeding and Genomics Community of Practice to Put Research into Practice.

PAG is the largest agricultural genomics conference in the world, bringing together over 2,500 leading plant and animal genetic scientists from as far away as Brazil, China, South Korea and Sweden. 

image-up-arrowimage-down-arrowWVSU Department of Biology Research Efforts

2011 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

Amanda Carte*, Sean Collins and Michael McClain. The Social Wasps of Kanawha County

Kevin Carte* and Robert Harris. Effect of Mechanical Stretch on Expression of Smooth Muscle Titin

Lori Dingess*, Jeremy Sisson and Barbara E. Liedl. Screening Greenhouse Tomato Breeding Lines for Late Blight Markers

Alnairouz Katrib* and Gerald Hankins. Cyclin Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Genes in Meningioma

Cameron Lewis* and Timothy Ruhnke.  Continued Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing of Paraorygmatobothrium Species

Grace Nyiiro* and Gerald Hankins.  Inhibition of Tumor Cell Growth and Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Growth and Migration by Hibiscus sabdariffa Anthocyanins

Julie Blaylock**, Jonathan Loyd**, Emily Sauvageot, Ryan Starkey and Ami Smith.  Bacterial Diversity in an Anaerobic Digester and its Associated Feed Stock

Krista Abdalla*, Thomas Guetzloff and Micheal Fultz.  Substituent Effects of Anilines in the Microwave- Induced Cyclization with Maleic Anhydride

Robert Morris* and Micheal Fultz.  I. Efforts to Couple Dihydroresveratro II. Examination of the Substituent Effects on Microwave-Assisted Organic Synthesis

Jessica Robinson* and Genia Sklute.  Reactivity and Diastereoselectivity of Acyl Zirconocene towards Chiral Sulfinimes

William Rollyson*, Micheal Fultz and Gerald Hankins.  Progress Toward the Synthesis of Spathoside. Completion of the C1-C10 Chain

Amy Xu* and Ernest Sekabunga.  Extraction of Silver (I) Ions from Aqueous Solution

Christopher Akers*** and Andrew Schedl.  Is There a Link Between Meteorite Impacts and Landslides in Valles Marineris?  In most cases no!

Megan Emmet* and Andrew Schedl.  Preliminary Calcite Twin Analysis of Versailles, KY and Dycus, TN Structures:  Part 2

Nathan Rorhrbaugh* and Andrew Schedl.  

Calcite Twin Strain Analysis: An Effective Alternative for Identifying Meteorite Impacts?

Christopher Wagner* and Andrew Schedl.  Determining Meteorite Impacts via Calcite-Twin Analysis at Jeptha Knob, KY: Part 2


HSTA INBRE Poster Presentations:

Response of Genes that are Dys-regulated in Meningiomas to Female Steroid Hormones and Epigenetic Agents in Meningioma Cells In Vitro.  Johnathan Baldwin1, Alnairouz Katrib2, Gerald R. Hankins2.  1 Scott High School, Boone County, WV, 2Department of Biology, West Virginia State University, Institute, WV.           

Effect of Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus rubra) Extract on Proliferation and Migration of Smooth Muscle and Tumor Cells. Timothy Clifton1, Tiffani Smith2, Anojinie Karunathilake3, Grace Nyiiro3, Gerald Hankins3, Robert Harris3. 1Herbert Hoover High School, Clendenin, WV; 2Huntington High School, Huntington, WV; 3Department of Biology, West Virginia State University, Institute, WV. 

 Effects of Trans-resveratrol and Extracts of Resveratrol Supplements on Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. Tiffani Smith1, Timothy Clifton2, Anojinie Karunathilake3, Robert Harris3. 1Huntington High School, Huntington, WV; 2Herbert Hoover High School, Clendenin, WV;  3Department of Biology, West Virginia State University, Institute, WV.

2010 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

Thomas R. Cabell Auditorium, July 30, 2010


Screening of Field and Heirloom Varieties for Pathogen Resistance Using CAPS Markers. Douglas Bright, Jeremy Sisson, Barbara E. Liedl

Understanding Plant Reproduction Barriers to Improve Transfer of Desired Traits: Separating Self Incompatibility from Self Compatibility in Cultivated Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum and a Wild Species, S. pennellii. Hannah M. Cavender, Jeremy M. Sisson and Barbara E. Liedl

Identification of Heterologous Microsatellite Markers between Watermelon and Cucumber. Shawn Simms and Umesh Reddy

Effects of Diets on the Carbonyl content of Oxidatively Modified Mitochondrial Proteins in Rainbow Trout. Tarko Seble, Martha Ashame, Charles Pomeroy and Jonathan Eya

Major Chemicals Found in the Kanawha and Caol Rivers and Their Potential Effects on Aquatic and Terrestial Organisms. Michael McClain and Sean Collins

Growth and Development of Rana spcies in Water from the Kanawha and Coal Rivers. Amanda Carte and Sean Collins

Additional DNA Sequencing of Anthocephalum and other Rhinebothriid Species from Stingrays. L. Elaine Hensley and Tim Ruhnke

Progress Towards the Synthesis of Dihydroresveratrol Dimers. Robert Morris and Michael Fultz

Metal Ion Removal from Aqueous Solution. Nicolas Nogoda and Ernest Sekabunga

The Substituent Effects of Aniline in the Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of N-Phenylsuccinimides and N-Phenylmaliemides. Kevin Gammand Tom Guetzloff

Statistical and Cluster Analysis of Schwannoma Microarray Data. Benjamin Wilson and Gerald Hankins

Preliminary Calcite Twin Analysis of Versailles, KY and Dycus, TN Structures. Kevin Carte and Andrew Schedl

Determining Meterorite Impacts via Calcite-Twin Analysis at Jeptha Knob, KY. Lindsey Mundy and Andrew Schedl

Free Radical Scavenging and Apoptosis Induction by Hibiscus Extracts. William Rollyson, Christopher Racine, Sophia Brown and Gerald Hankins

Fourteenth Annual Research Symposium

Hamblin Hall Science Building, April 25, 2008

Gene Expression Related to Fruit Quality Traits of  Watermelon at Various Ploidy Levels. Mohammad A. Rahman, Sathish K. Ponnaiah, Gopinath Vaija, Yan Tomason, Umesh K. Reddy, and  Padma Nimmakayala

Cultivation of Agrocybe aegerita on Solid Waste from Thermophillic Anaerobic Digesetin of Poultry Litter. Omon S. Isikuemhen, Jeremy M. Sisson, Barbara E. Liedl and J. Mark Chatfield

Molecular Analysis of Biofilm Communities in a Thermophilic Anaerobic Digester. Ami Smith, Hillary Lappin-Scott, Sara Burton, David H. Huber

Phylogenetic Investigations of Paraorygmatobothrium and Alllied Genera. Kayde Cappellari and Tim Ruhnke

Response of Smooth Muscle Cells to Cyclic Versus Static Stretch. Niki Davis, Stacie Franson and Robert Harris

Jeptha Knob and the Search for Impacts and Ejecta in the Midwest. Jason Goode and Andrew Schedl

Observing Cytokinesis in a Mechanical Environment. Maria Haffar, Stacie Franson and Robert Harris

Gene Expression Profiling in Mechanically Stressed Smooth Muscle Cells. Phillip R. Jones, Sathish K. Ponniah, Umesh K. Reddy, and Robert T. Harris

Association Mapping for Locating Quantitative Traits: A Case Study Using Petal Length in Arabidopsis. Zura Kerdieh, Mohammad A. Rahman, Padma Nimmakayala, Katherine L. Harper and Umesh K. Reddy

Characterization of Succinimide. Dan Palmer, Katie Poole, Josh Smith, Jennifer Shell, Tom Guetzloff and Thomas Shell

Synthesis Strategy for Succinimide. Katie Poole, Dan Palmer, Josh Smith, Jennifer Shell, Tom Guetzloff and Thomas Shell

PCR and Sequencing of the Large Ribosomal Subunit for Selected Cestodes of Sharks. Johanna Ray and Tim Ruhnke

New Microsatellites Identified for the Wasp Vespa Crabro. Amy Vincent and Sean A. Collins

Sixteenth Annual Research Symposium

Sponsored by:

  • WV NASA Space Grant Consortium

  • West Virginia IDEA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

  • West Virginia State University Gus R. Douglass Land Grant Institute

Keynote Speaker:  Noelle Umback - Supervisor, Department of Forensic Biology OCME CODIS, New York, NY

Faculty Presentations:

Dr. Gerald Hankins - Cancer Research at West Virginia State University
Dr. Tim Ruhnke - Phyllobothriidae: A Monograph
Dr. Micheal W. Fultz - Total Synthesis: The Needs of Society Met in Chemistry
Dr. Andrew Schedl - Jeptha knob is an Impact Structure

Student Presentations:

Hannah M. Cavender, Jeremy M. Sisson and Barbara E. Liedl  - Evaluating Greenhouse Tomato Breeding Lines for Improved Souble Solids, Lycopene and Beta Carotene.                                            

Sarah Cowen, Pete Hunt, Tim Ruhnke - Taxonomy and Systematic of the Stingray Cestode Genus Anthocephalum

Rita Goodall and Andrew D. Schedl - The Role of Meteorite Impacts in Flooding on Mars

Frank Lutz and Umesh K. Reddy - Synthetic Analysis of Cucurbit Cultivar Complex Through the Development and Use of Microsatellite Markers

Dustin L. Moore, Christopher R. Racine and Gerald R. Hankins - Differences in Anti-Tumor Properties of Hibiscus sabdariffa Accessions

Nicolas Nogoda and Ernest Sekabunga - Investigation of the Coordination Modes of Two Classes of Bidentate Phosphine Ligands.

Grace N. Nyiiro, Molly E. Siedler, CHristopher R. Racine, Velvet L. Worstell, and Gerald R. Hankins - Exogenous Expression of the DCL1 Tumor Suppressor Gene Effects Expression of Other Genes that are Dysregulated in Meningiomas

Rachel Workman and Tim Ruhnke - Taxonomy and Systematics of the Shark Cestode Paraorygmatobothrium.

Benjamin L. Wilson and Naveed Zaman - The Existence of Cudes Terminating in Arbitrary Strings of Digits.

Seventeenth Annual Research Symposium

Sponsored by:
NASA WV Space Grant Consortium
West Virginia IDEA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)
West Virginia State University Gus R. Douglass Land Grant Institute
West Virginia State University College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Keynote Speaker:
John C. Warner 
President and Chief Technology Officer , Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry
President, The Beyond Benign Foundation
Green Chemistry: The Missing Element of Science Education

Student Presentations

Jeremy Arthur, Elaine Hensley, and Tim R. Ruhnke - Molecular and Morphological Systematics of the Tapeworm Genus Anthocephalum

Shawn Simms, Gopinath Vajja, Padma Nimmakayala, and Umesh K. Reddy - Development of Synthetic Map of Pumpkin and Watermelon

Frank Lutz  and Umesh K. Reddy - Synthetic Analysis of Cucurbit Cultivar Complex Using Microsatellite Markers

Dustin L. Moore and Gerald R. Hankins - Expression of Fibroblast Growth Factors and Their Receptors in Meningioma Cells

William D. Rollyson and Gerald R. Hankins - In Vitro SCreening of Compounds from Hibiscus sabdariffa for Anti-Tumor Activity

Robert J. Morris  and Micheal Fultz - Progress Towards the Synthesis of Dihydroresveratrol Dimers

Older biology student listening about grants
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