Department of Biological Sciences
For a small university, the WLU Department of Biological Sciences offers a wealth of opportunities for undergraduate research. The students involved in this research are not only rewarded monetarily, but they also gain valuable research experience and have the opportunity to present their findings at a state, national, and international level.
Some of the current research projects at WLU include:
Dr. Zachary Loughman
Research in the Loughman Lab focuses on crayfish natural history, taxonomy, and conservation biology, with an emphasis on crayfishes that occur in West Virginia. To do this, Loughman and West Liberty University Biology students travel throughout West Virginia and the southeastern United States surveying crayfishes.
The ultimate goal of this research is elucidating the natural history of these enigmatic animals. By understanding distribution and potential environmental threats to crayfishes, conservation recommendations and actions ultimately will be more useful and efficient.
In addition to this work, we study the ecology of high elevation burrowing crayfishes, investigate the systematics of the Cambarus robustus complex, and maintain the West Liberty University Astacology Collection which currently houses 1,500 lots of catalogued crayfishes from across West Virginia and the southeastern United States.
Dr. Joseph Horzempa
Dr. Matthew Zdilla
The Zdilla Lab is involved in research aiming to produce new clinical measurements and discover new links between human structure and function.
Understanding craniofacial morphological characteristics among various populations has implications spanning to the fields including, but not limited to, dentistry, orofacial surgery, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and neuroradiology.
Understanding craniofacial morphological differences among diverse demographics may aid the physician in clinical assessment and impression as well as improving treatment and clinical outcomes. Unfortunately, because of such great variety in the anatomy of the human skull, the morphology of the skull requires further exploration.
Under the guidance of Dr. Matthew Zdilla, students have the opportunity to learn advanced craniofacial anatomy and take morphological measurements of skulls held in the collections of surrounding universities. Measurements will focus on the foramina of the skull and proper documentation of anatomical variations. Results of their research may influence advanced imaging methods and treatment approaches in microsurgical procedures.