Biology Faculty Mentors

Dr. Mark Blackmore

(mblackmo@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Blackmore teaches Entomology, Medical and Veterinary Entomology, and History of Life Sciences courses.  His research interests include the biology of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases and disease surveillance.  He has advised pre-medical students and is a member of the pre-medical advisory/evaluation committee and can mentor students interested in graduate studies in vector ecology or medicine.

Areas: Entomology, Disease Ecology, Pre-Med

Dr. Cristina Calestani

(ccalestani@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Calestani’s professional career has been focused on research and teaching in the field of genetics, cell and molecular biology. Specifically, Dr. Calestani’s research field is developmental biology and the study of how genes are regulated to produce an organism from a fertilized egg using sea urchins as a model organism. Another area of Dr. Calestani’s research is the study of gametogenesis and sex reversal in a marine mussel species. Dr. Calestani is interested in mentoring students pursuing a career in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research in the private sector, genetic counseling, or pursuing a graduate degree for a career in academia or in the medical field. She is also available to advise students undecided about their future career. Dr Calestani’s will be happy to help freshmen improving their study skills and time management to be able to succeed academically.

Academic Success (study skills), Career Discovery (biotech/pharma, medical), Career Preparation (biotech/lab technician, pre-med).

Dr. Emily Cantonwine

(egcantonwine@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Cantonwine uses a combination of field and lab experiments to study how pathogenic fungi attack plants and how fungicides suppress disease. She also studies lichens and mushrooms of Georgia. As a career mentor, Dr. Cantonwine works with undecided students and those interested in fungi, plants, or agriculture. As an academic mentor, she helps students improve their academic performance. 

Areas” Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation

Dr. Richard Carter 

(rcarter@valdosta.edu)

My research in the diversity, taxonomy, conservation, and ecology of plants is conducted in the field and in the herbarium.  Current research focuses on the flora of the Georgia coastal plain and the taxonomy of vascular plants.  This involves systematic, field-based inventories of areas of conservation significance, field surveys for rare and endangered species, taxonomy of sedges and other vascular plant groups, and herbarium curation.  I am happy to work with students interested in exploring careers dealing with plants, conservation, biodiversity, or the herbarium, or students who have not yet decided their career objectives.   

Areas: Career Discovery, Career Preparation (biodiversity, natural resource conservation, research in plant science) 

Dr. Eric Chambers

(ewchambers@valdosta.edu)

My research interests are focused on using genetic and genomic tools to understand disease transmission by mosquitoes and ticks. In particular, my lab has an ongoing interest in pathogens of veterinary interest, including Dirofilaria immitis and Cytauxzoon felis. The lab is also interested in pursuing additional avenues of research that include other aspects of mosquito biology including behavior, feeding preferences, and insecticide resistance. I welcome students with an interest in molecular genetics, medical entomology, parasitology, epidemiology, and public health to investigate research opportunities in my lab. I enjoy meeting with students to discuss their career goals and aspirations. I have experience mentoring students who are interested in careers as physicians or physician assistants and I am always interested in discussing career options with students who are undecided about their future career choice.

Areas: Academic Success, Career Preparation

Dr. John Elder

(jfelder@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Elder’s interests include molecular population and evolutionary genetics. He uses DNA based methods to study evolution, ecology and conservation biology of fishes.  While Dr. Elder works with a variety of students he particularly likes to mentor adult, non-traditional students who have difficulty in reconciling the expectations and demands of higher education with their everyday commitments and responsibilities. Dr. Elder can advise and council students on issues related to academic achievement, graduate school opportunities, careers in genetics and medical school requirements.

Areas” Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation, Post Graduate Education.

Dr. Timothy Fort

(tjfort@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Fort’s research focus is on the interaction between nervous and muscular systems. His research utilizes electrophysiology, immunohistochemical and pharmacological techniques to study the modulation of central pattern generator-effector systems in invertebrates. Dr. Fort teaches introductory A&P I & II, Human Physiology and Human Anatomy. He has advised mainly pre-medical and pre-physical therapy students and has been a member of the pre-medical advisory/evaluation committee. He serves as a faculty mentor to the GUIDES peer mentoring program and is the Biology faculty representative on the Undergraduate Research Council. Dr. Fort is interested by all areas of physiology and enjoys mentoring students who are interested in pursuing medical/health related careers as well as those interested in studying physiology and neuroscience in graduate school.

Areas: Academic Success, Career Preparation

Dr. Theresa J. Grove

(tjgrove@valdosta.edu)

While my research interests focus on understanding physiological and biochemical adaptations of marine organisms (specifically fishes) to various environments, I am also interested in helping students succeed as biology majors (or STEM majors in general) regardless of their career interests. I am available to discuss pathways to graduate school in marine biology, help undecided students who are interested in biology discover new career possibilities, and work with students to reach their academic goals by focusing on improving and strengthening study skills, resilience, and academic mindset.  Finally, as the coordinator of GUIDES, the peer-mentor program for VSU science and math majors, I work to connect STEM students to each other to build a support network and increase each student’s sense of belonging to VSU.

Areas: Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation

Dr. Leslie Sandra Jones

(lesliesj@valdosta.edu)

My earlier scientific research involved Equine Reproductive Physiology and was conducted in Animal Science, so I have a background in Agriculture in addition to Biology. My current specialization is Science Education, so if you are considering a teaching career, I know the ins and outs of that process, and I can set you up to get experience while you are here. I spent several years doing research on the Evolution/Creationism Controversy, especially focusing on how to teach Biology in ways that reduce conflict for creationist students. My interest at the present time is centered on the Biology of Human Skin Color because current genomics research is unravelling fascinating information about human history. I consider the development of science lessons that emphasize the evolution of the diversification of indigenous people to be a way to challenge the ignorance that is the basis for racism. I am very active in Social Justice activities on campus, and I was a cofounder of MESA which is a group that supports Hispanic/Latinx students at VSU.

Dr. Jonghoon Kang

(jkang@valdosta.edu)

I am interested in anything from electrons to the cosmos as long as it can be investigated by numbers and computation. My research has been published in the areas of biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, immunology, cell biology, neuroscience, biotechnology, materials chemistry, microbiology, virology, epigenetics, scientometrics, environmental science, food science, and trichology. Complete list of my publications is available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonghoon-Kang/research. I always enjoy discussing creative ideas with students.

Areas: Career Preparation (Pre-Med and Biotechnology)

Dr. J. Mitchell Lockhart

(jmlockha@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Lockhart’s research focus involves wildlife and vector-borne disease ecology and wildlife telemetry.  My laboratory is involved with mesomammalian bobwhite quail predator disease studies including parasitic, viral, bacterial, physiological and toxicology related projects.  Multiple studies centered on Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) disease, movement, and spatial analysis are currently active.  Dr. Lockhart is interested in mentoring students who have an interest in career’s in wildlife biology and field and laboratory research and has been a long-time advisor of pre-medical students.

Categories: Career Discovery (Field/Environmental and Medical Careers) and Career Preparation (Wildlife and Natural Resource Management) and Career Preparation (Freshman-Senior Pre-Medicine)

Dr. Ansul Lokdarshi

(alokdarshi@valdosta.edu)

My research interest is to explore the fundamental question - “How do eukaryotic cells rapidly adjust to a wide variety of stress conditions”? Specifically, I am interested in the regulation of protein synthesis via a highly conserved eukaryotic stress response program known as the Integrated Stress Reponses. To explore this stress signaling module, my lab utilizes different plant model systems and given the highly conserved nature of the research track, applications of the research findings span from human health to the development of better agronomic traits in crops. I am always excited to work with students (e.g., without defined career goals, with deaf or hard-of-hearing, or with no/preliminary scientific training) for strengthening their lab foundational skills, critical thinking, and preparation towards a specific career path (e.g., medical-related, biotech industry, scientific writing or academia).

Areas: Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation

Dr. James Nienow

(jnienow@valdosta.edu)

My research is focused on the ecophysiology of photosynthetic microorganism.  This a very diverse group with members in all three domains, displaying a variety of cell structures and metabolic activities.  They also are at the base of most food chains and are responsible for all of the free oxygen in the atmosphere.  I have worked on research projects ranging from biodiversity surveys in marine and freshwater systems to bioremediation to astrobiology and the search for life in the universe.  I will talk to and work with students interested in any of these areas.  I have also worked with predental students both as an academic advisor and as the faculty sponsor of the predental club and plan to continue working with this group.  I am also happy to meet with any freshman needing advice on how to navigate their first year of college.

Areas: Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation

Dr. Emily Rose

(erose@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Rose’s research focuses on the intersection of ecology, evolution, and environmental biology of coastal fishes by providing students with opportunities to conduct field studies, design experiments in the lab, and learn a variety molecular techniques. The Rose Lab research team utilizes syngnathid fishes, seahorses and pipefish, to investigate how human impacts, such as habitat disturbances and pollution, in coastal ecosystems can cause changes in fishes’ mating behaviors and reproduction. As an academic mentor, Dr. Rose enjoys working with students throughout their academic careers to help them figure out how they best learn to better their studying habits and develop their organizational and time management skills. She is happy to mentor students with varied interests to provide them guidance as they shape and work towards their academic and career goals.

Areas: Academic Success, Career Discovery, Career Preparation

Dr. Adam Safer

(absafer@valdosta.edu)

I teach Human Anatomy and Physiology I /II (BIOL 2651 /BIOL 2652) and Herpetology (BIOL 3920) at VSU. I am interested in mentoring first and second year students that may be having trouble adapting to college life, including helping these students develop better study skills/habits to succeed academically.  I would also be interested in mentoring students that are taking Anatomy and Physiology courses to pursue a career in the health care sector. Additionally, since I teach Herpetology, I would like to mentor students that are interested in any aspect of the study of reptiles and amphibians.

Areas: Academic Success and Career Preparation

Dr. Jenifer Turco

(jturco@valdosta.edu)

Dr. Turco’s professional interests focus on the interactions between microbes (especially bacteria and viruses) and animal cells. The innate immune responses of animals, as well as the roles of cytokines (such as gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha) in modifying the interactions between intracellular bacteria and their mammalian host cells, are areas of particular interest. Dr. Turco is fascinated by all aspects of microbiology and immunology, and she enjoys mentoring students who plan to pursue careers related to these fields. She is also interested in mentoring students who have not defined their career goals.

Categories: Career Preparation and Career Discovery

Dr. Ted Uyeno

(rhymes with “Bueno”)

(tauyeno@valdosta.edu)

My research studies the physics of soft tissue mechanisms found in primarily marine organisms. To put it another way, I am interested in how squishy animals are built to do important things like move, hunt, eat, & reproduce… all without depending on rigid structures like bones and shells. My students and I depend on field techniques like fishing and diving, and also lab techniques like histology, electromyography, high speed videography and 3D digitization. I can often be found custom building research apparatus in my electronics and fabrication shop.  I tend to mentor students who are interested in medical/health careers and those interested in studying organismal biology in graduate school. Faculty sponsor (SWARM beekeeping club, Amateur radio club)

Areas: Career Discovery, Career Preparation (Field/environmental careers, Biotechnology/lab careers)