Bonnie Brown

Bonnie Brown, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Research Interests

  • Ecological and Conservation Genetics


Professor Emerita Bonnie Brown received her doctorate in Biological Oceanography from Old Dominion University in 1989. Bonnie works in the field of ecological genetics. One arm of her research is metagenomics, investigation of genetic material obtained directly from environmental samples. Major efforts include epidemiological metagenomics (detecting and monitoring for disease causing organisms in the environment), elaborating the effects of microbial community structure on ecosystem function and responses to environmental change, quantification and assessment of human DNA in dust, detection and quantification of parasites and disease-causing organisms in heterogenous environmental backgrounds (Kudoa and parasitic amoebae from fishes, Dermo and MSX in oysters, Bacillus in soils, and influenza from environmental isolates), and quantification of functional and taxonomic diversity of microbes in riverine and estuarine ecosystems. Another arm of her research involves using molecular markers to document the dynamic genetic processes that characterize impacted and managed populations and to employ this knowledge in conservation, restoration, and aquaculture. Projects in this area include utilizing DNA-based molecular indicators of genetic variation to discern macroevolutionary and mircoevolutionary processes in fishes (e.g., American shad), mollusks (e.g., eastern oyster), and threatened/endangered species (e.g., blackbanded sunfish).

Bonnie Brown retired from VCU Biology on July 1, 2018 with the rank of Professor.  She served as Associate Chair from 2009 to 2017 and as Interim Department Chair from 2016 until her retirement.


  • National Science Foundation
  • Virginia Oyster Reef Heritage Foundation
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
  • Jeffress Memorial Trust
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Egypt Science & Technology Joint Fund Program