Faculty and students in the Department of Biology conduct fundamental research in a variety of fields.

Laboratories and technology in the Trani Center and other VCU facilities support faculty and student research ranging from molecular biology to ecosystem dynamics. Students of all levels — from first-year undergraduates to Ph.D. students — are encouraged to participate and welcomed in labs to conduct research related to their biology studies.

students in a greenhouse checking the leaves on a plant

Centers, Facilities and Labs

Students and faculty in the Department of Biology research in modern labs, centers and facilities that are equipped with high-end technology.

Undergraduate Research

From the beginning of their academic experience, biology majors are encouraged to get involved with research, and our department even offers a unique opportunity for community college students to spend two summers researching with us.

a v.c.u. student uses field equipment to monitor water quality in a river

Research Areas

Two focused areas of research for our department are:

  • Molecular, cellular and developmental biology
  • Evolution and ecological processes and applications

Molecular, cellular and developmental biology

Research interests in molecular, cellular and developmental biology include craniofacial and neurodevelopment, membrane biology, molecular immunology, microbiome studies, plant development and cancer biology. This diversity in research interests fosters a highly collaborative environment where students and faculty interact across disciplines to understand the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate critical biological processes.

Evolution and ecological processes and applications

Major research efforts in diverse areas of ecology and evolution that address basic and applied questions include regional studies of vegetation dynamics on Virginia’s barrier islands, water quality of Atlantic coastal rivers and estuaries, and tidal wetland responses to sea level rise. Research activities involve national and international efforts addressing climate change and north temperate forests, long-term studies of neotropical migratory birds and investigations of harmful algal blooms in the Baltic Sea. Research efforts in evolutionary biology and systematics include co-evolution, plant-animal interactions, comparative morphology and anatomy, speciation, phylogenetics and biogeography.