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Faculty Profiles

Department: Biology

Melanie StyersMelanie Styers

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office:

Stephens Science Center 245

Contact Information:

Birmingham-Southern College
Department of Biology
Campus Box 549022
900 Arkadelphia Rd
Birmingham, AL 35254
Office Phone: (205) 226-7812
Office Fax: (205) 226 3078
E-mail: mstyers@bsc.edu

Brief Career Background:

Dr. Styers is an alumna of Birmingham-Southern College and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Mathematics in 1999.  She then went on to complete her doctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Victor Faundez, where her research focused on interactions between the cellular membrane trafficking machinery and the cytoskeleton.  Following a brief post-doctoral fellowship at Emory University, she moved on to a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Sztul at UAB, where her research was focused on the role of Golgi trafficking in breast cancer development.  Dr. Styers took her first academic position as an assistant professor of biology at the University of Montevallo and taught introductory courses in cell biology, as well as an advanced developmental biology course.  Dr. Styers then returned to BSC as an assistant professor of biology, where she teaches introductory and upper-level courses in cell biology.  Her research is focused on characterization of the role of membrane trafficking in human disease using the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model.

Educational Background:

B.S. Chemistry and Mathematics, Birmingham-Southern College, 1999.
Ph.D. Biochemistry, Cell, and Developmental Biology, Emory University, 2005.
Post-doctoral fellow, Emory University, 2005-2006.
Post-doctoral fellow, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2006-2009.

Areas of Academic Interest:

  • Membrane Trafficking and Human Disease
    Membrane trafficking is the process by which all membrane proteins and secreted proteins are delivered to their correct cellular destinations. This process and the players that govern it can be likened to a cellular postal system that ensures correct delivery of packages containing proteins and lipids throughout the cell. The goal of the Styers laboratory is to characterize the pathways that regulate membrane trafficking and to determine how specificity of transport is achieved. Understanding these pathways is of critical importance because proteins involved in membrane trafficking have been implicated in a wide array of diseases, ranging from developmental disorders of the brain to syndromes characterized by immunodeficiency, bleeding abnormalities, and albinism. Furthermore, many viruses, including ebolavirus and hepatitis C virus, co-opt these pathways for their own replication. Thus, elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that regulate membrane transport could help us to identify new targets for anti-viral therapeutics.

Courses Taught:

BI 125 Cell and Molecular Biology (1)
An investigation of the fundamental properties of cells. Topics include cell structure and function, energetics and metabolism, gene structure and expression, and the techniques used to study these phenomena. Designed for students who plan to major in biology or one of the natural sciences and/ or who are pre-health. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: BI 115.

BI 301 Genetics (1)
A study of the structure, function, and transmission of the genetic material. Topics from classical and molecular genetics are covered. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory, and one DHAR laboratory per week. Prerequisites: BI 125 and 225, CH 122, MA 115 or equivalent, and at least junior standing.

BI 402 Advanced Cell Biology (1)
A study of eukaryotic cells at the molecular level. Topics include protein biosynthesis, membrane structure and function, gene expression and regulation, cellular and subcellular structure, and the cell cycle. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory, and one DHAR laboratory per week. Prerequisites: BI 125, CH 122, and at least junior standing. BI 301 is strongly recommended.

BI 408 Biochemistry (1)
An introduction to the structure, chemistry, and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory, and one DHAR laboratory per week. (Also listed as CH 408, this course may be counted for credit in either biology or chemistry.) Prerequisites: BI 125 and CH 212.