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Faculty Profiles

Department: Biology

Melanie StyersMelanie Styers

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office:

Stephens Science Center 228

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.  She is also interested in characterizing the molecular mechanisms underlying the spread of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (the chytrid fungus), which is currently infecting and causing mortality in amphibian populations in the Southeast.

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
    GTP exchange factors (GEFs) are enzymes that regulate the trafficking and delivery of membrane proteins to their final cellular destinations.  These GEFs direct the formation of vesicle carriers that shuttle proteins between organelles. GEFs form these vesicles by activating small GTP-dependent proteins called ADP-ribosylation factors (ARFs).  Importantly, mutations in one of these GEFs (BIG2) leads to microcephaly and other neuronal defects in humans.  I am interested in characterizing the specific roles of GEFs and ARFs in the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.  The results elucidated from these studies will provide insight into the roles of these proteins in human disease.

  • Chytridiomycosis
    The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (the chytrid fungus) has recently been identified in amphibian populations in the Birmingham area. Chytrid infection has led to massive mortality in amphibian populations world-wide.  I am interested in further characterizing the characteristics of amphibian infection in our area (species specificity, infection peaks throughout the year, regional spread, etc.)  I am also interested in comparing the characteristics of our local chytrid species with those of other regional fungal strains.  These results will provide insight into the effects of Chytrid and possible interventions to halt the spread of Chytrid in our area.

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.