Helene Ver Eecke

Helene Ver Eecke, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She specializes in extreme microbiology; and is a founding member and intercollege-liaison of the Beer Industry program.

Ver Eecke served as senior microbiologist for an industrial fermentation company where her skills of screening, cultivating, and optimizing microbes were expanded to large scale processes. She has been a professor of biology at numerous institutions and is currently a tenure-track professor at MSU Denver. Her research lab on campus is used to study various projects including brewing, bioremediation and extremophiles.

Ver Eecke has been involved in the conceptualization and actualization of the Beer Industry program, including co-developing the fermentation science course curriculum. As an avid home-brewer, she’s excited to further foster collaborations with the brewing community and expand brewing operations programs at MSU Denver.

Her work in extreme microbiology has been featured in NASA Magazine, Science Daily and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal to name a few. In 2012, Ver Eecke was one of the scientists to help define new limits of microbial life in undersea volcanoes, the findings of which were published in the PNAS journal titled “Hydrogen-limited growth of hyperthermophilic methanogens at deep-sea hydrothermal vents”. Her more recent work includes an article published in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems journal in 2016 titled “Linkages between mineralogy, fluid chemistry, and microbial communities within hydrothermal chimneys from the Endeavor Segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge.”

Ver Eecke received her doctorate in microbiology from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2010 and a bachelor’s in biology from McDaniel College in 2005.

Leanna Mathews

Leanna Matthews, Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition to teaching at MSU Denver, she is the assistant director for the Sound Science Research Collective, a nonprofit organization focused on using acoustics to address marine mammal conservation concerns.

In 2019, Mathews participated in a study conducting field work to learn more about the communication patterns of humpback whales off the southeastern coast of Alaska. She worked with other biologist to collect above-water and underwater data to see how whales responded to certain sounds. Her research areas center around marine biology and animal behavior. Matthews areas of expertise include animal behavior, marine mammals, bioacoustics, animal communication and impacts of noise on acoustic communication.

Mathews received her Ph.D. in biology from Syracuse University in 2017, and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University in 2011.

Bob Hancock

Robert “Bob” Hancock, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Hancock has studied, taught and filmed insects all over the world for more than 20 years. The filmmaker and medical entomologist’s close-up footage has been featured on network and cable television programs world-wide and his documentary series “Mosquito Man” has been recognized internationally. His film, “Bedbugs of London” received an Honorable Mention for macro cinematography from the International Wildlife Film Festival. Hancock was interviewed about the new human clinical trials for a possible West Nile virus vaccine in 2015.

He was a professor of biology for 15 years at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, KY before joining MSU Denver in 2008. In addition to teaching, Hancock serves as an undergraduate advisor in the areas of entomology, animal behavior and zoology. He has also written many scholarly articles on the behavior and physiology of mosquitoes, bed bugs and other blood sucking insects.

Hancock received his doctorate and masters in medical entomology from Ohio State University and two bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from Hastings College in Nebraska.

Rebecca Ferrell

Rebecca Ferrell, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise include biology of women, genetics/genetic engineering, microbiology and virology. She is currently teaching General Microbiology and Biology of Women, which is also taught as a gender and women’s studies course.

Ferrell’s research areas include assessing nitrogen cycling microbes on the green roof of the Jordan Student Success Building, a study of water quality in Bear Creek, and assisting Centro Ecologico Akumal with water quality issues on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Ferrell is currently part of a research team testing local wastewater to potentially forecast forthcoming COVID-19 virus outbreaks, which is being led by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Cynthia Church

To give you some idea about who I am, I teach on a full-time basis in the MSU Denver Department of Biology. My courses include invertebrate zoology, parasitology, genetics and general biology online. I teach a study abroad course in the Galápagos Islands titled “In Darwin’s Footsteps”.

Prior to coming to MSU Denver, I was a visiting assistant professor at Oberlin College in Ohio. In my dissertation work, which I completed in 1996 at CU-Boulder, I examined the role of a nuclear gene, PET100, in the cytochrome c oxidase assembly pathway in yeast. The study combined molecular genetics including cloning and characterization of PET100 (see JBC 1996 and JBC 2005), with cell biology using confocal fluorescence and electron microscopy (see J. Exp. Bio 1998). Prior to beginning my doctoral research, I received a master’s degree in parasitology. My thesis project was a taxonomic study of the cestodes of the round stingray from Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

Recent publication: Intestinal Infections in Humans in the Rocky Mountain Region

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