Todd Yokley, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is a biological anthropologist with a primary research focus on analyzing how climate and other selective pressures have shaped evolution of the human nose and face.
Yokley has over a decade of experience in academia and anthropology. He started teaching at MSU Denver in 2012 as an instructor. In addition to teaching, Yokley is the chair for several committees at MSU Denver including the Anthropology Curriculum Committee and Anthropology Assessment Committee. He has taught at Touro University of Nevada, Duke University, Durham Technical Community College and Northern Illinois University. Yokley has also been a part of several archeological and paleontological field excursions in Wyoming, South Africa and Croatia. His professional affiliations include American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Paleoanthropology Society and Sigma Xi.
Yokley has published over 10 peer-reviewed articles on his research as author/co-author. The most recent articles include “Integration of the nasal complex: Implications for developmental and evolutionary change in modern humans” in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and “Computer simulations show that Neanderthal facial morphology represents adaptation to cold and high energy demands, but not heavy biting” in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. He has also presented many papers and presentations on biological anthropology.
Yokley received his doctorate in biological anthropology and anatomy from Duke University in 2006, a master’s in anthropology from Northern Illinois University in 1999 and a bachelor’s in zoology with anthropology minor from University of Tennessee in 1996.
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.
Katie Strain, M.S., is a laboratory services manager of Alcoholic Beverage Quality Assurance/ Quality Control and a lecturer in the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise are fermentation, microbiology, chemistry, data analysis and experimental design.
Prior to joining MSU Denver, Strain worked as a laboratory operations coordinator and graduate student at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She was also a research associate at Colorado State University and laboratory technician at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Strain received her master’s in environmental toxicology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 2014 and a bachelor’s in biochemistry from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2005. She is a triple TTB certified chemist allowing her to conduct analysis of beer, wine and spirits for purposes of export.
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.
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, 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.
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