Cal State Northridge
College of Science &
Dept. of Biology
The Biology Department Newsletter
Volume 14: No. 1, Editor: J. Maxwell, Publisher J.W. Dole
California State University, Northridge
Two New Professors Join Biology Department Faculty
Dr. Steven Dudgeon, Marine Biologist
Dr. Steven Dudgeon joins the Biology Department this semester
as a full-time Assistant Professor. He comes to us following two post-doctoral research
positions studying the organization of marine benthic communities and the evolution
of life histories in clonal organisms, such as many plants, algae, sponges, cnidarians,
bryozoans, ascidians, and fungi. He teaches Marine Biology (Biol. 421).
Dr. Dudgeon, a native Californian, earned a bachelor's degree in Biology from UC
Berkeley. While there, he discovered his passion for research and a desire to teach
in a university setting. After a year with an environmental consulting firm, he entered
a Ph.D. program at the University of Maine. He completed his doctoral dissertation
in 1992 under the direction of Dr. R. L. Vadas. His doctoral studies focused on discovering
how two closely related competing species that are morphologically and ecologically
similar can coexist on the resource-limited rocky coast of Maine.
While a graduate student, Dr. Dudgeon met his partner, Janet Kübler, a fellow
graduate student studying the physiological mechanisms by which seaweeds respond
to variations in their environment. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University
and also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maine. The pair have collaborated on
several studies and have co-authored many publications. Dr. Kübler will continue
her research at Cal State Northridge while also teaching occasional courses.
Following their graduate careers, Drs. Dudgeon and Kübler both took postdoctoral
research positions. While one (Dudgeon) worked on the east coast of the U.S., the
other (Kübler) moved to Scotland to collaborate with Professor John Raven, a
Fellow of the Royal Society, at the University of Dundee. Maintaining their long-distance
relationship necessitated frequent "commutes" across the Atlantic for themselves
and for their daughter, Lila, now two years old.
On his first post-doc, Dr. Dudgeon worked in the laboratory of Dr. Leo Buss at Yale
where he studied the regulation of colony form in hydrozoans (Phylum Cnidaria). Says
Dr. Dudgeon, "The general form of many colonial cnidarians is broadly under
genetic control, but in those species that live and grow indefinitely, not everything
can be pre-programmed by the genes. My work explains how the collective behavior
of the individuals that comprise a colony, and the physiological state of the colony
itself, can determine future growth patterns and how the colony either maintains
its inherited form or allows for morphological plasticity."
From Yale, Dr. Dudgeon moved to the University of Pennsylvania to work with Dr. Peter
Petraitis. Again working on the coast of Maine, he sought to discover if mussel beds
and rockweed communities occur where they do because of environmental factors unique
to specific sites or because of historical accident. Says Dr. Dudgeon, "Ecologists
tend to think that present day distribution of ecological assemblages is the result
of site specific ecological processes. My work opens the possibility that historical
accidents are of equal or greater importance."
While in the UK, Dr. Kübler studied patterns of productivity in seaweeds. In
particular, she investigated the carbon sources used by seaweeds, the response of
seaweeds to elevated CO2 levels, and the interaction between carbon and a variable
At Cal State Northridge, the husband and wife team will continue to collaborate on
some studies but will also pursue their independent lines of research. Dr. Dudgeon
plans to continue his studies of the role of historical accidents in determining
community organization, and the relationship between morphology and life history
in clonal organisms. But he also hopes to move in other directions, for example,
by looking at the cost and benefit of forming chimeric colonies through somatic fusions.
He also plans to study how exposure to high levels of UV radiation affect the accumulation
of somatic variants in old coral colonies. Dr. Kübler will continue her work
to determine how environmental variability and climatic change affect marine plants.
She also plans to develop suitable models characterizing algal productivity and growth
in variable environments. Both Drs. Dudgeon and Kübler welcome students, graduate
or undergraduate, to join them in their efforts.
Dr. Lisa Banner, Cell Biologist
This semester, Dr. Lisa Banner joins the Biology Department as an Assistant Professor.
She currently teaches Cell Biology (Biol. 380) and Biology of Viruses (Biol. 544).
Dr. Banner earned her bachelor's degree in Microbiology from San Diego State University.
For a while thereafter she was a research associate in the Biology Department at
USC where she used vital fluorescent dyes to study the plasticity and remodeling
of the frog neuromuscular junction.
Dr. Banner received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Working
in the Department of Microbiology she focused her studies on the molecular biology
of Coronavirus, an RNA virus that causes about 20% of the common colds in humans.
She sought to understand why and how this virus almost constantly "reinvents"
itself through genetic recombination. As a result of her studies, Dr. Banner now
knows that genetic recombination events result from selection pressures and are restricted
to a highly variable region of the gene that codes for receptor binding. She also
developed a polymerase chain reaction assay to study recombination events, and was
the first to show recombination events as they occur naturally.
From USC, Dr. Banner moved to Cal Tech to do postdoctoral work. As a postdoctoral
research associate, she combined her interests in molecular biology, neurobiology,
and immunology by studying neuro-immune interactions. Specifically, she looked at
the role of cytokines, small regulatory proteins, in the responses to nervous system
injury. Ultimately, she showed that a particular cytokine can coordinate the responses
of both the nervous and the immune systems to injury. While at Cal Tech, she also
taught microbiology at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount Universities.
At Cal State Northridge, Dr. Banner will continue to investigate how cytokines coordinate
interactions between the nervous and the immune systems by analyzing the regulation
of cytokines in response to stress. She also will examine pathways that link stress
to the onset of pathogenesis, the roles other factors play in stimulating cytokine
release in both the nervous and immune systems, and the regulation of cytokines and
their receptors throughout development and after injury.
Dr. Edmunds Tapped As UC Berkeley Speaker
Dr. Peter Edmunds has been named featured speaker for UC Berkeley's Julius Thomas
Hansen Lecture series for 1999. The Hansen lectures, put on by the Department of
Integrative Biology, targets leading scientists in the field of physiological ecology.
Dr. Edmunds, an expert in coral biology, is the author of numerous articles on coral