Faculty and Staff

Dale Edwards

Dr. Dale Edwards

Professor and Chair of Biology

Room 231A, Koch Center for Engineering and Science

Dr. Edwards teaches Organismal Diversity, a course that is required for students in the environmental studies program. Organismal diversity represents the collective characteristics acquired by evolving species over millions of years in the face of vastly varying environmental conditions the Earth has and is experiencing. Thus, this course emphasizes the structure and function of animals, plants, and fungi in the context of their evolutionary histories. Given that diversity is an emergent property of life on our planet, the importance of diversity of biological functions and processes in generating and maintaining phylogenetic diversity are worthy of investigation and reflection. Professor Edwards’ research program is focused on the ecology and evolution of organisms with parasitic lifestyles. He has dedicated a major part of his career addressing the evolutionary ecology of water mites (Unionicola spp.) that live in association with various species of freshwater mussels. More recently he has been examining helminth diversity among local and regional treefrogs. In particular, he has been comparing the parasite faunas of green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) from historical and expanded-range populations to determine whether these latter populations are exhibiting reduced parasitism by escaping their native range parasites. He has also been addressing temporal patterns of parasite prevalence and abundance for populations of both green and gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) in areas of niche overlap to determine whether differences in the timing and duration of their breeding seasons play a role in their susceptibility to helminth parasites, thus influencing their patterns of parasite diversity.
Noah Gordon

Dr. Noah Gordon


Room 219, Koch Center for Engineering and Science

I am a vertebrate zoologist by training, and so I regularly teach several courses of interest to ES majors, in addition to teaching the introductory/non-major course Fundamentals of Environmental Studies. My Animal Behavior, Vertebrate Zoology and Animal Physiology courses can be valuable for students interested in animal conservation/management or anthropogenic impacts on animals. I also lead a Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica course that includes a field component in Costa Rica. As part of Tropical Ecology we explore reforestation and collect data on a former agricultural plot reforested by UE students in 2009. In addition to collecting data on tree growth in this habitat we have also begun to explore how successful our efforts have been in restoring animal diversity (arthropods, reptiles and amphibians) to this reforested area.

Much of my recent research has been exploring the climate change induced range expansion of green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). With Dr. Dale Edwards and several undergraduate students we have been assessing the potential influence of parasites on this range expansion. We have found an unexpected pattern of parasite abundance that is consistent with the parasite escape hypothesis. Another project with UE students Kane Stratman and Maddie Ralph determined how the range expansion of these green treefrogs was influencing call evolution in these frogs and closely related barking treefrogs in areas where the two species overlap.
Cris Hochwender

Dr. Cris Hochwender



Room 218, Koch Center for Engineering and Science

Cris Hochwender teaches several courses connected to environmental studies, including an environmental perspectives course, the Science of Environmental Pollutants, and a research-based ecology course. He also teaches two summer courses in field botany. These courses are hands-on with an intentional focus on outdoor experiences. Like the rest of the faculty members who teach in the environmental studies program, Professor Hochwender recognizes that the experience students gain from lab projects and through field trips provide them with exciting challenges that add other dimensions to their education. In addition to the courses he teaches, Professor Hochwender conducts ecological research in Indiana. Recently, several undergraduate students spent the summer at the Vectren Conservation Park (UE's environmental research site) examining the role of the native community on invasion by nonnative plant species. Students contribute to every aspect of these type of investigations. Their scientific experience includes reading literature, developing research protocols, and collecting and analyzing data. Research experiences typically culminate in developing presentations for regional and national conferences.
Arlen Kaufman

Dr. Arlen Kaufman


Room 325, Koch Center for Engineering and Science

As the director of the environmental studies program, Arlen Kaufman teaches courses related to the area of chemical analysis. Students in his classes get hands-on training with state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation. Professor Kaufman explained that 'students not only need to learn how to perform the analyses used in the environmental field, but they also need to understand how a particular analysis works on a fundamental level. This knowledge gives our students a competitive advantage over those in the field who are simple 'button pushers.' Our graduates leave UE with the understanding and ability to be able to choose the best analysis for the task at hand.' Professor Kaufman's research focuses on developing and using analytical technologies to determine the existence and extent of chemical pollutants in the environment. Two of his current research projects involve using cold vapor atomic absorption to determine the amount of mercury in the Ohio River and using inductively coupled plasma (optical emission spectrometry) to determine the amount of lead in a neighborhood surrounding a local Superfund site.
Elizabeth Powell

Dr. Elizabeth Powell

Associate Professor/Biology

Room 217, Koch Center for Engineering and Science

Ann Powell teaches several courses connected to environmental studies, including courses on the diversity of eukaryotic organisms, plant identification and diversity, and a capstone class that examines the connections between science, public policy, and other areas of scholarly inquiry (including the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences). In addition to the courses she teaches, Professor Powell conducts plant biology research focusing on plant species boundaries, evolutionary relationships, and parasitic plant/host plant interactions. Recently, several undergraduate students worked on research projects examining the effect of different host plants on the performance of a parasitic plant that infects plant stems (dodder). Students contributed to all aspects of these research experiences including: reading and evaluating studies related to the topic, experimental design, and collecting and analyzing data. Students also wrote scientific manuscripts summarizing research findings and presented the results of their research at scientific meetings.