Research Areas

The field of biology has seen enormous advances in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology over the past three decades. The Department’s research programs in these areas focus on both normal development and function as well as on the affect diseases have on these processes. Department researchers use a number of prokaryotic and eukaryotic model systems in their work, with many programs aimed at basic disease pathophysiology and novel treatment strategies.

Other research programs in the Department focus on ecology, evolution, paleobiology and environmental biology. Efforts in these areas extend from studies of the fundamental mechanisms of ecological processes to applied conservation work to basic and molecular paleontology. These programs mix fieldwork, lab experiments, mathematical models and molecular approaches to study organisms from phytoplankton to plants to animals.

Department research projects are located both locally and internationally, from the New Jersey Pine Barrens to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Faculty collaborate extensively throughout the broad research landscape of Drexel, the Philadelphia region, and the world. Within Drexel, faculty work closely with groups in the College of Medicine, College of Engineering, and the School of Biomedical Engineering. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows often lead these collaborations, providing a broader foundation for their training in cutting-edge research.

Though each research team asks different questions and seeks unique answers, all employ complementary and synergistic technical approaches that greatly enhance interactions between labs.

Department researchers can be broadly categorized into four distinct and overlapping fields:

Genes & Proteins

Research programs in genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry focus on gene expression and the genetic basis of evolution and disease. Of particular interest are the molecular mechanisms that regulate gene expression temporally and spatially in a variety of model organisms. Studies include analyses of individual genes, gene families, RNAs, proteins, and the biological basis of metabolism. Department researchers aim to understand how these mechanisms function in the development, disease and regeneration of cell tissues and organ systems, and in organism’s responses, environmental adaptations, and evolution.

Associated Research Faculty


Research programs in the areas of cellular biology, physiology, and pathobiology range from studies of cellular metabolism to intra- and intercellular communication. Investigations often focus on culture systems where individual cells or cell populations can be isolated from organisms to directly assess cellular metabolism, signaling, and structure. Department faculty are interested in understanding the role of these processes in normal development, immune responses and physiology, as well as in cancer, neurodegeneration and regeneration.

Associated Research Faculty


Research programs in organismal biology focus on studying organisms in the laboratory, in the field, or in the fossil record. Some programs use bacterial, insect and rodent models in the laboratory to understand the physiological function of genes, proteins, molecular pathways, and cellular structures. Programs studying organisms in the field often focus on the conservation biology of insects, amphibians, reptiles and non-human primates. These investigators take initiatives both in conserving organisms on the verge of extinction and in ecosystem management. Work in paleobiology focuses on reconstruction of Mesozoic Era environments containing the remains of dinosaurs and other vertebrate animals.

Associated Research Faculty

Ecology & Ecosystems

Research programs in these areas focus on populations, communities, and ecosystems. The Department has a strong field research program that studies processes in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide, including Central America, South America, Europe, and Africa, as well as locally in the Mid-Atlantic region. These field programs benefit from a number of established field stations. Our emphasis is on conservation biology, biophysical ecology, molecular ecology, paleobiology and the impacts of global climate change on threatened species.

Associated Research Faculty