image of Dr. Manuela Ramalho looking up

Dr. Manuela Ramalho joins Department of Biology

Dr. Manuela Ramalho will join the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor in August 2022. Her researcher involves unraveling the role of eco-evolutionary dynamics of host-microbe interactions and understanding the patterns and mechanisms that promote biodiversity through these symbiotic interactions. Specifically, Ramalho Lab will combine natural history background with cutting-edge tools (using multi-omics approaches and several bioinformatics tools) to assess the biodiversity of microbial communities and their potential impact on the success and development of the host. To do this, insects are an extraordinary model organism to study host-microbe interactions (including her favorite - ants!). They not only have a wide distribution and diversified, but they have also been associated with symbiotic bacteria for 50 over million years. She will also teach courses as BIO 520 and look forward to mentoring student scientists in Biology at WCU.

In addition to focusing on studying the microbiome of ants, Dr. Ramalho also advocates for a more diverse and inclusive scientific community. Quality science is done with a diverse group of scientists with different backgrounds. Her commitment to promoting diversity is supported by her experiences as a first-generation college student, Latina women in STEM, parent in science, and immigrant.

Dr. Ramalho (aka Manu) earned PhD in cell and molecular biology from Brazil (UNESP – Rio Claro, SP), but her academic life has already taken her to Chicago, IL (Field Museum) and to Ithaca, NY (Cornell University) as a Postdoctoral Researcher. She is excited to join West Chester University (Fall 2022) and start the Ramalho Lab! More great and fun science coming soon!

In addition, here is the Ramalho lab website:, and Manu Twitter: @Manu_ _Ramalho (@Manu__Ramalho)

image of bacteria culture in petri dish along with microscope

Dr. Jessica Sowa receives $502,187 grant from NSF

Dr. Jessica Sowa has received a $502,187 grant from the National Science Foundation for her project “Discovery and characterization of novel viral pathogens of Caenorhabditis elegans”. This project will integrate her successful 4th grade science outreach program Nematode Hunters, a new Biology elective class for WCU undergraduates, and the work of her laboratory research team to discover novel viruses in wild nematodes that can infect the popular model nematode C. elegans.

image of MRI machine along with 2 image scans

Dr. Pisciotta is CoPI on NSF MRI grant

Dr. John Pisciotta is Co-PI on a recently awarded $391,730 National Science Foundation funded Major Research Instrumentation grant to purchase an Apreo2 field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM). This instrument will be used in graduate and upper-level undergraduate training and for interdisciplinary research into the interactions between cells and nanoparticles.

Dr. Frank Fish holding Ig Nobel Prize

Dr. Frank Fish wins the 2022 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, won the 2022 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the energetics of swimming in a single file formation by ducklings. The award ceremony video held on September 15 can be viewed at with the portion with Dr. Fish at 56 minutes from the start of the video.

3 model ducks lined up in descending height

Dr. Fish featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Dr. Fish's research on swimming ducklings is featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The article can be found on the front page of the B section of the 10/02 edition and online.