2011 Biology Department Milestones

New faculty, promotions, babies and more

Congratulations to the graduating seniors--a list of your names is here.

In 2010-11, the department welcomed several new faces. We hired two new tenure-track faculty, one lab coordinator, saw the birth of three children, and said good-bye to a faculty member who left to work elsewhere.  Below are details on those milestones as well as other department news.

 Biology Assistant Professor Dr. Shanta Hinton
New Hires

Cellular/molecular biologist Dr. Shantá Hinton came to William and Mary from Hampton University in 2010.  Dr. Hinton researches the function of protein phosphorylation signaling cascades, specifically the role of pseudophophatase MK-STYX. She earned her doctorate at Howard University, and had a postdoctoral fellowship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. At William and Mary, she's taught courses entitled Cell Signaling and Associated Disease, and Protein, Structure and Function.


 Drew Lamar

Drew LaMar joined the department in the fall 2011. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in mathematics. Drew is a mathematical biologist with teaching and research interests that lie at the interface of biology, dynamics, and combinatorics. His work combines computational and mathematical techniques to study coupled oscillators and complex networks in neurobiology, cell physiology, and ecology. Most currently Dr. LaMar was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Science at the College of William and Mary. This year, he will be focusing on infusing more math into our introductory biology courses.

Dr. Robin Varney, Biology Laboratory Coordinator

Robin Varney was hired as Introductory Biology Lab Coordinator.  Dr. Varney graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a BS in Clinical Laboratory Science and completed a MS in Marine Science at the University of South Carolina. She earned her Ph.D. in Marine Biosciences at the University of Delaware studying population genetics of oysters and, most recently, was a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Dr. Mohamed Noor (W&M '92) at Duke University, where she worked on de novo genome assembly of the scuttle fly and analysis of association between recombination rate and codon usage bias in Drosophila species.

John Griffin, Professor of Biology


John Griffin was promoted in 2011 to Full Professor of Biology. In addition to teaching and researching neurophysiology, Dr. Griffin is Director of the Neuroscience Program, and the faculty advisor for the William and Mary Sailing Team!


Matt Wawersik, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Matt Wawersik was promoted to Associate Professor of Biology and granted tenure in the department. In addition to researching germ cell development, Dr. Wawersik has had success securing NSF funding for microscopy and science students, as well as advising the Biology Club.
 Professor Emeritus George Gilchrist

Dr. George Gilchrist retired early from the department and now works as Acting Deputy Division Director at the National Science Foundation. The Department misses Dr. Gilchrist and his wide diversity of interests, but enjoyed his return when he gave a seminar in September as returning Emeritus Faculty.

Eliot Allen mom Margaret Pizer


2011 was a very productive year for our fecund faculty!

Faculty member Jon Allen became a father for the second time when Simon Allen was born. Jon's wife Margaret Pizer works at VIMS, and both are now twice as busy with brother Simon helping to raise Eliot!

For more information on the dad, see the story on A. Francis Armstrong's award.

Jenna Lamar and her parents Jenna LaMar was born May 15, 2011. She's the daughter of new faculty member Drew LaMar (see above) and his wife, Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Sarah Day. A very busy year for all!
Helen Murphy and Thomas van der Veen
Visiting Assistant Professor Helen Murphy also had a baby 2011! (Thomas van der Veen, with husband Maurits van der Veen, W&M Assistant Professor of Government). Dr. Murphy is here for two years to teach Evolutionary Biology. She is interested in Evolutionary biology, genetics, and biostatistics, using Saccharomyces yeasts as a model organism.