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Faculty Profile: the newest addition to the Biology Faculty:
Dr. Adam Weaver, Asst. Professor

What are the courses that you will most likely teach at Saint Michael's College?

Comparative vertebrate anatomy, neurobiology, and general biology.

What do you like most about teaching at Saint Michael's College?

  Dr. Adam Weaver joined the faculty in January 2010

I like having direct contact with each of my students.  It is really great to see these students explore new topics that are of interest to them and create something important and new.  My educational goal is to assist students in achieving their potential.  The small class sizes and ample resources at Saint Michael's College make this goal easier to attain.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?

Neurobiology.  Even though this course is in my field of research, I really appreciate it because of its interdisciplinary nature.  Studies of the mind are important because it directly impacts every aspect of how we experience the world.  Many fields within the liberal arts investigate the mind from different viewpoints.  I am happy that I can bring perspectives from the natural sciences to this ongoing dialogue.

Could you describe your plans for research?

Many rhythmic behaviors (i.e., walking, breathing, digestion, etc.) are regulated by small networks of neurons called central pattern generators (CPG).  Our long-term goal is to investigate how neuromuscular systems involving CPG�s have evolved to produce functional behaviors in widely varying contexts.  Our studies focus on the characterization of neurons and muscles associated with the heartbeat system in leeches.  It is known that there are three closely-related major classifications of leeches that have evolved very different circulatory anatomy, but as of yet no one has made detailed comparisons of this anatomy or the nervous system regulating blood flow in these systems.

By studying the evolution of these CPG's and their downstream effectors (i.e., muscles), this work will provide general principles of how adaptive behaviors are produced by the nervous system.  This work will help clarify the functional relationship between anatomical systems and their neural control networks.  This basic knowledge will be useful in developing a deeper understanding of neuromuscular systems in human health.

This summer, two St. Mike�s students (Kristen Cowens, 2012; Amanda Willette, 2011) will work with me to collect and analyze anatomical and physiological data from local leeches obtained in the wild.  We hope to present this work both on-campus and at a regional neuroscience conference.

How does your research enhance your teaching, and how does your teaching enhance your scholarship?

My recent scholarship involves both neurophysiology and computer modeling of biological processes.  Through this experience, Saint Michael's College is now one of a relatively few liberal arts colleges that offers in-class experiences recording from single neurons and small networks of neurons, as well as working with computer models of these same neurons.

What are some of your personal hobbies?

Cycling, skiing, computer programming, and music production.




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