Faculty Profile

Kirsten Guss

Associate Professor of Biology; John R. & Inge Paul Stafford Chair in Bioinformatics (2001)

Contact Information


Rector North Room 2302


Prof. Guss is interested in the molecular basis of development. Her research focuses on the role of the transcription factor scalloped during development of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Prof. Guss teaches the following courses in the biology program: 127: This is Your Life, 317: Genetics, 318: Animal Development, and 418: Developmental Genomics.


  • B.A., Gettysburg College, 1989
  • Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, 1997

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

BIOL 318 Animal Development w/Lab
This course offers an introduction to the development of multicellular animals. The study of development addresses the following question: how does a single cell—the fertilized egg—give rise to a complex organism, containing many cells of many types? Three essential processes must occur for development to proceed: an increase in cell number through division; an increase in types of cells through differentiation; and the arrangement of cells into organs, tissues, appendages and other complex structures. In this course, we will examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie these processes, with a focus on the current understanding of, and approaches used to investigate, the genetic basis of development of model organisms. Six classroom hours a week. Prerequisites: One 200-level biology course. For Neuroscience majors only, the prerequisite is NRSC 200.

BIOL 412 Pattern Animal Epidermis
Nearly every animal structure we can observe at the surface is a derivative of the epidermis. For humans, these derivatives include the skin, hair, nails, and parts of the eye. The developmental patterning and maintenance of the epidermis and its associated structures requires cell migration, intercellular communication, stem cell function, and differentiation. Interesting phenotypes result from the differential execution of these events. In this seminar, we will explore the literature that addresses the patterning and maintenance of the surface epidermis and its associated structures in animals, focusing on the vertebrates. This course will also include discussion of hypothesis formulation, experimental approaches, and the interpretation of results, and will require a major research-based presentation and/or paper. This course satisfies the requirement for a research experience for the biology major.

BIOL 550 Independent Research

BCMB 560 Stu/Faculty Collaborative Rsch
Student/Faculty Collaborative Research allows a student to conduct original research in close partnership with faculty collaborator(s). The project should be designed as an investigation yielding novel results that contribute to the area of study. With the faculty collaborator(s), students will develop the project and participate in all aspects fo the reasearch. It is expected that the faculty member will work closely with the student for at least half of the time the student is pursuing the research. The final project must be presented to the faculty collaborator(s) no later than one week prior to the end of the evaluation period. The course will typically earn one half or one full course credit per semester.

Spring 2018

BIOL 216 Genetics w/Lab
A study of Mendelian genetics, linkage, and mutation. An introduction to basic DNA structure and function including replication, transcription, and translation. Laboratory exercises involve both classic and molecular approaches to genetic analysis utilizing prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Six hours classroom a week. Prerequisites: 131 & 132. For Neuroscience majors only, prerequisite is 132 and PSYC 125.