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 301 The Subcellular World
This course will cover the function of organelles and explore how defects in structure and/or function of different organelles can lead to diseases. We will integrate the functions of organelles by studying processes that govern cellular homeostasis, such as the cell cycle, cell division, membrane and protein trafficking, endo- and exocytosis, etc., and their regulation. Through lecture, discussion, case studies, problem-based projects, and readings from scientific literature, we will also explore the importance of cell-cell communication, autophagy, and programmed cell death in health and disease. The lab portion of the course will provide insight in using both classic and modern techniques to address major biological problems.

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 333 Physiology w/Lab
A study of physiological mechanisms in the animal kingdom, stressing the structural and functional bases of biological activities. Emphasis is on vertebrate organs and organ systems. Laboratory includes experimental physiological studies of selected organisms. Six hours classroom a week. Prerequisites: One 200-level BIOL course. For Neuroscience majors, 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.