Skip To Content Skip To Menu Skip To Footer

Faculty Profile

Dana Somers

Associate Professor of Biology (2013)

Contact Information

on sabbatical Fall 2023

James Hall - Rector Complex Room 2219


I teach classes in genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and microbial fermentation. Research in my lab focuses on microbial genome evolution, particularly as it relates to understanding microbial ecology and biodiversity. We use functional, ecological, and evolutionary genomics to address these basic questions. In one project, my students and I are seeking to understand how climate-mediated changes in lake habitat can influence microbial communities by examining microbial diversity in Arctic lakes, a region where climate change has been particularly rapid. In another project, we are observing the evolutionary dynamics of laboratory domestication in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the related species S. paradoxus. Finally, a third project seeks to expand our understanding of yeast biodiversity by discovering and characterizing novel species of yeasts.


  • B.A., Franklin and Marshall College, 2002
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007

2023-2024 Academic Year

Spring 2024

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.

BIOL 316 Genomics/Proteomics/Bioinform
The genome contains all the information required for the construction and operation of an organism. Selective utilization of the genome determines the transcriptome, which directs the creation of a proteome that is cell-type and condition specific. Today, molecular biologists are able to study whole genomes, transcriptomes, and proteomes allowing for an integrative analysis of living systems. This course will explore these genomic and proteomic techniques and their many applications. Central to these molecular methods are computational tools that facilitate the analysis of the large data sets generated. A variety of bioinformatics approaches will be explored through implementation of student designed, hypothesis-driven, research projects employing existing datasets. Three hours classroom per week. Prerequisites: 216 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 560 Stu/Faculty Collaborative Rsch