David Hunnicutt

Associate Professor of Biology

B.S., Augustana College
M.S., Illinois State University
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Programs: Biology, Natural Science

My primary teaching areas are Microbiology and Immunology, with an emphasis on cell and molecular biology.  I also teach the first semester of General Biology, and bring microbiology to the General Education program in the form of a course on Bioterrorism.  As microbiologist, I feel a responsibility to bring an appreciation of bacteria and viruses to the study of biology, as they make up roughly half of the world’s biomass and more than half of its genetic diversity.  Central to my educational philosophy is the involvement of students in independent research. 

The core research in my lab addresses questions of bacterial physiology in the genus Flavobacterium, a common, understudied group of organisms.  Flavobacteria are members of a large and diverse group of bacteria important in carbon cycling and the cause of diseases of aquatic organisms.  I am specifically interested in a behavior called gliding motility and its relation to pathogenesis.  Many Flavobacteria move over surfaces in response to stimuli using a mechanism called gliding motility.   My students, colleagues, and I work to understand this mechanism using molecular techniques.  We use similar techniques to study how pathogenic Flavobacteria cause disease in fish, and the relationship between motility and biofilm formation.  We also use our model of Flavobacterium infection in zebra fish to study fundamental questions of immune function. I maintain active collaborations with colleagues at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, The University of Rhode Island and USDA/ARS aquaculture lab in West Virginia.

Because microbiology and molecular techniques are widely applicable in biology, I also support research projects outside of my interest in Flavobacterium.  Examples of such projects include determining the prevalence of Staph. aureus (and potentially MRSA) among college students and the effect of endocrine disruption on the bacterial population of the songbird gut.

Courses
BIOL 120 General Biology I
BIOL 350 Microbiology
BIOL 365 Immunology
NSCI 358 Bioterrorism