Deborah Anderson

Associate Professor of Biology

B.S., Alma College
M.S., Northeastern University
D.A., Idaho State University

Programs: Biology

My main teaching interests are in human anatomy, organismal biology and paleobiology. In the classroom, I use an active learning class format based on constructivism. Courses are designed to promote development of critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as provide exposure to essential content. Students are accountable for their own learning and benefit greatly from the focus on active learning in the lecture and laboratory. Assessment of course structure and student work is ongoing throughout the semester.

As an active vertebrate paleontologist, I study patterns of change in mammals over time—such as how the size of small mammals changes in response to abrupt ecological change (volcanism) vs. gradual ecological changes (global warming). Current projects focus on biostratigraphy of the Green River Basin, Wyoming and the speciation of fossil rodents.

In the summer months, I collect fossil mammals in Wyoming and return to the lab to analyze the dentition, skull and postcranial material quantitatively and qualitatively. This data is plotted against biochronologic levels to facilitate the identification of any patterns of change over time. Discovered patterns in the fossil rodents are compared to other faunal patterns for mammals of the same time period.

Once the alpha taxonomy and patterns of intra- and inter-specific variation have been established, the fossil rodent data can be used to recognize distinct biochrons when returning to the field sites. Size and morphology data will be used to further refine the Bridgerian biozones and to test hypotheses that predict a correlation between environment and patterns of faunal change.

Courses
BIOL 100 Human Biology
BIOL 121 General Biology II
BIOL 220 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
BIOL 320 Human Anatomy and Histology
BIOL 430 Paleobiology