Associate Professor

Department of Biology,

Westminster College, PA


I earned my Ph. D. in Developmental Biology from the Univeristy of London, UK, in the lab of Ivor Mason. I have an M.Sc. in Immunology, also from the University of London. I have done post-doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA and have taught classes at Duquesne University and Chatham University (both in Pittsburgh, PA). My research focuses on molecular regulation of learning and memory in insects; I use fruit flies and ants as model organisms. I am chair of the Westminster College Research Professions Advisory Committee (ResPAC). I live in New Wilmington with my husband, Tim


Image credits L - R: 1; Hooper, L. LSU, 2-5; Robertson (Westminster College), 6; Adams pest control

Research: Learning and Memory in Social Insects

"In order to fully understand learning and memory in insects (or in any other model) we need to determine the primary cell types involved and how they are connected, understand how different stimuli are represented by neural activity in sensory organs, understand how these representations are transferred to higher centers in the brain, understand the biochemical changes that underlie stimulus processing and analyze the system at a molecular level" - - Ron Davis.

My lab studies visual and olfactory, associative and non-associative learning in social insects. Associative learning in insects is typically driven by repeated and spaced training, is long-term, depends on protein synthesis and is facilitated by different molecules and cells than non-associaitve learning. Non-associative learning in contrast, is driven more typically by serial training, is short-mid term and occurs independently of protein sythesis. We are currently using pharmacological techniques to identify the molecules involved in associaitve and non-associative learning, as well as the molecules that regulate different phases of learning such as memory formation and memory retrieval. In addition, we are using fluorescent tracers and markers to map connections between cells in the olfactory system and to study physiological changes that occur in th the brain as a result of learning.


I teach courses for the Biology Department, as well as courses for our interdisciplinary Neuroscience major, of which I am a co-coordinator. Classes at Westminster are typically 10-25 students/class and all have an inquiry-style lab component. To see sample syllabi for each of these courses, click here

BIO 201: Foundations in Biology I (Cell and Molecular Biology)
BIO 202: Foundations in Biology II (Evolution, Form and Function)
BIO 304: Developmental Biology
BIO 363: Animal Behavior
BIO 113: Biology of Infectious Disease; a Service Learning Course. Please take a look at Project Malawi

Contact Information

217 Hoyt Science Center
Westminster College
319 S. Market Street
New Wilmington, PA 16172
E-mail me


For more information about the Westminster College Research Professions Advisory Committee (ResPAC), click here



Katherine Robertson and Sarah Kennedy (Chemistry Department) recently recieved a $750 grant from the American Chemical Society to fund the development of chemistry kits for Project Malawi

Biology alumnus and former lab member Kaylynn Coates recently won the McClun award for most outstanding paper in BIOS, 2013. Her paper describes her senior research project; to read her abstract click here