Brian Walter

Brian Walter, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Education

B.S., Eastern Illinois University
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Teaching

Biology 102 - General Biology
I teach seven weeks of lecture during the fall semester of General Biology. Over the course of these lectures, I introduce material covering major themes of the endocrine system, developmental biology of animals and plants, and the immune system.

Biology 311 - Developmental Biology
In this course, we examine the embryology of animals with an emphasis on the development of vertebrate animals. Since this course is meant to focus on development at the organismal level, I put the course material in the context of the tissues and morphogenetic behaviors used to build the animal body. My lectures introduce the major aspects of animal development, including germ cell development, fertilization, early developmental phenomena to produce the body plan, and development of vertebrate organ systems. The labs for this course provide an opportunity to design and perform experiments using a wide variety of animals, as well as use prepared specimens to examine the anatomy of the developing vertebrate.

Biology 410 - Molecular Foundations in Developmental Biology
This course is meant to serve as either a natural extension of Biology 311 or as a more specific survey of themes within the fields of cellular and molecular biology.  The course is organized into a series of lectures as well as weekly discussions. I use the lectures to introduce molecular phenomena central for the development of animals, including cell-specific protein production, intercellular communication, morphogenetic mechanisms, and differentiation. The discussions are opportunities for students to explore relevant research techniques, discuss current research papers, and present the findings of their own literature-based research projects.

Research

My previous research dealt with the development of the vertebrate eye. Numerous inductive interactions are known to occur between the developing retina and the lens en route to forming an eye. My research examined the expression of genes within the lens placode in the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Patterns of gene expression can be correlated with changes in the placode as development proceeds. Interestingly, these same genes are again upregulated in the regenerating lens, demonstrating a molecular genetic correspondence  between lens development and regeneration.

My current research interests involve developmental variation in animals. Specifically, I am interested in morphological variation in vertebrates and the differences in the underlying molecular mechanisms which produce those variations. In my research, I use a group of fishes known as characids, many of which are small fishes with clearly observable variations in morphology and coloration. By comparing the embryogeneses and larval growth patterns between species, alterations to their respective developmental programs can be observed. These observations can be used to generate hypotheses which can be tested at the cellular and/or molecular levels. Currently, I am focused on development in the red-eye tetra Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae, notably the development of the jaw elements and their variations from those of the developmental model zebrafish Danio rerio.

Further details regarding my research can be found here.

email bwalter@iwu.edu phone (309) 556-3041 office CNS C109B
Illinois Wesleyan University
Bloomington, IL 61702-2900
Office Hours
updated January 2014
Monday -
Tuesday 1-2
Wednesday 10-11
Thursday 1-2
Friday 1-3