Robert Hippensteele

Robert Hippensteele

Professor of Biology



B.S. - Hampden-Sydney College
Ph.D. - University of California, Berkeley


The research projects in Professor Hippensteele's laboratory lie within the general areas of cardiovascular (microvascular) physiology and neurophysiology. His studies are designed to help elucidate the various mechanisms by which tissue-blood perfusion rates are adjusted to changes in local metabolic rate, thus to changes in local nutritional requirements. Adjusting the perfusion rate requires adjusting the rate of the closing and opening of the arterioles carrying blood to a tissue, a process called vasomotion.

The neurophysiological studies in Professor Hippensteele's laboratory are designed to determine the extent to which neural control is responsible for maintaining the basic rhythm of vasomotion. Most recently, for these studies, Hippensteele has been using an invertebrate; the clamworm, Nereis virens. Work in his laboratory has shown that, in clamworms, vasomotion occurs within the capillary beds of a series of parapodia, structures that extend laterally along each side of their bodies. These structures function as both locomotor and respiratory organs in the clamworm. Dr. Hippensteele is now studying the control of the basic rhythm of vasomotion in those capillary beds when the parapodia are inactive.


Dr. Hippensteele teaches Animal Physiology, a portion of General Biology, Neurophysiology, Biostatistics and Experimental Design, and a Gateway course.