School of Biological Sciences Welcomes a New Director

Photo Credit: Greg Nathan, University Communications
Photo Credit: Greg Nathan, University Communications
by Joel Stranberg Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:42

The School of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Herman, a biologist specializing in evolutionary and ecological genomics, will be joining the School as the new director effective January, 2018.

At UNL, Dr. Herman’s lab’s research will continue to focus on linking responses of living systems to environmental change at the genetic level. The main objective is to find which genes are most important for how organisms respond to the environment through the study of nematodes, or roundworms. Recently, efforts have been focused on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its interaction with an emerging bacterial pathogen, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia with the intention of explaining the genes that C. elegans uses to respond to pathogenic bacteria like S. maltophilia. These efforts are made in hopes of understanding the C. elegans natural immune response to S. maltophilia and in the process they hope to learn more about complex genetic architectures involved in interactions within a community of organisms.

Dr. Herman also takes a keen interest in science communication, which seeks to engage communities about the value of science and research. Dr. Herman said, “I think it’s our responsibility let folks know the results of publicly funded science. It’s also great for our students to learn how to communicate their work effectively with the public.  Basically, we all have a lot to gain from encouraging communities to actively participate and promote science and research.” He hopes that during his time as director to increase the School of Biological Sciences’ outreach and interaction with the surrounding community.

Before joining us at the School of Biological Sciences, Dr. Herman was the Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Kansas State University and Co-Director of the KSU Ecological Genomes Institute. Dr. Herman holds a Doctorate in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Herman says he is “excited to join such an accomplished group of biologists and work with faculty, staff, and students.” He says that his main goal will be “to help guide the School toward its vision of integration across levels of biological organization to help promote the continued success of all in the School.”