Experts on "Biological Sciences"

Wendy Billock

  • Department Chair, Biological Sciences
  • Associate Professor of Biology

After working five years in biotechnology, Wendy spent ten years as an outdoor education instructor and administrator at a Christian camp in San Diego.  She received her M.S. in biology from the Institute for Creation Research, and recently, her Ph.D. from Loma Linda University.  Her research in behavioral ecology has included work with both primates and hermit crabs.  She has spoken at international marine biology conferences and published articles on hermit crab behavior.  Wendy also co-authored a marine biology book for elementary school children in Fiji.  She serves the Christian community in a variety of areas, including: children’s ministry; church website development; worship team audio-visual support; and short-term missions trips.  Wendy also serves on the board of a prison ministry that helps parolees transition to a productive life through mentorship.

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Matt Cruzen

  • Associate Professor of Biological Science

Matt Cruzen teaches various courses in the Biology Department including: Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Microbiology. Cruzen’s research interests are focused on the process of aging in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. He and his students are looking at morphological development of different long lived and wild type worms. They analyze the surface characteristics of the pharynx and the vulva in developing and aging worms by scanning electron microscopy to identify chronological and developmental changes (worm wrinkles) in the two groups of worms. The basic question has to do with when wrinkles are acquired with respect to their physiological and chronological age.

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Ruth E. Ebeling

  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Ruth has a broad background in the basic sciences but she specializes in the Anatomical Sciences with an emphasis on human anatomy. As she sometimes says, her specialty is people with their skin off. She also has a strong interest in the brain and teaches the Neurobiology class.

Ruth has taught many places besides Biola, among them was Cleveland Chiropractic College, Los Angeles. As a result of teaching there, she was part of the General Anatomy section of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners Exam Writing Committee for five years. Ruth has also spoken to many Creation Science groups on a wide variety of topics.

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Akiko Kobayashi

  • Associate Professor of Nursing

Akiko Kobayashi was licensed as a nurse, and worked as an RN in Japan prior to coming to the United States. Her clinical background in the United States is varied, including coronary care, cardiac surgery critical care, respiratory care, home health and utilization review/case management. During an immunology course in her MSN program, she developed interest in immune responses in cancer development. She had rich experience in biomedical research focusing on mucosal immune responses in cervical carcinogenesis prior to coming to Biola University in 2009.

Her publications in peer reviewed scientific journals include Evolving immunosuppressive microenvironment during human cervical carcinogenesis, Functional attributes of cervical mucosal immunity in high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions and effects of HIV infection, Lymphoid follicles are generated in high-grade cervical dysplasia and have differing characteristics depending on HIV status and Recent development in understanding the immune response to human papillomavirus infection and cervical dysplasia. She has spoken at multiple international scientific meetings. She has also been translating InterVarsity Press’ Bible study textbooks into Japanese for Japanese Christians in her mother church in San Lorenzo, California.

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Hyuna Lee

Hyuna Lee had the unique privilege to live in three distinct cultures. She was born in Korea, but raised in Paraguay for 15 years as missionary kid and moved to the United States during high school. Her multicultural experience allowed her to understand students coming from diverse communities and cultures. Lee has investigated mitochondrial axonal transport using microfluidic platform, zebrafish regeneration properties, and in vivo dopamine d2 receptor studies in mice. Her desire is to foster a passion for science in the students at Biola to raise them to be influential leaders in their future scientific careers that brings countless souls to Christ. Lee is currently serving as a Christian radio co-host interviewing the lives of pastors’ and missionaries’ kids, she is on the executive committee for raising scholarships for missionary kids, and she greatly enjoys serving as a Kindergarten Pastor. Through Lee’s active history of teaching combined with years of biological research and working with diverse individuals, she is thrilled to contribute to Biola University’s vision to equip students with a strong basic science education centered on Christ.

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Mark McReynolds

  • Director of Environmental Science
  • Assistant Professor

Mark earned his B.S. with honors in Recreation Resource Management (Natural Science Emphasis) from Northern Arizona University. He earned an M.Div. in Christian Education from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, and a doctoral degree in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire. His doctoral dissertation focused on Patterns of Seasonal Variation in Diet, Abundance and Movement of the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) in southern Belize. Mark lived four years in Belize overseeing an environmental ministry and almost five years in the Dominican Republic working with underachieving American teenagers. Mark has extensive Christian camping and environmental education experience, chairs the university's Creation Stewardship Committee, and is the faculty adviser for the student-run Environmental Care Club. Mark and his wife, Karen, a biology professor at another university, are active gardeners and birders, and attend Redeemer Church in La Mirada.

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Raphael R Payne

  • Emeritus Professor of Biology

Dr. Rafe Payne specializes in the systematics and zoogeography of monogenean parasites infecting the gills of marine fishes. He is particularly interested in deep-sea fishes and sharks of the Sea of Cortez. Dr. Payne has authored four scientific papers describing nine new species of monogeneans, and currently serves as a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of the Helminthological Society of Washington. Dr. Payne has developed the BIOLA - BAJA program offered each Interterm: An extended field trip to Baja California, Mexico to study plants, marine mammals, birds, and intertidal marine organisms at the Vermilion Sea Field Station.

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Jason Tresser

  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Jason Tresser received his B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego. He received an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University before completing his Ph.D. in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His doctoral dissertation focused on the genetics of neural development as well as larval behavior and metamorphosis in the ascidian Ciona savignyi. Tresser taught as an adjunct instructor at Westmont College before joining the faculty at Biola University. Tresser is continuing his research on the development and behavior of the ascidian larva with students at Biola. Additionally, Tresser coordinates the Biola Organic Garden. Students interested in botany, horticulture and ecology are involved in growing produce in an organic and sustainable manner on Biola’s campus. Tresser, his wife Kim and their three girls are actively involved at Grace EV Free Church in La Mirada.

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Behzad Varamini

  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Behzad Varamini grew up in frigid Wisconsin before moving to the east coast where he earned his bachelor of science degree in Biotechnology. After an eye opening internship at the National Cancer Institute, where he studied nutrition and colon cancer prevention, he became interested in how nutrients regulate genes. As a result, he studied omega-3 fatty acids in neonatal development at Cornell University while earning his Ph.D. in Nutritional Science. During graduate school, Varamini developed a passion for teaching and mentoring students, so he went on to further work and study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. While there, he studied the molecular signaling mechanisms of resveratrol, a molecule found in red wine which is thought to have anti-aging and anti-diabetic properties. He also took classes at Penn in teaching and curriculum development and served as an adjunct faculty at several nearby universities and colleges. This experience cemented his interest and passion for teaching, and at Biola University Varamini tries to incorporate the latest research and information on nutrition and human health into his course content. Varamini is quite fascinated by the lack of winters and abundance of traffic in Southern California.

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