Experts on "Biological Sciences"

Wendy Billock

  • Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Wendy Billock teaches a variety of organismal biology courses, including: Zoology; Marine Biology; Invertebrate Biology; Vertebrate Biology; and Ecology. Field trips are an integral part of her laboratory classes, giving students an opportunity to learn field research techniques. She teaches courses for both science majors and non-majors. She also directs the scientific writing program for biology majors.  In addition to research in behavioral ecology, Billock’s research interests include pedagogy techniques in STEM education, higher education administration, and intelligent design. She has been conducting annual teacher training conferences in Haiti since 2013 for Christian school teachers in remote areas of Haiti.

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Ruth E. Ebeling

  • Associate Professor, 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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Richard Gunasekera

  • Associate Dean and Professor, Academic and Research Affairs
  • Professor of Biological Sciences

Richard Gunasekera, Ph.D., has enjoyed a 20-year career in higher education as professor and a scientist in the field of Biochemical Genetics and Forensic DNA. He earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry at Baylor University, where he researched and published in organic synthesis as an undergraduate. Gunasekera earned a master’s degree in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, a master’s in molecular genetics and a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Before coming to Biola in 2018, Gunasekera founded the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Houston-Victoria and acted as the Department Head and later as Director of Graduate Studies. He has held faculty and research positions at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and Rice University in Houston. Gunasekera’s research now spans several interdisciplinary fields such as cancer biology, forensic DNA studies, nano-biotechnology and biochemical genetics. He has also received awards for excellence in teaching, research and as a distinguished faculty member from his previous institutions. 

Working with his students and colleagues in research Gunasekera stays committed to the student and the classroom. He believes that all teaching in the sciences is an extension of rigorous research and discovery, and that a science professor is best when he professes what he practices in the laboratory. Thus, he considers teaching both graduates and undergraduates in the classroom and laboratory in a Christ-centered environment as his first calling. He is committed to work as a team member to contribute toward building a world class institution and continue to make Biola a national leader in the sciences.

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Akiko Kobayashi

  • Associate Professor of Nursing

Dr. Kobayashi’s interests in teaching include pathophysiology of diseases related to oncology and immunology, surgical nursing, nutrition, and nursing research in the B.S.N. program. Her courses include Nursing Care of Patient and Family II, Introduction to Nursing Research and Applied Nursing Research. She teaches in both the traditional classroom setting and the online teaching environment. She enjoys integrating her Christian faith with clinical learning environments as well as through teaching human physiology and pathophysiology to nursing students.

Dr. Kobayashi has done research studies in immune responses in cancer development and in clinical nursing education for novice nursing students. Dr. Kobayashi’s ongoing research studies in B.S.N. education include an online/hybrid environment for B.S.N. students to learn nursing research effectively. She has published multiple articles on mucosal immune responses during cancer development in scientific journals and more recently presented her studies on clinical education for novice nursing students.

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Hyuna Lee

  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Hyuna Lee’s teaching interests are in the areas of neurobiology, biochemistry, and cancer biology. She teaches courses for both science, technology and health majors and non-majors. Lee teaches first-year seminar for students in biological sciences majors and is an academic advisor in the Biola Office of Health Profession Advising.

Lee's research currently focuses on the regeneration properties of the zebrafish caudal fin exposed to various environmental toxicants. Her future interests lie in tumor angiogenesis and the anti-tumor effects of novel therapeutic drugs. These experiments will be performed by transplanting cancer cells in the duct of Cuvier of 48hpf Tg(fli1:EGFP) transgenic zebrafish larvae that have been knocked down of specific vasculature genes using morpholinos. Students can participate in zebrafish research with her through BIOS 450 Directed Research.

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Kit Ng

  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Kit Ng is currently teaching Principles of Anatomy and Physiology Lecture and Lab, Human Anatomy Lecture and Lab. Before coming to Biola, Ng taught anatomy, physiology, biotechnology and immunology at several community colleges in the Bay Area and served as a faculty member at Notre Dame de Namur University. He became interested in the pedagogy of student learning and has studied the science of learning. His doctoral work was on the impact of dietary lipids on the human body using cell culture and animal models and this continues to be his research interest.

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Raphael R Payne

  • Emeritus Professor of Biology

Rafe Payne, Professor Emeritus of Biology, is passionate about creation care, and considers himself to be an “old fashioned naturalist." He has served as a shipboard naturalist on more than 20 natural history cruises. He also participated in 25 oceanographic expeditions collecting Monogenoidea (parasitic worms) from the gills and skin of marine fishes. Payne has authored or co-authored scientific papers describing 11 new species of Monogenoidea and has served as a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Comparative Parasitology. Payne’s teaching interests are broadly organismal. He regularly taught marine biology, general ecology, parasitology, marine mammals and ornithology. He developed and taught the Biola - Baja program offered during interterm for 31 years. He currently teaches parasitology, general ecology and the natural history of marine mammals as an adjunct professor at Biola.

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Patrick Sun

  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Patrick Sun is currently teaching Fundamentals of Organismal Biology, Vertebrate Biology Lecture and Lab and General Ecology. Sun’s research interests focus on the interaction of stress tolerance with environmental factors in the context of organism adaptation to changing environments. His research examines differences in stress response to pollution and climate change in different populations, between sexes, and at different ages. His research combines lab work that examines antioxidant regulators (e.g. the Nrf2 protein) and protein regulatory pathways (e.g. proteasome) with field work that characterizes environmental conditions (e.g. heavy metal contamination and temperature stress). His research also incorporates multi-generational studies to examine the potential for selection to modify stress responses. Research and professional development has taken him across the globe from local destinations such as Catalina and the Santa Cruz Islands to international locations such as Hong Kong and Thailand where he was instilled with a wonder of God as our creator and a love for God’s people. Sun hopes to equip the next generation of environmental stewards that will safeguard our natural resources and the people that depend on those resources. Sun conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Southern California.

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Jason Tresser

  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Jason Tresser’s teaching interests are in the areas of genetics, biochemistry, and developmental biology. Students can participate in fruit fly genetics research with him through BIOS 450 Directed Research. Tresser is the founder of the Biola Organic Garden. Students can participate in organic garden work days, help with the tilapia aquaponics system, and assist in chicken husbandry. In addition to genetics research, he is involved in STEM pedagogy research. As a first-generation college student, he is interested in helping first-gen students navigate the challenges of attending college.

Changing the nutrient content in fruit flies diet has been shown to have dramatic effects on their activity levels, reproductive rates, lifespan and other aspects of their physiology. Tresser’s group is studying the cellular processes behind these effects by looking at metabolism, gene expression patterns, chromatin modifications and other epigenetic factors in drosophila melanogaster. Tresser and his students are especially interested in how these cellular changes can be passed down transgenerationally by looking for embryological and larval phenotypes.

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Behzad Varamini

  • Director, Stewart Science Honors Program
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Behzad Varamini incorporates current clinical case studies and cutting-edge research into his physiology, biochemistry, and nutrition courses, while also working closely with a small group of students in his laboratory.  He is passionate about challenging and mentoring students to reach their truest and highest potential, and the aim of all his work in and out of the classroom is their long-term success.

Varamini is interested in the molecular mechanisms that drive aging and longevity. Specifically, his lab is focused on the behavior of a family of highly-conserved circadian-controlled metabolic genes called Sirtuins in mediating the effects of diet on drosophila melanogaster lifespan. A number of strains and genetic models are being investigated to elucidate the role of diet and small molecule activators of sirtuins on gene expression and sleep/activity levels. Dr. Varamini conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania.

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