Biological Sciences Faculty

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Biological Sciences Faculty — Dr. Nancy L. Elwess

Photo of Nancy Elwess Associate Professor

I am a molecular biologist with several areas of focus for my undergraduate research laboratory. My recent areas of study include the isolation and analysis of ancient DNA extracted from ancient Maya skeletons (from Tipu, Belize). My laboratory is studying their migration routes; mitochondrial DNA sequences; and the presence of certain diseases within this population of ancient Maya skeletons (588 skeletons). In addition, my undergraduate research students are also investigating both the androgen receptor gene and the DRD4 gene (also known as the 'thrill seeking' gene) in humans.



  • Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, University of Vermont
  • M.S. in Biology, Purdue University
  • M.A. in Biology Education, Governors State University
  • B.S. in Zoology, Eastern Illinois University

Courses Taught


  • Recipient of the 2008-2009 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award sponsored by the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST)
  • Co-recipient of the 2007 National Association of Biology Teachers National Biotechnology Teaching Award
  • Named to "Who's Who among American Teachers and Educators" 2007
  • Purdue University Department of Biology Alumni Achievement Award,2006
  • Honor Student Association 2005-2006 Appreciation Award, SUNY Plattsburgh
  • National Association of Biology Teachers National College Researcher/Teaching Award for 2005, awarded October 2005.
  • University of Vermont's Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, March 2005
  • State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, May 2004
  • Phi Eta Sigma Distinguished Faculty Award, 2001-2002


  • Recipient of the 2008 NABT/AD Instruments Technology Grant
  • Cornetet Professional Development Award from the Delta Kappa Gamma
  • Educational Foundation; awarded September 2007
  • LI-COR Biosciences 2005 Genomics Education Matching Funds Grant, awarded
  • March 2005.
  • Delta Kappa Gamma Women's Education Honors Society Research Grant 2005

Selected Publications

  • Latourelle, S., Elwess, N.L. and Elwess, J.M. (2008). Finger Forecasting: A Pointer to Athletic Prowess in Women A Preliminary Investigation by an Undergraduate Biology Class. The American Journal of Biology Teachers, vol 70, 7:411-414.
  • Elwess, N.L. and Latourelle, S.M. (2004) "Inducing Mutations in Paramecium: An Inquiry-Based Approach". BioScene 30(1) March 2004, pages 25-34.
  • Elwess, N.L., Latourelle, S., and *Couthorn, O. (2005). "Visualizing "Junk" DNA through Bioinformatics" Journal of Biological Education, vol 39 (2) pages 76-80
  • *Nichols, A., *Coonrod, E. and Elwess, N.L. (2003)."Incorporating Bioinformatics into the Biology Classroom through DNA Sequence Analysis." Bioscene, vol. 29(3) pages 9-15.


  • Board of Directors Eastern Illinois University Alumni Association
  • Advisory Council for the Center of Teaching Effectiveness

Faculty Website

Contact Nancy Elwess

Office: Hudson Hall 333
Phone: (518) 564-5169