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Biological Sciences Faculty — Dr. Joel Parker

Photo of Dr. Joel ParkerAssociate Professor

I have extremely broad interests spanning most of biology. I began my research career with an undergraduate project investigating sex determination in Drosophila.

Before starting graduate school, I studied the neuropharmacology of psychoactive drugs at the Oregon Health Sciences University. My Ph.D. project focused on evolution and population genetics in social insects and my postdoctoral training in Lausanne Switzerland centered on the molecular basis of the extra-ordinary life spans of social insects. After that I was off to Southampton England where I taught statistics, evolution and animal behavior while working on a novel superoxide dismutase that I discovered in insects.

While in the UK, I also worked on aging in bumble bees and the trade-offs of immunity, lifespan and neurodegenerative diseases. I am currently setting up a fly/social insect lab here in Plattsburgh for both continuing my research on these topics, and to use for teaching Genetics (Bio 305) and Cell Biology (Bio 401). Along the way I discovered a fascination with teaching and am actively working on ways to improve and contribute to teaching methodology.


  • Biology, Arizona State University.
  • B.A. in Biochemistry, Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon.

Teaching Areas

  • General Genetics with Lab (Bio 305).
  • Communicating Biology (Bio 380).
  • Cell Biology with Lab (Bio 401).

Research Areas

  • Molecular basis of aging using Drosophila and social insects as model systems.
  • Age related neurodegeneration using insect models.
  • Genetics of speciation in social insects.
  • Innovating and publishing practical contributions to teaching biology.

Selected Publications

  • Parker, J. D. 2011. Using Google Earth to Teach the Magnitude of Deep Time. Journal of College Science Teaching. 40(5):23-27.
    (Editor's Choice, A destination in time. 2011 Science. 332, p. 1360.)
  • Parker, J. D. 2010. What are Social Insects Telling us About Aging? Myrmecological News. 13:103-110.
  • Parker, J. D., K.M. Parker, and L. Keller. 2004. Molecular phylogenetic evidence for extra-cellular Cu Zn superoxide dismutase in insects. Insect Molecular Biology. 13:587-594.
  • Parker, J. D., K. M. Parker, B.H. Sohal, R.S. Sohal, and L. Keller. 2004. Decreased expression of Cu-Zn Superoxide Dismutase 1 in ants with extreme lifespan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101:3486-3489.
    (Reviewed by Faculty of 1000)
  • Parker, J. D. 2004. A major evolutionary transition to more than two sexes? Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 19:83-86.
    (Highlighted in: Random Samples. 2004. Three's Company. Science 384:1464.)


  • Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award, Southampton (2008).
  • Achievements Reward for College Scientists Fellowship (1997).

Faculty Website

Contact Dr. Joel Parker

Office: Hudson Hall 327
Phone: (518) 564-5279