Kathy Gillen joined the Kenyon faculty in 2000 after a postdoctoral position studying the membrane targeting of G protein subunits using yeast as a model system. In 2019 she began researching the molecular mechanisms underpinning regeneration in the annelid worm Lumbriculus variegatus. Gillen enjoys mentoring student research and teaching classes at the introductory, 200 and 300 level. In her spare time she enjoys bird-watching, running, reading and attending Kenyon sporting events. 

Areas of Expertise

Cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry

Education

1995 — Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University

1991 — Master of Philosophy from Yale University

1989 — Bachelor of Science from SUNY Coll Geneseo

Courses Recently Taught

This is the first laboratory course a student takes and is a prerequisite for all upper-division laboratory courses. Students are introduced to the processes of investigative biology and scientific writing. It is not designed to accompany any particular core lecture course. Laboratories cover topics presented in the core lecture courses, BIOL 115 and 116, and introduce a variety of techniques and topics, including field sampling, microscopy, PCR, gel electrophoresis, enzyme biochemistry, physiology, evolution and population biology. The course emphasizes the development of inquiry skills through active involvement in experimental design, data collection and management, statistical analysis, integration of results with information reported in the literature, and writing in a format appropriate for publication. The year culminates in six-week student-designed investigations that reinforce the research skills developed during the year. Evaluation is based on laboratory notebooks, lab performance, and scientific papers, as well as oral and written presentations summarizing the independent project. Enrollment is limited to 16 students in each section. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to BIOL 110Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 115 or equivalent. Required for the major.

This is the first laboratory course a student takes and is a prerequisite for all upper-division laboratory courses. Students are introduced to the processes of investigative biology and scientific writing. It is not designed to accompany any particular core lecture course. Laboratories cover topics presented in the core lecture courses, BIOL 115 and 116, and introduce a variety of techniques and topics, including field sampling, microscopy, PCR, gel electrophoresis, enzyme biochemistry, physiology, evolution and population biology. The course emphasizes the development of inquiry skills through active involvement in experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, integration of results with information reported in the literature and writing in a format appropriate for publication. The year culminates in six-week student-designed investigations that reinforce the research skills developed during the year. Evaluation is based on short reports, quizzes, lab performance and scientific papers, as well as oral and written presentations based on the independent project. Enrollment is limited to 16 students in each section. Prerequisite: completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 115 or equivalent. Required for the major.

How is information generated, transmitted, stored and maintained in biological systems? The endeavor to understand the flow of biological information represents a fundamental undertaking of the life sciences. This course examines the mechanisms of heredity, the replication and expression of genetic information and the function of genes in the process of evolution, with an emphasis on the tools of genetics and molecular biology to address research questions in these areas. This course is required for the major and as such, Biology majors should take this class prior to the junior year. Prerequisite: BIOL 115, permission of instructor, or equivalent. Offered every year. Required for the major.

This course is designed to introduce students to the wide variety of questions being asked by researchers in this exciting field and the approaches they are taking to answer these questions. This course complements BIOL 263 in content, concentrating on the nongenomic aspects of the cell. We will cover topics such as biological membranes and ion channels, cell organelles and their function, cell regulation, and intercellular and intracellular communication. This counts toward the upper-level cellular/molecular biology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: BIOL 116. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 121 or 122. Generally offered every other year..

Cell signaling, a molecular choreography, allows cells to respond to changes in their internal and external environment. This vast and exciting field of study underpins one of the pillars of life, the ability of organisms to sense and respond to changing conditions. This course introduces students to the major players in signal transduction and how they coordinate to mount an effective cellular response, with a focus on techniques used to study pathways. Examples of particular pathways examined may include chemotaxis in bacteria, mating response in yeast, energy homeostasis in animals and phototropism in plants. Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions of assigned readings and critically evaluate primary literature. As a final project, students teach their peers about a pathway of interest. BIOL 263 is recommended but not required. This counts toward the upper-level cellular/molecular biology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: CHEM 121 or equivalent, BIOL 116, any 200-level biology course and junior or senior standing.

This combined discussion and laboratory course aims to develop abilities for asking sound research questions, designing reasonable scientific approaches to answer such questions, and performing experiments to test both the design and the question. We consider how to assess difficulties and limitations in experimental strategies due to design, equipment, organism selected and so on. The course provides a detailed understanding of selected modern research equipment. Students select their own research problems in consultation with one or more biology faculty members. This course is designed both for those who plan to undertake honors research in their senior year and for those who are not doing honors but want practical research experience. A student can begin the course in either semester. If a year of credit is earned, it may be applied toward one laboratory requirement for the major in biology. This course is repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: BIOL 109Y–110Y and 116 and permission of instructor.

This course provides the student with the opportunity to pursue an independent investigation of a topic of special interest not covered, or not covered in depth, in the current curriculum. The investigation, designed in consultation with the chosen faculty mentor, may be designed to earn .25 or .5 unit of credit in a semester. BIOL 393 is ordinarily is a library-oriented investigation. (For laboratory-oriented independent research, see BIOL 385.) Normally, students receive credit for no more than two semesters of individual study. Individual study does not fulfill the natural science diversification requirement, nor does it count toward the requirements for the major. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh day of classes, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise a syllabus and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.

In this capstone seminar, students explore current research topics in biology. Each section will explore a different fundamental concept in biology that spans the range of biology from ecosystems to molecules. Students analyze, critique, and integrate information from research articles they connect specific studies to broader biological questions and they propose future work that refines and extends prior studies. Student communicate their insights and analyses in both oral and written formats. Assignments include short essays, student presentations, student-led classes, peer review, and writing workshops. This course counts toward the upper-level lecture course requirement for the biology major. Prerequisite: senior standing and biology or molecular biology major.