Faculty Profiles

Our faculty are active researchers, writers and speakers; many of them internationally known for their contributions toward the advancement of their fields of study. But, most of all, they're passionate, caring teachers.

  • Andrea Kalis, PhD

    Associate Professor, Biology

    I am interested in how genes regulate the development of specific cell fates in the model system C. elegans. My current research focuses on how Hox genes and their TALE co-factors regulate neuronal identity of male-specific ventral cord neurons. With this research project, I collaborate with undergraduate student researchers and include aspects of the project in upper-level Biology courses that I teach.

  • Cuc Kim Vu, MS

    Assistant Professor, Biology

    Cuc Kim Vu has taught at St. Catherine University since 2000. She teaches various biology courses (Anatomy and Physiology, Human Disease, and Microbiology), foundational courses (math, study skills, computer skills), and inter-professional courses (Core Integrated Learning, CIL). Her area of research is in biology education, with a focus on equity and inclusion in STEM Education. One of Cuc Kim Vu's current projects is on Critical Skills Integration (CSI-StKate's) with General Anatomy and Physiology.

  • Cynthia Norton, PhD

    Professor of Biology and Women's Studies; Director of Collaborative Undergraduate Research

    Cindy Norton is an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in the intersections of ecology, evolution and behavior. She studies reproduction, growth, and development of the freshwater snail Planorbella (Helisoma) trivolvis as a model for understanding the life history, reproductive biology and behavior of hermaphrodites. Students actively collaborate in all aspects of the research – from conception of projects, data collection and analysis to presentation at both local and national conferences. Dr. Norton has been a faculty member at St. Kate’s since 1990, teaching courses in both Biology and Women’s Studies including: Foundations of Biology I, Evolutionary Biology, Animal Behavior, Biology of Women, and Foundations of Women’s Studies, as well the interdisciplinary collaboration Discovering the History of Evolutionary Thought: Darwin in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands during January.

  • Damon Klaphake, MS

    Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts and Sciences

    I have taught Human Anatomy and Physiology, Human Disease, Human Ecology, Microbiology, Chemistry, College Study Skills, Transcultural Communication, and Dosage Calculations Math at St. Catherine University since 1997. I am a member of the Biology Department and primarily teach courses to students in the College for Adults.

  • Jean Omodt, DPT, MHS, PT

    Associate Professor, Biology

    I have treated patients as a physical therapist for more than 25 years, primarily working in Minnesota but also in California and Missouri. I have extensive experience treating patients in a variety of settings including acute care (hospital), long term care, home care, and outpatient. I attended graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri where I received a Master of Health Science in Physical Therapy degree. After graduating in 1992, I accepted a full-time teaching position at St. Catherine University, where I helped develop the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) Program.

  • John Pellegrini, PhD

    Professor, Biology

    Dr. Pellegrini joined the Biology Department in 1994. He teaches Human Anatomy & Physiology and Biopsychology, and he coteaches interdisciplinary courses on anatomy, art, and the history of medicine. His current research examines endurance in pediatric cancer survivors. He is also one of the faculty mentors for the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program.

  • Kathleen Tweeten, PhD

    Professor, Carondelet Scholar, Biology

    Kay Tweeten is a professor of biology at St. Catherine University. Her courses in molecular biology, cell biology, and immunology feature problem-based learning, case studies, and student-designed research projects. She has collaborated with numerous students in her research laboratory on cellular and molecular analysis of regeneration, degrowth, sexual reproduction, and ploidy levels in populations of the freshwater annelid, Lumbriculus. She involves students in experimental design, data collection and interpretation, and dissemination of results. The research environment provided allows students autonomy in their thinking and helps them explore their potentials as scientists.

  • Kellie Agrimson, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Biology Department

    I am passionate about teaching and connecting with my students and hope to incorporate research into their college experience. As a first-generation college graduate, I relate strongly to disadvantaged students and feel that I can effectively combine inclusiveness with high expectations in my teaching practices. My primary research interest is testis development in the field of reproductive biology. In humans, infertility affects twenty percent of all couples and half of cases result from male infertility. Furthermore, twenty-five percent of male infertility cases are determined to be idiopathic, or unexplained.

  • Kurt Olson, PhD

    Associate Professor, Biology


  • Marcella (Marcie) J. Myers, PhD

    Professor of Biology, Carondelet Scholar, Biology

    I am a Professor in the Department of Biology at St. Catherine University and a Carondelet Scholar. I work in the areas of physiology and physical anthropology (PhD from UW-Madison), with a particular focus on the locomotor physiology and biomechanics of humans in contemporary as well as early human populations. I am co-PI on a $1.5 M R25 NIA grant called Katies for Aging Research and Equity (KARE), which will prepare diverse students for careers in longevity and aging research. I teach Human & Comparative Physiology, Biology of Longevity & Aging, Measuring Human Locomotion, Human Biology in an Intersectional World, and Sophomore and Senior Seminar.

  • Paul Buttenhoff, MA

    Assistant Professor, Biology

    My name is Paul Buttenhoff and I'm an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. I received my B.S. in Zoology from the University of Wyoming in 1992 and my Master's degree in Zoology Auburn University in 1996. My research background is in herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles). I started here at the University in 1998 as an adjunct instructor and have held the rank of assistant professor since 1999. My primary teaching responsibilities include teaching biology courses.

  • Paula Furey, PhD

    Associate Professor, Biology

    I am a freshwater ecologist, with expertise and interests that span phycology (algae), invertebrate biology, taxonomy, biodiversity, and conservation biology. My research centers on the ecology of aquatic ecosystems (lakes, rivers, streams, wetwalls), especially benthic (bottom) communities and algal assemblages. I focus my research on trying to understand what shapes and controls the structure and function of biotic communities and ecosystems, and on using ecology to find better ways to monitor, protect and predict changes in aquatic ecosystems. Visit my lab website: http://drpcfurey.com/

  • Rahul Roy

    Assistant Professor, Biology

    Rahul Roy is a plant molecular biologist focusing on the mechanisms of nectar production in flowering plants and plant root movements. He teaches Foundations of Biology, Environmental Biology, Plant Biology and Senior Seminar writing courses at St. Kate's. His lab research focuses on the biochemical analysis of colorful nectar, dissecting genetic networks in nectar production of model flowers and the morphometry of plant root movement in response to touch and gravity. As a student researcher in the Roy lab you will train in microscopy, genetic, biochemical, cellular and molecular techniques to elucidate biological networks.

  • Tami McDonald, PhD

    Associate Professor, Biology

    Tami McDonald is a microbiologist and evolutionary geneticist specializing in the evolution of symbioses in fungi, plants and bacteria. She employs techniques from phylogenetics, genetics, genomics, epigenetics and molecular biology to understand nutrient exchange molecules and pathways. Her work focuses on the transport of nitrogen and carbon between symbiotic partners. Since joining the faculty in 2014, Dr. McDonald has welcomed student collaborators to participate in independent projects related to reconstructing the evolutionary history of a protein family responsible for the transport of ammonium across cell membranes as well as other projects relating to nutrient transport and symbiotic life.

  • Taviare L. Hawkins, PhD

    Chair for the Math & Sciences Division; Professor of Physics

    Dr. Hawkins oversees the departments of Mathematical Sciences (math, statistics, and computer science), Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. Before joining St Kate’s, she was Professor and Chair of Physics at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. She completed her graduate work at Syracuse University, where she holds two M.S. degrees (in Computer Science and Physics) and a Ph.D. in Physics. She was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is an experimental biophysicist.

    Dr. Hawkins places great emphasis on teaching and training undergraduates in research. She has trained over 50 undergraduate students and is published with them on the topic in microtubule mechanics.