Scott Chirhart

Associate Professor of Biology
B.S. Southwestern University, 1998
Ph.D. Texas A&M University, 2003

Mickle 208
Curriculum Vitae


My primary interests are in the patterns and processes of molecular evolution, evolutionary genetics, and phylogenetics. I use the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) as a model to address relevant questions in population genetics, mammalian speciation, molecular evolution, and phylogenetics. Mice of the genus Peromyscus (Muridae; Sigmodontinae) constitute the most successful group of native North American small mammals. Its widespread distribution, abundance, and overall suitability as a model for laboratory research have made P. maniculatus one of the most popular animal models for basic studies of ecology, behavior, physiology, systematics, and evolution.

Additionally, I am collaborating with Drs Lawrence in the chemistry department and Butcher in the neuroscience department to see if oxidatively labile iron perfluoroalkyl chaperones increase the bioavailability of orally ingested pharmaceuticals.

Bioavailability requires a favorable combination of solubility, absorption in the intestines, and survival of liver first-pass metabolism. Attaching iron perfluoroalkyl groups to biologically active compounds could improve their performance in all three categories. The target compounds in this study would be [Fe(CnF2n+1)(CO)3(L2)]X, where n is the perfluroalkyl chain length, L2 is the biologically active compound of interest, and X is a water-solubilizing anion (e.g., tartrate or oxalate). The perfluoroalkyl chains should decrease crystallinity, which would increase the dissolution rate, and increase lipophilicity, which would increase absorption in the intestines. The ferrous ion is oxidatively labile (Fe2+→Fe3+), which could protect the L2 compound from a first encounter with an oxidizing enzyme. Studies will commence using chemically modified fluorescein and luciferin as L2 so that the transport of the [Fe(CnF2n+1)(CO)3(L2)]X compounds can be easily monitored in live cell and animal models.


BIOL 101, Principles and Methods of Biology—every fall

Introduction to major biological phenomena and methods used to study them. Topics include evolutionary processes, cell structure and function, genetic and ecological principles, and diversity of life. Students will learn to apply the scientific method to the study of the above topics.

BIOL 202, Structure and Function of Organisms—every spring

Introduction to the anatomical and physiological adaptations of organisms. Emphasis will be on how systems function in multicellular plants and animals to allow them to survive and reproduce. Dissections of representative animals will be required.

BIOL 407, Comparative Anatomy—fall of even years

A comparative study of the vertebrate systems and their phylogenetic development. Examination of bones and dissections are made of the shark and cat in the laboratory. Fall of even-numbered years.

BIOL 414, Evolution—spring of odd-numbered years

Evolutionary patterns, mechanisms and processes at the organismal, chromosomal and molecular levels; modes of adaptation and the behavior of genes in populations.