Avila University
Faculty degrees title More Info Apply
Our Faculty

Dr. Katie Burgess

Title Assistant Professor of Biology
Started at Avila


Courses Taught


Introductory Biology, Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory, and Biochemistry

Research Interests

Dr. Burgess earned her Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in 2007.  Her research interests focus on molecular and morphological analyses of cell signaling pathways important in animal development and tissue regeneration.

Name Dr. Linda Cleveland
Title Associate Professor of Chemistry
Started at Avila 1983
Courses Taught Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, General Chemistry, Molecules That Matter (non-science majors), Geology and Fossils of KC.
My professional interest is extracellular fungal enzymes involves attempting to purify the enzyme and determine its physical properties, to discover whether it is similar or different form previously known enzymes produced by other organisms.  I am active in the KC section of the American Chemical Society and have chaired the KC section and acted as Alternate Councilor.
Hobbies I play cello with the Medical Arts Symphony, perform with the Avila Women’s Chorus. I have a nice rock collection that I use for teaching geology and fossils.
Name Dr. Stephen Daggett
Title Professor and Chair of Biology
Started at Avila 1993
Courses Taught Bioethics, General Biology, Genetics, General Microbiology, Immunology
Interested in the history of infectious diseases; the genetics and evolutionary biology of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (commonly known as pond scum); and methods in biology teaching.  Editor of the education journal Bioscene since 2005 for the Association of College and University Biology Educators.
Hobbies I enjoy reading, classic movies and piano.
Name Dr. Greg Fitch
Title Professor of Biology
Started at Avila 1997
Courses Taught General Biology I, Human Anatomy & Physiology, Behavior and the Brain, Animal Physiology, Cell Biology, Directed Studies in Biology, Biology Laboratory & Literature Research, Colloquium & Seminar and General Physiology
Neuroscience, especially neuroanatomy of the mammalian brain and invertebrate neurophysiology; Invertebrate behavior; Scholarship of teaching.  Awards:  Avila Professor of the Year; State of Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; National Society of Leadership & Success Excellence in Teaching Award.  Member of the editorial board of the education journal, Bioscene.
Hobbies I collect old music, 1954-1970 rock and roll.  I enjoy being active in recreational sports leagues.  I love to play games, which for me are becoming increasingly more mental and less physical.  I am a below average amateur guitar picker.  I have many strong political and philosophical views to which few people pay attention.  I spend a lot of time reading & will read nearly anything.
Name Tyrun Flaherty, M.A., M.S.
Title Laboratory Manager
Started at Avila 2012
Courses Taught General Biology: Cells & Genes Laboratory, General Biology: Ecology & Evolution Laboratory
Research Interests

Research interests fall in the study of behavioral ecology.  Past research includes the larval settlement and feeding behavior of fiddler crab species in South Carolina, the use of odor cues by the house mouse in pup retrieval, and the spatial mapping abilities of honeybees. He received his M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas and his M.A. in Education from Pittsburg State University. 

Hobbies I enjoy staying active by running with my dog Atticus, playing baseball and volleyball, and traveling with my wife. 
Name Dr. Karin Gastreich
Title Associate Professor of Biology
Started at Avila 2007
Courses Taught General Biology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, Plant Form & Function, and  Biology Literature and Laboratory Research.
Behavioral ecology, plan-animal interactions, tropical ecology and conservation.  Member of the Ecological Society of America, and the Society for Conservation.
Hobbies I enjoy creative writing, dance, hiking and camping.
Name Dr. Nick Haverhals
Title Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Started at Avila 2011
Courses Taught

Foundations of College Math I, College Algebra, Finite Mathematics, Pre-Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, Elementary Probability and Statistics, Calculus I, History of Mathematics.

Mathematics education, mathematical proof, history of mathematics
Hobbies Spending time with my two sons, wife and dog, watching sports, playing cribbage when I can find opponents and simple home improvement projects.
Name Carole Hillestad
Title Chair and Program Director, Radiologic Science Major
Started at Avila 1986
Courses Taught At one time or another, nearly all of the Radiologic Science
courses in the major. I love teaching the Anatomy and Procedure courses and Radiography review course for boards.
Technology in the Radiologic Science field. Advising students in the major.
Hobbies I love to read and collect books. I enjoy cooking, gardening and being outdoors! I am an avid NASCAR fan. I enjoy traveling with my husband which we do frequently. We have been to Europe and the Caribbean and all over the United States. Our next trip will be to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Name Ashlyn Hull
Title Instructor and Clinical Coordinator, Radiologic Science Major
Started at Avila 2009
Courses Taught Medical Terminology, Cross-Sectional Anatomy, Image Evaluation, Introduction to Radiologic Science, Radiologic Science Procedure Labs, and Clinical Education
I am very excited about the changing technology and the rapid advancements in imaging. I enjoy the challenge of helping students learn these new techniques. I am also a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the Missouri Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Hobbies I enjoy spending time with my amazing family and two dogs. I also really enjoy being outdoors.
Name Dr. Jim Johnson
Title Associate Professor of Physics
Started at Avila 2005
Courses Taught General Physics and Physics Concepts
I am interested in Physics Education and I’m a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Hobbies I love Sudoku I’m into unusual types of clocks and I am rarely late. I enjoy home improvement.
Name Patrick Kopp
Title Assistant Professor and Chair of Computer Science
Started at Avila 1986
Courses Taught Understanding Computers, Data Structures, C++, Java, Web Page Design, Web Page Programming, Database Management, COBOL, Visual Basic and A+
Member of Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Interests and interested in robotics and web page design
Hobbies I love to play softball, I am a deacon and the Youth Committee Chair of my church.  Every summer I plan, organize and lead several youth and adult sponsors on a mission trip.  We have taken the group to Arizona,             Colorado, West Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Mexico, and Canada.
Name Kristi Littleton
Title Assistant Professor of Radiologic Science
Started at Avila 1996
Courses Taught Radiologic Science I, II and III, Radiation Biology and Protection, Radiologic Pathology, Cross-Sectional Anatomy, Curriculum Review and First Year Seminar.
History of X-ray, as it relates to radiation biology and protection, and its founders.  I am a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the Missouri State Society of Radiologic Technologist and a member of its Board of Directors.
Hobbies I collect (and love) Wizard of Oz memorabilia, chocolate, Spiderman, M&M’s and Looney Toons, and chocolate, did I mention that I love chocolate.  I love to bake (especially with chocolate) work in the garden, read and eat (not necessarily in that order).  I am an animal lover and try to be as ecologically responsible as possible.
Name Ron McCleary
Title Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Started at Avila 2002
Courses Taught Understanding Computers, Introduction to Computer Science I & II, Network +, Visual Basic Programming, Data Structures, Operating Systems, Networking, Computer Organization and Architecture, Foundations, Practicum Internship and Capstone.
Systems design, programming, database design and I do contract computer programming and often consult with local companies on database and software projects when I have an opportunity.
Hobbies I enjoy bicycling and snow skiing and am an avid reader, usually having 2-3 books going at a time. I like a wide variety of music including folk, bluegrass, spirituals, early American hymns, choral, some classical, and some rock. Going to Estes Park, Colorado, a few weeks in the summer and doing day hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park is a favorite, annual tradition. I lead music at my church 1-2 times each month, and I also teach Sunday school several times a year.
Name Dr. Robert Powell
Title Professor of Biology
Started at Avila 1972
Courses Taught General Biology II, Animal Form, Function and Development, Ecology, Evolution, Vertebrate Anatomy, Environmental Issues, Darwin & Literature, Natural & Cultural History of the Islands (Hawaii and the Bahamas), Opening of the West: Lewis & Clark.
Community ecology and natural history of West Indian amphibians and reptiles.  Authored and co-authored several publications and books.
Hobbies I love chasing lizards, photography and travel (especially to places where I can chase lizards…).
Name Gerald Larson, PhD, RCEP, PES
Title Associate Professor of Kinesiology
Chair of Sports Science Department
Started at Avila 2008
Courses Taught Kinesiology, Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, Exercise Testing & Prescription, and Sport Psychology
Research Interests Dr. Larson’s innovative R.A.I.R. Sports Therapy™ programming integrates soft-tissue release, advanced whole body vibration training (PowerPlate™), and progressive exercise to produce pain free motion, fitness for health, and enhanced sport performance
Name Kathleen Roy
Title Instructor and Chair of Mathematics
Started at Avila 2002
Courses Taught Foundations of College Math I, College Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus and Analytic Geometry III, Abstract Algebra and Modern Geometry.
Upper-level Statistics and Mathematics Education
Hobbies I enjoy cycling and dance.
Name Dr. Mark Seelbinder
Title Associate Professor of Chemistry
Started at Avila 1988
Courses Taught Molecules that Matter, General Chemistry I and II, Quantitative Analysis, Instrumental Analysis, Physical Chemistry I and II, Knowing Reality, Natural Disasters and the Health Care Response, and Meteorology.
I am a member of the American Chemical Society, National Association of Chemical Hygiene Officers, SkyWarn   Communicator at the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill, Amateur Radio Emergency Services and Chemistry Teachers at Liberal Arts Colleges.  My professional interests revolve around technology in             education.  I was the national area coordinator for DataStreme, an on-line education program on meteorology. I have been selected as Professor of the Year at Avila and I was awarded the Missouri Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.     
Hobbies My family and I have made it our goal to travel out of the country in 2 out of 3 years.  I earned my pilots license while in high school and enjoy flight simulation, military air show photography, and ham radio operation. 
Name Dr. Larry Garrison Sullivan
Title Dean, School of Science and Health
Started at Avila 1973
Courses Taught General Chemistry I and II, Molecules That Matter, and Introduction to Health Care Careers.
I am actively involved in Prehealth Professions Advising, Science Education and Environmental Studies.  As a prehealth professions advisor, I have played a national leadership role through my work with the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions where I have served as President.  I also have been on committees of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Dental Association. I am a member of the American Chemical Society, Missouri Academy of Science, Science Teachers of Missouri, and the National Academic Advising Association.  As a Science Educator, I have received the Missouri Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Hobbies I love traveling throughout the world and have made trips to China, Europe and numerous Caribbean islands.  I also like to take trips throughout the United States including Hawaii where I have been eight times.  At home I love playing with my 120lb Golden Retriever, Rusty, and gardening.  I enjoy listening to almost all types of music from techno dance to classical.  I currently serve as the President of the Kansas City Lyric Opera Guild.
Name Liz Bradish
Title Office Manager, School of Science and Health
Started at Avila 2010
Interests I love spending time with my husband, two sons, my parents and our two dogs. I like reading, gardening, swimming, and being outdoors. I am an avid shopper and like to work on my house. I truly enjoy working with my faculty and students .... Did I mention that I always have chocolate on my desk?