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Biology Faculty


  • Dr. Katie Burgess

    Dr. Katherine Burgess

    Assistant Professor
    Office: 208E O'Rielly
    Phone: 816.501.3685

    Dr. Burgess earned her Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in 2007.


    Her research interests focus on animal development, tissue regeneration, and stem cells, specifically studying cell signaling pathways involved in planarian regeneration. She teaches introductory biology, anatomy and physiology laboratory, and biochemistry.

    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.

  • Dr. Stephen Daggett

    Dr. Stephen Daggett

    Prehealth Advisor
    Office: 208A O’Rielly
    Phone: 816.501.3654

    Dr. Daggett received his Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University in 1993, the year he came to Avila.


    His research interests include any question/problem relating to the history of biology and the biology of microorganisms.  Dr. Daggett teaches introductory biology, general microbiology, immunology, and genetics.

    Started at Avila

    Courses Taught
    Bioethics, General Biology, Genetics, General Microbiology, Immunology

    Research Interests
    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.

    I enjoy reading, classic movies and piano. 

  • Ashley

    Dr. Ashley Elias

    Assistant Professor of Biology
    Office: 210E O'Rielly Hall
    Phone: 816.501.2442

    Dr. Elias earned her Ph.D from Purdue University in 2014.


    Her research focuses on the genetic basis of complex traits at key life stage transitions in fishes. She uses behavioral experiments, comparative approaches, and genomic and bioinformatic tools to understand the generation and maintenance of the variation we can observe in nature. 


    Started at Avila



    Research Interests

    Genomics, behavioral genetics, ecology and evolution of fish. Member of the Genetics Society of America and the Society for the Study of Evolution. 

  • Dr. Greg Fitch

    Dr. Greg Fitch

    Professor of Biology
    Office: 210B O’Rielly
    Phone: 816.501.3789

    Dr. Fitch was awarded the Ph.D. by Kansas State University in 1997 and began teaching at Avila that same year.


    His research interests include neurobiology and invertebrate behavior.  Dr. Fitch regularly teaches the following courses: human anatomy and physiology, animal physiology, an interdisciplinary course on behavior and the brain, and biology research (coordinator).

    Started at Avila

    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

    Research Interests
    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.

    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.          

  • Dr. Karin Gastreich

    Dr. Karin Gastreich

    Associate Professor and Chair of Biology
    Office: 217D O’Rielly Hall
    Phone: 816.501.2996

    Dr. Gastreich received her Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin in 1996. 


    Her research interests include plant-insect interactions, predator-prey interactions, indirect effects, cooperative behavior, tropical ecology, and conservation.  She has worked primarily with insects and spiders in Central and South America.  She teaches introductory biology, anatomy and physiology lab, plant form and function, and the interdisciplinary classes Women and Science (with Dr. Carol Coburn) and Ecology Through the Writer’s Lens (with Dr. Amy Milakovic).

    Started at Avila

    Courses Taught
    General Biology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, Plant Form & Function, and  Biology Literature and Laboratory Research.

    Research Interests
    Behavioral ecology, plant-animal interactions, tropical ecology and conservation.  Member of the Ecological Society of America, and the Society for Conservation.

    I enjoy creative writing, dance, hiking and camping.

  • Gina

    Gina Kozlowski

    Assistant Professor of Biology, Science Laboratory Manager
    College of Science & Health
    Office: 210D O'Rielly Hall
    Phone: 816.501.2919

    After earning her Bachelor's degree in 2013, Gina spent a year teaching math for the nonprofit organization, Blueprint Schools Network, in Denver, Colorado.


    It was here that she solidified her passion for teaching and decided to continue her education. She earned her Master's degree in Clinical Anatomy, and spent time doing cochlear research at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where she studied the effects of multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone on treatment and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. She now teaches science courses in the School of Science and Health at Avila University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and hiking with her husband and dog.

  • Dr. Robert Powell

    Dr. Robert Powell

    Emeritus Professor of Biology
    Office: Off Campus
    Phone: Unavailable

    Dr. Powell earned his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1984. 


    He has been at Avila since 1972.  His research interests are focused on the natural history and ecological relationships of amphibians and reptiles in the West Indies.  Dr. Powell teaches introductory biology; animal form, function, and development; ecology, evolution, vertebrate anatomy, and interdisciplinary courses on environmental issues (with Dr. David Wissmann) and the natural and cultural history of Hawaii and the Bahamas (with Dr. Wissmann).  He coordinates an NSF-funded summer undergraduate research program offered every other year.

    Started at Avila

    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.

    Research Interests
    Community ecology and natural history of West Indian amphibians and reptiles.  Authored and co-authored several publications and books.

    I love chasing lizards, photography and travel, especially to places where I can chase lizards… 

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