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William C. 
Beckerson, Ph.D.

~We see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature~
-Bernard of Chartres


As a first generation college graduate, science and education have been monumental forces for positive change in my life. That being said, I didn't discover my love for biology until late into my undergraduate degree at Georgetown College, KY. In fact, it wasn't until my 3rd year as a business major that an introductory biology lab, required as part of the general education curriculum, changed the way I fundamentally viewed the world. Perhaps poetically, this major shift in my life was catalyzed by a relatively minor lab exercise. As part of the course, we collected water from a local pond and brought it back to the lab to view using a compound microscope. I remember using the microscope for the first time 



Dr. Beckerson earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Georgetown College before continuing with his education to earn both a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Louisville, program on disease evolution. During his time there, he was trained in molecular genetics and fungal biology, studying how the anther smut fungi of the genus Microbotryum infect and manipulate the physical structures of carnation flowers (Flowers from the Caryophyllaceae family). Dr. Beckerson has since continued with his research interests in fungal biology as an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, first at the University of Central Florida working with another host-manipulating fungus Ophiocordyceps, and currently continuing this line of research at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. These fungi are well known in their ability to manipulate the behavior of many carpenter ants (Camponotus), turning them into Zombie Ants.


and sitting in amazement at the incredible diversity of microbes swimming around in what appeared to the naked eye as clear water. I was particularly interested in the lumbering amoebas, although I didn't learn what they were until later on. While fixated on these protists, I saw something amazing happen. The blob made contact with another organism and extended two arm-like structure to trap and engulf its prey! I was dumfounded by how a life form so simple, one with no skeleton, no muscles, no brain, was not only smart enough to recognize another organisms as a potential source of food, but was also able to contort its body in such as way as to capture it. After that lab I was hooked, and I changed my career to Biology the next semester. Because my own introduction to the wonders of biology occurred relatively late in my undergraduate career, I am particularly passionate about outreach and teaching. I often wonder how different my life would have been had I not been given the opportunity to use that microscope. I therefore strive to offer a similar opportunity to those in my local community. To help facilitate this goal, I created a community science project called the Zombie Fungus Foray. My love for academia has also spilled over into my research interests, with departmental based education research playing a major role in my studies. 

Science operates best when groups work together towards a common goal. I therefore place a high value on collaboration and have spent a great deal of time building relationships with others across the globe. My many collaborations have taken me to some extraordinary places with exceptional people, and I look forward to continue fostering team efforts in the future! 

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Educational Travels

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