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

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Bio

As a first generation college graduate, science and education have been monumental forces for positive change in my life; however, I didn't discover my love for biology until an introductory biology lab, a general education requirement, well into my 3rd year as a business major during at Georgetown College. The exercise was simple, we collected pond water from a local source and brought it back to the lab to see what we could observe using a compound microscope. Despite the lab's simplicity, it had a profound impact on the way I viewed the world. I remember using the microscope for the first time, and sitting in amazement at the incredible diversity of microbes swimming around in what appears 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 that semester. While fixated on these protists, I saw something amazing happened. The blob I was watching move around the field of view made contact with another twirling organisms (a paramecium) and extended two arm-like structure engulfing its prey! I was dumfounded how a life form so simple, 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. My own introduction to the wonders of biology relatively late in my academic life not only sparked my interest in how microbe interact with one another on the microscopic and molecular level, but also made me particularly passionate about outreach. It inspired the creation of my community science project, the Zombie Fungus Foray and led to my current interests in departmental based education research. 

Education

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.

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Experience

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Adjunct Faculty of Record, Georgetown College                                                              2019-2020 

BIO 100: Introductory Biology for Non-Majors: Remote Learning                                              Summer 2020  

BIO 111: Introductory Biology for Majors                                                                                           Fall 2019  

BIOL 111: Introductory Biology Lab                                                                                                     Fall 2019  

 

Invited Group Lecturer for Biotechnology Methods, University of Louisville     2018

BIOL 416: Biotechnology Methods (Yeast-Two-Hybrid Systems)                                                 Fall 2018  

 

Microbiology Teaching Innovation Learning Lab, University of Louisville           2017-2019

BIO 357: General Microbiology                                                                                                             Fall 2017 - Fall 2019

Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Louisville                                                   2015-2020

BIOL 331: Genetics and Molecular Biology                                                                                         Spring & Fall 2016 - 2020

BIOL 104: introduction to Biological Systems                                                                                    Summer 2018

BIOL 258: Microbiology                                                                                                                          Summer 2017

BIOL 244: Principles of Biology                                                                                                             Spring 2016

BIOL 104: introduction to Biological Systems                                                                                    Fall 2015

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

Postdoctoral Research:

NSF Fellow at University of Central Florida, US (PI: Charissa de Bekker, PhD)                         2020 - current        

   Linking parasite genomes, environmental ques, and host phenomes in Ophiocordyceps 

 

Dissertation Research:

University of Louisville, US (PI: Michael Perlin, PhD)                                                                      2015-2020        

   Molecular analysis of secreted proteins in the Microbotryum genus

Ruhr-Universität Bochum, DE (Dominik Begerow, PhD)                                                                2018-2019

   Implementation of CRISPR Cas9 transformation systems in Microbotryum

Université Paris-Sud, FR (Tatiana Giraud, PhD)                                                                                2016-2018

   Comparative genomics of species-specific effectors in Microbotryum

 

Pedagogical Research:

University of Louisville, US (Deborah Yoder-Himes, PhD)                                                              2017-2021

   Analyzing the importance of dose-response in active learning environments

   Analyzing the impact of active learning on different student social personalities

Educational Travels

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Science works best when groups work together towards a common goal. I place a high value on collaborative efforts 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!