Michelle A. Whaley Teaching Professor

Cellular and Molecular Basis of Vision
Michelle A. Whaley

Research Interests:

My research is currently focused on the characterization of Aedes aegypti visual genes and how gene expression may affect mosquito behavior. Many undergraduates have participated in this research in the past. My previous work was in the visual system of Drosophila, and I still use this system to study mosquito genes in transgenic flies. My PhD work characterized a gene involved in Drosophila visual system development that when mutant, causes adult retinal degeneration. All my research is done in collaboration with Dr. Joseph O‘Tousa.

My teaching focuses on developing critical thinking and research skills in students early in their careers. I teach three research-based courses: Classical and Molecular Genetics Laboratory which is a 2-credit semester-long research project, Cell Research which is a 2-credit independent study research course, and the CRISPR Research Experience in Jordan Research Teams. I also directed the summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in the Biology Department for many years. I also teach the Molecules to Ecosystem Introductory Biology lecture each spring. I am the faculty coordinator of the Undergraduate Research program and the Alumni Mentor program. I thoroughly enjoy working with students and seek to engage them as partners in their learning, and in research and leadership, to help them reach their full potential



  • Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2011-Present
  • Assistant Department Chair, University of Notre Dame 2014-2019
  • Honors Program Coordinator, University of Notre Dame 2011-2016
  • REU Program Director, University of Notre Dame 1999-Present
  • Associate Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2001-2011
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 1993-2000
  • Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
  • B.S., Scripps College


Presentations and Publications:

*Denotes undergraduate researcher

  • Alexis M. Waldschmidt, Cora Anderson, Matthew Gregory, Brian Dineen*, Alex Dittmar*, Corey Nishimura*, Jeremy Sutterer*, Hannah Cunniff*, Claire Lohman*, Calla Sullivan*, Elaine Teeters*, Michelle A. Whaley, and Joseph E. O’Tousa. Aedes aegypti Phospholipase-C mutant lacks light-evoked behavioral responses ASTMH Annual Meeting, 2022. Seattle, WA. Nov. 2022.
  • Lewis, KM, Chaloner, DT, Jones, SE, Whaley, MA, Kloser, MJ, Champion, PA, Datta, A, D'Souza-Schorey, C, Hyde, DR, Lee, SW, Lu, X, Medvigy, D, Olsen, TM, Pfrender, ME, Robichaud, J, Schafer, ZT, Schorey, JS, and Veselik DJ. Asking Big Questions from Molecules to Ecosystems - A New Introductory Biology Sequence, SABER, July 2020.
  • Alexander Metoxen*, Matthew Leming, Xiaobang Hu, Michelle Whaley, and Joseph O'Tousa.  Light-driven Processes Control Both Rhodopsin Maturation and Recycling in Mosquito Photoreceptors.  Journal of Neuroscience. October 26, 2016, 36 (43) 11051011058.
  • Manuel Rocha*, Kyle J. Kimler*, Matthew T. Leming, Xiaobang Hu, Michelle A. Whaley, Joseph E. O’Tousa.  Expression and Light-Triggered Movement of Rhodopsin in the Larval Visual System of Mosquitoes.  J of Experimental Biology, March, 2015.
  • *Young Min Moon, *Alexander J. Metoxen, Matthew T. Leming, Michelle A. Whaley, Joseph E. O’Toua. Rhodopsin management during the light-dark cycle of Anopheles gambiae. Journal of Insect Physiology, Nov 2014, 70: 88-93.
  • Xiobang Hu, Matthew Leming, *Alexander Metoxen, Michelle A. Whaley, and Joseph E. O'Tousa. Light-mediated control of rhodopsin movement in mosquito photoreceptors. Journal of Neuroscience, June 2012.


Selected Professional Activities:

  • Co-Chair, Committee to Reimagine Introductory Biology. 2016-2018
  • Mastery Program Faculty Coordinator, Molecules to Ecosystems Introductory Biology Course, 2022-present
  • Institute for Educational Initiatives, Faculty Fellow 2013
  • Faculty Coordinator, Graduate Student Teaching Apprenticeship Program, Department of Biological Sciences, 2004 - present



  • Indiana Professor of the Year, 2014
  • Edmund P. Joyce, CSC, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching , 2014
  • Arthur Quigley, PhD Award, Robinson Community Learning Center.  Presented to faculty member for outstanding commitment to service and education in the Northeast Neighborhood. 2012