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 has focused on developing critical thinking and research skills in students early in their careers. I teach three main research-based courses: Molecular Genetics Laboratory which is a semester long research project, Cell Research which is a 2-credit independent study research course for sophomores, and the Honors Research Seminars for juniors and seniors. I also direct the summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in the Biology Department. I am the faculty coordinator of the Undergraduate Research program and the chair of the Undergraduate Research Committee. I thoroughly enjoy working with students and seek to engage them as partners in their learning, and in research and other activities, to help them reach their full potential.



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


Recent Papers:

  • *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.
  • Xiobang Hu, Michelle A. Whaley, *Michelle M. Stein, *Bronwen E. Mitchell, and Joseph E. O'Tousa. Coexpression of spectrally distinct rhodopsins in Aedes aegypti R7 photoreceptors. PLoS ONE, 6(8), August 2011.
  • Xiaobang Hu, *James H. England, *Nicholas J. Ward, *Aaron Lani, *Jennifer Tung, Sheila M. Adams, Kathleen A. Barber, Michelle A. Whaley and Joseph E. O’Tousa*. Patterned expression of two rhodopsins in the R7 photoreceptors of Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae. Journal of Comparative Neurology, Oct 1 2009, 516(4): 334-42

*Denotes undergraduate co-author