Rodney Scott

Rodney Scott Faculty Headshot

Rodney Scott, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology Emeritus

On Faculty since 1989, Retired in 2021

In addition to my research (see Research tab), my professional interests include learning about other model systems, and developing laboratory activities for various purposes. I have led several workshops at the meetings of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education, published a laboratory manual for General Genetics, and developed a kit for Carolina Biological Supply Company that uses microsatellite markers to study Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in Drosophila. My personal interests begin with my family, my lovely wife Donna, and my two adult kids, Janeen and Phillip, along with Phillip's wife Emma. Although my kids no longer live nearby, we enjoy spending time together whenever we can. My wife and I enjoy doing all kinds of things, ranging from simple things like birdwatching or playing Frisbee golf, to big things like taking trips together. I also enjoy my involvement in a local church, where I serve on various teams, and participate in other ways, including accountability and mentoring relationships with other men. Some of my favorite leisure activities include hiking in the woods, reading, jogging, cross country skiing, eating (hence the jogging and the skiing), and dabbling in small art projects.

University of Tennessee
Ph.D., Botany, 1989

University of Tennessee
M.S., Botany, 1986

University of West Florida
B.S., Biology, 1983

  • DNA Identification
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Genetics
  • DNA
  • American Scientific Affiliation

I began my career as a botanist, however, in recent years I have shifted my research activities to studies related to the conservation genetics of animal species. These studies involve the characterization of a type of genetic marker called a microsatellite marker as well as the use of an approach called DNA "barcoding". I have recently concluded a genetic study that focused on a pair of cryptic minnow species that inhabit Northern Illinois. These two species appear physically identical, but they can be identified by differences in a mitochondrial DNA sequence. Together with a colleague from the Shedd Aquarium, I characterized the ranges of these two species showing for the first time that despite their physical similarity, they appear to occupy completely different parts of the State. I continue to study these two species with a current focus on developing a simplified genetic test that can be used to distinguish the two species in other parts of their ranges.

I am also collaborating with a fisheries biologist from the DuPage County Forest Preserve to study patterns associated with the past invasion of Zebra Mussels in the Forest Preserve lakes. Our initial findings suggest that there were two sources of the invasion in DuPage County. One source probably relied on contamination associated with recreational boating to enter the County and to spread to several lakes. The other source appears to have only affected a single lake and probably arrived via a different mechanism.

I have also worked with an ecologist from the DuPage County Forest Preserve District to study mating patterns in an endangered species of turtle called the Blanding’s turtle. More recently, I started another project involving this species to study its microbiome (i.e., the collection of bacteria that live in association with an organism). We are studying samples from the wild and from young turtles that are being temporarily raised in captivity prior to their release into the wild to augment the wild population. Other studies of captive animals have shown that the environments in which they are housed have lower levels of microbial diversity than the wild habitats. Some attempts to encourage more microbial diversity in such settings has led to health improvements. I hope that my research on the Blanding’s turtle microbiome might ultimately lead to such improvements.

  • BIOL 241 Organization of Life: Genetics and Cell Biology
  • BIOL 242 Diversity of Life: An Introduction to Zoology and Botany
  • BIOL 201 Principles of Biology
  • BIOL 252 Introduction to Biological Research
  • Model Research Systems
  • BIOL 315 Reproductive Biotechnology
  • BIOL 356 Genetics
  • BIOL 494 The Integrated Biologist (Senior Capstone)

Scott, R.J., P.W. Willink, and B.M. Norton. 2018. Biogeography and Distribution of the Cryptic Species Rosyface Shiner Notropis rubellus and Carmine Shiner Notropis percobromus in Illinois. Copeia. 106 (3): 524–531.

Do You Believe in Evolution?, How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science, 2016
Scott, R.J.

The Gene Tool Box, The Behemoth, 2014
Scott, R.J.

Relating Body and Soul: Insights from Developmental and Neurobiology, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 2012
Scott, R.J., and R.E. Phinney