Dr. Alison Roark is one of the newest members of Furman's Department of Biology. She is a broadly trained animal physiologist with research interests relating to nutrition, reproduction, and ecotoxicology. She double-majored in biology and chemistry at the University of Virginia and then earned a PhD at the University of Florida in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Bjorndal, director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. As a postdoctoral associate, she co-directed the HHMI-funded Group-Advantaged Training of Mentorship (GATOR) Program, also at the University of Florida. She subsequently participated in the NSF-funded Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST) Program as both a scholar and a team leader. She came to Furman in 2012 after teaching for three years at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She is an affiliate faculty member with the Shi Center for Sustainability and is also a member of Furman's Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Name Title Description


Seminar in Biology

Presentations of current topics in biology by students, faculty, and visiting scientists. Emphasis is on effective oral communication and critical examination of scientific information and ideas.


Foundations of Biology

Introduction to the unifying concepts of biology. Topics include: cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, evolution, and the diversity of life. Laboratories emphasize an investigative approach. Designed for science majors.


Research and Analysis

Introduction to purposes and methods of scientific inquiry. Topics include: philosophy of science, research design, use of biological literature sources, fundamental laboratory techniques, statistical analysis, and survey of careers in biology. Laboratory includes designing, performing, and reporting on research projects.


Animal Physiology

Comparative and environmental animal physiology. Organ systems studied in invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, with emphasis on physiological adaptation. Laboratory topics include metabolism, respiration, osmoregulation, stress physiology.


Human Physiology

Molecular and cellular biology in first several sessions, followed by survey of the functions of the various organ systems in the human body. Laboratory involves studies of humans, using computerized data acquisition systems.


Pharmacology and Toxicology

The action of drugs and toxic compounds in the body. Broad physiological principles of absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and mechanisms of action will be emphasized. Laboratory sessions will include techniques for drug and toxicity testing.

As an animal physiologist, Dr. Roark studies how animals respond to environmental stressors such as food restriction and contaminant exposure. Using invertebrate models that are locally available and easily maintained in the laboratory, Dr. Roark and her students evaluate the effects of endocrine-active chemicals on growth, development, and reproduction. Most recently, her work has focused on cnidarians, a group of evolutionary ancient animals including corals and sea anemones.

  • Moore, B.C., A.M. Roark, S. Kohno, H.J. Hamlin, and L.J. Guillette, Jr. 2012. Gene-environment interactions: the potential role of contaminants in somatic growth and the development of the reproductive system of the American alligator. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 354:111-120.
  • Edwards, T.M., B.K. Smith, D.L. Watts, C.C. Germain-Aubrey, A.M. Roark, S.M. Bybee, C.E. Cox, H.J. Hamlin, and L.J. Guillette, Jr. 2011. Group-advantaged training of research: a metamorphosis of mentorship. BioScience 61:301-311.
  • Roark, A.M., K.A. Bjorndal, A.B. Bolten, and C. Leeuwenburgh. 2009. Biochemical indices as correlates of recent growth in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 376:59-67.
  • Roark, A.M., K.A. Bjorndal, and A.B. Bolten. 2009. Compensatory responses to food restriction in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Ecology 90:2524-2534.
  • Roark, A.M. and K.A. Bjorndal. 2009. Metabolic rate depression is induced by caloric restriction and correlates with rate of development and lifespan in a parthenogenetic insect. Experimental Gerontology 44:413-419.
  • Emerson, J.K. and A.M. Roark. 2007. Composition of guano produced by frugivorous, sanguivorous, and insectivorous bats. Acta Chiropterologica 9:261-267.
  • Franklin, R.B., L.K. Blum, A.C. McCombe (now Roark), and A.L. Mills. 2002. A geostatistical analysis of small-scale spatial variability in bacterial abundance and community structure in salt marsh creek bank sediments. Federation of European Microbiologists (FEMS) - Microbiology and Ecology 42(1):71-80.
University of Florida
University of Virginia

Connect with Admission

Furman University is one of the nation's premier undergraduate liberal arts colleges. We offer outstanding academics, opportunities for a broad range of talented students with a passion for learning, a robust arts program, and NCAA Division I athletics.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University