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Robert Barber
Biography
I was raised in the northern Illinois town of Freeport, home of the “Pretzels”. I credit an outstanding group of primary and secondary public school teachers with providing me with both the ambition and education to pursue higher education at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. While at U of I, I had the good fortune to complete an undergraduate research thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Abigail Salyers, working on the transmittance of antibiotic resistance among human commensal bacteria. After obtaining a B.S. in Microbiology with Distinction, I continued my education in the Cellular and Molecular Biology program at the UW-Madison, completing my Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Donohue studying the one carbon metabolism and physiology in purple photosynthetic bacteria. Subsequently, I earned a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. J. Greg Ferry at The Pennsylvania State University to study archaeal biochemistry and physiology. Currently, I am an associate professor of Biological Sciences, with a research focus on the application of genetic, biochemical, and informatics strategies to understand evolutionary relationships.
Teaching, Research/Creative & Consulting Interests

Teaching Interests

Since coming to UW-Parkside, I have developed a variety of courses for both majors and non-majors, all that I find extremely interesting. BIOS 100: The Nature of Life is a course for non-majors that explores the question “What is Life”, with emphasis on such aspects as “the basis of life”, “the limits of life”, “the interactive nature of biology”, as well as current bioethical issues. Within our major, I have developed courses related to biochemical metabolism, protein biochemistry, and bioinformatics programming with each offering valuable insights to students as they prepare either for their careers or for future educational opportunities.

Research Interests

Despite the immense power of molecular biology tools to design and modify enzyme function, I believe nature is the ultimate arbiter of protein structure and function. As a result, my research can be divided in three areas that each explores the evolution of function using discrete model protein families: (1) Evolution of Quaternary Structure – various programs and web applications have been developed to understand sequence/structure relationships among natural enzyme variants at tertiary and quaternary structural levels in the PfpI/DJ-1 protein superfamily and predictions are being tested using biochemical assays. (2) Biochemical and genetic analysis of a short chain fatty acid kinase (member of the ASHKA superfamily) is being conducted to decipher its’ role in Rhodobacter sphaeroides physiology and (3) a collaborative research effort with DePauw University investigates the structure and function of putative archaeal transcriptional regulators.

Consulting Interests

My expertise in bioinformatics, genomics, and protein biochemistry has provided consulting opportunities with DuPont, as well as numerous journal articles and textbooks.
Selected Awards & Honors

Service Awards

2013: Recipients of the Faculty Distinguished Service Award must have an ongoing record of significant service consisting of university citizenship, service to other communities, and involvement in their profession. In making awards, primary consideration will be given to the quality of the person’s service and the degree to which it advances the mission and objectives of the department, the university and the profession. , Faculty Distinguished Service Award, University, UW-Parkside
Courses Taught

Spring 2018

BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 303 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 503 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 489 MOLEC BIO/BIOINFRM SR PROJECT
BIOS 100 NATURE OF LIFE
BIOS 731 SEMINAR IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Fall 2017

BIOS 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
CHEM 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
HIMT 400 HLTHCARE INFORMATION&TECH-DATA
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 455 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 655 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS

Summer 2017

BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
HIMT 400 HLTHCARE INFORMATION&TECH-DATA

Spring 2017

BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 303 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 303 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 503 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 503 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 455 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 655 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 711 THESIS

Fall 2016

BIOS 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
CHEM 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 489 MOLEC BIO/BIOINFRM SR PROJECT
BIOS 100 NATURE OF LIFE
BIOS 731 SEMINAR IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Summer 2016

BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY

Spring 2016

BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 303 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 503 MICROBIOLOGY
BIOS 455 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 655 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS

Fall 2015

BIOS 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
CHEM 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 489 MOLEC BIO/BIOINFRM SR PROJECT
BIOS 100 NATURE OF LIFE
BIOS 731 SEMINAR IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Summer 2015

BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 699 INDEPENDENT STUDY

Spring 2015

HIMT 400 HLTHCARE INFORMATION&TECH-DATA
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 455 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 655 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 711 THESIS

Fall 2014

BIOS 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
CHEM 307 BIOCHEMICAL METABOLISM
BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 489 MOLEC BIO/BIOINFRM SR PROJECT
BIOS 100 NATURE OF LIFE
BIOS 731 SEMINAR IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Summer 2014

BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
BIOS 101 BIOSCIENCE
HIMT 400 HLTHCARE INFORMATION&TECH-DATA

Spring 2014

BIOS 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
BIOS 489 MOLEC BIO/BIOINFRM SR PROJECT
BIOS 455 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 655 PROTEIN BIOCHEM/BIOINFORMATICS
BIOS 731 SEMINAR IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
BIOS 711 THESIS

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