David Higgs, PhD

  • Professor - Bioscience
  • Biological Sciences Department
  • Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1994
  • PHONE: (262) 595-2786
  • EMAIL: higgs@uwp.edu
David Higgs


  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Physiology
  • Eukaryotic Gene Expression
  • Photosynthesis
Dr. David Higgs is a molecular biologist and geneticist with expertise and research interests in regulated gene expression for eukaryotic organisms in response to internal cellular and external environmental factors. He works primarily with the single-celled green alga Chlamydomonas to investigate gene expression, RNA stability, and genetic factors that impact photosynthesis, nitrogen metabolism and responses, and chloroplast biology. David received his B.S. in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; his Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Iowa State University working with James Colbert; and completed a Postdoctorate training at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University working with David Stern and Karen Kindle.

Teaching Interests

Dr. Higgs teaches classes on the topics of genetics, molecular biology, and plant physiology. In addition, he periodically teaches the general education course, Science and Pseudoscience, a science philosophy course.

Research Interests

Dr. Higgs researches the molecular and genetic mechanisms of controlling photosynthesis and nitrogen responses in algae and plants. He and his research students use the single-celled alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model for studying growth and responses of algae under low-nitrogen conditions as well as nuclear-chloroplast interactions that regulate RNA metabolism and chloroplast genes involved with photosynthesis.

Consulting Interests

Selected Publications

2020: Characterization of a Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutant strain with tolerance to low nitrogen and increased growth and biomass under nitrogen stress, Algal Research, Elsevier (10 pages pp.)

2011: Optimization and Genetic Analysis of Lipid Accumulation for Biofuel Production using the Single-celled Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Proceedings of the 21st Annual Wisconsin Space Conference (7 pp.)

2009: The Chloroplast Genome, In, The Chlamydomonas Sourcebook: Organellar and Metabolic Processes (21 pp.)

2008: Implementation and Assessment of a Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Undergraduate Degree Program, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (106-115 pp.)

2006: Nuclear suppressors define three factors that participate in both 5’ and 3’ end processing of mRNAs in Chlamydomonas chloroplasts, The Plant Journal (448-461 pp.)

2006: Regulatory sequences of orthologous petD chloroplast mRNAs are highly specific among Chlamydomonas species, Plant Molecular Biology (405-422 pp.)

2005: Microarray analysis confirms the specificity of a Chlamydomonas reinhardtii RNA stability mutant, Plant Physiology (534-544 pp.)

2002: An mRNA 3' processing site targets downstream sequences for rapid degradation in Chlamydomonas chloroplasts, J. Biological Chemistry (3325-3333 pp.)

2001: A nucleus-encoded suppressor defines a new factor that can stabilize petD mRNA in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Current Genetics (40-48 pp.)

2001: A nucleus-encoded suppressor defines a new factor that can stabilize petD mRNA in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Current Genetics (40-48 pp.)

2001: The chloroplast gene ycf9 encodes a PSII core subunit, PsbZ, which participates in PSII supramolecular architecture, Plant Cell (1347-1368 pp.)

1999: 5' to 3' exoribonucleolytic activity is a normal component of chloroplast mRNA decay pathways, Plant Journal (521-531 pp.)

1999: Altering the 3’UTR endonucleolytic cleavage site of a Chlamydomonas chloroplast mRNA affects 3’ end maturation in vitro but not in vivo, Plant Molecular Biology (679-686 pp.)

1999: Small cis-acting sequences that specify secondary structures in a chloroplast mRNA are essential for RNA stability and translation, Molecular Cell Biology (8479-8491 pp.)

1998: Inversions in the Chlamydomonas chloroplast genome suppress a petD 5’ untranslated region deletion by creating functional chimeric mRNAs, Plant Journal (663-671 pp.)

1997: RNA stability and translational regulatory elements in the 5’ untranslated regions of two Chlamydomonas chloroplast transcripts, Symposium on RNA Biology II. Tools and Target (132-134 pp.)

1997: Transcription and translation in chloroplasts, Trends in Plant Science (308-315 pp.)

1995: Abundance and half-life of the distinct oat phytochrome A3 and A4 mRNAs, Plant Molecular Biology (367-377 pp.)

1994: Oat phytochrome A mRNA degradation appears to occur via two distinct pathways, Plant Cell (1007-1019 pp.)

1993: ß-glucuronidase gene expression and mRNA stability in oat protoplasts, Plant Cell Reports (445-452 pp.)

1992: RNase protection assays and RNA gel blots: A direct comparison of sensitivity, Genetic Analysis: Techniques and Applications (146-148 pp.)

BIOS 101 - Bioscience
BIOS 260 - General Genetics
BIOS 309 - Molecular Biology
BIOS 344 - Plant Physiology
BIOS 499 - Independent Study:
BIOS 509 - Molecular Biology
BIOS 711 - Thesis
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