Dr. Andrew W. Woodward
I am a molecular biologist teaching General Biology I, Biological Research Methods, Human Anatomy & Physiology, Survey of Contemporary Biological Research Publications, Medicinal Botany, and Developmental Biology. A lifelong Texan, I grew up on a Central Texas cattle ranch and earned my B.A. and Ph.D. at Rice University in Houston. As an undergraduate, I double majored in Biology and Biochemistry. In my graduate work, I investigated the roles of several genes in shaping plant development.
I was fascinated by biology at an early age. On the ranch, I enjoyed thinking about how energy from the sun was being captured by plants, and this solar energy was passed along to the cattle as they grazed. It amazes me to think that steak and salad are both built of molecules from the air glued together using energy from the sun.
In high school, I had the opportunity to tutor other students, and I found that I enjoyed teaching. I consider it a privilege to witness the moment when someone first arrives at understanding. This applies both in the classroom and in the laboratory. The science fiction writer Isaac Asimov is credited with saying that “the most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but rather, ‘Hmm... that's funny...’”
As a Rice undergraduate, I served as a recitation leader for Introductory Biology and as a Biosciences Writing Mentor. I also began working in a plant molecular biology lab. This excellent lab experience reinforced my plan to attend graduate school. After earning my Ph.D., I worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Southwestern University and at St. Edward’s University. I have taught a wide variety of biology courses, including Molecular Biology, Cellular Physiology, Plant Physiology, Microbiology, Genes & Molecules, Ecology & Evolution, and Cells, Genetics, & Organ Systems.
Outside of the university, I am an active member of Lexington United Methodist Church. I have held a number of leadership positions in my church, including service as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for 2010 and 2011.
I enjoy spending time exploring Texas natural areas with my wife and daughters. I am a member of the Texas Academy of Science, American Society of Plant Biologists, and Friends of the Lost Pines State Parks.
In addition to working with students in the classroom, I look forward to student research collaborations. I am always looking for eager students to conduct independent projects investigating basic aspects of development and nutrition. Students who work with me study mutants and identify the underlying DNA mutations.
I enjoy my work as a venue for talking about science. If you share that interest, please stop by for a conversation.
Studying the formation and function of peroxisomes, organelles of the cell that are necessary for the breakdown of fats and several other vital functions. In particular, I use mutant plants to study the developmental defects that result from faulty peroxisome function. After isolating and characterizing a mutant, my students and I use a technique called recombination mapping to locate the mutant gene and then sequence DNA to identify the mutation. For more information about this research, click here.