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Working at CSU

Michael Antolin named Biology chair

July 23, 2013

CSU's College of Natural Sciences has named Michael Antolin as the new chair of the Department of Biology, effective Aug. 15, 2013. Antolin, a biology professor, has served as interim chair of the department since July 2012.

Leading the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Biology is no small undertaking.  In fact, as the largest undergraduate major at CSU, it’s quite a tall order.  “Mike Antolin has done a great job stepping up as the interim chair of biology when Dan Bush became the vice provost for Faculty Affairs.  He brings with him a broad range of experience and a strong vision of what a progressive biology department should look like,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

As part of his new role, Antolin has many goals in mind. 

“We’ve developed a high quality research program, and our goal is to maintain that while we also embrace the modern genomic era that’s transforming all of the life sciences,” Antolin said. “I’d like to better integrate our graduate programs and increase the opportunities for hands-on experiences for our undergraduates, giving them opportunities to work in laboratories and on field-based research projects.”

Twenty-one years at CSU

In his time at CSU, Antolin has researched black-tailed prairie dogs in northern Colorado, which have been severely affected by local outbreaks of plague – the same bacterial pathogen that caused the Black Death in medieval Europe. Native to Asia, the pathogen now resides in wild rodent populations in the western U.S. after having been accidentally introduced in the early 1900s. Antolin’s study focuses on the epidemiology of plague in relation to climate variability and rodent communities that surround prairie dog colonies and the transmission of plague by fleas. His laboratory  group uses genetic analyses to trace transmission pathways of the bacterium.

Antolin also has been working with researchers on the NSF-funded Laramie Foothills Chronic Wasting Disease Project, in which researchers are studying the genetics of chronic wasting disease in mule deer in relation to spatial epidemiology and genetics.

“In the Biology Department, we have been given resources and the support we need to excel to the highest levels we can achieve.  That’s what I love about CSU,” he said.