Biology faculty

Ralph Davis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

712-707-7006
redavis@nwciowa.edu
VPH 214/VPH 216

Profile

A leading expert on nematode neurobiology, Dr. Davis spent 20 years as a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to teach and do research at Northwestern College. His research in the area of neuropharmacology helps lead to new or better drugs that combat parasites in developing countries. In 2001, Davis was awarded a multi-year, $570,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research at Northwestern with the help of student researchers. In 2006 the NIH continued funding his research with another three-year grant worth nearly $200,000. Since receiving the grants, Davis has trained approximately 20 undergraduate research students in his lab. Most have gone on to medical school or graduate school in biochemistry, physiology or neuroscience.

Davis has done postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) School of Medicine in Physiology. He teaches human anatomy and physiology, human anatomy, histology, neuroscience, bioethics and the neuroscience and persons seminar and is the director of Northwestern’s Neuroscience and Persons (NAPs) program.


Courses

  • Histology

    Histology

    A study of the microscopic structure of cells, tissues and organs in vertebrate animals with special emphasis on human tissues. An effort is made to correlate structure and function and highlight important pathologies. Prerequisites: BIO115 and 116. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
  • Neuroscience

    Neuroscience

    Introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, emphasizing neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and aspects of neuropathology. Multiple levels will be explored from the molecular and cellular levels through brain and spinal cord networks that contribute to complex behavioral and cognitive function.Prerequisites: BIO102 or 221 or permission of instructor.(4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

    Human Anatomy and Physiology

    An introduction to the structure and function of the human body.(4 credits)
  • Human Anatomy

    Human Anatomy

    A study of the gross structure of the systems of the human body.Prerequisite: BIO102, 115 or permission of instructor.(4 credits)
  • Neuroscience and Persons Seminar

    Neuroscience and Persons Seminar

    Interdisciplinary lectures, discussions and presentations related to the reading and critiquing of literature on selected topics in the area of neuroscience and persons. Student-led discussions and presentations (oral and written) will be emphasized. Possible topics include: artificial/machine intelligence, clinical neuroscience and neuropathology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroscience and Christianity, neuroscience of emotion, neuroethics, neuromodeling, neuroscience of mental illness, neurophilosophy, neurotheology and social neuroscience; consideration of NAPs-related student research may also be included.Prerequisite: BIO340 or permission of instructor.(2 credits; alternate years, consult department)

Publications and presentations

  • Brain awareness outreach events with examples of visual aids/manipulatives used. R.E. Davis and H. Moser. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL, October 16-21, 2009.
  • Morphine, an endogenous opioid in nematodes, has effects on the behavior and specific target tissues of the parasitic gastrointestinal nematode, Ascaris suum. R.E. Davis and H.Moser. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, October 16-21, 2009.
  • Practical ways to expand your educational efforts locally, regionally & nationally. Ralph Davis. Presentation at American Scientific Affiliation Annual Meeting, Aug. 1-3, 2009. Baylor University, Waco, TX.
  • Morphine has effects on the behavior and specific target tissues of the parasitic gastrointestinal nematode, Ascaris suum. Hannah Moser and Ralph Davis. Fifth Symposium on Research Frontiers in Brain Function and Disorders, Sept. 10-11, 2008. Sponsored by the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.
  • Yew, J.Y., Davis, R.E., Dikler, S., Nanda, J., Reinders, B., and Stretton, A.O.W. (2007). Peptide products of the afp-6 gene of the nematode Ascaris suum have different biological actions. Journal of Comparative Neurology 502:673-682.
  • Davis, R.E. and Stretton, A.O.W. (2001). Structure-activity relationship of 18 endogenous neuropeptides on the motornervous system of Ascaris suum. Peptides 22:7-23.

Professional experience

  • Associate Scientist, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Postdoctoral Fellow Research Associate, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Grass Fellow in Neurophysiology, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Memberships

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education

Honors

  • National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1984
  • Grass Fellow in Neurophysiology (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA), 1984
  • Rose Neuroscience Award (best Ph.D. thesis in neuroscience), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984
  • Phi Beta Kappa, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1976