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Portrait of Andrea Bixler

Andrea Bixler, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy, Ethology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, 1997

Bachelor of Arts, Biology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, 1991

Teaching Philosophy

Two of my goals in teaching are to provide rigorous lessons, and to make the learning relevant to the students’ needs.  I use a flipped-classroom approach and inquiry-based learning as practiced by scientists to increase students’ knowledge, critical thinking, communication skills, and laboratory skills.  I also use service-learning projects in which students consider some subject matter new to them in order to meet the need of a community partner.


Professional Background

My doctoral research was on habitat use by striped skunks in Tennessee. I have conducted similar research on coatis in Arizona and raccoons in Iowa.  For my postdoctoral research, I turned to the lab to study the effects of inbreeding on prairie voles. Now, I conduct research on oviposition (egg-laying) behavior in fruit flies, which were, not coincidentally, the topic of my undergraduate senior thesis. I’ve come back to the same organism, but with very different skills and goals. My professional development activities, particularly with RiverQuest, Every Learner Inquires, and Iowa Campus Compact, have made me determined to incorporate more experiential, inquiry-based, and reflective components in my teaching, in order to help students reach higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Research Interests

  • Animal behavior
  • Evolution
  • Climate change

Courses Taught

  • Evolution
  • Subtropical Ecology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies

Certifications & Memberships

  • 2015-16 Iowa Campus Compact Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellow
  • 2005-12 Instructor, Co-Director, and/or Director,  RiverQuest Professional Development for Teachers

Additional Involvement

  • Organize the annual Evolution Weekend lecture at Clarke each year with Campus Ministry (2013-17)
  • Higher education representative on the Keystone Area Education Agency team for Iowa’s Every Learner Inquires initiative (2006-10)
  • Selected Publications

    Bixler, A.  2016.  It’s a crocodile! No, a fish! No, a dolphin! Interpreting evolutionary history from fossil evidence.  Peer reviewed case study with teaching notes and answer key to be published on-line by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science,

    Schnee, F. and A. Bixler.  2015.  Which of these is true?  Science and ethics case study.  Peer reviewed case study with teaching notes and answer key published on-line by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science,

    Bixler, A.  2014.  Things that go bump (and smell) in the night.  Creative nonfiction published in Tenth Muse literary magazine.

    Schnee, F. and A. Bixler.  2013.  Nudge: Improving student decisions to increase their academic success.  The Teaching Professor 27: 5.

    Bixler, A. 2011. What we muggles can learn about teaching from Hogwarts. The Clearing House 84: 75-79.


  • Selected Presentations

    Bixler, A. and Schnee, F.  April 18, 2015.  Putting all their eggs in one basket? Drosophila melanogaster lay most but not all of their eggs in aggregations.  Iowa Academy of Science annual meeting, University of Iowa.

    Ihde, S., Schnee, F. and Bixler, A.  April 18, 2015.  Oviposition site preference in Drosophila melanogaster: Influences of adult fly density and food quality.  Iowa Academy of Science annual meeting, University of Iowa.

    Bixler, A. September 26, 2013. Prepping Students for Field Courses. Midwest Environmental Education Conference, Coralville, IA.

    Herrmann, M., A. Bixler and F. Schnee.  April 20, 2012.  Examination of oviposition site preference in media with and without cadmium in different strains of Drosophila melanogaster.  Iowa Academy of Sciences, Simpson College.

    Bixler, A. and F. Schnee.  November 1, 2012.  Which of these is true? Science and ethics case study.  Oral presentation at National Association of Biology Teachers, Dallas, TX.