Dr. John Hayden

John Hayden

B.S. Biology, Castleton State College (1973)
Ph.D. Zoology, University of Vermont (1980)
Postodoctoral studies at Dartmouth College (1980-1984).

Courses: Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Advanced General Biology, and Scientific Writing

How do organelles such as mitochondria and lysosomes move to the locations where they are needed in cells? What regulates this motility? Those are some of the questions my undergraduate students and I investigate in my research laboratory.

I am a cell biologist whose major teaching interests are in the fields of cell biology and biochemistry. I teach Cell Biology to Sophomores in the Fall semester and Biochemistry to Juniors and Seniors in the Spring semester. It is our philosophy that the best way for students to learn biology is through hands-on experiences, performing experiments utilizing equipment currently in use in the research and industrial labs of today. We have received several National Science Foundation grants in the last 10 years, allowing us to set up and maintain our teaching labs with the latest modern equipment. For example, in our Cell Biology course we use phase and fluorescence microscopy to study human fibroblasts grown in tissue culture. Fluorescent molecular probes are used to study the various cell compartments. During the course we also use various techniques of centrifugation and electrophoresis to isolate and study various cell components.

In Biochemistry, the students spend the second half of the semester working in independent research teams to purify a protein. They choose various techniques of electrophoresis and column chromatography to purify the protein. By becoming familiar with the equipment and techniques currently used to gather the information that appears in the textbooks, our students find it much easier to appreciate and understand the concepts that are presented.

Many of our students opt to take independent research as a 2 credit course (BI-99), usually during their Junior or Senior year. In my research lab, I also emphasize a hands-on approach to science. My lab uses computer-enhanced video light microscopy, a relatively new technique that has allowed the detection of structures as small as single microtubules in living cells. We grow human fibroblasts in tissue culture and use them to study the transport of organelles and vesicles along microtubles and actin filaments. I have set up my lab with the latest modern equipment purchased with grant funds from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

My students are trained in techniques such as fluorescence, phase, and differential interference contrast microscopy. We also use various protein biochemistry techniques to isolate and study proteins involved in motility. It in known that organelles and vesicles use mechanochemical motors to travel along microtubules and actin filaments to various locations in the cell, however, very little is known about the regulation of this process. What causes an organelle or vesicle to suddenly move from one location to another and then stay in that location for an indefinite period of time? What causes an organelle or vesicle that is in motion to suddenly reverse direction? These are the questions that I investigate with my students.

Our students often find the research experience to be the capstone in their undergraduate major, as they experience the frustration, as well the satisfaction, of producing original research. They leave, not only with a solid foundation in the various areas of biology, but with an appreciation and understanding of how to do biology, which will serve them well as this field continues to advance ever more rapidly.