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Meriel Brooks Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Dunton Hall 228
One Brennan Circle
Poultney, VT 05764-1199
Email Address:
(802) 287-8235; Fax: (802) 287-8080

1992 Ph. D. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona
1984 B.S. with distinction: University of Arizona. Major: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Current Research

My overall research program is focused on the ecology of larval fish in wadeable rivers, primarily carried out in the Poultney River, which runs through the campus land.  Larval fish ecology, particularly for small rivers and non-game species, is relatively unknown yet can have a profound effect on the health of adult populations. Thus, any research we carry out can contribute to our understanding of the fish communities in the local rivers and their appropriate management.  All of my research is accessible to undergraduates and I structure it so that they can engage sub-questions within the overall framework for independent research.  I also use these research questions to drive in-class projects.  For example, the laboratory for my Evolution class in 2007 was a research project to determine the utility of mtDNA for understanding population structure of dace in the Poultney and Mettowee Rivers.  Students may become involved in areas as varied as genetic analysis of populations and habitat analysis through courses or independent research. In the process, they gain many laboratory and field skills such as learning how to identify larval fish, quite a rare skill yet critical in understanding the impacts of development on fish populations.

Current and Past Student Projects
Using microsatellite DNA to evaluate structure of dace populations in the Poultney River. (ongoing, 4 students, independent research)

Using mtDNA to evaluate population structure of dace populations in three northeastern rivers (Evolution class project for 2008).

Pattern of larval fish drift in the Poultney River (ongoing, 2 students)

Construction of a Laboratory Stream Tank (Early Life History of Fishes class project 2006).
Population structure of Vermont fisher and otter populations (Evolution class project for 2006, funded by NSF Grant).
Patterns of distribution for larval fish communities in the Poultney River (1 student, current)
Distribution and habitat selection of alewife larvae in Lake St. Catherine (2 students, 2000-2004)
Effect of introduced alewives on macrozooplankton in Lake St. Catherine (1 student, 2000-2004)
Issues in Recreational Fisheries Management: Is there a disconnect between State Fish & Wildlife Mission and projects? (1 student, 2001-2002)
Histology of the maternal/embryo relationship in live-bearing marine fishes (1 student, 1996-7)
Maintaining Endangered Freshwater Mussels in Captivity (5 students, 1993-4)


Courses Taught
Interdisciplinary Block Courses
Ecosystem Valuation in the Poultney Watershed, 2008
Promise and Peril of Biotechnology, 2002
The Hudson River, 2001
The Champlain Basin, 1999 

Biology Courses for Majors
Vertebrate Natural History & Evolution, Biodiversity, Ecology, Animal Behavior, Biogeography, Evolution, Limnology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy & Physiology, Animal Physiology, Developmental Biology, Ichthyology, Marine Ecology 

Graduate Online Courses
Natural Systems Ecology


Field Courses
Marine Biology of Belize, Environmental Bio-geology of Hawaii,  A Brazilian Odyssey: A Window on Water Issues in South America

Courses in the Environmental Liberal Arts Program
Images of Nature, Dimensions of Nature, A Delicate Balance, Marine Biology, Environmental Science

Seminar Courses
Early Life History of Fishes, Methods in Phylogenetic Systematics, Advanced Reading Seminar, Biology Seminar Series 

Selected Grant Activity

Davis Educational Foundation (2008-2011) Assessing Sustainability Skills: Developing Learning Outcomes Assessments for Green Mountain Colleges Environmental Liberal Arts Program, $248,000.00, co-authored with William Throop, Provost Green Mountain College and Tom Mauhs-Pugh, Dean of Mountain College.

National Science Foundation (Pending) Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement, The Lost Practice of Science: Restructuring to Recapture the Essence of Scientific Inquiry in the Undergraduate Classroom, $122,902 (pending, co-authored with Natalie Coe and Mark Jordan)

Green Mountain College/Castleton State College small grant (with Brad Coupe, CSC) to encourage collaboration among faculty on research projects.  Funded one student for summer work on larval fish drift in the Poultney River.

National Science Foundation (2004-06) Course, Curriculum, & Laboratory Improvement Grant, Problem-based Learning through the Laboratory Experience in Biochemistry and Evolution co-authored with Natalie Coe. $48,000.00. Awarded in 2004 for 2005-06 academic year.

Vermont EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Grant (2000): Habitat Selection and Distribution of Alewife Larvae in Lake St.Catherine, VT Funded one research student.

Selected Presentations

Stepien, C.A., A. K. Dillon, M.J. Brooks, K.L. Chase, and A. N. Hubers 1997 The evolution of blennioid fishes based on an analysis of mitochondrial 12S rDNA. pp 245-270 in Molecular Systematics of Fishes. Eds T.D. Kocher and C.A. Stepien. Academic Press.

Howitt, D., L.M. Smith, M.J. Brooks, J. Kutina, and S. Savon. 1996 Does health and wellness education help undergraduate students to make wise lifestyle choices? Ohio Campus Healthcare Providers Meeting.

Brooks, M.J. 1992 The ontogeny and evolution of sexual dimorphism in paraclinin blennies (Teleostei: Labrisomidae). Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Brooks, M.J. 1991 The ontogeny of sexual dimorphism: Quantitative models and a case study in labrisomid blennies (Teleostei: Paraclinus). Syst. Zool. 40(3):271-283.

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