Fernando Nieto

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Job title: 

Professor of Biology






Natural Sciences



Office hours: 

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays: 1:00-2:30 pm

Courses taught: 

  • BS2400/BS2401 and BS2410/BS2411 are the freshman biology sequence.
  • BS2400/BS2401 covers the molecular and cellular biology content area including Genetics and Evolution.
  • BS2410/BS2411 covers organismic and population content areas including comparative anatomy and physiology of animals and plants. The lecture and lab courses are co-requisites and by design the syllabi for the lecture and the lab are synchronized so that students have an opportunity to apply concepts taught in the lecture through hands-on experience. The laboratory is also a writing intensive component of the course through the actual laboratory activities, home-works and laboratory reports. 
  • BS4470 Ecology is an upper division requirement satisfying the Population core content area, and it covers all aspects of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem studies. The laboratory has two major research projects involving the study of local terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. In the last three years I have joined the Ecological Research and Educational Network (EREN) funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of the network is to promote global long-term ecological research. Ecology students participate in research of permanent forest plots located on campus. The data collected is shared with all the members of the network and is available to the network members for publication purposes. 
  • BS4474 Microbial Ecology is an upper division elective in the area of population covering all aspects of terrestrial and aquatic microbial ecosystems. I developed the course in 2008. Students in the laboratory work on a semester long project studying the campuses soil microbiome. As part of the project students collect soil samples from the forest, extract and purify the DNA and then process it using a traditional pipeline including PCR using universal 16S rDNA primers, cloning of amplicons, plasmid extraction and sequencing. 


  • 1995 Ph. D. Biology (Concentration: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior). The Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York.
  • 1991 M.A. Biology. The City College of New York. City University of New York.
  • 1984 B.S. Biology(Zoology concentration). School of Biology, University Complutense of Madrid, Spain.

Research interests: 

  • Microbial Ecology: I am interested in mapping the soil microbiome of the forest on campus. Understanding ecosystem structure and function are two critical aspects of ecological research. The development of next generation sequencing techniques allows us to estimate community diversity with greater accuracy than using traditional microbiological methods. In particular forest soil ecosystems are involved in nutrient cycling germane to the “health” of the ecosystem. This project involves undergraduate research students.
  • Bioremediation: in the last five years I have collaborated with Dr. Duncan Quarless from the Chemistry Department on a project to develop and test low molecular thiols that mimic natural endogenous thiols that help detoxify metals in living systems such as i.e. glutathione. We have tested this molecule in C. elegans with very promising results with an article publication in preparation. Five undergraduate students have worked in this project and presented the research in a number of undergraduate research conferences.
  • Phage Ecology: we are part of the 10th cohort of the HHMI SEA PHAGES program. The program introduces freshman students to research using the Phage Hunting program developed by Dr. Graham Hatfull from the University of Pittsburgh. The aim of the project is to study the evolution and ecology of Actinobacteriophages. In collaboration with my colleague Dr. Christos Noutsos we are developing a line of research on Genomics of these phages. We are particularly interested in studying genome level evolutionary mechanisms in Actinobacteriophages and elucidating their adaptiveness.   

Select publications & presentations: 

  • Nieto-Fernandez, F.E., Quarless, D.A. and Roccanova, P. (2014) An online hybrid model coupled to a developmental scoring rubric for the assessment of student progress in a research abroad program. Proceedings of INTED2014 Conference 10th-12th March 2014, Valencia, Spain. ISBN 978-84-616-8412-0
  • D. Quarless, F. Nieto-Fernandez, P. Roccanova, J. Ottaviano, R. Shields (2014) Revising Character education for STEM Education models. Proceedings of INTED2014 Conference 10th-12th March 2014, Valencia, Spain. ISBN 978-84-616-8412-0
  • D. Quarless and F. Nieto (2013). Exploring Hybrid Instruction in Science: Using LMS for Contextual, Interdisciplinary Active Learning Enrichment. J.Educational Technology Systems, Vol. 41(3):279-292
  • F. Nieto-Fernandez, S. Andrieux, S. Idrees, C. Bagnall, S. C. Pryor and R. Sood (2009) The effect of opioids and their antagonists on the nocifensive response of Caenorhabditis elegans to noxious thermal stimuli. Invertebrate Neuroscience 9(3-4):195-200.
  • Stephen C. Pryor, Fernando Nieto, Sherwyn Henry, and Jennifer Sarfo (2007). The effect of opiates and opiate antagonists on heat latency response in the parasitic nematode Ascaris suum. Life Sciences 80 (2007): 1650-1655.