Jump to Footer

Dr. Nancy L. Elwess

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Biological Sciences

Photo of Nancy ElwessI am a molecular biologist with several areas of focus for my undergraduate research laboratory. My recent areas of study include the isolation and analysis of ancient DNA extracted from ancient Maya skeletons (from Tipu, Belize). My laboratory is studying their migration routes; mitochondrial DNA sequences; and the presence of certain diseases within this population of ancient Maya skeletons (588 skeletons). In addition, my undergraduate research students are also investigating both the androgen receptor gene and the DRD4 gene (also known as the ’thrill seeking’ gene) in humans.


  • Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, University of Vermont
  • M.S. in Biology, Purdue University
  • M.A. in Biology Education, Governors State University
  • B.S. in Zoology, Eastern Illinois University

Courses Taught

  • BIO 305 General Genetics
  • BIO 101 General Biology
  • BIO 341 DNA and Bioinformatics
  • BIO 387 Molecular Genetics

Honors & Awards

  • Recipient of the National Genetics Education Award, sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics and the Genetics Society of America, 2015
  • State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service, 2012
  • Recipient of the 2012 Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society’s Evan Ferguson Award for Service to the Society
  • Recipient of the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Awarded by President Obama during White House Reception
  • Recipient of the 2008–2009 Eldridge W. Roark Professional Leadership Award. Awarded by Omicron Delta Kappa
  • Recipient of the 2009 Frederica Hollister Professional Educator’s Award through Delta Kappa Gamma Society (New York Chapter), Professional Honor Society of Women Educators
  • Recipient of the 2008–2009 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award sponsored by the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST)
  • Co-recipient of the 2007 National Association of Biology Teachers National Biotechnology Teaching Award
  • Named to “Who’s Who among American Teachers and Educators,” 2007
  • Recipient of the National Association of Biology Teachers National Four Year College Biology Research/Teaching Award, 2005
  • State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2004


  • Recipient of the 2008 NABT/AD Instruments Technology Grant
  • Cornetet Professional Development Award from the Delta Kappa Gamma
  • Educational Foundation; awarded September 2007
  • LI-COR Biosciences 2005 Genomics Education Matching Funds Grant, awarded March 2005
  • Delta Kappa Gamma Women’s Education Honors Society Research Grant 2005

Selected Publications

  • Elwess, N. L., Kopp, M., Lavoie, E.,Coons, J., Adjapong, E. & Latourelle, S. (2015). Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA within the Tipu Maya Collection. Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology, 8(1), 1–6.
  • *Palermo, M., & Elwess, N. L. (2014). Characterization and phylogenetic analysis of the cytochrome B gene (cytb) in Salvelinus fontinalis, Salmo trutta and Salvelinus fontinalis X Salmo trutta within the Lake Champlain Basin. Journal of Emerging Investigators; Jan 20, 2014, 1–9.
  • Elwess, N. L. & Latourelle, S.M (2013). Inducing mutations in Paramecium: An inquiry-based approach. Social constructivism in a cooperative and collaborative science investigation [Monograph] (Latourelle, S., Ed.). Society of College Science Teachers, 65–76. http://www.scst.org/scstpubs/monographs
  • *Palermo, M., Latourelle, S., & Elwess, N. L. (2012). Genetic analysis of the Brown, Brook, and Tiger Trout populations in the Lake Champlain Basin. Journal of Experimental Secondary Science, 2(1).
  • *Sato, T, *Phillips, B, Latourelle, S. M. & Elwess, N. L. (2010). Analyzing population genetics using the mitochondrial control region and bioinformatics. Bioscene, 36(1), 26–33.
  • Elwess, N. L., *Duprey, S. L., *Harney, L. A., *Langman, J. E., *Marino, T. C., *Martinez, C., *McKeon, L. L., *Moss, C. I., *Myrie, S. S., & *Taylor, L. R.(2008). Alu insertion and genetic diversity: A preliminary investigation by an undergraduate bioinformatics class. Bioscene, 34(2), 34–39.
  • Latourelle, S., Elwess, N. L. & Elwess, J. M. (2008). Finger forecasting: A pointer to athletic prowess in women: A preliminary investigation by an undergraduate biology class. The American Journal of Biology Teachers, 70(7), 411–414.
Back to top