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Kathryn M Jacobson

Associate Professor


I am a fungal biologist and I teach in the Biology Department at Grinnell College - a four-year liberal arts undergraduate institution in Iowa, U.S.A. In our department, all faculty members teach the introductory course (Introduction to Biological Inquiry) on subject matter of our choice, because the goal of the course is to expose students to learning by doing experimental science. My Introduction to Biological Inquiry is entitled "The effects of climate change on organisms". In addition to a 200-level course in Evolution & Ecology, I also teach an upper-level level elective course in Fungal Biology. Recently I also taught a course on Namib Ecology, which involved course-embedded travel to the Namib Desert.

My research interests in fungal biology are broad and I am currently working with research students on projects relating to the various roles that fungi play in the Namib Desert. Projects include the biogeography and physiology of black Aspergillus species (primarily A. welwitschiae) that infect Namibia's national plant: Welwitschia mirabilis; and fungal decomposers in the Namib Sand Sea.

In addition to advising Biology majors, I also work with students pursuing the Global Development Studies concentration because of my interests in sustainable resource management, particularly in arid regions of Africa. In 2000, Peter Jacobson and I worked with Mary Seely and Doug Cutchins, to develop the Grinnell Corps in Namibia Fellowships. This program, sponsored fully by Grinnell, places two recent Grinnell graduates at the Gobabeb Training and Resource Center for one year to assist with research and training activities aimed at empowering Namibians to use their natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-4359


(641) 269-4984


faculty info column 1

On-Campus Address: 

1813 Science
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Education / Degrees: 

Ph.D. 1992, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Post-Doc. 1993 -1995, Desert Research Foundation of Namibia

Courses Taught: 

Biology 150: Introduction to Biological Inquiry "Effects of Climate Change on Organisms"
Biology 252: Organisms, Evolution and Ecology, with Lab
Biology 325: Fungal Biology, with Lab
ENV-120: Environmental Challenges and Responses
ENV-195: Special Topic "Environmental Challenges and Responses"
Tutorial: Communicating about climate change
Tutorial: Images of Africa

Primary Academic Interest: 

Community Structure and Population Biology

Curriculum Vitae/Resume: