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Dr. Angstadt is a full professor in the Biology Department and has been a Siena College faculty member since 1991.  He completed a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1986.  Prior to joining the Siena faculty, he conducted postdoctoral research at Emory University and the University of Virginia, investigating neurons that control rhythmic motor behaviors in the medicinal leech.  He has continued work on the leech nervous system at Siena and maintains an active research lab where he and Siena undergraduates conduct electrophysiolgical and molecular bioology experiments aimed at elucidating the types and properties of ion channel proteins in identified neurons.  Each fall semester he teaches an upper level lecture and laboratory course in Neurobiology.  He also teaches General Biology II lecture and General Biology I and II labs.

Degree Program University
Ph.D. Neuroscience University of Wisconsin
B.S. Biology Juniata College

My Siena Experience

My Teaching Philosophy

My approach to teaching changes with each course, in part because students are at very different stages of their undergraduate career.   In general biology, I’m working with freshmen or nonmajors who are completing an introductory sequence in the field of biology.  In these courses, one of the primary goals is to teach students how to learn so that they are better prepared for the challenges ahead.   For example, we discuss the types of questions that professors ask on exams, how to identify those types, and how to craft an appropriate answer.  Biol-190 (also required for biology majors) is a writing-intensive course where students learn about the entire scientific process.  Here the emphasis is on helping each student develop as a scholar and a writer as well as explaining how and why the intellectual skills they are sharpening will play an important part in determining their future success.  My general philosophy (which is shared by the entire department) is that students learn best by doing.  Thus, a large majority of our courses include a laboratory experience that is integrated with the lecture.   In each course, I focus on concepts and information fundamental to the discipline, but I also make sure to include examples of new and exciting findings.  Students sometime tend to assume that all the big questions have been answered and all the major problems solved.  Nothing could be further from the truth and exposing students to studies in the current literature illustrates this fact.  Such experiences also demonstrate how the fundamental concepts and methodologies we are learning in class are directly relevant to current progress in the research laboratory.  

What I Love About Siena

Like most of my colleagues, I get to work with students at different stages of their undergraduate career.   Whether they are freshmen or seniors, Siena biology majors are bright, hardworking, and genuinely appreciative of my role in their education.  That combination makes it a pleasure to work hard on their behalf. 

My Favorite Courses to Teach

As you might expect, neurobiology is my favorite class because it is my area of expertise and  I have the chance to work with seasoned upperclassmen who are ready for, and excited about, an intense learning experience.  My neurobiology course is designed to meet the goals of our Physiology Course Area and therefore emphasizes the function of individual neurons and their communication at synapses. We also cover topics such as motor control, sensory perception, and learning and memory.   In lab, students learn a variety of methods including how to record from (and stimulate) neurons using sharp microelectrodes.  
     Another rewarding aspect of teaching upper level courses like neurobiology is that students begin to appreciate how gaining basic knowledge from required courses in biology, physics, chemistry and math was quite valuable.  In neurobiology, concepts from these disciplines are applied as appropriate to achieving the overall goal of elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function. 

My Professional Experience

Year Title University
2019 - 2019 Faculty MBL
2018 - 2018 Faculty MBL
2017 - 2017 Faculty MBL
2016 - 2016 Faculty MBL
2015 - 2015 Faculty MBL
2014 - 2014 Faculty MBL
2013 - 2013 Faculty MBL
2012 - 2012 Faculty MBL
2011 - 2011 Faculty MBL
2010 - 2010 Faculty MBL
2009 - 2009 Faculty MBL
2008 - 2008 Faculty MBL
2001 - Now Full Professor Siena College
1996 - 2001 Associate Professor, Biology Siena College
1991 - 1996 Assistant Professor, Biology Siena College
1989 - 1989 Assistant Instructor Marine Biological Laboratory
1989 - 1991 Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuroscience University of Virginia
1986 - 1989 Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuroscience Emory University
1982 - 1983 Teaching Assistant, Neurobiology University of Wisconsin

Articles & Book Reviews

  • 9-Phenanthrol modulates postinhibitory rebound and afterhyperpolarizing potentials in an excitatory motor neuron of the medicinal leech
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 203
    2017
  • Riluzole suppresses postinhibitory rebound in an excitatory motor neuron of the medicinal leech.
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 200
    August, 2014
  • Dopamine induces rhythmic activity and enhances postinhibitory rebound in a leech motor neuron involved in swimming and crawling behaviors
    Impulse
    2007
  • Mechanisms of postinhibitory rebound and its modulation by serotonin in excitatory motor neurons of the medicinal leech
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 191
    2005
  • Single-cell analysis reveals cell-specific patterns of expression of a family of putative voltage-gated sodium channel genes in the leech
    Journal of Neurobiology, vol. 55
    2003
  • The number of morphological synapses between neurons does not predict the strength of their physiological interactions: a study of dendrites in the nematode Ascaris suum
    Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. 432
    2001
  • Persistent inward currents in cultured Retzius cells of the medicinal leech
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 184
    1999
  • Effects of transition metal ions on chemical synaptic transmission and spontaneous electrical activity of neurons in the medicinal leech
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 182
    1998
  • A circadian rhythm of swimming behavior in a predatory leech of the family Erpobdellidae
    Amer. Midl. Natur., vol. 137
    1997
  • Sodium-dependent plateau potentials in cultured Retzius cells of the medicinal leech
    Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 76
    1996
  • Diversity and modulation of ionic conductances in leech neurons
    Journal of Neurobiology, vol. 27
    1995
  • A model of graded synaptic transmission based on presynaptic calcium current in leech heartbeat network
    Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. 64
    1993
  • Modeling a neural oscillator that paces heartbeat in the medicinal leech
    American Zool, vol. 33
    1993
  • Modulation of swimming behavior in the medicinal leech. I. Effects of serotonin on the electrical properties of swim-gating cell
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 172
    1993
  • Modulation of swimming behavior in the medicinal leech. II. Ionic conductances underlying serotonergic modulation of swim-gating cell 204
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 172
    1993
  • Calcium currents and graded synaptic transmission between heart interneurons of the leech
    Journal of Neuroscience, The, vol. 11
    1991
  • Synchronized oscillatory activity in leech neurons induced by calcium channel blockers
    Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 66
    1991
  • A hyperpolarization activated inward current in heart interneurons of the medicinal leech.
    Journal of Neuroscience, The, vol. 9
    1989
  • Retrovesicular ganglion of the nematode Ascaris
    Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. 284
    1989
  • Slow active potentials in ventral inhibitory motor neurons of the nematode Ascaris
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 166
    1989
  • Nematode neurobiology using Ascaris as a model system.
    Journal of Cell Biochem Suppl., vol. 11
    1987
  • Neural control of behavior in Ascaris
    Trends in Neurosciences, vol. 8
    1985

Awards & Distinctions

  • Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award
    Category: Teaching
    Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award, 2002
  • Nominated for Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award
    Category: Teaching
    Nominated for Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award, 2002
  • Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award
    Category: Teaching
    Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award, 2001
  • Research program featured in the Winter edition of the Siena Alumni Newsletter
    Category: Research
    Research program featured in the Winter edition of the Siena Alumni Newsletter, 2001
  • Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award
    Category: Teaching
    Nominated for Jerome Walton Excellence in Teaching Award, 2000
  • Research featured in Troy Record article
    Category: Research
    Research featured in Troy Record article, 1994
  • Graduated magna cum laude with B.S. in biology from Juniata College
    Category: Other
    Graduated magna cum laude with B.S. in biology from Juniata College, 1980

Books & Book Chapters

  • Perspectives in Neural Systems and Behavior
    Alan R. Liss
    1989

Presentations

  • Serotonin and flufenamic acid modulate postinhibitory rebound responses of an excitatory motor neuron in the medicinal leech.
    2012
    Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Effects of riluzole on cell DE-3 of the medicinal leech: Evidence that a persistent sodium current contributes to postinhibitory rebound responses and bursting activity induced by calcium-channel blockers.
    2011
    Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Serotonergic Modulation of Postinhibitory Rebound in DE-3 Motor Neurons of the Leech
    2008
    Poster Presentation at the Leech Researchers Meeting. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Postinhibitory rebound in identified swim motor neurons of Hirudo medicinalis.
    2003
    Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Identification of voltage-gated conductances in swim motor neurons of Hirudo medicinalis.
    2002
    Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Evidence for Circadian Rhythms of Swimming Behavior in a Predatory Leech
    1995
    Annual Sigma Xi Poster Session and National Council for Undergraduate Research (NCUR, Schnectady, New York
  • Effects of Calcium Channel Blockers on Sodium-Dependent Oscillations in Leech Neurons
    1993
    Annual Sigma Xi Poster Session, Albany, New York
  • Analysis of a Neuronal Oscillator
    1992
    Yamaguchi Symposium: Connections Between Genetics and Physiology in the Study of Biological Rhythms, Tokyo, Japan
  • Membrane Potential Oscillations Induced by Calcium Channel Blockers
    1992
    Society for Research on Biological Rhythms., Charlottesville, Virginia