Heather Bergan-Roller

Assistant professor

Recent national reports have emphasized the need for biology education to help prepare all students to understand core biological concepts and apply their knowledge so that they can critically evaluate situations, creatively generate solutions, and make informed decisions about global issues troubling societies now and in the future. My research addresses those needs by investigating student learning and understanding of natural phenomena.  More specifically, I examine how undergraduate students think about and learn concepts related to biological phenomena and scientific skills. I also develop novel learning activities and investigate how these activities can help students conquer difficult concepts and skills. 

My recent projects include 1) investigating how student engagement in scientific skills promotes understanding of biological systems and persistence in science, 2) developing and accessing best practices for students to communicate science, and 3) understanding the unique challenges to learning the concepts and skills involved in anatomical sciences.

Representative Publications

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Chizinski, C.J., Helikar, T., Dauer, J.T. 2018. Simulated Computational Model Lesson Improves Foundational Systems Thinking Skills and Conceptual Knowledge in Biology Students. BioScience 68, 612–621. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy054 

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Helikar, T., Dauer, J.T. 2018. Using Concept Maps to Characterise Cellular Respiration Knowledge in Undergraduate Students. Journal of Biological Education. DOI: 10.1080/00219266.2018.1541001 

Crowther, A., Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Booth, C., Dauer, J.T., Helikar, T. 2018. Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation with Simulations of the trp Operon. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2018.9

Crowther, A., Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Dauer, J.T., Helikar, T. In press 2018. Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation by Building and Investigating the lac Operon. CourseSource.

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Dauer, J.T., Helikar, T. 2017. Discovering Cellular Respiration with Computational Modeling and Simulations. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2017.10 

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Sheridan, M.A. 2017. The Growth Hormone Signaling System: Insights into Coordinating the Anabolic and Catabolic Actions of Growth Hormone. General and Comparative Endocrinology

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Ickstadt, A.T., Kittilson, J.D., Sheridan, M. 2017. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 modulate the lipolytic action of growth hormone by altering signaling pathway linkages. General and Comparative Endocrinology 248, 40-48. 

Bergan, H.E., Kittilson, J.D., Sheridan, M. 2015. Nutritional state modulates growth hormone-stimulated lipolysis. General and Comparative Endocrinology 217–218, 1–9. 

Bergan, H.E., Kittilson, J.D., Sheridan, M.A. 2013. PKC and ERK mediate the activation and enhanced expression of hormone sensitive lipase by growth hormone. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 51(2), 213-224. 

Bergan, H.E., Kittilson, J.D., Sheridan, M.A. 2012. Nutrition-regulated lipolysis in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is associated with alterations in the ERK, PI3K-Akt, JAK-STAT, and PKC signaling pathways. General and Comparative Endocrinology 176, 367-376. 

Reindl, K.M., Kittilson, J.D., Bergan, H.E., Sheridan, M.A. 2011. Growth hormone-stimulated insulin-like growth factor-1 expression in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) hepatocytes is mediated by ERK, PI3K-Akt, and JAK-STAT. American Journal of Physiology 301, R236-243. 

Hagemeister, A.L., Kittilson, J.D., Bergan, H.E., Sheridan, M.A. 2010. Rainbow trout somatostatin receptor subtypes SSTR1A, SSTR1B, and SSTR2 differentially activate the extracellular signal-regulated kinase and phosphotidylinositol 3-kinase signaling pathways in transfected cells. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 45(5), 317-327.



Curriculm Vitae


Postdoc, 2015-2017,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Biology Education Research

Ph.D., 2014,
North Dakota State University
Cellular and Molecular Biology

B.S., 2010,
North Dakota State University

Fields of Interest

Biology Education Research, Science Communication, Modeling, Anatomical Sciences Education, Scientific Practices, Active learning, Learning Interventions.


Heather Bergan-Roller
Office: MO 447 (815) 753-7421
Lab:  MO 425
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

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