Gail Begley

Gail BegleySenior Academic Specialist and Director of the University Pre-Health Program
Molecular Biology; Microbiology

Department of Biology
Northeastern University
134 Mugar Life Sciences
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617.373.3491

Pre-Health Website:

Academic Education

  • Ph.D., Cell & Molecular Biology, Boston University
  • M.S., Biology, Boston University
  • B.S., Biology, Suffolk University


  • Staff Scientist, The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole (1999-2001)
  • National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University School of Medicine, Center for Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research (1997-1999)
  • Imperial Cancer Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Oxford, Institute of
  • Molecular Medicine, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1995-1997)
  • National Institutes of Health Pre-doctoral Fellowship in Molecular Biophysics, Boston University (1993-1995)

Other Professional Activities

  • NSF Biology Scholar: Assessment of Student Learning (2011 – 2012)
  • American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Northeast Branch Councilor (2008 – Current)
  • ASM Branch Student Chapter Liaison (2010 – Current)
  • ASM Science Educators Network (2004 – Current)

Research Interests

Biology is a story of connections and interactions. I am interested in understanding interactions at the molecular level, and integrating that knowledge into the larger schemes of physiology, ecology, and evolution. Stress response systems are particularly fascinating in this respect. I have looked at molecular interactions in bacterial nutrient transport systems as well as proteins involved in chemotherapeutic drug resistance, blood clotting, and pollution response.

Since 2005, I have run an undergraduate research program focused on molecular aspects of bioremediation, a process that utilizes naturally occurring microbes to degrade toxins in the environment. We collaborate with environmental technology companies to understand and improve bioremediation systems. We probe changes in microbial communities in contaminated groundwater, identify bacteria involved in the bioremediation process, and develop methods to improve the process. We have devised a molecular test to optimize ongoing treatment that should also be valuable in assessing the suitability of contaminated sites for this type of treatment. Five undergraduates have been awarded funding to pursue this research and more than thirty undergraduates have presented their research at meetings. Five undergraduate researchers are co-authors on publications.

Teaching Activities

My enthusiasm for connections and interactions also informs and propels my teaching in the areas of Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Research. I focus on practice oriented learning in the classroom, the laboratory, and the community. For example, I use group activities in the classroom and on-line exercises to enhance analytical skills and promote a deeper understanding of course material. I designed and implemented the first Service-Learning Biology courses at Northeastern in which students meet community identified needs in the context of an academically rigorous experience. Students in these courses have worked with community partners such as health care centers, community centers, and after school programs, integrating what they learn in the classroom with their real world experiences through readings, classroom discussions, and blogs. I am a founding member and chair of the Service-Learning Advisory Board, working to promote Service-Learning throughout the university while improving student experiential options and strengthening community ties.

I have also redesigned my courses to build on the framework of core competencies and disciplinary practices recently promulgated by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences as the foundation for biological literacy.