Faculty Profile: Dr. Tim Keeton
Associate Biology Professor Tim Keeton has been working with cloning for decades.
“My graduate work in the 1980s was in a very hard-core gene cloning lab,” he says, “but I wanted to use my cloning skills and apply them to a more — for me — interesting field.”
That field is biopesticides. Keeton began this research in 1994 with Dr. Lee Bulla in a National Institutes of Health funded post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
His research studies insects’ genetics to identify their sensitivity to certain biopesticides produced by the common bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is found in soils worldwide.
For example, much of the corn grown today in the United States is transgenic, containing the cloned bacterial biopesticide gene(s) in order to protect the corn from insect pests like corn rootworm, the corn borer and corn earworm.
His students have helped him with a variety of research, including subcloning the DNA for the gypsy moth Bt receptor into cultured insect cells in his laboratory.
“I really thought (and still do!) that Alma's emphasis on hands-on research programs for undergraduates was fairly unique and very attractive,” he says.
Keeton came to Alma in 1998, earning his doctorate at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine after receiving his bachelor’s degree at Wittenberg University in southern Ohio.
“Having received my B.A. at a small liberal arts college I knew that if I ended up in academics I would prefer the small classrooms and the more demanding academics at an institution such as Alma,” he says.
In addition to his research, Keeton enjoys teaching freshman biology and advising students.
“Freshman biology is a great opportunity to meet our new students and to try to get first dibs on the aggressive research students, too.” he says.
In his spare time, Keeton enjoys fly tying and fly fishing, numerous shooting sports, and spending time gardening, cooking, and camping with his family.