Faculty Profile - University of Houston
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Faculty Profile

Dan WellsDan Wells

Professor and Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Department of Biology and Biochemistry
Research Division:
Cell and Molecular Biology (Primary), Ecology and Evolution (Joint/Adjunct)

Office: Science & Research 1, 214
Contact: dwells@uh.edu - (713) 743-2671

Education: Ph.D., Indiana University

Google Scholar Profile

Vertebrate Genomics, Development, Evolution and Behavior

Dr. Dan Wells’ recent research is centered on the characterization of the direct developing frog, Eleuthrodactylis cystignathoides campi. The eggs of these frogs do not develop into tadpoles prior to metamorphosis, rather the eggs of this species develop directly into miniature terrestrial adult frogs. The developmental pattern is being studied at the cellular and evolutionary levels. Native to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, these frogs were transplanted to urban areas in Houston 50 years ago. Analysis of vocalization patterns (used in mate attraction) between different geographic populations indicates significant variations could indicate possible speciation events.

Other research has involved the development of the frog, Xenopus tropicalis, a sister species of Xenopus laevis, as genetic system. In addition, previous research involved the molecular and genetic characterization of a series of human syndromes characterized by defects in proper cartilage and bone development. These include Langer-Giedion Syndrome, Tricho-rhino-phalangeal Syndrome and Hereditary Multiple Exostoses. Mouse and frog model systems have been used to study the function of the genes involved in these syndromes.

Educational and Academic Research

Wells has been actively involved in externally funded research and grant programs involved in improving student and faculty success at UH. Included among these programs are: 1. Co-PI for NSF-funded ADVANCE grant; 2. PI for HHMI-funded student success program, 2014-2019; 3. Co-PI for NSF-funded minority participation program, 2013-2015; 4. PI for Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board-funded student success program, 2012-2014; 5. PI of NSF-funded REU program, 2000-2003; and 6. PI of NSF-funded laboratory enhancement program 1988-1989.

  • Named Distinguished Professor of Science, 2015.
  • President, UH Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, 2014. Member, 2009- present.
  • Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, 2013- present.
  • Chair, Department of Biology and Biochemistry 2011-2013 and 2000-2003.
  • Director, UH Center for Teaching Excellence, 2009-2011.
  • University Career Teaching Excellence Award, 2011.
  • Honors College Society of Fellows, 2010-present.
  • President, UH Faculty Senate, 2009. Member 1999-2013.
  • Co-Chair, Houston Pathways Initiative, 2009-2013.
  • Chair, President’s Strategic Action Group on Student Success, 2008-2009.
  • Medical Advisory Board, Multiple Osteochondroma Research Foundation (2006-present).
  • "Scientific and Humanitarian Achievement Award" from the International Hereditary Multiple Exostosis Coalition. Presented in New York, NY, September 2005.
  • President, UH Chapter of Sigma Xi, 2004-2005.
  • Scientific Advisor, Hereditary Multiple Exostosis Association (2000-present).
  • Cooper Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Houston, 1998.
  • Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship, University of Houston, 1997.
  • Scientific Advisor, Langer Giedion Syndrome Association (1997-present).
  • HUGO editor, Human Genome Database (1996-2002).
  • Coordinator of Physical Mapping, Chromosome 8 Human Genome Organization (1994-1996).