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Dr. Sarah Woodley is a broadly trained integrative physiologist who utilizes behavioral, neural, endocrine, ecological, and evolutionary approaches to explore organismal biology across various systems. Throughout her career, Dr. Woodley has conducted research with amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, employing both laboratory and field-based techniques. Her background in comparative systems enables her to leverage natural systems that offer insights into principles relevant to all vertebrates, including humans.

In addition to her research endeavors, Dr. Woodley is actively engaged in teaching. She instructs courses such as Human Physiology, Cell and Systems Physiology Lab, Honors Thesis Research, and graduate-level classes in Conservation Physiology and Ecoimmunology. Dr. Woodley integrates community-engaged learning practices into her courses and extends these approaches into the summer undergraduate research program.

Professionally, Dr. Woodley is a member of the Society of Comparative and Integrative Biology and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Herpetologica.


  • Ph.D., Biology, Arizona State University
  • M.S., Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago
  • B.A., French, Indiana University
  • B.S., Biology with Honors, Indiana University

Research Interests

Effects of Environmental Stressors on Vertebrate Physiology and Behavior; Antimicrobial and Pheromonal Properties of Amphibian Skin Secretions; Science Education

Project 1: Impact of Environmental Stressors on Animal Health and Disease

Environmental factors such as pesticides, acid mine drainage, and climate change are potential stressors that disrupt physiological processes and behaviors essential to survival and reproduction. I examine the effects of environmental factors on vertebrate biology using amphibians as models. This work involves characterizing responses to both natural and manmade stressors, in the field and the laboratory. My work measures the effects of environmental factors on a variety of endpoints including gene expression, developmental rate, neurobiology, behavior, hormone levels, brain neuropeptide levels, intermediary metabolism, and immune function, including susceptibility to the amphibian chytrid fungus.

Project 2: Antimicrobial and Pheromonal Properties of Amphibian Skin Secretions

Amphibians have extremely glandular skin remarkable for the wide diversity of molecular structures and functions. I study amphibian skin secretions in three overlapping contexts: 1) the ability of amphibian skin secretions to inhibit microbial growth of bacteria that are relevant to human health; 2) the ability of amphibian skin secretions to inhibit growth of amphibian chytrid fungi that are contributing to serious declines of amphibians around the globe and 3) the role of amphibian skin in producing pheromones that have effects on behavior and physiology.

Project 3: Community-Engaged Learning

As part of an NSF REU Site Award, I am incorporating community-engaged learning into our summer undergraduate research program. This work is an extension of previous work that showed the efficacy of combining community engagement, novel research, and science communication in a classroom laboratory experience. 

Profile Information


  1. Woodley*, S. K.  and C.J. Leary.  2024. Hormones and Reproductive Behaviors in Amphibians In Hormones and Reproduction in Vertebrates, Volume 2:  Amphibia (D.O Norris, K.H. Lopez, Eds.), 2nd Edition. Academic Press.  Invited review chapter.
  2. Pereira* K.E., J.A. McCartney, M.C. Bletz, D.C. Woodhams, and S.K. Woodley. 2023. Effects of exogenous elevation of corticosterone on immunity and the skin microbiome of Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Invited contribution to a special themed issue on Amphibian Disease, Stress, and Ecoimmunology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Academy of Sciences B. 378(1882):20220120. Published online 6/12/2023, in print 7/31/2023.
  3. Emerson*, K. J., Fontaine, S.S., Kohl, K.D., and S.K. Woodley. 2023. Temperature and the microbial environment alter brain morphology in a larval amphibian. Journal of Experimental Biology, 226(12):jeb245333.
  4. Pereira K.E., J. Deslouches UG, B. Deslouches, and S.K. Woodley*. 2023. In vitro investigation of the antibacterial activity of salamander skin peptides. Current Microbiology 80(7):214.
  5. Millikin, A.R., D.R. Davis, D.J. Brown, S.K. Woodley, S. Coster, A. Welsh, JL Kerby, and J.T. Anderson*. 2023. Prevalence of ranavirus in spotted salamander larvae from created vernal pools in West Virginia, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 59: 24-36.
  6. Moore UG, H.J., K.S. Bischof UG, S.J. McClelland, M. Wheeler-Dubas, S.L. States, P.E. Freeman, and S.K. Woodley*. 2022. A captive unmanaged population of coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) in a Pennsylvanian plant conservatory. Herpetological Review 53: 395-400.
  7. McClelland, S.J., and S.K. Woodley*. 2022. Developmental exposure to trace concentrations of chlorpyrifos results in nonmonotonic changes in brain shape and behavior in amphibians. Environmental Science and Technology 56:9379-9386.
  8. McClelland, S.J., and S.K. Woodley*. 2021. Validation of waterborne corticosterone measurement in larval leopard frogs. General and Comparative Endocrinology 9:13942-13953.
  9. Woodley*, S.K., and N.L. Staub. 2021. Pheromonal communication in urodelan amphibians. Cell and Tissue Research 383: 327-345. Invited review paper.
  10. Pereira*, K.E., and S.K. Woodley. 2021. Skin defenses of North American salamanders against a deadly salamander fungus. Animal Conservation 24:552-667.
  1. 2020 President's Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University (watch video)
  2. 2019 Mentor Award for Excellence in Advising Graduate Students, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University
  3. 2019 Carnegie Science Award in the Postsecondary Educator category from the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  4. 2017 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University
  5. 2017 Gaultier Community-Engaged Teaching Fellow, Duquesne University
  6. 2016 Creative Teaching Award, Duquesne University
  7. 2012 Mentor Award for Excellence in Advising Graduate Students, Duquesne University
  8. 2012 Duquesne University Presidential Scholarship Award
  9. 2012 Nominated by the Department of Biological Sciences for the Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship for the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
  10. 2012 Featured as an expert in a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society: Everts, S. First Airborne Pheromone. Chemical and Engineering News, Jan. 24th, 2012.
  11. 2011-12 National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences
  12. 2011 Invited Participant in the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology, Aug. 8 -13, 2011, Yale University
  13. 2010 Creative Teaching Award, Duquesne University
  14. 2009 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University
  15. 2009-present Associate Editor of the journal entitled Herpetologica
  16. 2007 Young Investigator Award, International Symposium of Amphibian and Reptile Endocrinology and Neurobiology, Berkeley CA, March 26-28, 2007
  17. 2002 Best Postdoctoral Poster Presentation, 29th New England Endocrinology Conference, Amherst, MA, October 5th, 2002
  18. 1997-98 P.E.O. Scholars Award
  19. 1997 Honorable Mention, Aubrey Gorbman Outstanding Student Paper Award, Division of Comparative Endocrinology, Meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
  20. 1996 Aubrey Gorbman Outstanding Student Paper Award, Division of Comparative Endocrinology, Meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
  21. 1994-97 Regents Graduate Academic Scholarship, Arizona State University
  22. 1989 Eigenmann Scholarship, Department of Biology, Indiana University
  23. 1989 Beryl Showers Holland Award, Tri Kappa Society, Indiana University
  24. 1988 Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society, Indiana University
  25. 1987 Fernandus and Elizabeth Payne Scholarship in Zoology, Indiana University
  26. 1985-89 Honors Division Scholarship, Indiana University