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AmphibianAmphibian EmbryosAmphibian eggs

I am a broadly trained integrative physiologist. I use behavioral, neural, endocrine, ecological, and evolutionary approaches to study organismal biology in a variety of systems. Over the course of my career, I have worked with amphibians, reptiles, and mammals using both lab and field-based techniques. My background with comparative systems allows me to take advantage of natural systems that are tractable for discerning principles relevant to all vertebrates, including humans.

I teach Human Physiology, Cell and Systems Physiology Lab, Honors Thesis Research, and graduate courses in Conservation Physiology and Ecoimmunology. I infuse community-engaged learning practices in my courses and into the summer undergraduate research program.

Professionally, I am involved in the Society of Comparative and Integrative Biology, and I am Editor-in-Chief for the journal Herpetologica.


  • Ph.D., Biology, Arizona State University, 1999
  • M.S., Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 1992
  • B.A., French, Indiana University, 1988
  • B.S., Biology with Honors, Indiana University, 1988

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

Most recent publications (out of 66)
UG indicates undergraduate co-author; * indicates corresponding author

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, in press.

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.

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.

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.

Porter*, B.A., B. Dakin, S.K. Woodley, and J.F. Stolz. 2022. A baseline ecological study of a tributary to Ten Mile Creek Watershed in Southwest Pennsylvania. In: Environmental Impacts from the Development of Unconventional Oil and Gas Reserves, pp. 340-362, edited by John Stolz; Daniel Bain; Michael Griffin. Cambridge University Press.

McClelland, S.J., and S.K. Woodley*. 2021. Validation of waterborne corticosterone measurement in larval leopard frogs. General and Comparative Endocrinology 9:13942-13953.

Pereira*, K.E., K. CavaUG, and S.K. Woodley. 2021. An evaluation of immersive and handling methods for collecting salamander skin peptides. Journal of Herpetology 55:318-324.

ChaUG, E.S., M. UhrinUG, S.J. McClelland, and S.K. Woodley*. 2021. Effects of acute corticosterone treatment on tadpole brain development. Canadian Journal of Zoology 99:839–844.

Durbin*UG, M.R., L.R. PelcherUG, S.J. McClelland, and S.K. Woodley. 2021. The effects of ethanol exposure on early development in tadpoles. Journal of Young Investigators 39: 38-44. Press Release:

Woodley*, S.K., and N.L. Staub. 2021. Pheromonal communication in urodelan amphibians. Cell and Tissue Research 383: 327-345. Invited review paper.

Pereira*, K.E., and S.K. Woodley. 2021. Skin defenses of North American salamanders against a deadly salamander fungus. Animal Conservation 24:552-667. 

G. Perry*, E. Muths, M.L. Crump, C. Distel, R.W. Hansen, M.B. Harvey, J. Rowe, S. Walls, and S. Woodley. 2020. Increasing diversity and inclusivity in herpetology and ichthyology: Small but critical steps from the editors of herpetological journals. Herpetological Review 51:765-766.

Millikin*, A.R., S.K. Woodley, D.R. Davis, I.T. Moore, and J.T. Anderson. 2019. Water-borne and plasma corticosterone are not correlated in spotted salamanders. Ecology and Evolution 9:13942-13953.

Millikin*, A.R., S.K. Woodley, D.R. Davis, and J.T. Anderson. 2019. Habitat characteristics in created vernal pools impact spotted salamander water-borne corticosterone levels. Wetlands, 39: 803-814. /10.1007/s13157-019-01130-5

Woodley*, S.K., T. RickettsUG, and P.E. Freeman. 2019. Combining novel research and community-engaged learning around a community theme in an undergraduate physiology laboratory course. Advances in Physiology Education, 43:110-120.

McClelland*, S.J., R.J. Bendis, R.A. Relyea, and S.K. Woodley. 2018. Insecticide-induced changes in amphibian brains: How sublethal concentrations of chlorpyrifos directly affect neurodevelopment. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 37:2692-2698.

Pereira*, K.E., B.I. Crother, D.M. Sever, C.L. Fontenot, J.A. Pojman, D.B. Wilburn, and S.K. Woodley. 2018. Skin glands of an aquatic salamander vary in size and distribution and release antimicrobial secretions effective against chytrid fungal pathogens. Journal of Experimental Biology.

Woodley*, S. K. 2018. Overview of Amphibian Reproduction. In M. K. Skinner (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Reproduction. vol. 6, pp. 567–572. Academic Press: Elsevier.

Woodley*, S.K., J.T. Costa, and R.C. Bruce. 2017. Introduction to the Special Highlands Conference on Plethodontid Salamander Biology. Herpetologica 73:177-179.

Woodley*, S.K. 2017. Life in the slow lane: Stress responses in plethodontid salamanders. Herpetologica 73:259-268.

Thomas*, J.R. and S.K. Woodley. 2017. The effects of testosterone on amphibian wound healing. 2017. General and Comparative Endocrinology 247:8-15. 10.1016/j.ygcen.2017.03.014

Wilburn*, D.B., K.A. Doty, A.J. Chouinard, S.L. Eddy, S.K. Woodley, L. D. Houck, and R.C. Feldhoff. 2017. Olfactory effects of a hypervariable multicomponent pheromone in the red-legged salamander, Plethodon shermani.  PLoS One. 12(3): e0174370.

Thomas, J.R., A. Magyan UG, P.E. Freeman, and S.K. Woodley*. 2017. Testing hypotheses about individual variation in plasma corticosterone in free-living salamanders. J. Experimental Biology, 220(Pt 7):1210-1221.

Fonner, C.W., S.A. PatelUG, S.M. BoordUG, M.D. Venesky, and S.K. Woodley*. 2017. Effects of the stress hormone, corticosterone, on infection and disease in salamanders exposed to the amphibian fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 123: 159-171. /10.3354/dao03089

2020 President's Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University (watch video)
 Mentor Award for Excellence in Advising Graduate Students, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University
2019 Carnegie Science Award in the Postsecondary Educator category from the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2017 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University
2017 Gaultier Community-Engaged Teaching Fellow, Duquesne University
2016 Creative Teaching Award, Duquesne University
2012 Mentor Award for Excellence in Advising Graduate Students, Duquesne University
2012 Duquesne University Presidential Scholarship Award
2012 Nominated by the Department of Biological Sciences for the Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship for the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
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.
2011-12 National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences
2011 Invited Participant in the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology, Aug. 8 -13, 2011, Yale University
2010 Creative Teaching Award, Duquesne University
2009 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Duquesne University
2009-present Associate Editor of the journal entitled Herpetologica
2007 Young Investigator Award, International Symposium of Amphibian and Reptile Endocrinology and Neurobiology, Berkeley CA, March 26-28, 2007
2002 Best Postdoctoral Poster Presentation, 29th New England Endocrinology Conference, Amherst, MA, October 5th, 2002
1997-98 P.E.O. Scholars Award
1997 Honorable Mention, Aubrey Gorbman Outstanding Student Paper Award, Division of Comparative Endocrinology, Meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
1996 Aubrey Gorbman Outstanding Student Paper Award, Division of Comparative Endocrinology, Meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
1994-97 Regents Graduate Academic Scholarship, Arizona State University
1989 Eigenmann Scholarship, Department of Biology, Indiana University
1989 Beryl Showers Holland Award, Tri Kappa Society, Indiana University
1988 Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society, Indiana University
1987 Fernandus and Elizabeth Payne Scholarship in Zoology, Indiana University
1985-89 Honors Division Scholarship, Indiana University