Daniel Brown, Ph.D.


    Pathology & Laboratory Medicine


    Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment


    Jiandong Liu, Ph.D.


As the son of two former North Carolina public school teachers, I have grown up around exceptional educators and consequently, developed a passion for teaching others from an early age. Throughout my life, I have sought several opportunities to teach and mentor others. I am excited to join the SPIRE Fellowship Program and believe that this research and teaching postdoctoral experience will prepare me to teach and successfully mentor students at a small liberal arts college/university.

I received my BS in Biology from Elon University in 2009 and while at Elon, I completed an honors thesis with Dr. Linda Niedziela investigating the impacts of early life dioxin (TCDD) exposure in zebrafish embryos and later life larval swimming activity. Following my undergraduate research experience, I became excited about the field of Aquatic Toxicology and particularly interested in the Superfund Research work in the Richard Di Giulio Laboratory at Duke University. The common research links between the Di Giulio Lab and my undergraduate training ultimately led me to apply to the Duke Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP). My doctoral work at Duke focused on early life developmental exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and later life consequences in killifish, with an emphasis on cardiotoxicity.

At Duke, I completed the Certificate in College Teaching (CCT) and Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Programs. This combination of training and teaching experience as well as engaging in peer review of teaching with other graduate students shaped my approach to teaching and allowed me first hand experience with contemporary practices and priorities in science education. In particular, participation in PFF gave me the opportunity to complete a year long teaching apprenticeship at Elon University. I have taught several active learning lectures in General and Advanced Genetics, developed multiple syllabi, co-instructed a Toxicology course, and observed several faculty/departmental meetings. In addition to my involvement with PFF, I developed and instructed a General Genetics course at Durham Technical Community College and created course materials and taught two, three-week summer sessions on the topic of DNA/Genetics to middle and high school students through the Duke Talent Identification (TIP) Program.

While at UNC, I will be completing my postdoctoral research in the Jiandong Liu Laboratory examining the genetic and molecular mechanisms of heart formation using the zebrafish as a model. I am excited to continue using fish as a model system to investigate foundational questions about heart development and function. As a former student at a smaller liberal arts university, I value engaged learning, personalized student-faculty relationships, research mentorship, and cross-disciplinary collaborations. To this end, I hope to become a professor at a small liberal arts college/university, and use fish models to study cardiovascular development and function following toxicant exposures.

Teaching Portfolio: https://sites.google.com/site/danielbrownsteachingportfolio/home


  • Spring 2017
    • Principles of Biology - Molecules and Cells - North Carolina Central University


  • Brown D.R., Samsa L.A., Qian L., Liu J. (2016). Advances in the study of heart development and disease using zebrafish. J Cardiovascular Dev Disease. 3(2), 13; doi:10.3390/jcdd3020013.
  • Samsa LA, Ito CE, Brown DR, Qian L, Liu J. (2016). IgG-Containing Isoforms of Neuregulin-1 Are Dispensable for Cardiac Trabeculation in Zebrafish. Plos One. 11: e0166734.