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Dr. Karri Haen Whitmer

Dr. Karri Haen Whitmer

  • Associate Department Chair for Teaching and Teaching Professor
  • CALS Innovation & Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow
Teaching specialty: human anatomy & physiology; neurobiology; bionics; assistive technologies; artificial intelligence. Scroll down to learn more about our undergraduate Bionics Research team.

Contact Info

447 Bessey Hall


  • B.S., Microbiology, Chemistry, Kansas State University, 2001
  • M.S., Genetics, NDSU, 2003
  • Ph.D., Interdepartmental Genetics Program, Molecular Phylogenetics, Iowa State University, 2010
  • Post-doc., RISE/CBiRC; Iowa State University, 2012


More Information

Teaching specialty: bionics; neurobiology; large enrollment human biology lectures; CURE and experiential learning for the human physiology laboratory. Link here for information about opportunities in the human physiology laboratory.

Biomedical engineering: join our bionics research team

Connect: LinkedIn

Texts: A Mixed Course-Based Research Approach to Human Physiology (2021); Supernature: An Introduction to Bionics Projects (2023)

Professional Milestones:

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Innovation and Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow 
  • 2019 recipient of the ISU CALS Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by lecturers and adjunct faculty award
  • 2019 ISU University Excellence in Teaching Award nominee


  • Biology 255 Fundamentals of Human Anatomy 
  • Biology 255 Honors Component
  • Biology 256 Fundamentals of Human Physiology 
  • Biology 256 Honors Component
  • Biology 256 Laboratory 
  • Honors 290: 3D Printable Prosthetic Devices
  • Introduction to Neuroengineering 
  • Introduction to Biology: the Human Body
  • Biology 499: Bionics Research
  • Supernature: Introduction to Bionics (offered Spring 2023)

Online learning: Biology 255, Fundamentals of Human Anatomy, and Biology 256, Fundamentals of Human Physiology, are offered online through the Brenton Center. Link here to search for courses:


Haen Whitmer K.M. (2018). Model Systems for Exploring the Evolutionary Origins of the Nervous System. In: Kloc M., Kubiak J. (eds) Marine Organisms as Model Systems in Biology and Medicine. Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation, vol 65. Springer Nature Series, Cham.

Haen, K.M. (2021). A Mixed Course-Based Research Approach to Human Physiology. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Digital Press.

Haen, K.M. (2023). Bionics Projects. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Digital Press. Available Spring 2024.



Currently our team is working on developing 3D printed assistive devices including robotic arms controlled by EMG and EEG. Contact for more information or an opportunity to work on this project.

prosthetic arm prototype Karri Haen Whitmer


Other Work:

Haen Whitmer, K.M. Bionics Projects (Text). For release Spring 2024.

Haen, K.M. Current insights into synaptic dysfunction in autism spectrum disorder. Review. In preparation.

Haen, K.M. An inquiry-based approach to teaching in the modern human physiology laboratory. In preparation.

Haen, K.M., Arun Sethuraman, Jonathan Wendel and Adah Leshem. Elementary school science for a more sustainable future. Submitted.

Haen K.M., Walker Pett, and Dennis V. Lavrov. (2014). Eight new mtDNA sequences of glass sponges reveal an extensive usage of +1 frameshifting in mitochondrial translation. Gene 535.2. 2014: 336-344.

Haen, K.M. and M.R. Kemis. (2012). The Evolution of Responsive Education Program Evaluation at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals. Paper for 26th Annual American Evaluation Association (AEA) Conference.

Haen, K.M., Raman, D.R., Polush, E. & Kemis, M.R. (2012). Training the Next Generation of Creative, Innovative and Adaptive Scientists and Engineers: The NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) Research Experience for Undergraduates. Education for Chemical Engineers. DOI: 10.1016/j.ece.2012.09.001, published online 11-Oct- 2012.

Geisinger, B.N., Raman, D.R., Haen, K.M., Kemis, M.R., & Pate, M.L. (2012). Virtual education center for biorenewable resources: Building capacity and humanizing distance education. NACTA Journal, in press.

Hondred, P., Keller, M., Haen, K.M. & Leshem, A. (2012). Iowa State University SYMBI GK12 program: a case study of the resident engineer’s effects on 8th graders attitudes toward science and engineering. Conference paper at American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) K-12 Workshop on Engineering Education.

Hargrave, C., Kemis, M., Haen, K.M. & Leshem, A. (2012). Influence of the young engineers and scientists program for underrepresented minority high school students on their knowledge and career aspirations in STEM fields. Accepted to the Fourth International Conference on Science in Society.

Martin Dohrmann, Karri M. Haen, Dennis V. Lavrov, and Gert Wörheide. (2012). Molecular phylogeny of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida): increased taxon sampling and inclusion of a mitochondrial protein-coding gene. Hydrobiologia. 687 (1).

Rivera, A.S., Hammel, J.U., Haen, K.M. et al. (2011). RNA interference in marine and freshwater sponges: acting knockdown in Tethya wilhelma and Ephydatia muelleri by ingested dsRNA expressing bacteria. BMC Biotechnology, 11, 67–82.

Haen, K.M., Pett, W. & Lavrov, D.V. (2010). Parallel loss of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and mtDNA-encoded tRNAs in Cnidaria. Mol Biol Evol. 27(10):2216-2219.

Haen, K.M., Lang, F.B., Pomponi, S.A. & Lavrov, D.V. (2007). Glass Sponges and Bilaterian Animals Share Derived Mitochondrial Genomic Features: A Common Ancestry or Parallel Evolution? Mol Biol Evol 24: 1518-1527.

Haen, K.M., Lu, H., Friesen, T.L. & Faris, J.D. (2004). Genomic Targeting and High-Resolution Mapping of the Tsn1 Gene in Wheat. Crop Sci. 44:951-962.

Faris, J.D., Haen, K.M. & Gill, B.S. (2000). Saturation Mapping of a Gene-Rich Recombination Hot Spot Region in Wheat. Genetics 154: 823-835.