Dr. Karri Haen Whitmer

Associate Chair for Teaching and Teaching Professor
Karri Haen Whitmer, Ph.D.

Teaching specialty: neuroengineering; 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.

2019 Recipient of the CALS excellence in undergraduate teaching by lecturers and adjunct faculty award


  • Biology 255 Fundamentals of Human Anatomy 
  • Biology 256 Fundamentals of Human Physiology 
  • Biology 256 Laboratory 
  • Introduction to Neuroengineering 
  • Introduction to Biology: the Human Body 

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: https://www.agonline.iastate.edu/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. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-92486-1

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

Biology 256L Text: The Biology 256 Fundamentals of Human Physiology Laboratory course is designed to provide students with hands-on access to modern techniques in human physiological analyses using a mixed course-based undergraduate research (CURE) pedagogical approach. Mixed CURE is designed for students who are early in undergraduate training and emphasizes the power of authentic student research as a teaching tool. Students learn how to perform literature searches; generate research questions and hypotheses; design experiments; collect, analyze, visualize and interpret data; and present scientific findings to others. The curriculum offers several advantages over the traditional physiology laboratory and concentrates on high-impact practices important to the ISU President's Strategic Plan.

These practices:

  • Create learning environments that emphasize peer communication.
  • Place emphasis on assignments that encourage multidisciplinary interactions and leadership.
  • Focus on conducting authentic scientific research by replicating work with inconclusive results in the physiology literature and student-designed original research projects.

The Biology 256L text is a compilation of original laboratory background documents and experimental methods used to teach human physiolgy with mixed CURE pedagogy. Materials are freely available through Pressbooks and the university learning management system (Canvas).

BIOL 256L hybrid mode

Photo: BIOL 256L hybrid mode delivery with COVID-19 mitigation strategies allows students to participate in experiments in-person or virtually during the Spring 2021 semester.

Other Publications:

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.

Area of Expertise: 
Scholarship of teaching and learning; evolution of the nervous system
B.S., Microbiology, Chemistry, Kansas State University, 2001
M.S. Plant Sciences, NDSU, 2003
Ph.D., Interdepartmental Genetics Program; Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Department, Iowa State University, 2010
Post-doc., RISE/CBiRC; Iowa State University, 2012
419 Bessey Hall