Mary Haskins, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology Biology


Office: St. Ignatius Science Center 220H

Courses: General Biology II, Invertebrate Zoology, Ecology, Field Trips, Parasitology and Advanced Principles

Research Interests: Analysis of the distribution of blister beetles in alfalfa, studies of lichen distribution, insect/plant interactions, pollination ecology, spiders and science education

As an invertebrate zoologist my research interests involve primarily blister beetles and spiders, but in recent years my research has broadened to include other arthropods, parasites and acoustic communication. Additionally, I am passionate about advancing STEM (now STEAM) education in K-12 schools.

Blister beetles
Research for my Ph.D. revolved around the chemical ecology of blister beetle reproduction and development. Currently the questions I am most interested in deal with how females select oviposition sites and swarming behavior of adults.

My interest in parasites directly connects my research to my RU classes. I have taken two laboratory courses at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and I continue to receive monthly “quizzes” from the CDC testing my diagnostic skills. I use these quizzes in my parasitology classes, and the CDC provides CDs of parasites for each of my students.  Currently I am interested in conducting soil surveys in dog parks and other public areas to survey the distribution of parasite eggs in soils. Maps of surveyed areas could then be made using GPS and GIS technologies.

Acoustic communication
My K-12 grant work enables me to frequently visit Ozark Underground Laboratory (a cave with the richest fauna west of the Mississippi River and a large maternity colony of bats). These experiences have now allowed me to launch a new research project using specialized acoustic equipment to identify and monitor bats.


Selected Presentations (* indicates undergraduate researchers)

  1. Fuest*, A.M., N.L.Nuckolls*, C.A. Wills, and M.F. Haskins. 2014. Effect of Salt Blocks on Cursorial Arthropods.  Missouri Academy of Science, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO. Awarded 3rd place in Collegiate Poster Presentations. 
  2. Schumacher*, A., C.A. Wills, and M.F. Haskins. 2014. The Relationship between Arthropod Diversity and Multiflora Roses Infected with Rose Rosette Disease. Missouri Academy of Science, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO. Awarded 3rd place in Collegiate Oral Biology Presentations. 
  3. Lierz*, K.L., H.L. Bettlach*, C.A. Wills, and M.F. Haskins. 2014. Evaluating Household Products to Determine their Effectivenes in Deterring Ants. Missouri Academy of Science, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO. Awarded 2nd place in Collegiate Oral Biology Presentations. 
  4. Ritter, Bridgette, E. Kos, and M.F. Haskins. 2012. Testing the Antimicrobial Properties of Propolis from Eastern Kansas. Missouri Academy of Science, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO. 
  5. Gravino, Nicole, J. C. Barnett, S. Hohenadel, and M.F. Haskins. 2011. Using Malonic Acid to Extend the “Shelf Life” of Strawberries. Missouri Academy of Science. Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO.  (students awarded 2nd place in collegiate oral biology competition)


SOTL and Grant Experiences

When I was initially hired at Rockhurst my job description included working with K-12 teachers to enrich their science content and build their confidence in teaching science.  Through the years these grant-funded STEM projects have allowed me the opportunity to work with many incredible in-service teachers, and have provided opportunities for RU students as well.


In the last year of each project we provide an environmental immersion experience for our participants at the privately owned Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL).  During the academic year I’ve also taken RU students to OUL.  For a glimpse of our cave experiences please visit:


My current education grant, entitled “TEAM Science” (Technology and Educators Advancing Missouri Science) involves six school districts and a variety of non-academic organizations.  Because we have added “art” to our program we are now a STEAM focused grant (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).  More information about our activities can be found at, on facebook, and on Twitter at #teamscience.


My grant work has also provided multiple opportunities to work as a STEM grant reviewer for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and with the U.S. Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” program.


SOTL Presentations (*graduate students)

  1. Haskins, M.F., B. Bell, P. Lucido, S. Macrae, and H. Hagababa, 2014.  Technology and Educators Advancing Missouri Science. Poster Presentation at the National Math Science Partnership Conference. U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 
  2. Haskins, Mary F.  2013. Common Biological Misceptions About Living Organisms and Methods to Reconstruct Those Concepts.  Missouri Academy of Science, School of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO.
  3. Haskins, M.F. and G.L. Cox.  2010.   Developing Problem-solving and Mathematical Skills to Quantify the Environmental Impact of Individual Recycling Efforts.  National Science Teachers Association.      
  4. Haskins, M.F., C. Thomsen* and G. Oles*.  2009. Using Qualitative Labs to Study Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis.  National Association of Biology Teachers, Denver, CO.


Recent grants
2013-2016     Principal Investigator (PI) for TEAM Science, MSP Science Initiative Grant, ~$1.50 million Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO-DESE). 

2011-2013     PI, Rockhurst Univeristy MSP Science Initiative Grant from MO-DESE. ~$.1.48 million

2008-2010     PI, Rockhurst University MSP Science Initiative Grant from MO-DESE.~$1.45 million