Alexis Nagengasta

Alexis A. Nagengast, PhD

  • Chair of Biochemistry
  • Professor
  • Health Professions Advisor
Media Expertise:
  • Health Sciences
  • Science & Environment

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Genetics (2003)
    Case Western Reserve University (OH)
  • MA, Biochemistry (1996)
    University of Delaware (DE)

About Me

My teaching philosophy centers on encouraging students to ask questions. Curiosity is the essence of science. I try to create an "open classroom," a comfortable and engaging environment that promotes class participation and hands-on learning. I believe that a dynamic and open interaction between teacher and students facilitates the best method of learning. 

Including students in lectures encourages them to frequently ask questions. I also incorporate case studies and real-world applications of the material into all levels of my teaching.

Research Interests

Using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, I involve many undergraduate students in my research on how alternative splicing affects lipid metabolism in an effort to better understand gene regulation mechanisms related to obesity. I am also interested in the effect of diet and supplements on lifespan and fitness in both male and female fruit flies. Additionally, I collaborate on a project to identify regulatory genes involved in sexual dimorphism in the jumping stick Stiphra sp.


  • Leung, W., Morris, R.W., Nagengast, A.A., Azarewicz, J., Carr, T.J., Chichearo, N., Colgan, M., Donegan, M., Gardner, B., Kolba, N., Krumm, J.L., Lytle, S., MacMillian, L., Miller, M., Montgomery, A., Moretti, A., Offenbacker, B., Polen, M., Toth, J., Woytanowski, J., & Elgin, S.C.R., et al. (2015). Drosophila Muller F elements maintain a distinct set of genomic properties over 40 million years of evolution. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics5(5), 719–740.
  • Krumm, J.L., Nagengast, A.A., Moretti, A., Colgan, M., Fisher, K.E., Hy, K.L., Castellante, R.M., & Poslusny, M. (2014). Summer research program on a shoestring budget: Increasing participation in undergraduate research. PURM3(2), 1–10.
  • Gingras, R.M., Warren, M.E., Nagengast, A.A., & DiAngelo J.R. (2014). The control of lipid metabolism by mRNA splicing in Drosophila. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications443(2), 672–676.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Genetics Society of America (GSA), Genomics Education Partnership (GEP)


  • Primarily Undergraduate Institution Representative on the North American Drosophila Board (2014–2017)
  • Braude Award for Research with Undergraduates, Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society (2013)
  • Chair of the Genetics Society of America Victoria Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Award Committee (Fly Meeting)


In the Media


  • Widener Commends Faculty at 2023 Awards Event

    Widener honored faculty members for their high distinction in areas of civic engagement, institutional leadership, research, as well as innovative and distinguished teaching. Various faculty were awarded at the ceremony, held Thursday, October 19 in Lathem Hall.

    “The professors who were honored at our annual awards ceremony continuously display commitment to teaching, civic engagement, meaningful research, remarkable leadership, and cutting-edge innovation. They are highly valued colleagues and represent core values for which Widener stands," said Provost Andrew Workman. 

    The awards included:

    • The Distinguished University Professor Award honors faculty members of high distinction at the University who also demonstrate the institution is committed to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout faculty members’ careers. This year's recipients were College of Health and Human Services Professor, Stephen E. Kauffman as well as College of Arts and Sciences Professor, Alexis A. Nagengast.
    • College of Arts and Sciences Professor Dana Olanoff was awarded with the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is given to a faculty member who has exemplified a history of teaching at the highest level of distinction. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching.
    • The Faculty Award for Civic Engagement serves to recognize the outstanding contributions that faculty members have made in accordance with Widener’s civic engagement mission, as well as solidifying Widener students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and the impact of their disciplinary learning. This year's recipients included faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences: Associate Professor Angela M. Corbo, Professor J. Wesley Leckrone, and Associate Dean of Social Science and Professor James E. Vike.
    • College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Michael Toneff was awarded the Outstanding Researcher Award. This award gives recognition to a faculty member who has participated in research and scholarship nationally or internationally, and made a significant contribution through their research, while advancing their profession or discipline as well as the university’s mission and vision.
    • The Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award highlights an individual who has designed, implemented, and assessed an innovative or experimental teaching and learning project. This award was presented to College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Janice Krumm.
    • The Faculty Institutional Leadership Award recognizes a record of leading initiatives that further the university’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives. This year’s award recipients were College of Health and Human Services Associate Professor Marina Barnett, who is also interim assistant provost for civic engagement, and College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Bretton Alvare.

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  • Widener Faculty Publish Article in Journal of Solution Chemistry

    The Journal of Solution Chemistry recently published an article, titled "Volumetric and Acoustic Properties of Trans-Resveratrol in Ethanol", by Professors Ismail Kul and Alexis Nagengast, Associate Professor Krishna Bhat, and alumna Julianne Azarewicz '13.

    The article states that several thermodynamic parameters for trans-resveratrol have been experimentally determined or calculated at different temperatures. The capability of trans-resveratrol to have strong solute–solvent interactions and weak solute–solute interactions in ethanol solution has been demonstrated using density and speed of sound data. Furthermore, its ability to have structure breaking tendencies and the absence of caging effects are shown. The results of this investigation are consistent with molecular model images generated using Spartan 04 modeling.

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