Frances E. Weaver

Frances E. Weaver, PhD

  • Chair, Biology Department
  • Professor
Media Expertise:
  • Science & Environment

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Cell Biology (1985)
    Johns Hopkins University (MD)

About Me

I teach biology because I love to learn biology; it is just as simple as that. Biology is endlessly fascinating. Whether it is how gene expression patterns an embryo, how enzymes function in a cellular pathway, or why horseshoe crabs are inextricably linked to the survival of migrating shore birds, there are always new questions, the answers to which just stimulate more questions! In some ways, I am still that kid walking along edge of a pond in my hometown, asking "Why?." Studying biology isn't about consuming interesting facts; it is about asking how and why.

My goal is to stimulate interest in and foster the development of understanding of biological processes in each student, in other words, to provoke learning. Given the diverse ways in which students learn and their diverse experiences, I use a variety of approaches in my teaching. In my classes, rigorous studies of biology are integrated with the curricular and career goals of the students. Students enrolled in science courses must develop literacy in science, that is, they must learn content, but they must also learn how scientific knowledge is constructed and the relevancy of scientific knowledge to their own lives. A large part of learning science is developing scientific skills and learning how to be a member of the scientific community. This means that students must design and conduct experiments; collect, analyze, and interpret data; communicate what they have done in written and oral forms; and exchange ideas in a responsible and ethical manner.

I do my best to make coursework interesting and relevant and provide an open and supportive atmosphere that extends beyond the classroom. My students are presented with opportunities to make connections to areas of individual interest via essays, class discussions, case studies, or literature assignments and experience different viewpoints and approaches to doing science. As scientific knowledge grows and ways of accessing, interpreting, and communicating that information changes, my students' experiences also change. I continually reflect upon student learning and how to bring dynamic approaches to my courses to maintain the freshness and relevancy of my teaching.

Research Interests

My research interests focus on molecular mechanisms, that is the activities at the DNA, RNA, or protein level that influence cellular and thereby organismal properties. I also have long standing interests in embryonic and post-embryonic development. In my research here at Widener, I have applied molecular biological techniques to the study of the embryology of horseshoe crabs, the muscle physiology of fish, and the immune responses of frogs.

My research projects have been undertaken with the twin goals of increasing biological knowledge in these areas and supporting participation by undergraduate students. My students and I have an enormous amount of fun learning together, and I take great pride in the accomplishments of each and every one of them.

My current project is on gene expression in horseshoe crab embryos (Limulus polyphemus). My students work to identify previously unknown genes and determine their expression patterns during embryonic development in these organisms.

Media Expertise

  • reproductive and developmental biology
  • cell biology
  • molecular biology


  • Donato, M., Schiavi, J., Ulreich, A., Weaver, F.E., & Coughlin, D.J. (2008). Myosin regulatory light chain expression in trout muscle. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 309A, 64–72.
  • Weaver, F.E., Shaikh, S.R., & Edidin, M. (2008). Plasma membrane lipid diffusion and composition of sea urchin egg membranes vary with ocean temperature. Chemistry and Physics of Lipids, 151(1), 62–65.
  • Patel, K.K, Siegel, C., Weaver, F.E., & Vatnick, I. (2005). Genetic monogamy of captive pigeons (Columba livia) as assessed by DNA fingerprinting. BIOS, The Quarterly Journal of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, 76(2), 97–101.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Society for Developmental Biology (SDB)


  • Widener University College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching (2010)
  • Member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
  • Project Kaleidoscope F21 (Faculty for the 21st century) Member