​​Lisa Bonner, Ph.D.

Department Chair of Science and Mathematics; ​Professor of Biology

Examine biological makeup and environmental issues with one of the industry’s best!

Dr. Bonner was raised in a military family and was born on a naval base in Bremerhaven, Germany. Her father was transferred to Washington DC → Honolulu, HI → Bellingham, WA, and then served a brief stint in Florida before retiring in his hometown of Tullahoma, TN where Dr. Bonner lived from the age of 11. She is one of the most senior tenured faculty members at WPU, having began her teaching career at the University in 1988. Outside of the classroom, she loves travelling and the outdoors! Her favorite Raleigh restaurants are Cafe Luna and Irregardless Cafe.

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  • BS Biology, Middle Tennessee State University
  • MS Biology, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Ph.D. Zoology, Mississippi State University

Activities & Honors

  • Alumnae Distinguished Professorship Award (2016-2019)
  • Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award (2016)
  • Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society (2014)
  • Program Development Equipment Grant (2000)
  • Faculty Development Research Grant (1999)
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Grant (1997)
  • McCormick Distinguished Teaching Award (1993)
  • Janirve Foundation Grant (1990)
  • Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society (member since 1984 and WPU Faculty Sponsor)

International Study Experiences

  • (2016) Italy, Rome and Sicily
    International Perspectives on Work & Culture (Faculty chaperone)
  • (2015) Costa Rica
    Biodiversity and Ecology of Costa Rica (Faculty leader)
  • (2007) Yucatan, Mexico
    Tropical Marine Ecology and Rainforest Ecology of the Yucatan peninsula (Guest lecturer)
  • (2004) Galapagos Academic Institute of Arts & Sciences (San Cristobal, Ecuador)International Faculty Seminar: “The Galopagos Islands: The Politics of Preserving Paradise”
  • (2003) Hofstra University Marine Laboratory (St. Anne’s Bay, Jamaica)
    Master’s Class in Tropical Marine Ecology

Research & Publications

Dr. Bonner’s primary research interest is aquatic ecology with emphasis on assessing the ecological integrity of Crabtree Creek, a primary tributary of the Neuse River, which has historically been a focal point with reference to ecology and health concerns within the state of North Carolina. The widespread application of biological surveillance in conjunction with other assessment protocols, such as water chemistry analysis, provides a strong tool for monitoring aquatic ecosystems, and perhaps more importantly, implementation of corrective measures when necessary.

Another research focus has been to assess PCB levels (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the Briar Creeek and Crabtree Creek drainage system. Ward’s Transformers, Inc. was a transformer recycling facility that had been in operation since 1964. Before 1977, when the use of PCBs in transformer oil was discontinued, this carcinogen from Ward’s contaminated soils on the site and surface water and stream sediments downstream of the site. Ward’s is now classified as an EPA Superfund Cleanup site.

The science department at WPU promotes collaborative research projects with biology, chemistry and mathematics faculty along with our biology students to monitor PCB contamination in Crabtree Creek in addition to assessing physicochemical parameters and sampling fish and benthic macroinvertebrates, which are the most commonly used targets of surveillance and monitoring in fresh water ecosystems.

Bonner and her students have presented their research a state, regional and national conferences, including the North Carolina Academy of Science, Association of Southeastern Biologists, and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research.


  • Bonner, L.A., P.A. Myer, J.A. Lister, R.L. Hayes and J.R. Wolf. 2009. Rapid bioassessment of Crabtree Creek (Wake County, North Carolina) using microbial and macroinvertebrate indicators. Journal of Freshwater Ecology. 24(2):227-238
  • Carter, L.A., M.B. Tabor, J.C. Bonner and L.A. Bonner. 2002. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase activation as an indicator of oxidative and bacterial stress in an amphibian cell culture model. Environmental Health Perspectives. 110(7): 641-645.
  • Bonner, L.A., W.L. Diehl, and R.A. Altig. 1997. Physical, chemical and biological dynamics of five temporary dystrophic pools in central Mississippi. Hydrobiologia. 353: 77-89.

External Research Collaborations

  • (2000) National Institute of Environmental Health Science * RTP, NC
    Guest Research Biologist, Laboratory of Pulmonary Pathobiology
    Research Topic: Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase activation as an indicator of environmental stress in an amphibian cell culture model.
  • (1991) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences * RTP, NC.
    Guest Research Biologist, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
    Research Topic: Signal transduction and intracellular calcium mobilization.

Contact Lisa Bonner, Ph.D.