Biology Department

Jennifer Dearolf, Ph.D.


Jennifer Dearolf, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Chair, Health Sciences Program

She/Her/Hers Donald W. Reynolds Center 230 (501) 450-4530 (501) 450-4547 SMuBL

Academic Background

  • B.A., St. Mary's College of Maryland, 1996
  • M.S., University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 1998
  • Ph.D., Cornell University, 2002

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 101 - Concepts of Biology: Marine Biology
  • BIOL 220 - Zoology
  • BIOL 221 - Seminar: Biological Communication
  • BIOL 335 - Marine Biology
  • BIOL 440 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy

Research Interests

  • I have a longstanding interest in vertebrate biology, specifically how mammals, both neonates and adults, interact with their environment.  One of the main ways that animals engage their surroundings is through movement.  Movement, in turn, is accomplished through the interaction of muscles with an animal's skeletal system, and thus, I have chosen to study muscle biology.

  • Currently, the work in my lab is focused on breathing muscles.  We are studying the construction of the diaphragm and scalenus muscles in cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) to determine how these muscles power the explosive breathing of cetaceans and also allow these animals to breath-hold dive.  The other studies in the lab are investigations of the effects of prenatal steroids on breathing muscle development in guinea pigs.  Characteristics that we are investigating include: fiber-type profiles (percent slow- and fast-twitch fibers), fiber diameters, oxidative enzyme activities, myoglobin concentrations, and myosin heavy and light chain protein expression.  In addition, we are beginning physiological testing studies to determine the functional effects of prenatal steroids on the treated breathing muscles.

Scientific Publications

  • Thometz, N.M., J.L. Dearolf , R.C. Dunkin, D.P. Noren, M.M. Holt, O.C. Sims*, B.C. Cathey*, and T.M. Williams. (2018) Comparative physiology of vocal musculature in two odontocetes, the bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus ) and the harbor porpoise ( Phocoena phocoena ). Journal of Comparative Physiology B 188: 177-193.
  • Kielhorn, C.E., R.M. Dillaman, S.T. Kinsey, W.A. McLellan, D.M. Gay, J.L. Dearolf , and D.A. Pabst. (2013) Locomotor muscle profile of a deep ( Kogia breviceps ) versus shallow ( Tursiops truncatus ) diving cetacean. Journal of Morphology 274: 663-675.
  • Cotten, P.B., M.A. Piscitelli, W.A. McLellan, S.A. Rommel, J.L. Dearolf, and D.A. Pabst. (2008) The gross morphology and histochemistry of respiratory muscles in bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Journal of Morphology 269: 1520-1538.
  • Etnier, S.A., J.L. Dearolf, W.A. McLellan, and D.A. Pabst. (2004) Postural role of lateral axial muscles in developing bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271: 909-918.
  • Thayer, V.G., A.J. Read, N.I. Bowles, D.R. Colby, J.L. Dearolf, A.A. Hohn, W.A. McLellan, D.A. Pabst, J.R. Russell, and K.A. Rittmaster. (2003) Reproductive seasonality of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in North Carolina. Marine Mammal Science 19: 617-629.
  • Dearolf, J.L.  (2003) Diaphragm muscle development in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Journal of Morphology 256: 79-88.
  • Noren, S.R., T.M. Williams, D.A. Pabst, W.A. McLellan, and J.L. Dearolf. (2001) The development of diving in marine endotherms: preparing the skeletal muscles of dolphins, penguins, and seals for activity during submergence. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 171: 127-134.
  • Dearolf, J.L., W.A. McLellan, R.M. Dillaman, D. Frierson, and D.A. Pabst.  (2000) Precocial development of axial locomotor muscle in bottlenose dolphins  (Tursiops truncatus). Journal of Morphology 244: 203-215.

Recent Research Grants

  • Morphology of the locomotor muscles of three Arctic seal species - Hendrix Odyssey Program - May 2019 - May 2020 ($4,458)

Current Members of the Lab

  • Emily Baldwin (Undergraduate Student)
  • McKenzie Fletcher (Undergraduate Student)
  • Vaneeza Mukhtar (Undergraduate Student)
  • Sundus Nazar (Undergraduate Student)
  • Madeleine Scott (Undergraduate Student)

Science Students Share Research at National Meeting

Three students present at Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Read the Full Story