Dr. Bruce C. Wightman

Professor and Chair of Biology

B.A. Oberlin College 1984
Ph.D. Harvard University 1992
Postdoctorate University of California at Berkeley

NSB 220 and 221
Telephone 484-664-3254
Fax 484-664-3002
Email: wightman@muhlenberg.edu

Mailing address:
Biology Department
Muhlenberg College
2400 Chew Street
Allentown, PA 18104

"O senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm and yet will make Gods by the dozen!" -- Michel de Montaigne (1533-92)




BIO 152 Principles of Biology III: Molecules and Cells
The third course in the introductory biology sequence. Study of the relationship of structure and function at the molecular and cellular level, molecular and Mendelian genetics, and microbiology. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week.

BIO 180 Theory of Evolution
The theory of evolution was developed in order to explain the nature of biological diversity, and was substantially expanded and revised during the 20th century. This course examines how scientific theories are developed, tested, and revised, with a focus on evolutionary theory in particular. The role of imagination, inductive and deductive reasoning, and experimental analysis will be explored through selected readings from the works of Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Ernst Mayr, and others. The course will emphasize the importance of modern genetics in confirming evolutionary theory and address topics such as natural selection, speciation, genetic drift, selfish DNA, and human evolution. This course is intended for non-science majors and does not satisfy requirements for science major programs.

BIO 215 Genetics
Study of genetic analysis in the four main branches of genetics: classical genetics, molecular genetics, population genetics, and genomics. Experimental approaches, human genetics, and model systems are emphasized. Topics include mutations, gene interactions, chromosomes, quantitative and evolutionary genetics, gene mapping, gene cloning, and genetic engineering. Three class hours, and three laboratory hours.

BIO 472 Genomes and Gene Evolution
A central question that remains in biology is the relationship between genetic changes at the DNA level and evolution of organismal form and function. This course considers gene structure and function both within and across genomes. Animal development will serve as a primary context in which to explore comparative, regulatory, and functional genomics. Lecture and discussion features review of primary literature and use of bioinformatics tools; laboratory experience centers on DNA microarray technology. Developed with Dr. Amy Hark and taught in alternate years.

BIO 412 Molecular Biology
A topical course investigating the techniques and applications of recombinant DNA. The course provides a detailed treatment of recombinant methodologies such as gene cloning strategies, and considers the process and implications of science throughout. Topics covered include gene regulation, gene organization, and the molecular aspects of development and cell biology. Three class hours per week. CUE course.




Biology Department FacultyMy lab studies genes that function in the development of the nervous system of the very small nematode . This project provides research opportunities for Muhlenberg College students during the semester (for credit) and during the summer (for pay). For more details on this project, consult the Wightman Lab research description. For descriptions of the lab and student projects, consult the Wightman Lab page.


Bodofsky, S., Koitz, F., and Wightman, B., 2017, Conserved and Exapted Functions of Nuclear Receptors in Animal Development, Nuclear Receptor Research, 4: 1-34, Article ID 101305.

Corsi, A., Wightman, B., Chalfie, M., 2015, A Transparent Genetic Window into Biology:  A Primer on the Caenorhabditis elegans Model System, Genetics, 200: 387–407 [Published in parallel in WormBook: The Online Review of C. elegans Biology; www.wormbook.org.]

Wightman, B. and Hark, A. T., 2012, Integration of Bioinformatics into an Undergraduate Biology Curriculum and the Impact on Development of Mathematical Skills, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40(5): 310–319.

Weber, K. P., Alvaro, C. G., Baer, G. M., Reinert, K., Cheng, G., Clever S., Wightman, B., 2012, Analysis of C. elegans NR2E nuclear receptors defines three conserved clades and ligand-independent functions, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12:81.

Verghese, E., Schocken, J., Jacob, S., Wimer, A. M., Royce, R., Nesmith, J.E., Baer, G.M., Clever, S., McCain, E., Lakowski, B., and B. Wightman, 2011, The tailless ortholog nhr-67 functions in the development of the C. elegans ventral uterus, Developmental Biology, 356:516-28.

DeMeo, S., Lombel, R., Snowflack, D., Smith, E., Reinert, K., Cronin, M., Clever, S., and B. Wightman, 2008, Specificity of DNA-binding by the FAX-1 and NHR-67 nuclear receptors of Caenorhabditis elegans is partially mediated via a subclass-specific P-box residue, BMC Molecular Biology, 9:2.

Wightman, B., N. Carmean, B. Ebert, K. Weber, and S. Clever, 2005, The C. elegans nuclear receptor gene fax-1 and homeobox gene unc-42 coordinate interneuron identity by regulating the expression of glutamate receptor subunits and other neuron-specific genes, Developmental Biology, 287: 74-85

Much, J. W., D. J. Slade, K. Klampert, G. Garriga and B. Wightman, 2000, The fax-1 nuclear hormone receptor regulates axon pathfinding and neurotransmitter expression, Development 127: 703-712.

Wolf, F., M.-s. Hung, B. Wightman, J. Way and G. Garriga, 1998, vab-8 is a key regulator of posteriorly directed migrations in C. elegans and encodes a novel protein with kinesin motor similarity, Neuron 20: 655-666.

Wightman, B., R. Baran and G. Garriga, 1997, Genes that guide growth cones along the C. elegans ventral nerve cord, Development 124: 2571-2580.

Su, C.-W., S. Tharin, Y. Jin, B. Wightman, M. Spector, D. Meili, N. Tsung, C. Rhiner, D. Bourikas, E. Stoeckli, G. Garriga, H. R. Horvitz, and M. O. Hengartner, 2006, The short coiled-coil domain-containing protein UNC-69 cooperates with UNC-76 to regulate axonal outgrowth and normal presynaptic organization in Caenorhabditis elegans, Journal of Biology 5: 9.1-9.25.

Ha, I., B. Wightman and G. Ruvkun, 1996, A bulged lin-4/lin-14 RNA duplex is sufficient for temporal gradient formation of Caenorhabditis elegans LIN-14 protein, Genes and Dev. 10: 3041-3050.

Wightman, B., S. G. Clark, A. M. Taskar, W. C. Forrester, A. V. Maricq, C. I. Bargmann and G. Garriga, 1996, The C. elegans gene vab-8 guides posteriorly directed axon outgrowth and cell migration, Development 122: 671-682.

Wightman, B., I. Ha and G. Ruvkun, 1993, Posttranscriptional regulation of the heterochronic gene lin-14 mediates temporal pattern formation in C. elegans, Cell 75: 855-862.

Wightman, B., T.R. Bürglin, J. Gatto, P. Arasu and G. Ruvkun, 1991, Sequences in the 3'-untranslated region are necessary to generate the lin-14 temporal switch during C. elegans development, Genes and Dev. 5: 1813-1824.

Arasu, P., B. Wightman and G. Ruvkun, 1991, Temporal regulation of lin-14 by the antagonistic action of two other heterochronic genes, lin-4 and lin-28, Genes and Dev. 5: 1825-1833.

Ruvkun, G., B. Wightman, T. Bürglin and P. Arasu, 1991, Dominant gain-of-function mutations that lead to misregulation of the C. elegans heterochronic gene lin-14, and the evolutionary implications of dominant mutations in pattern formation genes, Development Suppl. 1: 47-54.

Wightman, B. C., E. A. Weltman and L. A. Culp, 1986, Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan in the substratum adhesion sites of Balb/c 3T3 cells. Fractionation on various ion- exchange and affinity columns, Biochem. J. 235: 469-479.


Random Details

I was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up not far from Allentown in scenic Nutley, N.J. I've lived in Cleveland, Boston and Berkeley, before coming to Muhlenberg. I like spending time with my wife and kids, hiking, canoeing, American history, music (espeically Americana and English Folk-Rock), microbrew (at night) and strong coffee (in the morning). My heroes include Richard Thompson, Ryan Adams, and Dave Rawlings.