Mardelle Atkins, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Roland Black Endowed 


Research Gate


Favorite Book and Why

Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean Carroll

Favorite Concept and Why

"The evo-devo gene toolkit: This is the idea that a relatively small set of genes are used to direct the development of animals and that this same toolkit directs development of animals across many phyla. For instance, essentially the same genes direct the development of the eye of a fly as direct the development of the eye of a mouse. I love this concept because it shows that the beautiful ordered processes of development are a conserved feature, and its discovery means that we can use the study of relatively simple organisms to discover important factors that regulate how human organs develop."

Professional Development

Graduate Institution

Baylor College of Medicine: Ph.D.; Developmental Biology      

Undergraduate Institution

Texas A&M University: B.Sc.; Genetics

Courses Taught at SHSU

Within Biological Sciences:

Developmental Biology

Introduction to Cell Biology

Research Interests

Dr. Atkins strives to understand how the gene networks that direct the development of organs are regulated, and how these networks are changed during tumor development. She is also interested in how changing the gene regulatory networks changes the fate of cells (reprogramming). In the future, Dr. Atkins’s lab will continue to investigate these processes using the fruitfly as a model system.  Some areas of interest are:

  • Cachexia is a process in which the fat and muscle tissues of the body waste away in response to a disease or a tumor. Cachexia is a major cause of mortality in cancer patients, but how tumors cause cachexia is still poorly understood. Dr. Atkins’ lab will investigate how tumors change the gene regulatory networks of distant organs, such as fat or muscle tissues, to cause cachexia. The goal of this work is to discover the underlying cell biological processes that trigger cachexia in the hope that this knowledge may drive the discovery of effective treatments to block its onset or progress. 
  • Atkins’s lab is interested in understanding the gene networks that regulate the final size of organs in development, and how they are mis-regulated in tumors. Central to this is the discovery and characterization of factors that regulate the Hippo signaling pathway in development and disease.
  • Atkins’s is interested in how evolutionary forces change organ development and is collaborating with Dr. Daza’s lab to investigate the effects of miniaturization on eye development in geckoes.