Professor of Biology
Retired May 2016
Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular, Physiology
Frank Percival joined Westmont’s faculty in 1975 after completing his B.A. in Biology at Occidental College and his PhD. at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Biological Science. Prior to coming to Westmont, he also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Michigan State.
In terms of research, he has been applying molecular genetics approaches to the identification of leaf surface bacteria on chaparral shrubs. Leaf surface microorganisms have been studied by plant pathologists over the years, but there is much left to be learned about the bacterial communities associated with plants in natural ecosystems. For example, are there different bacteria growing on different species of shrub? What is the effect of variation in microclimate on the leaf surface bacterial communities? How do bacterial communities change after a fire? All of these questions can be approached by using bacterial gene sequences to identify which organisms are present.
Dr. Percival has taught a wide range of courses for the department in the last several years including: Biochemistry, Microbiology, General Biology, Genetics, Bioethics and Introduction to Life Science. “Science is a liberal art,” notes Dr. Percival, “complementing history, religious studies, art and the rest. As such, it is an essential component in the curriculum of any liberal arts college seeking that title for itself.