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Meet Daniel Buchholz

As a child, Daniel Buchholz wasn't the stereotypical little boy with a frog in one hand and a jar in the other.

Date: 3/14/2007
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
As a child, Daniel Buchholz wasn't the stereotypical little boy with a frog in one hand and a jar in the other.

As an aspiring young scientist, he wasn't even sure which career path he'd be heading down.

"I only knew I wanted to go the next step without seeing the end of the road," said Buchholz, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

"For example, in college, I just knew about grad school; I didn't think about becoming a researcher or faculty. In high school, I wanted to learn more about biology to have better arguments against creationism. I wasn't one of those kids that was always catching frogs, though I did have a lot of outdoor experiences as a kid."

Buchholz was raised in Olympia, Wash. For the pursuit of his bachelor's degree, he chose Reed College in Oregon, a small liberal arts school with a "No. 1 rating in biology and in teachers' commitment to teaching," he said.

Then, he earned his master's degree in immunology, molecular and cellular biology and his PhD in integrative biology at University of California at Berkeley, where his dissertation was "Evolution and Endocrinology of Accelerated Metamorphosis in Spadefoot Toads."


Daniel Buchholz is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

"I wanted to go to the best grad school for immunology, and UC Berkeley was top choice because it was the only immunology program not associated with a med school. I was more interested in basic science," he said.

His interest in frogs, he said, came from a "charismatic undergraduate advisor."

"I did my senior thesis in his lab on frog immunology during metamorphosis. From somewhere, I've been long interested in how to explain the diversity of life – I think it is from reading 'Darwin's Origin of Species' in high school," Buchholz said.

"Studying hormones in evolution is a promising perspective to understand why animals look the way they do. Frogs are a great group of animals to look at because their development is free of the mother, such that hormones can be studied without having to deal with the mother."

His fascination with frogs has sent him packing many times over the years.

"I've been to Africa 6 times studying African reed frogs. On one trip, we traveled around Lake Victoria looking at how subspecies of Hyperolius viridiflavus have such varying colors of yellows, reds, blacks, and of course, green," Buchholz said. "I've also been to Spain and Turkey getting relatives of frogs that live in the deserts of the American southwest."

Career-wise, the University of Cincinnati beckoned for many reasons.

"The teaching load was low enough that I could do real competitive research, and I could teach my favorite class, Endocrinology. Also, the med school and Children's are great research resources," he said. "In fact, I'm collaborating with Aaron Zorn in making tissue-specific and inducible control of transgene expression in frogs."

Buchholz is currently teaching a graduate student Current Topics course, with each student presenting a chapter from the book "Developmental Plasticity and Evolution."

He likes seeing students understand what he's explaining, he said.

"I think being a good teacher requires being a good listener to hear what aspects of the subject the student is missing, what is the little point that is keeping the students from understanding," he said.

And as a scholar, Buchholz loves learning: "I'm very curious," he said.

"I like to learn thoroughly and systematically. For research, my strengths are similar, and in addition, I like to share the excitement and wonder of animal diversity with anyone who will listen," he said. "I like learning from students, I like their weird, I mean, new ideas. From established faculty, I learn the craft of being a successful faculty member."

Asked about favorite hobbies and activities in which he's involved, he understandably has no answer, at least for now. That's because there's yet another new person penciled into the professor's already-busy schedule.

"These two questions have been eclipsed by my 6-week-old firstborn son," said Buchholz – he and his wife, Minh-Thanh Nguyen, recently welcomed Thanh-Tú Buchholz into the family.

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