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Department of Physiology & Biophysics Awards and Recognitions

The following students and faculty have been recognized in recent years.

Faculty awards

Thomas Shannon, DVM, PhD, associate professor, received a Brainard Award for teaching excellence in 2017.

Thomas Shannon, DVM, PhD, associate professor, received a SCORE Positive Learning Environment Award and a Brainard Award for teaching excellence in 2016.

Faculty recognitions

Snail proton channels reveal how human proton channels work!

Voltage gated proton channels were discovered in snail neurons (Thomas & Meech, 1982). When mammalian proton channels were identified a decade later (DeCoursey, 1991), the biggest difference was snail channels opened almost 1000 times faster. DeCoursey, Cherny, Morgan, and collaborators from Georgia recently identified the first proton channel gene from a snail.  As expected, the channel opens rapidly (  When making a mutation in the human channel in an attempt to understand the structural basis for its slower gating, the intrepid investigators serendipitously discovered that a single histidine residue plays a critical role in the channel’s ability to sense intracellular pH ( The functions of proton channels in all cells depend on their ability to sense and respond to small changes in pH.

These studies are described by Deri Morgan, PhD in a video summary: and are highlighted in a special Commentary by León D. Islas (Department of Physiology, National Autonomous University of Mexico).

The Journal of General Physiology has also reprinted the second paper (Cherny et al, 2018) in a special collection of recent papers on the topic “Molecular Biophysics of Membranes.”