This article was written by Leigh Cooper, Science and Content Writer at University of Idaho Communications and Marketing. We’re excited that Dr. Bull is affiliated with the Center for Modeling Complex Interactions.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Feb. 13, 2019 — National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Jim Bull will join the University of Idaho faculty in fall 2019. He will be the first NAS member affiliated with an educational institution in Idaho, according to NAS. The academy is a nonprofit and private society of scholars charged by Congress to provide the nation objective and independent council on scientific and technological matters; Bull was elected to NAS in 2016.

Bull is an evolutionary biologist who has specialized in the evolution of viruses and sex determination. He joins the College of Science Department of Biological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin.

“What I really want to do here at U of I is focus on socially relevant problems and their solutions,” Bull said.

At U of I, Bull will focus on his teaching and three main research projects:

  • Bull plans to offer a course he designed in Austin that instructs students on how to think scientifically. The class, geared toward non-science majors, is dedicated not to teaching students about a specific scientific discipline but how to evaluate and use evidence to draw conclusions. He is also looking forward to directing undergraduate research and enlarging the undergraduate experience beyond the classroom.
  • He is starting a collaboration with Department of Mathematics faculty members Steve Krone and Chris Remien that will use computer modeling to investigate the effectiveness of a genetic engineering technology called gene drive that spreads desired genes throughout a population.
  • In work with Department of Biological Sciences’ Scott Nuismer, Bull will study the potential for designing vaccines that could be transmitted from animal to animal without inoculating each animal individually in order to create an immune population. He hopes work with researchers from the University of Wisconsin and U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins, Colorado, will result in a transmissible vaccine for the raccoon rabies virus.
  • Bull will test the use of bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria — to prevent bacterial infections, like urinary tract infections or ear infections, in dogs and cats.