Robert J. Denver retired from active faculty status on December 31, 2021. The University of Michigan Regents have named him Professor Emeritus of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Robert Denver attended Rutgers University and received the Bachelor of Science with High Honors in 1984. He then attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his Doctorate in Zoology in 1989. He completed postdoctoral research at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, the University of California, Berkeley, and the National Institutes of Health.
In 1994, Dr. Denver joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as assistant professor and was promoted through the ranks to professor in 2006. He served as Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies and Associate Chair for Research and Facilities, then Chair of MCDB from 2014 to 2019 during which time he led his department’s efforts in the design, construction and habitation of the Biological Sciences Building that was completed in 2018. He was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2018.
During his academic career Professor Denver designed and taught several courses for undergraduate and graduate students in introductory biology, animal physiology, endocrinology and experimental design. He played a central role in the establishment of the neuroscience major, and from 2011 to 2013 he served as chair of the Neuroscience Concentration Steering Committee. During this time he played a key role in the establishment of the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience (UPiN), which was formed in 2013.
Professor Denver’s scholarly work is internationally recognized for discoveries on the molecular mechanisms of hormone action during brain development, the neuroendocrinology of stress, and the pivotal roles of hormones in mediating the interaction between genes and the environment. His primary model systems have been amphibian metamorphosis and mouse development, and his research has spanned topics from molecular neuroscience to evolutionary ecology. He made key discoveries on neurohormones that control tadpole metamorphosis, how nuclear hormone receptors regulate gene transcription, and the roles and mechanisms of action of Krüppel-like factors in nervous system development and regeneration.
During his career he published over 130 scientific articles. In 2010 Professor Denver co-founded and served as first president of the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology (NASCE), and from 2013 to 2017 he was president of the International Federation of Comparative Endocrine Societies (IFCES). He was a regular member of the Integrative and Clinical Endocrinology and Reproduction Study Section for the National Institutes of Health, a member of the Annual Meeting Steering Committee for the Endocrine Society, and he served on scientific advisory panels for the US Environmental Protection Agency, including the Endocrine Disrupter Screening Program, and grant review panels for the US National Science Foundation. He also served as associate editor for several scientific journals.