Dr. William Heyborne is an associate professor of biology at Southern Utah University and director of the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teaching and learning.
With research interests in the diversity of living things, Dr. Heyborne specializes in biological pedagogy, and reptile/amphibian natural history including the study of insects and venomous snakes. Dr. Heyborne teaches his students to examine living systems and the impact of biological problems on human affairs. He encourages critical thinking, problem solving and the application of scientific thinking.
An SUU alumnus, Dr. Heyborne received a bachelor’s degree in zoology with a minor in chemistry. At Oregon State University, he earned a master’s degree in entomology, then a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Northern Colorado. Previously, he worked as chair of the biology and chemistry department at Morningside College at Sioux City, Iowa.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (9)
Outstanding Science Educator
Utah Science Teachers Association 2016
Influencer of the Year
SUU Professor of the Year
Thunderbird Award 2014
Founder of the SUU Animal Ambassadors
Walker Faculty Excellence Award
Morningside College 2010
Southern Utah University: B.S., Biology/Zoology
Oregon State University: M.S., Entomology
University of Northern Colorado: Ph.D., Biology Education
- American Biology Teacher Board
- SMARTS Science Made Accessible and Relevant Through Stories
- American Malacological Society
- Entomological Society of America
- National Association of Biology Teachers
- National Science Teachers Association
- Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Media Appearances (9)
Cedar FIRST LEGO teams going national
USA Today online
Two Cedar City robotics teams are leaving the desert of Southern Utah to compete against teams from around the world on the national stage.
William Heyborne, director of STEM Learning at SUU, said the growth of FIRST programs in Southern Utah has been remarkable. The fact that Cedar City has two FLL teams competing on a national stage speaks volumes about the coaches, teachers, sponsors and parents in the community.
“In a few short years, we have gone from only a couple of teams to qualifier and state events and teams performing on a national level,” he said. “Competing at a national level will further cement these traits in their lives and give them an experience they will never forget.”
SUU bringing STEAM to local youth
The Spectrum online
STEAM education is often overlooked by overworked teachers in elementary schools across the nation, and SUU decided to model their festival after ones held in northern Utah, according to William Heyborne, assistant professor of biology at SUU.
“SUU has a long history of partnering with the community for a variety of programs and educational events,” he said. “There is a multitude of STEM jobs out there with few qualified applicants. Our hope is to increase the number of students who pursue STEM training in college and then move into careers.”
STEAM Festival Draws 2,000 Students to SUU
Good 4 Utah online
Some school subjects can be intimidating for young students, but a two-day event at Southern Utah University is making it fun. The STEAM Festival's goal is to teach children without them knowing it.
Two thousand students from Iron and Washington Counties are here. Some are even traveled from Nevada to participate in the festival. More than two dozen community and university groups show kids that sometimes difficult subjects, such as science, technology, engineering, art and math can be fascinating.
"It can be really fun and not as scary and intimidating as they sometimes think that it is," SUU Center for STEM Teaching & Learning Bill Heyborne said.
Carnegie Mellon Partnership with SUU Brings Unique STEM Education to Kids
Utah Business online
The Utah STEM Action Center (STEM AC), in coordination with Carnegie Mellon University, is establishing a local CREATE Lab satellite at Southern Utah University. The CREATE, or Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment, Lab is a program that empowers students with technology at young ages and will offer opportunities for young learners and SUU student volunteers.
With support from a $250,000 grant from the Infosys Foundation USA, the CREATE Lab is spanning the country for the first time with two Utah-based satellites, one at Southern Utah University and the other at Utah Valley University.
“One of the reasons we are involved in STEM outreach is to increase the number of kids pursuing STEM careers, which will hopefully result in them enrolling at Southern Utah University,” said Dr. William Heyborne, associate professor of biology and director of the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning. “There is a sense of prestige and notoriety for SUU in terms of being able to form this collaborative relationship with a university as well-established and well-known, in the area of technology and robotics, as Carnegie Mellon.”
Facts About Milk Snakes
Live Science online
According to Bill Heyborne, a herpetologist and professor of biology at Southern Utah University, there are 24 recognized subspecies of milk snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum). "Some scientists have suggested that they should actually be split into multiple species," he said.
Live Science online
Anacondas are semiaquatic snakes found in tropical South America. They are some of the largest snakes in the world and are known for their swimming ability. “Anaconda” is the common name for the genus Eunectes, a genus of boa. Eunectes means “good swimmer” in Greek.
There are four recognized species of anaconda, according to Bill Heyborne, a herpetologist and professor of biology at Southern Utah University. They are the green anaconda, the yellow or Paraguayan anaconda, the dark-spotted anaconda and the Beni or Bolivian anaconda. “They can be differentiated from one another genetically, but also based on their size and geographic range,” Heyborne said.
Facts About Water Snakes
Live Science online
Water snakes and water moccasins are from two different families (respectively, Colubridae, the largest snake family; and Viperidae, or vipers), but they look superficially similar, according to Bill Heyborne, a herpetologist and professor of biology at Southern Utah University. “The similarity may be an evolutionary adaptation of the water snakes to avoid predation.”
One good way to tell them apart is by their heads and necks. “Water moccasins tend to have blocky, heavy heads, and thick stocky bodies for their length,” he said. “They also tend to have a more distinctive neck.” In contrast, “water snakes have a narrower, rounder head, a longer, more slender body and a less distinctive neck,” said Heyborne. Water snakes do not have any heat-sensitive pits on their faces, while water moccasins do, but getting close enough to a snake to determine the presence of pits is dangerous.
STEM grants for two Utah universities should improve program results
Deseret News online
A 2014 report released by the U.S. Department of Education found that 45 out of 50 states had teacher shortages in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the previous school year. That’s why the Utah Legislature’s decision to create one-time STEM education grants to Dixie State University and Southern Utah University was such a good idea. Both schools have effective programs in place that are graduating large numbers of STEM students, as well as professional development for teachers in STEM-related areas. Each university will receive a one-time grant of $280,000, which will fund an array of approaches to improve STEM education, including summer camps that will introduce children to the basics of computers and robotics. In 2014, SUU certified 40 of its graduates as STEM teachers, and school officials hope this grant will allow them to double that number in the coming year.
William Heyborne, director of the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning, is also hopeful these grants will become ongoing, since lack of funding does not allow them to accommodate all students with interest in STEM education. "Every year because of funding limitations, there are dozens and dozens of kids we have to turn away," Heyborne told the Deseret News.
SUU Engineers Utah’s Future STEM Education
Southern Utah University online
Southern Utah University has pioneered the state’s first elementary-level STEM teaching endorsement. The first cohort of the state’s STEM endorsed educators will complete their coursework this summer, and educators from across the state are eager to seek this advanced level of professional training, currently offered only at SUU. Over the summer, teachers from Southwest Educational Development Center partner schools as well as The Canyons and Jordan School Districts will pursue the new STEM endorsement.
“SUU and our partners in the local K-16 alliance have been driving STEM initiatives for years, but on a shoe-string budget, cobbled together from grants and other sources,” according to William Heyborne, director of the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning and a biology professor at SUU. Thought this funding will provides one-time resources for STEM programming in southern Utah, SUU will have the opportunity to demonstrate success from this year’s appropriation to justify ongoing support. Ongoing support will bring a heightened level of sustainability to SUU STEM efforts, given that, according to Taylor, nearly 90 percent of the current STEM programming is voluntary outreach by University professors, local schoolteachers and community members.
Research Grants (4)
BLM Reptile/Amphibian Survey Grant
Bureau of Land Management $42,000
Funded reptile and amphibian survey of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
STEM Endorsement Grant
Utah STEM Action Center $192,000
Provided STEM Endorsement to 80 Utah teachers. Co-PI with Southwestern Educational Development Center.
Wildlife Diversity Program Small Grant
Iowa Department of Natural Resources $2,490
Terrestrial Gastropod Research Grant
Prairie Biotics Research, Inc $1,000
Grant funded terrestrial gastropod research
The flipped classroom is a relatively new pedagogical technique in which what was once considered "homework" is now done in the classroom, and what was once done in the classroom is now done during out-of-class time. The development of electronic technology has helped make this "flip" possible as students can now watch lectures at home, freeing class time to involve them in more engaging activities.
The Handbook of Venoms and Toxins of Reptiles offers "one-stop shopping" to all biologists, biochemists, toxicologists, physicians, clinicians, and epidemiologists, and informed laypersons interested in the biology of venomous reptiles, the biochemistry and molecular biology of venoms, and the effects and treatment of human envenomation. This book examines the topic generally, provides an overview of the current taxonomy of these reptiles, explains the similarities and differences in the venom delivery apparatus in different groups of reptiles, reviews state-of-the-art knowledge about specific venom components and their action, and summarizes effects of envenomation and treatment in humans on different continents.
Snake venoms contain a variety of protein and peptide toxins, and the three-finger toxins (3FTxs) are among the best characterized family of venom proteins. The compact nature and highly conserved molecular fold of 3FTxs, together with their abundance in many venoms, has contributed to their utility in structure-function studies. Although many target the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of vertebrate skeletal muscle, often binding with nanomolar Kds, several non-conventional 3FTxs show pronounced taxon-specific neurotoxic effects. Here we describe the purification and characterization of fulgimotoxin, a monomeric 3FTx from the venom of Oxybelis fulgidus, a neotropical rear-fanged snake.
Teaching and learning animal anatomy has a long history in the biology classroom. As in many fields of biology, decades of experience teaching anatomy have led to the unofficial selection of model species. However, in some cases the model may not be the best choice for our students. Our struggle to find an appropriate model for teaching and learning insect anatomy has resulted in experiments with a variety of species. In our experience, none of the available models seems as useful as the Madagascar hissing cockroach. In this article, we advocate the use of this species in laboratory studies of insect anatomy.
The Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis), a rear-fanged member of the polyphyletic family Colubridae, is an introduced predator on Guam which has been responsible for numerous human envenomations. Because little is known about this species' venom, we characterized venom proteins from B. irregularis using enzyme assays, one and 2D electrophoresis, Western blot analysis, mass spectrometry, HPLC and toxicity assays. Venom yields and protein content varied significantly with snake size, and large adult specimens averaged over 500 μl venom (19.2 mg, protein content ∼90%). Only two enzymes, azocaseinolytic metalloprotease and acetylcholinesterase, were detected in venoms, and both activities increased with snake size/age.
BIOL 1010 Introduction to Biology
Non-majors course in biology emphasizing mechanisms of living systems and impact of biological problems on human affairs. Course is designed to foster critical thinking, problem solving and the application of scientific thinking in biology. Not intended for science majors.
BIOL 1020 Human Biology
Designed for non-biology majors seeking a basic introduction to human anatomy and physiology. Outlines the basic structure and function of the body from cellular to system levels.
BIOL 1610/15 General Biology I
It provides a basic foundation in the areas of biochemistry, organization and function of cells as well as the transmission of genetic information.
BIOL 3430/35 Entomology
Behavior, ecology, evolution and identification of major orders of insects and arachnids.
BIOL 3470/75 Herpetology
Natural history and classification of amphibians and reptiles, including their diversity, distribution, ecology, reproduction, behavior, evolution and conservation.