Utility Nav Top Nav Content Left Nav Site Search Site Search Site Search
Educated to Lead. Inspired to Achieve.
Irene Unger

Irene Unger

Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
 CSC 222
 +1 (573) 592-5273
  • Biology and Environmental Science


Current Position

Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
Environmental Science/Studies Program Coordinator
Sustainability Coordinator

Scholarly/Professional Highlights
Dr. Unger joined the Westminster faculty in 2008 after earning a Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Missouri. Prior to this she taught introductory Biology courses for 9 years at the West Plains campus of Missouri State University. She earned a MS(R) in Biology from St. Louis University and a BS in Biology from Truman State University.

Dr. Unger is a broadly trained terrestrial ecologist and as such teaches a wide variety of courses for the Biology and Environmental Science/Studies programs. Courses range from introductory courses in general Biology or Environmental Science; to specialized courses in Plant Functional Morphology, Ecology and Field Biology, Wetlands, Forest Resources and Management, and Conservation Biology; to seminar courses focused on sustainability issues.

Dr. Unger's research interests are primarily in the fields of disturbance ecology and community structuring. She has investigated the effects of clear cut logging on the herbaceous community as well as the effects of flooding on the physical, chemical and biotic properties of riparian soils. More recently, Dr. Unger has examined the effects of veterinary antibiotics on soil microbial community characteristics and has participated in investigations to quantify boulders as refugia for herbaceous plants and tree seedlings/saplings from deer browsing. Current research focuses on the effects of invasive plant species on soil characteristics. Dr. Unger has also supervised a number of student-driven research projects many of which have been presented by the students at Missouri Academy of Sciences meetings.

Select Publications
  • Unger, I.M., K.W. Goyne, R.J. Kremer, and A.C. Kennedy. 2013. Microbial Community Diversity in Agroforestry and Grass Vegetative Filter Strips. Agroforestry Systems. 87(2): 395-402. DOI: 10.1007/s10457-012-9559-8.
  • Unger, I.M., K.W. Goyne, A.C. Kennedy, R.J. Kremer, J.E.T. McLain, C.F. Williams. 2013. Antibiotic Effects on Microbial Community Characteristics in Soils under Conservation Management Practices. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 77(1): 100-112. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2012.0099.
  • Unger, I.M., R.M. Muzika and P. Motavalli. 2010. The effect of flooding and residue incorporation on soil chemistry, germination and seedling growth. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 69:113-120.
  • Unger, I.M., A.C. Kennedy and R.M. Muzika. 2009. Flooding Effects on Soil Microbial Communities. Applied Soil Ecology. 42: 1-8.

Select Student Research Projects
  • Shrestha, S., Guo, M., Kadoe, B., and Tan, M. Comparative Study of Human Influences on Water Quality of Three Lakes near Fulton, MO 
  • Martin, H., Ruga, M., Morrison, M. and Tjikuzu, T. Effect of Invasive Plants on Soil Biological Properties: Invasive Plants and Soil Health. 
  • Beahler, C., and Unger, I.M. The Effect of Antibiotics on Seed Germination.
  • Maxey, A. Sustainability on Westminster's Campus. Westminster College 
  • Gebrekidan, M., and Unger, I.M. The Impacts of Westminster College Food Disposal System and Alternatives. 
  • Hollenberg, S., Cicak, A. and Scott, C. Veterinary Antibiotics in Agroecosystems. Missouri Academy of Science, 48th Annual Meeting and Westminster College Undergraduate Scholars Forum. April 2012. (Poster)
  • Craig, J., Fowler, M., Hollenberg, S., McKenzie, T., Warren, W., and Cicak, A. Biogeochemical Assessment of a Remnant Forest Site in Central Missouri. Missouri Academy of Science, 47th Annual Meeting and Westminster College Undergraduate Scholars Forum. April 2011. (Poster) * S. Hollenberg was awarded 1st place in the Biological Sciences Poster Contest for her presentation at MAS.
  • Mckenzie, R.K., Warren, W., Cicak, A., Fowler, M., Hollenberg, S., and Craig, J. Comprehensive Impact Assessment of Land Use Options in a Central Missouri Remnant Forest. Missouri Academy of Science, 47th Annual Meeting and Westminster College Undergraduate Scholars Forum. April 2011. (Poster)
  • Wall, K., Sipra, H., Morfeld,K., Byrd,C., McDonald, A., Smith,M., Prewitt,C., Hassien, J., and Unger, I.M. Effects of Westminster College and Fulton, MO on the Chemistry and Biota of Stinson Creek. Missouri Natural Resources Conference, Osage Beach, MO, February 2010. (Poster)
Back to Top