Department of Zoology

Richard E. Lee
Distinguished Professor
Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 1979
ecology, physiology, cryobiology

264 PSN

253J PSN



Home Page:
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Office Hours:
  Monday . . . . 1:00 - 2:00
  Tuesday . . . .
  Wednesday . . 1:00 - 2:00
  Thursday. . . . Others by appt. Drop-ins welcome
  Friday. . . . . . Drop-in’s welcome

Biographical Information:

Richard Lee's research focuses on physiological and ecological adaptations that allow animals to survive at low temperature through the supercooling of body fluids, or tolerance of extensive internal ice formation. He has traveled to the Antarctic and Ellesmere Island in the Arctic to study cold tolerance in terrestrial arthropods. Current major research efforts address both basic and applied questions related to cryobiology, desiccation tolerance, regulation of freezing, and dormancy in overwintering animals.

One line of research supported by the NSF examines the relationship between diapause and cold-hardiness in insects. Recent studies have examined mechanisms of rapid cold-hardening and intracellular freeze tolerance. A second project concerns freezing and desiccation tolerance in the southernmost insect, a wingless fly, on the Antarctic Peninsula. A third area of investigation, in collaboration with Jon P. Costanzo, addresses ecological and physiological aspects of cold hardiness in amphibians and reptiles.

With NSF and the NIH support, field and laboratory studies focus on the adaptive roles of supercooling and freeze tolerance as winter survival strategies, the influence of such responses on physiology, behavior and ecology, and the use of these species as models to provide clues for developing procedures for the cryopreservation of human tissues. For more information on our research go to http://

Courses Taught:

  1. General Entomology (ZOO 401/501)
  2. Winter Biology (ZOO 431/531)
  3. Field Entomology for Teachers (ZOO 630.C)
  4. Using Animals in the Classroom (ZOO 698.H)
  5. Biological Diversity and Function (ZOO 698.K)
  6. Environ. Science for Elem. Teachers (ZOO 699.V)
  7. Graduate Seminar (ZOO 710)

Recent Publications:

  1. Williams, J. B. and R. E. Lee. 2005. Plant senescence cues entry into diapause in the gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis: resulting metabolic depression is critical for water conservation. Journal of Experimental Biology 208: 4437-4444.

  2. Rinehart, J. P., S. A. Hayward, M. A. Elnitsky, L. H. Sandro, R. E. Lee and D. L. Denlinger. 2006. Continuous up-regulation of heat shock proteins in larvae, but not adults, of a polar insect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103: 14223-14227.

  3. Denlinger, D. L. and R. E. Lee (eds.). 2010. Low Temperature Biology of Insects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Muir, T. J., J. P. Costanzo and R. E. Lee. 2007. Osmotic and metabolic responses to dehydration and urea-loading in a dormant, terrestrially hibernating frog. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 177: 917-926.

  5. Elnitsky, M. A., J. B. Benoit, G. Lopez-Martinez, D. L. Denlinger, and R. E. Lee. 2009. Osmoregulation and salinity tolerance in the Antarctic midge, Belgica antarctica: seawater acclimation confers enhanced tolerance to freezing and dehydration. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 2864-2871.