• Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2002
  • B.S., University of Texas at Austin, 1986


  • General Physiology
  • Biology


Mary Beth Hawkins, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Physiology in the Department of Biological Sciences at St. Mary’s University. She joined St. Mary’s in August 2019. Hawkins received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002, and her B.S in Zoology from UT Austin in 1986.

Hawkins is broadly interested in the reproductive endocrinology and neuroendocrinology of teleost fishes. Using an evolutionary and comparative approach, she used the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), a well-studied teleost fish model of vertebrate reproductive endocrinology and toxicology, to identify a third type of “classical” estrogen receptor (ER) in vertebrates. This work established that all teleost fish express multiple ER subtypes. She is also interested in how steroid hormones coordinate and regulate reproductive physiology via genomic and non-genomic signaling systems.

Her activities include speaking at major conferences and conducting workshops on developing and sustaining Biology Studio undergraduate research programs in higher education. She is a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences and past president of the Carolinas Society of Toxicology and Chemistry. As an Associate Teaching Professor at North Carolina State University from 2005 to 2019, Hawkins mentored more than 200 undergraduate researchers and several graduate students and postdocs in the laboratory. She has taught courses in Physiology, Development, General Biology, and Authentic Research Practices.

At St. Mary’s, she works with area high schools to develop their early college courses in Biology.

Hawkins is a member of NCUR, CETAC, and SICB. She has published many journal and conference papers and has mentored numerous scientific poster presentations by undergraduate researchers, including more than a dozen award-winning student presentations. She is a contributing author of Test Bank for Biology.


Hawkins MB, Ferzli M, and Paciulli L. Creating a Biology ‘Studio’ to Promote Undergraduate Research. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research (SPUR). 2017:1(2): 5-11.

Kollitz EM, Zhang G, Hawkins MB, Whitfield GK, Reif DM, Kullman SW. Evolutionary and Functional Diversification of the Vitamin D Receptor-Lithocholic Acid Partnership. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(12):e0168278.

Yost E, Lee Pow C, Hawkins, MB, Kullman, SW. Bridging the Gap From Screening Assays to Estrogenic Effects in Fish: Potential Roles of Multiple Estrogen Receptor Subtypes. Environmental Science & Technology. 2014; 48(9): 5211-5219.

Kollitz EM, Zhang G, Hawkins MB, Whitfield GK, Reif D, Kullman SW. Molecular Cloning, Functional Characterization, and Evolutionary Analysis of Vitamin D Receptors Isolated from Basal Vertebrates. PLoS ONE. 2014; 10(4): e0122853.

Hawkins MB, Ferzli MG. Using a Comparative Endocrinology Model to Recruit Future Scientists. Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Proceedings of the 2013 ABLE Conference/Workshop. 2014; (35):

Kollitz EM, Hawkins MB, Whitfield GK, Kullman SW. Functional Diversification of Vitamin D Receptor Paralogs in Teleost Fish Following a Whole Genome Duplication Event. Endocrinology. 2014;155(12): 4641-4654.

Marsh-Hunkin E, Heinz H, Hawkins MB, Godwin J. Estrogenic control of behavioral sex change in the bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum. Integrative and Comparative Biology 2013; 53 (6): 951-959.

McCaffrey K, Hawkins MB, Godwin J. Sexual Phenotype Differences in zic2 mRNA Abundance in the Preoptic Area of a Protogynous Teleost, Thalassoma bifasciatum. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(8): e23213.

Marsh K, Creutz LM, Hawkins MB, and Godwin J. Aromatase immunoreactivity in the bluehead wrasse brain, Thalassoma bifasciatum: Immunolocalization and co-regionalization with arginine vasotocin and tyrosine hydroxylase. Brain Research. 2006; 1126: 91-101.

Hawkins MB, Godwin J, Crews D, and Thomas P. The distribution of the duplicate oestrogen receptors ERba and ERbb in the forebrain of the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) indicates subfunctionalization after gene duplication. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 2005;272(1563): 633-41.

Hawkins MB, Thomas P. The unusual binding properties of the third distinct teleost estrogen receptor subtype ERßa are accompanied by highly conserved amino acid changes in the ligand-binding domain. Endocrinology. 2004; 145(6): 2968-2977.

Hawkins MB, Thornton JW, Crews D, Skipper JK, Dotte A, and Thomas P. Identification of a third distinct estrogen receptor and reclassification of estrogen receptors in teleosts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 2000; 97: 10751-10756.

Khan IA, Hawkins MB, and Thomas P. Gonadal stage-dependent effects of gonadal steroids on gonadotropin II secretion in the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus). Biology of Reproduction. 1999; 61: 834-841.

Bergeron JM, Hawkins MB, Thomas P. Analysis of a cytosolic progestogen receptor in the Atlantic croaker, Micropogonias undulatus. Biology of Reproduction. 1998; 58(1): 216-217.

Khan IA, Thomas P, Hawkins MB. Feedback control of gonadotropin II release by gonadal steroids in Atlantic croaker. Biology of Reproduction 1996; 54: 534-534 Suppl.1.

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