Professor of Biology


Curriculum Vita (Acrobat PDF)


Dr. Christy A. MacKinnon joined the Biology Department in 1991. She currently serves as department chair, and holds the Sister Joseph Marie Armer Endowed Chair. Dr. MacKinnon earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan-Flint, and a M.S. in Plant Biology from Michigan State University, where she also completed teacher certification in secondary science. She completed a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Colorado State University. She taught at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth prior to joining the faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Dr. MacKinnon was a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow investigating In Vitro Mutagenesis/Protein Folding in the laboratory of Dr. Barry Nall, UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, TX Department of Biochemistry; and a NIH Postdoctoral Trainee in Molecular Carcinogenesis in the laboratory of Dr. Gerald Adair, UT-M.D. Anderson System, Science Park, Smithville, TX.

Scholarship at the University of Incarnate Word

Dr. MacKinnon's interests have focused on the professional development of in-service science teachers and college faculty. This research has been conducted in collaboration with Dr. Dennis Sunnal, Department of Education, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. She was a NASA Project NOVA Research Fellow from 2001-2006.

Dr. MacKinnon was the primary developer of the MA degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering. This unique program integrates reform-based science teaching methods with standards-based content.

She was one of the first faculty to implement an integrated lecture/laboratory course format at UIW. This format allows for an instructional strategy based on a learning cycle design. Dr. MacKinnon has authored more than 30 case studies for Genetics & Lab, which are integral to a 5-E-learning cycle model. The case studies are based on current research literature and integrate ethical issues in the context of Catholic Social Teaching.

Most recently, Dr. MacKinnon has been involved in early childhood science education in collaboration with Dr. Mary Ruth Moore, Department of Teacher Education at UIW.

Courses Taught


Unity of Life, Diversity of Life, Genetics, Texas Flora, Scientific Inquiry, Senior Synthesis, Anatomy & Physiology I Laboratory


Cell Differentiation, Structure & Function of Proteins, Structure & Function of Nucleic Acids, Selected Topics in Ecology & Evolution, Selected Topics in Cellular Biology.

Selected Scholarly Activities:

Book Chapters

MacKinnon, C., Fowles, J., Gonzales, E., McCormick, B., & Thomann, Wm. (2005). The impact of state standards on teacher professional development and student performance in middle school science. The Impact of State and National Standards on K-12 Science Teaching. Information Age Publishing, 2005. pgs. 361-390.

McCormick, B. & MacKinnon, C. (2004). Changing the culture of an introductory biology course. Reform in Undergraduate Science Teaching for the 21st Century. Eds. Dennis W. Sunal, Emmett L. Wrigth & Jeanelle Bland Day. InfoAge Publishing, Greenwich, CT. pgs. 393-408.

Sunal, D.W., MacKinnon, C., Raubenheimer, C.D., McAlister, D.A. & F. Gardner. (2004). A case study of a national undergraduate science reform effort. Reform in Undergraduate Science Teaching for the 21st Century. Eds. Dennis W. Sunal, Emmett L. Wrigth an Jeanelle Bland Day. InfoAge Publishing. Greenwich, CT. pgs. 225-239.


Kerr, S. F.., Merkelz, R., MacKinnon, C. (2000). Further support for a palaearctic origin of Leishmania. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Vol 95 (4):579-581.

Sims, M., Tryon, V.V., Nall, B.T., MacKinnon, C. (1998). Polymerase chain reaction mutagenesis and automated DNA sequencing. Association of Biology Laboratory Education, Conference Proceedings, Volume 20.

Veerarghavan, S., Rodriquez-Ghidarpour, S., MacKinnon, C., McGee, Wm.,
Pierce, M., Nall, B.T. (1995). Prolyl isomerase as a probe of stability of slow-folding intermediates. Biochemistry, 34:12892-12902.


Moore, M. R., & MacKinnon, C (2008) Backyard science: developing an appreciation for the wonders of nature right outside your doorstep. National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, November 5-8, Dallas, TX.

MacKinnon, C., Fowles, J., McCormick, B. (2005). Effectiveness of a graduate program in multidisciplinary sciences for professional development and student performance. Interactive poster session at the annual conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching April 4-6, 2005, Dallas, TX.

McCormick, B., & MacKinnon, C. (2005). Changing the culture of an introductory biology course. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association April 11-15, 2005, Montreal, Canada.

MacKinnon, C., Dial, K. & Raubenheimer, C.D. (2003). Effects of Professional Development on University Faculty on Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Student Learning. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association April 21-25, 2003, Chicago, IL.

Sunal, D., Sunal, C., Whitaker, K., Odell, M. & MacKinnon, C. (2003). April). The effect of standards-based reforms in university courses on undergraduates’ science knowledge. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association April 21-25, 2003, Chicago, IL.

Funded Research

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Eisenhower 1994-2001 Math and Science Program, Professional DevelopmentProgram, Division of Higher Education. Science Institutes in Geophysics, Ecology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology,
and Multidisciplinary Sciences; Principle or Co-Principle Investigator of 10 grant awards.

Participating Scientist, NIH Doctoral Bridge Program 1994-1996 UTHSC-SA and UIW; mentored students in molecular biology projects.

San Antonio Botanical Gardens and the Center for Plant 1994-1996 Investigation of molecular variability in Texas Wild-rice (Zizania texana).