Catherine R. Propper

Propper 120X170


Phone: 928-523-1374
Office: Wettaw, bldg. 88, room 215
Website: Environmental Endocrinology

Research/teaching interests

  • behavioral endocrinology 
  • environmental endocrinology 
  • reproductive endocrinology

Academic highlights

My main interests are in how environmental information gets translated into developmental, behavioral, and reproductive responses and what role the endocrine system plays in the translation. I use amphibians as model systems. 

Currently, projects in my laboratory include studies on how environmental contaminants may act as endocrine disruptors to affect development and adult physiological function.  In my laboratory, we try to understand the interaction between the environment and molecular mechanisms involved in thyroid signaling during development, sexual differentiation of the gonads, and adult reproductive physiology and behavior.

Specifically, we investigate how individual compounds and complex mixes of enviromental contaminants, such as those found in wastewater effluent, impact reproduction and development in tadpole development and frog and fish reproductive behavior and pheromonal communication. 

I am a mentor in the NSF IGERT graduate training program: NAU’s IGERT PhD program seeks to identify key links between genes and the environment and is designed to train exceptional graduate students in molecular genetics, environmental sciences, and spatio-temporal modeling. All students in my lab will be involved in multidisciplinary research in endocrinology, molecular biology, statistics and systems engineering.

My lab group and I are interested in endocrine regulatory pathways involved in development and adult function. We try to combine molecular techniques with broader laboratory and field measures to:

  1. determine the network of gene interactions that set up normal endocrine function during development,
  2. determine how the structural and temporal characteristics of endocrine function is perturbed when organisms are exposed to environmental chemicals.
  3. clarify how these perturbations are correlated to changes in phenotypic and potential fitness outcomes, and
  4. determine how different complex mixes of environmental compounds can impact development, fitness, and ultimately population structure.

Important components of this integrative project are molecular analyses, functional assessment of endocrine activity, and statistical modeling approaches to bridge between genotypic and phenotypic data over the developmental time course.

Relevant Publications: 

Kolok, A.S., Schoenfuss, H.L., Propper, C.R., and Vail, T.L. 2011.  Empowering citizen scientists: The strength of many in monitoring biologically active environmental contaminants.  61 (8): pp. 626-630. 

Wymore, A.S., Keeley, A.T.H., Yturralde,K.M, Schroer, M.L, Propper, C.R., and Whitham, T.G., 2011. Genes to ecosystems:  Exploring the frontiers of ecology with one of the smallest biological units. Tinsley Review. New Phytologist. 191: 19–36. 

Searcy, B.T., Beckstrom-Sternberg, S.M., Beckstrom-Sternberg, J.S., Stafford, P.,  Angela L Schwendiman, A.L., Soto-Pena, J., Michael C Owen, M.C., Ramirez, C., Phillips, J. Veldhoen, N., Helbing, C.C., Propper, C.R. 2012. Thyroid Hormone-Dependent Development in Xenopus laevis: A Sensitive Screen of Thyroid Hormone Signaling Disruption by Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. In Press. 

Park, D, Hempleman, S.C., and Propper, C.R. 2001. Disrupted amphibian pheromone systems in red-spotted newts: A potential causal factor in population declines. Env. Health Perspect. 109: 669-674.

Park, D. and Propper, C.R. 2001. Repellent function of male pheromones in the red-spotted newt. J. Exp. Zool. 289:404-408.

Park, D. and Propper, C.R. 2002. Endosulfan affects male pheromonal detection and production in the red-spotted newt.  Bull. of Env. Contamin. Toxicol. 69(4):609-16.

Mayer, L.P.,  Overstreet, S.L., Dyer, C.D. and Propper, C.R. 2002. Sexually dimorphic expression of steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) in developing gonads of the American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana.  Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 127: 40-47. 

Park, D. and Propper, C.R. 2002. The olfactory organ is activated by a repelling pheromone in the red-spotted newt, Notophalamus viridescens.  Korean J. Biol Sci.  6:233-237.

Park, D. and Propper, C.R. 2002. Pheromones from female mosquitofish at different stages of reproduction differentially affect male sexual activity. Copeia 2002:1113-1117.

Mayer, L.P.,  Dyer, C.D. and Propper, C.R. 2003. Exposure to 4-tert-octylphenol accelerates sexual differentiation and disrupts expression of Steroidogenic Factor 1 (SF-1) in developing bullfrogs.  Env. Health Persp. 111(4):557-61.

Park, D., Minor, M.D., and Propper, C.R.. 2004. Toxic response of endosulfan to breeding and non-breeding female mosquitofish. Journal of Environmental Biology 25(2): 119-124.

Rohr, J.R., Park, D., Sullivan, A.M., McKenna, M., Propper, C.R., Madison, D.M. 2005. Operational sex ratio in newts: field responses and characterization of a constituent chemical cue. Behav. Ecol. 16: 286-293.

Propper, C.R. 2005. The Study of Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds: Past Approaches and New Directions. Int. Comp. Biol. 45(1): 194-200.

Raymond-Whish, S. ,Mayer, L.P., O’Neal, T., Martinez, A.  Sellers, M.A. Christian, P.J., Marion, S.L., Begay, C., Propper, C.R., Hoyer, P.B., Dyer, C.A. 2007. Drinking water with uranium below US EPA water standard causes estrogen receptor dependent responses in female mice.  Env. Health Perspect. 115(12):1711-6.

Denver, R.J., Hopkins, P.M., McCormick,,S.D, Propper, C.R., Riddiford, L., Sower, S.A. and Wingfield, J.C. 2009. Comparative endocrinology in the 21st century. Integ. Comp. Biol. 49: 339-348. 

Porter, T.L., Vail, T., Propper, C.R. and Islam, N. 2010. Bio-Composite Materials for the Detection of Estrogen in Water Using Piezoresistive Microcantilever Sensors. Proceedings of the Materials Research Society.  Published electronically Sept. 2010.  

Book Chapters:  

Park, D., Eisthen, H.L, and Propper, C.R. 2003. The pheromonal repelling response in red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates X. October, 2003.

Orchinik, M. and Propper, C.R. 2005. Hormone Action on Receptors. In: D.O. Norris and J.A. Carr (Eds.), Endocrine Disruption: Biological Basis for Health Effects in Wildlife and Humans, Oxford University Press, 448 pages.   

Propper, C.R. 2010. Testicular Structure and Control of Sperm Development in Amphibians.  Norris, D.O. and Lopez, K.H. (eds). Hormones and Reproduction in Vertebrates, Vol 2. Amphibians. Elsevier.