• Photo of Rebecca Roberts

Rebecca Roberts

Our research focuses on how natural and environmental hormones regulate breast cancer biology. We use a human breast cancer cell model in the lab to study how compounds such as BPA, found in some plastics, affects metastasis.

Rebecca Roberts is an active member of the Biology Department and the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program.  She heads a laboratory where 6-10 students work with her as research collaborators every semester. She studies the effect of hormonal regulation of enzymes, with a focus on the roles of estrogen and bisphenol A in autoimmune diseases and cancer.  She also carries out pedagogical research, funded by the National Science Foundation, on incorporating genuine inquiry into upper-level biochemistry laboratory courses. To learn more about this project check out the blog.

After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, she became a Visiting Professor at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where she first became interested in the environmental estrogen, bisphenol A. As a scientist and mother of three young children, she has been active in educating the public about bisphenol A and is interested in the role of science in social justice issues. She has twice presented expert testimony to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives regarding toxin-free toddler and baby products and is often interviewed about bisphenol A by the media.




  • B.A., Clark University
  • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts


BCMB-351 Biochemistry I
BIO/BCMB-452W Structural Biology
BIO-220 Innovation in Biology
BIO-102 Cell Biology

Research Interests

Understanding how students develop into scientists
Understanding how students develop collaborative skills across disciplines
Hormonal regulation
Environmental Endocrine Disruptors
Antigen processing and presentation

Recent Work

Paul A. Craig, Trevor Anderson, Herbert J. Bernstein, Colette Daubner, Anya Goodman, Stefan Irby, Julia Koeppe, Jeffery L. Mills, Mike Pikaart, Ashley Ringer McDonald, Suzanne O’Handley, Rebecca Roberts, and Robert Stewart. Using protein function prediction to promote hypothesis-driven thinking in undergraduate biochemistry education.  The Chemist, Journal of the American Institute of Chemists.  Available online

Marita Chakhtoura, Uma Sriram, Michelle Heayn, Joshua Wonsidler, Christopher Doyle, Joudy-Ann Dinnall, Stefania Gallucci, and Rebecca A. Roberts Bisphenol A does not mimic Estrogen in the promotion of the in vitro response of murine Dendritic Cells to Toll-Like-Receptor ligands. Mediators of Inflammation, vol. 2017, Article ID 2034348, 12 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/2034348  Available online

Roberts, R.A.. “Scientific Videos”, contribution to Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide for Designing Better Classrooms by José Bowen and Eddie Watson.  Published by Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  Published January 2017  Available online

Interdisciplinary Collaborations: A Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE). American Society of Cell Biology annual conference.  Mini-symposium Evidence-Based Education. Philadelphia, PA. Dec. 2-6 2017. Invited Speaker.

Paul Craig and R.A. Roberts.  Using protein function prediction to promote hypothesis-driven thinking in undergraduate biochemistry education.  NSF Envisioning the Future of Undergraduate STEM Education.  April 2015. Washington DC.

Dao, J. and R.A. Roberts. Bisphenol A: Mothers Shouldn’t Have to be Scientists. Chapter in edited collection titled “Liberation Science: Putting science to work for social and environmental justice”. Available online.

Roberts, R.A., et al., B cells from Lupus-prone mice respond more vigorously to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. Experimental Biology April 2014, San Diego.

Roberts, R.A. Bisphenol A exposure and health effects: Physician and patient education. American Family Physician June 1, 2012.

Roberts, R.A. Primary author of Learning Curve BioPortal assessments for Stryer’s Biochemistry 7th ed. and Tymoczko’s Biochemistry: A short course. W.H. Freeman Publishers. (2010-2013)

Roberts, R.A. What You and Need to Know About Bisphenol A. Physicians News Digest, November, 2011.

Roberts, R.A. Bisphenol A in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Exposure and Biological Effects. Neonatology Today. Volume 4: issue 11, 2009.

Biswanger, C.*, L. Davis*, and R.A. Roberts. Estrogenic Impurities in Tissue Culture Plastic Ware Are Not Bisphenol A. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Animal. 42:294-297, 2006.