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Peter Heywood, PHD

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Peter Heywood

Title: Professor of Biology
Department: Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, & Biochemistry

+1 401 863 3415, +1 401 867 4435

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Overview | Research | Grants/Awards | Teaching | Publications

I am interested in cell structure and function in the protists, in particular, the flagellar apparatus, cytoskeleton and mechanisms of mitosis in raphidophycean algae. My interests also include the interface between biology and environmental science, for example, the role of agricultural intensification (i.e., the Green Revolution and agricultural biotechnologies) in providing food for expanding human populations while also maintaining the sustainability of environmental resources.


I grew up in Manchester, England and graduated with First Class Honours from London University in 1964. In both my graduate work at London University (1964-1968) and postdoctoral research at Harvard University (1968-1970), I focused on the cell biology of the algae. While at Yale University School of Medicine (1970-1974) and at Brown (1974 to the present), I extended the scope of my research to include the cell biology of protozoa, tissue culture cells and sensory cells of the mammalian inner ear.

My teaching at Brown has spanned a series of courses from introductory plant biology to advanced cell biology. I have won several teaching awards, including the Hazeltine, Leduc, and Sheridan Awards, and the National Science Teachers Association Award for Innovations in College Science Teaching.

Over the years I have served Brown as a Dean and also on many committees. I proposed part of the present academic calendar in 1981.

I have been a concentration advisor and freshman advisor for most of my time at Brown.



Research Description

I have long-standing interests in cell structure and function in the protists, in particular, the flagellar apparatus, cytoskeleton and mechanisms of mitosis in raphidophycean algae and trypanosomes. I am also interested in a number of issues at the interface between biology and environmental science, for example, the role of agricultural intensification (such as the Green Revolution and agricultural biotechnologies) in providing food for the expanding human population while also maintaining the sustainability of environmental resources.



1961-64 Awarded State Scholarship by Ministry of Education, England.

1964 Received First Class Honors degree in Botany, University of London.

1964-67 Awarded Research Studentship by Science Research Council, England.

1968-70 Awarded Maria Moors Cabot Research Fellowship in Botany, Harvard University.

1976 Awarded a Henry Merritt Wriston Grant.

1978 Received Senior Class Citation, Brown University.
(This award is usually presented to 2-4 faculty or administrators annually "for outstanding support, guidance and teaching".)

1978 Invited to be a speaker at a national symposium "Phytoflagellates: Form and Function".

1979 Appointed Danforth Associate.

1979 Awarded A.M. ad eundum, Brown University.

1980 Received Senior Class Citation.

1981-84 Appointed Fellow of the Wayland Collegium for Liberal Learning.

1982 Received Senior Class Citation.

1984-87 Appointed to Executive Committee of the Wayland Collegium for Liberal Learning.

1986 Invited to chair sessions at two national meetings.

1987 Selected as one of ten National Science Teacher Association delegates to the NSTA-ASE Conference on Science Education.

Received NSTA-Ohaus award for innovations in College Science Teaching (one of two people nationwide to share the top award in the undergraduate college division).

Elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Selected as Evaluator for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Honorable mention in the Hawkhill Awards Competition for ideas on new ways of teaching science/technology/society through the use of audiovisual media (one of six prizewinners nationwide).

Received Hazeltine Award from graduating class at Brown.

1995 Received Hazeltine Award from graduating class at Brown.

1996 Received Elizabeth Leduc Award for Teaching Excellence in the Life Sciences.

1998 Received Harriet W. Sheridan Award for Distinguished Contribution to Teaching and Learning.


Fellow of the Linnean Society, London.

Funded Research


a. Current grants

b. Completed grants
Deafness Research Foundation Grant #5-29830
1/77-6/79 $19,795
"Selected ultrastructural aspects of inner ear development of the guinea pig"

Biomedical Research Support Grant #5-27245
4/80-3/82 $3,000
"A scanning electron microscope investigation of development in the golden hamster organ of Corti"

Biomedical Research Support Grant #5-27394
11/82-3/83 $1,000
"Comparative ultrastructure of the flagellar apparatus in two protists: Trypanosoma cyclops and Vacuolaria virescens"

Biomedical Research Support Grant #5-27518
11/83-3/84 $820
"Mitosis in the cryptophycean alga Chilomonas paramecium"

Biomedical Research Support Grant #5-27753
5/84-3/85 $1,000
"Structure and phylogenetic significance of the cytoskeleton in the algal class Cryptophyceae"

Association of American Colleges
7/84-7/86 $5,000
"A collaborative model for the improvement of courses for non-science majors"

The Rockefeller Foundation
10/88-9/89 $89,500 Co-PI with Ellen Messer
"An overview of agrobiotechnological choices and opportunities for LDCs"

Wayland Collegium
7/89-6/90 $16,300
"The Biological Revolution in the Developing World"

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Incentive Grant
5/90-8/94 $10,000

Wayland Collegium
8/92-5/93 $4,800
"Teaching Elementary Science Courses"

National Science Foundation Grant #TPE-885-0397
1/89-6/94 $585,276 Co-PI with Sharon Clark
"Bookshelves in Biology: a redefinition of teaching and learning"

National Science Foundation
1/94-12/98 $692,411 Co-PI with Laura Mack
"Zooscope: focus on middle school science teaching"

Eisenhower Grant
9/96-4/97 $18,000 Co-PI with Lawrence Wakeford
"Hands-on approach to using plants in the classroom"

Teaching Experience

At Brown I have taught in a variety of courses ranging from introductory botany and introductory biology to advanced courses in cell biology. The students in the foregoing courses were mainly biology concentrators or pre-medical students, but I have also taught biology to non-science concentrators (Biomed 5 and MoT 16).

In 1976 I developed "Plant Cell Biology" to fulfill the need for a course which would concentrate on the cell biology of plants and photosynthetic protists. This course, later retitled "Cell Biology and Biotechnology," has been offered in most years and relies heavily on critical analysis of original papers and familiarity with research techniques. A major component of the course is the term paper which is usually 15-25 pages in length and draws on information from 20-40 recent sources in the primary literature to examine in detail a current issue in cell biology; the paper must critically evaluate the literature and suggest designs for further experiments.

In 1985 "Plant Cell Biology" was one of two courses chosen by the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship at Brown for its Educational Software Project sponsored by the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Project and IBM. I helped develop the software so that the course could be taught using Intermedia, a hypermedia system which enabled students to make their own scholarly connections in a matrix of information consisting of text, light and electron micrographs, diagrams and three-dimensional models. Although the evolving technology of computer-assisted instruction opens intriguing possibilities, I believe that human interaction is important in good teaching. Students should feel confident that their professors are not only informed and enthusiastic, but also that they really care for the intellectural development of all students in the class. Consequently I try to become aware of student's individual educational needs, and have extensive office hours to discuss academic difficulties and challenges.

In 1984 my interests in science teaching and in collaborative learning were instrumental in causing me to develop the Science Mentor Program. This experimental program sought to address the needs of three overlapping categories of students: those with restricted backgrounds in science, those who were apprehensive about science courses, and those who wished to discuss science and technology in a small group. These students participated in an extra weekly session of the course which was led by a science mentor. Science mentors organized activities which supplemented those in the course, for example, additional laboratory sessions and demonstrations, field trips, review sessions, and discussions of some of the broader issues raised by the scientific discipline, etc. This Program won a National Science Teacher Association-Ohaus award for innovations in College Science Teaching