John M. Matter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology


I was born in Eugene, Oregon and was raised in rural east-central Missouri, just outside of Saint Louis. At an early age, I was exposed to the wonders of nature. As a child, I often came home with snakes or lizards caught in the woods surrounding our home. Much to my mother's dismay, I often kept snakes in my bedroom. An insatiable interest in biology lead me to continue my education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While an undergraduate student, I learned that not all biology degrees lead to medical school. My love of herpetology merged with a growing interest in endocrinology and reproductive biology while I was a graduate student at Saint Louis University. After completing my Masters' degree, I was accepted to the graduate programme at the University of Florida. There, I combined interests in male reproductive biology with endocrinology, studying aspects of sperm physiology in the mountain spiny lizard, Sceloporus jarrovi. Involvement with studies on the reproductive biology of alligators in Florida lead to the discovery of developmental abnormalities in animals at Lake Apopka. Evidence from Lake Apopka alligators has reinforced the notion that environmental contaminants can influence the reproductive systems and endocrine physiology of wildlife species, and perhaps humans. Currently, I am conducting research on the ability of organochlorine pesticides to induce reproductive abnormalities in developing squamate reptiles, namely lizards and snakes. Both of my children, Colin and Nyssa, are students at Juniata College.

My hobbies include cycling, running, fly fishing and fly tying, homebrewing, photography, and soccer.

I was promoted to Associate Professor of Biology at Juniata College in 2002.


B.A. Biological Sciences University of Missouri - Columbia
M.S.(R)  Biology Saint Louis University
Ph.D. Zoology University of Florida
Postdoctoral Research
1994-1995  Dr. Cliff H. Summers Department of Biology, USD
1995-1997  Dr. Richard L. Dickerson  TIWET, Clemson University



Fall 2012
  BI 105 General Biology I
  BI 360 Vertebrate Zoology Lecture
Spring 2013

  Dr. Matter will be on sabbatical during the 2013 Spring semester


Research Interests

My primary interests are vertebrate reproductive biology, including comparative endocrinology and histology of reproductive structures. Other research interests include the ecological consequences of sperm competition, cell biology of spermatogenesis, and sperm motility. I am also interested in the evolution, life history and ecology of vertebrates, particularly ectotherms. My current research involves environmental contaminants and their effects on reproductive development and endocrinology. Comparative anatomy and histology of reproductive structures in vertebrates. Environmental and physiological factors associated with seasonal reproduction, particularly, influences of central nervous system and pituitary regulation of gonadal activity. Spermatogenesis and the regulation of secondary sex structures associated with sperm maintenance, viability and storage. Ecological consequences of sperm competition. At Clemson University, I studied the potential effects of environmental contaminants on reproductive structures in American alligators, bobwhite quail, and deer mice. This research was an outgrowth of work with alligators at Lake Apopka, a contaminated site in central Florida.

Some of my research techniques include histology for light and electron microscopy, high-performance liquid chromatography, electrophoresis and western blotting of proteins, and in vitro cell culture. I utilise many histological techniques, including paraffin (rotary microtome) and frozen (sliding microtome and cryostat) histology for light microscopy, electron microscopy (transmission and scanning), immunohistochemical localization within sectioned tissues; autoradiography, and morphometry. Quantitative techniques I employ, include radioimmunoassay (RIA) of steroid hormones and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) of biologically active molecules from neural substrates. I am involved in protein identification and characterization utilizing poly-acrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western blotting techniques, in vitro cell culture and collection of secreted products. I utilise computer-assisted analysis of video-micrographic recordings, animal microsurgery techniques, photomicroscopy, and photographic developing in many aspects of my research and teaching.


Selected Publications

Summers, CH, WJ Korzan, JL Lukkes, MJ Watt, GL Forster, Ø Øverli, E Höglund, ET Larson, PJ Ronan, JM Matter, TR Summers, KJ Renner, and N Greenberg. 2005. Does serotonin influence aggression? Comparing regional activity before and during social interaction Physiol Biochem Zool 78: 679-694.

Summers, TR, JM Matter, JM McKay, PJ Ronan, ET Larson, KJ Renner and CH Summers. 2003. Rapid glucocorticoid stimulation and GABAergic inhibition of hippocampal serotonergic response: In vivo dialysis in the lizard Anolis carolinensis. Hormones & Behavior 43: 245-253.

Matter, JM, DA Crain, CS McMurry, DB Pickford, TR Rainwater, KD Reynolds, AA Rooney, and LJ Guillette, Jr. 1998. Effects of endocrine-disrupting contaminants in reptiles: alligators. pp 267-289 In: “Principles and Processes for Evaluating Endocrine Disruption in Wildlife” (RJ Kendall, JP Giesy, RL Dickerson, and W Suk, eds.). SETAC Press, Pensacola, FL. 

Sheffield, SR, JM Matter, BA Rattner, and PD Guiney. 1998. Fish and wildlife as sentinels of environmental endocrine disruptors. pp 369-430 In: “Principles and Processes for Evaluating Endocrine Disruption in Wildlife” (RJ Kendall, JP Giesy, RL Dickerson, and W Suk, eds.). SETAC Press, Pensacola, FL. 

Matter, JM, PJ Ronan, and CH Summers. 1998. Central monoamines in free-ranging lizards: Differences associated with social roles and territoriality. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 51:23-32. 

Matter, JM, C Sills, AB Anthony, and RL Dickerson. 1996. Development and implementation of endocrine biomarkers of exposure and effects in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). Organohalogen Compounds 29:28-32. 

Ronan, PJ, M Gaikowski, JM Matter, DO Norris, and CH Summers. 1995. Changes in central biogenic amine production in response to increased ammonia in Pimephales promelas. Society for Neuroscience Abs. 21

Guillette, LJ, AR Woodward, Q You-xiang, C Cox, JM Matter, and TS Gross. 1995. Formation and regression of the corpus luteum of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Journal of Morphology 224:97-110. 

Guillette, LJ, TS Gross, GR Masson, JM Matter, HF Percival, and AR Woodward. 1994. Developmental abnormalities of the gonad and abnormal sex hormone concentrations in juvenile alligators from contaminated and control lakes in Florida. Environmental Health Perspectives102:680-688. 

Guillette, LJ, KA Bjorndal, AB Bolten, TS Gross, BD Palmer, BE Witherington, and JM Matter. 1991. Plasma estradiol-17b, progesterone, prostaglandin F2a, and prostaglandin E2 concentrations during natural oviposition in the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). General and Comparative Endocrinology 82:121-130 

Guillette, LJ, TS Gross, JM Matter, and BD Palmer. 1990. Arginine vasotocin-induced prostaglandin synthesis in vitro by the reproductive tract of the viviparous lizard Sceloporus jarrovi. Prostaglandins 39:39-51. 

Guillette, LJ, A Pfrimmer-Hensley, JM Matter, and PH Jaffe. 1990. Indomethacin influences arginine vasotocin-induced parturition and oviposition in lizards (Sceloporus undulatus and Sceloporus jarrovi). Theriogenology 33:809-818.


I have served as an editorial reviewer for several books, including Life: The Science of Biology (Purves et al., 1998, 5th edition) and Herpetology (Pough et al., 1997). I have been a reviewer for several scientific journals, including Chemosphere, General and Comparative Endocrinology, Environmental Health Perspectives, and Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Since coming to Juniata College, I have become involved in many department and campus activities. I am currently serving as the faculty advisor to the Lambda Epsilon chapter of Beta Beta Beta (the Biological Honour Society).

I served on the local organising committee for the 1999 meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH), The Herpetologists' League, and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). These meetings were held at Penn State University 24 through 30 June, and brought leading experts together for the purpose of discussing their research on fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. As a result of my role in SSAR activities during 1999, I was selected as Secretary for the Society. I am very honoured to have been given this opportunity to serve the professional herpetological community. The joint meeting for these same societies was held in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico 15-21 June 2000.

Society Affiliations


Comparative Endocrinology


Endocrine Disruptors

Renal Sex Segment

Friends &

The Lighter Side


You can e-mail Dr. Matter at

Office Location: BSC B217
Office Phone: (814) 641-3585
Business Fax: (814) 641-3685

Biology Department
Juniata College
Huntingdon, PA 16652


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