Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey

Professor of Biology
Profile photo of Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey

Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey always knew she wanted to be a biologist, even when she wasn’t sure what a biologist did for a living. In college, she majored in biology and found that she really liked bench work. So, after she graduated, she worked as a lab tech for several years. She learned a lot from that time — not least that she wanted to go to graduate school to learn more science.

Dr. McDonough-Stukey loved graduate school and was lucky enough to work on a fantastic project on the molecular biology of lipid metabolism with a great mentor, Dr. Charles Martin, and great lab mates (one of whom she eventually married). In grad school, she taught several classes as a teaching assistant, and discovered that teaching undergraduates was very gratifying. Dr. McDonough-Stukey knew she wanted to be able to do the two things she loved — teach and do research — at a place that valued both. She did a post-doc with another great mentor, Dr. George Carman, shifting emphasis a bit to study the biochemistry of phospholipid metabolism.

When it came time to look for a permanent position, Virginia looked for a place she could continue her work on lipid metabolism, but also work with undergraduates. Her search led her to Hope, where she has been since 1995. She teaches courses with a major emphasis on molecular biology, genetics and cell biology.

AREAS OF Expertise

Dr. McDonough-Stukey’s lab investigates how cells sense which lipids have been made available to them in their diet, and, in turn, regulate their gene expression to control lipid synthesis. She and her team work with the model eukaryotic organism, baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. She is currently in the process of identifying genes whose products are involved in this sensing, the subsequent signal transduction and gene expression regulation.


  • Post-Doc, biochemistry, 1992–1995, Rutgers University
  • Ph.D., cell and developmental biology, 1992, Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
  • B.S., biology, 1983, Rutgers University

Selected Grants, Honors and Awards

  • “Regulation of the Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase by Dietary Fatty Acids,” National Institutes of Health grant ($246,972), 2019–2022
  • Den Uyl Summer Research Fellow, Hope College, 2017
  • “Virus-Bacterial Host Interactions During Infection,” Jacob E. Nyenhuis faculty-student collaborative research grant, Hope College, 2015
  • “Discovery and Functional Investigation of Cytotoxic Phage Genes” (with J. Stukey), HHMI Faculty Research Award for faculty-student collaborative project, Hope College, 2014


  • “My Dog IS My Homework: Exploring Canine Genetics to Understand Genotype-Phenotype Relationships” (with V. Muilenburg et al.), Course Source, forthcoming
  • “A Transcriptional Regulatory System of the S. cerevisiae OLE1 Gene Responds to Fatty Acid Species and Intracellular Amount, and Not Simply Membrane Status” (with M. Willey et al.), Journal of Lipids, 2020
  • “Mice Lacking ARV1 Have Reduced Signs of Metabolic Syndrome and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease” (with C. Gallo-Ebert et al.), Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018
  • “Improving Journal Club: Increasing Student Discussion and Understanding of Primary Literature in Molecular Biology through the Use of Dialectical Notes,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 2012
  • “A Role for MGA2, But Not SPT23, in Activation of Transcription of ERG1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae,” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2010
  • “Expression of the S. cerevisiae PIS1 Gene is Modulated by Multiple ATGs in the Promoter,” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2006
  • “Growth Temperature Affects Accumulation of Exogenous Fatty Acids and Fatty Acid Composition in Schizosaccharomyces pombe,” Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 2004
  • “Mutations in erg4 Affect the Sensitivity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Medium Chain Fatty Acids,” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2002

View all of Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey’s published work in Digital Commons.

Profile photo of Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey
Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey

Phone Number616.395.7715

A. Paul Schaap Science Center 3009A 35 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423-3605
A map showing the location for Dr. Virginia McDonough-Stukey A. Paul Schaap Science Center 3009A 35 East 12th Street Holland MI 49423-3605