Andy Petzold portrait

Andrew Petzold, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, CLI
+1 507 258 8219
(507) 258-8066


Ph.D., Comparative and Molecular Biosciences, University of Minnesota, 2010
B.A., Biology, Hamline University

“UMR allows students to find their own intellectual niche by providing a wide base of knowledge, integrated both across disciplines and across educational levels thus creating a well rounded individual able to confront the challenges of an ever changing world.”


Andrew Petzold began his academic career being interested in how genes can create differences in the functioning of neural networks. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Hamline University specializing in Biology and Comparative Anatomy. He then began his graduate work in the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences program through the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, researching the genetics of nicotine response using larval zebrafish as a model organism. After receiving his PhD in 2010, he accepted a position as a lecturer at the University of Minnesota Rochester. In 2013, Dr. Petzold obtained a tenure-track position at UMR.  


Dr. Petzold's teaching experiences have been varied, from educating elementary school teachers on developmental biology and genetics to instructing summer camps on human health and disease to teaching upper level biology courses in Immunology. He believes that for a student to thrive educationally, the student must have a want to learn and a reliability to the subject being approached. In all of his classes, he attempts to teach using this philosophy, placing the student at the center of the knowledge attempting to create an environment best suited for student learning. Through this manner of teaching, UMR allows students to find their own intellectual niche by providing a wide base of knowledge, integrated both across disciplines and across educational levels, thus creating a well rounded individual able to confront the challenges of an ever changing world.

At UMR, Dr. Petzold is responsible for teaching Anatomy and Physiology I (BIOL 2331), a requirement for all students at UMR, offered during the first semester of their sophomore year, and Immunology (BIOL 4364). He has also contributed to a number of other classes including Microbiology, Human Development, Anatomy and Physiology II, and an elective seminar on Genetically Modified Organisms.


Dr. Petzold is engaged with a variety of research activities that generally can be categorized into two major areas of focus: educational research on the communication of science to non-scientific audiences, and scientific research on group learning in adult zebrafish. His educational interest is in developing the ability of the student to communicate to a non-scientific public or to their peers - qualities that are beneficial to the development of the student's career, whether within the sciences or not. To this end, he has developed an activity that explores communication of scientific ideas to non-scientific audiences as a form of curricular review embedded within BIOL 2331. Pairing a semester review with the development of non-scientific communication skills allows the students to accomplish both the learning of new skills with the needed review before a comprehensive exam. Dr. Petzold strives to discover how this can best be approached to allow students to be best prepared for any field that they will enter in the future.

One of the goals of the UMR curriculum is to increase the practice and exposure of UMR students to basic scientific research by complementing the research being done at UMR with research done outside of UMR in collaborating laboratories. In addition to this educational research endeavor, Dr. Petzold takes part in collaborative research with Dr. Robert Dunbar and a group of students on the transfer of learning amongst groups of adult zebrafish. By training groups of zebrafish (Danio rerio) to respond to a stimulus by entering a designated chamber of a fish tank, we are able to examine the dynamics of group learning within a model system (similar to those aspects found within a classroom). This project, developed in conjunction with undergraduate students, exposes students to authentic basic research and the potential difficulties that are associated with the researh - learning science by doing science.

Select Publications

Petzold, A. M., Bedell, V. M., Boczek, N. J., Essner, J. J., Balciunas, D., Clark, K. J., and Ekker, S. C. (2010) SCORE Imaging: specimen in a corrected optical rotational enclosure. Zebrafish, 7(2): 149-54. 

Petzold, A. M., Balciunas, D., Sivasubbu, S., Clark, K., Bedell, V., Westcot, S., et al. (2009). Nicotine response genetics in the zebrafish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(44), 18662-18667. doi:10.1073/pnas.0908247106.

Petzold, A. M., and Dunbar, R. L. (2014). Development of skills necessary for public communication of science within an undergraduate health science curriculum. Proceedings of the New Perspectives on Science Education Conference 2014.