Assistant Professor of Biology
Stephens Science Center 242
Campus Box 549022
900 Arkadelphia Rd
Birmingham, AL 35254
Office Phone: (205) 226-4879
Office Fax: (205) 226 3078
Brief Career Background:
Dr. Drace earned his B.S. in biology from Athens State University (2002). He then received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2008) where his graduate work examined eukaryotic and prokaryotic genetics to identify novel genes required for microbial biofilm attachment. While in graduate school, he was adjunct professor of biology at Birmingham-Southern College (2006) and the University of San Francisco (2008).
Dr. Drace taught in the College of Liberal Arts at Mercer University for eight years, reaching the rank of Associate Professor of Biology before joining Birmingham-Southern College in the fall of 2016. In 2015, the National Association of Biology Teachers awarded him the Biology Teaching Award for Excellence in Biology Education. His current research investigates the health and environmental impacts of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in developing countries.
Ph.D Microbiology (2008), University of Alabama at Birmingham
B.S. Biology (2002), Athens State University
Dr. Drace works with small-scale gold miners in developing countries like Mozambique, Guyana, and Ecuador. Globally, over 10 million people (including many women and children) risk their health and safety to mine for gold because they lack a better alternative. These communities face many problems, including the continued use of mercury in the gold mining process. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can cause severe health complications, but unfortunately many miners see it as an essential part of the process. In fact, small-scale gold mining is now the largest source of global mercury pollution. Dr. Drace works with these communities to reduce mercury pollution through educational programs and training workshops.
As a microbiologist, Dr. Drace studies what happens to mercury when it gets into the environment. Mercury doesn’t break down over time; however, under the “right” circumstances bacteria can transform mercury into a form that allows it to accumulate in living organisms. With a better understanding or the factors that impact these biochemical reactions in bacteria, scientists may be able to decrease the impact of mercury pollution in these communities.
BI 125 Cell and Molecular Biology (1)
An investigation of the fundamental properties of cells. Topics include cell structure and function, energetics and metabolism, gene structure and expression, and the techniques used to study these phenomena. Designed for students who plan to major in biology or one of the natural sciences and/ or who are pre-health. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: BI 115.