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Department of

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Joseph Provost, PhD


Joseph Provost, PhD, joined the faculty at the University of San Diego in 2013.  Dr. Provost has taught a wide range of chemistry and biochemistry courses and is interested in how to bring novel pedagogies of engagement into the classroom and teaching laboratory.  Provost has been involved with a number of organizations involved to enrich the experience of undergraduates including: the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Council on Undergraduate Research and Project Kaleidoscope.  Provost ‘s research involves focuses the role transport protein plays in directed cell motility and tumor progression and how these membrane proteins regulate other critical mammalian cell functions.

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Ph.D., University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
B.Sc., Bemidji State University, Chemistry
Postdoctoral Studies at Vanderbilt Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Scholarly and Creative Work

For the last twenty years, Provost has been working to understand cell signaling and communication.  From receptors to protein kinases, lipases and GTPase proteins, he has lead students to study how these proteins are involved in regulating cellular behavior.  Students investigate how these communication pathways influence cell motility via the sodium hydrogen exchanger (NHE).  Undergraduates in his lab use a variety of approaches to determine how NHE is involved in non-small cell lung cancer and, when properly controlled, can decrease the size of and the aggressive behavior, of tumors.  Student projects also focus on how transporters are involved in coordinating critical intracellular events involved in directed cell motility.  Another ongoing project is to develop a heat-stable vaccine against hookworm.  This study has shown promise in initial preclinical trials.  Private and public foundations including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have funded his work.

Teaching Interests

Provost enjoys teaching Biochemistry as well as courses in both upper and lower division classes for majors and non-science majors.   He is working with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on the accreditation of biochemistry degrees and programs and developing a standardize biochemistry assessment instrument.  Provost has hosted and given numerous workshops on integrating research into the curriculum.  Along with his co-authors, Provost is writing a textbook for non-science majors to learn fundamental science concepts using everyday experiences.  The book “The Science of Food and Cooking” uses food and cooking centered approaches to the science behind food, cooking, baking and other kitchen experiments.