After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in 1993, Dr. Victoria Turgeon went on to pursue a PhD in neurobiology & anatomy at Wake Forest University where she focused on the role of serine proteases in neuronal development and degeneration. She received her PhD in 1998 along with the Norman Sulkin Award for Excellence in Neuroscience and was immediately hired at Furman University as an Assistant Professor of Biology. During her tenure at Furman, Dr. Turgeon has been awarded the Henry and Ellen Townes Associate Professorship of Biology, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Mentor Award, the Alester G. Furman Jr and Janie Earle Furman Meritorious Teaching Award, and the SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award. Her lab has been funded by grants received by the National Institutes of Health and the South Carolina Spinal Cord Research Fund and, along with her students, she has published articles in Thrombosis Research, IMPULSE, Psychopharmacology, Journal for the South Carolina Academy of Science, and the Journal of Freshwater Ecology. During this time Dr. Turgeon has peer-reviewed articles for Journal of Neurobiology, Journal of Neurochemistry, and Journal of Neuroscience. Her greatest professional achievements are her students who have gone on to pursue their passions in the fields of biology and neuroscience.

In addition to the over 40 students that have conducted research in her lab, Dr. Turgeon has mentored students from Bridges to a Brighter Future and Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, along with local high school teachers. She has also served as the faculty supervisor of Furman's editorial staff for IMPULSE: Undergraduate Journal of Neuroscience.

Name Title Description


Seminar in Biology

Presentations of current topics in biology by students, faculty, and visiting scientists. Emphasis is on effective oral communication and critical examination of scientific information and ideas.


Principles of Biology

The basic principles common to living organisms, including: cell and molecular biology, genetics, organismal physiology, ecology, evolution. All sections address these topics, but the focus for each may vary. Designed for non-science majors.


Research and Analysis

Introduction to purposes and methods of scientific inquiry. Topics include: philosophy of science, research design, use of biological literature sources, fundamental laboratory techniques, statistical analysis, and survey of careers in biology. Laboratory includes designing, performing, and reporting on research projects.


Introduction to Biomaterials

An exploration of ideas in cardiovascular, orthopedic, and regenerative medicine and how today's technologies and medical innovations have changed these medicines. Course activities will involve trips to local research and medical facilities & hands-on manipulations of biomaterials and devices.


Fetal & Maternal Growth

Examining changes in fetal development and the maternal changes that occur at different stages in pregnancy. Additional topics will include IVF, abnormal development, and complications in pregnancy


Cell Biology

Comprehensive study of plant, animal, and microbial cell biology dealing with the chemistry of cells, bioenergetics, cell ultrastructure and its relation to function, specialized cell types, and cell-to-cell communication. Laboratory emphasis on investigations using modern cytological techniques.


Comparative Anat & Embryology

Lecture and laboratory comparative study of the embryology and adult anatomy of representative chordates. Laboratory dissections include the dogfish shark and the cat.


Human Anatomical Systems

A thorough study of the human body and its complexity. Application of this knowledge will be used in embryological, histological, and cadaver-based studies. Special emphasis is placed on functional anatomy of the body, through an understanding of embryology and pathology. Critical thinking skills will be developed using scenarios that involve the integration of knowledge from the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.



Extensive examination of the structural properties of animal tissues, with emphasis on human samples. Identifying cells and organs based on microscopic structural attributes. Laboratory includes histological preparation and the identification of unknown samples.


Evaluating Scientific Claims

Students will learn the skills necessary to read scientific claims carefully, find relevant information in a variety of sources, and develop an informed opinion in writing about the veracity of the original claim. Students will test claims empirically in laboratory sessions.



Through the ages, cacao beans, the source of chocolate, have served as symbols of social status, religious offerings, and romance. Going beyond the symbolism of chocolate to examine the cultural, economic, and ecological impact of chocolate production from the early mesoamerican period to the present. Chocolate will be prepared and consumed during this course.


Current Topics in Neuroscience

Year long capstone course for neuroscience majors that will provide students with knowledge of current research practice and implications. Discussions of seminal or innovative research papers in a seminar format, and of individual research experiences in the context of progress in the field as a whole.


HHMI Undergraduate Research

Introduction of concepts necessary to conduct undergraduate research through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Good laboratory practice, ethical conduct of research, and scientific presentation and publication.


Women in Science

Study of the obstacles faced by women in science. Topics include: strategies used to overcome obstacles, professional relationships, the female perspective" and current issues. Group projects will be developed through on-going discussions

Dr. Turgeon and her students are interested in the mechanisms that regulate neuronal and glial cell development and degeneration. They are most interested in the role of a specific receptor, protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1), in regulating these processes. To examine the role of this receptor they employ cellular, histological, and molecular techniques. Most recently, Dr. Turgeon and her students have developed a method to examine these cells within a three-dimensional system that better represents these cells within the body.

*Denotes undergraduate co-author

  • Turgeon V.L., Salman N.*, and Houenou L.J. Thrombin: a neuronal cell modulator. Thrombosis Research (invited review article). 99: 417-427. 2000.
  • Meuleners C*, Turgeon V. PAR-1 activation by SFLLRNP decreases myelin deposition on lumbar motor neuron axons as assessed with cupric silver staining. IMPULSE: An Undergraduate Journal for Neuroscience [serial online]; 2010. 1-9.
  • Grisel JE, Bartels JL*, Allen SA, Turgeon VL. Influence of B-endorphin on anxious behavior in mice: interaction with EtOH. Psychopharmacology. 200: 105-115. 2008.
  • Bumpass DB* and Turgeon VL. Avian motorneuon apoptosis following protease activated receptor-1 activation is triggered neither through increased free intracellular calcium levels nor decreased neurotrophic support. Journal for the South Carolina Academy of Science. 3: 13-23. 2005.
  • Salman N.*, Watkins A.*, Hamel K.*, Funderburk S.F.*, Gadsden, L.*, and Turgeon, VL. PAR mediation of thrombin-induced effects on motoneurons. South Carolina Academy of Science. 1:1-9. 2003.
  • Worthen WB, Haney DC, Cuddy CC*, Turgeon VL., and Andersen C.B. The effect of an industrial spill on the macrofauna of a South Carolina stream: physiological to community-level responses. Journal of Freshwater Ecology. 16: 467-477. 2001.
  • Turgeon VL., Milligan CE, and Houenou LJ. Activation of the protease-activated thrombin receptor (PAR)-1 induces motoneuron degeneration in the developing avian embryo. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 58: 499-504. 1999.
  • Houenou LJ., d?Costa AP., Li L., Turgeon VL, Enyadike C, Alberdi E, and Becerra P. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) promotes the survival and differentiation of developing spinal motor neurons. Journal of Comparative Neurology 412: 506-514. 1999.
  • Turgeon VL and Houenou LJ. Prevention of motoneuron degeneration induced by thrombin with different neurotrophic agents in highly enriched cultures. Journal of Neurobiology 38: 571-580. 1999.
  • Turgeon VL, Lloyd ED, Wang S, Festoff BW and Houenou LJ. Thrombin perturbs neurite outgrowth and induces apoptotic cell death in enriched chick spinal motoneuron cultures through caspase activation. Journal of Neuroscience 18: 6882-6891. 1998.
  • Turgeon VL and Houenou LJ. The role of thrombin-like (serine) proteases in the development, plasticity and pathology of the nervous system (review). Brain Research Reviews 25: 85-93. 1997.
Wake Forest University
Randolph-Macon Woman's College

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