Alan Gillen, Ed.D.

Professor of Biology

Alan Gillen

Office: SH 105
Phone: 434-582-2309 


  • B.A. Washington & Jefferson College
  • M.S. Ohio State University
  • Ed.D. University of Houston 

Courses taught 

  • BIOL 203 Introduction to Microbiology
  • BIOL 305 Parasitology
  • BIOL 400 Biology Seminar


Dr. Gillen was born in Uniontown, PA. After living in Pennsylvania for 21 years, he moved to Ohio and Texas for graduate study. He then spent seven years in graduate study in zoology at Ohio State and in medical microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. His favorite occupation is integrating biblical themes with biology. He has written three books and two lab manuals on various biology topics. His books include The Human Body: An Intelligent Design and Body by Design: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made, and The Genesis of Germs: Plagues & Pestilences in a Fallen World

His major research interests are 1) handwashing and MRSA prevention 2) the creative design of bacteria, parasites, and the immune system 3) the origin of infectious & parasitic diseases. His hobbies include collecting antique microscopes and inventing new ways to take pictures using "cutting-edge" microscopes. He came to Liberty in the summer of 2004 and lives in Forest, VA with his wife, Jayne, and Logan, their adorable sheltie.


Dr. Gillen and his lab students are interested in tracking the incidence of students carrying pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus, as well as finding ways to control MRSA. Many are unaware that pathogens may colonize their body, and they remain asymptomatic. Students take a sample from their nose (anterior nares) and armpits (axilla). Awareness of being a carrier is part of microbial control. Once aware of being a convalescent carrier, students and health care professionals alike can control the spread of germs. Dr. Gillen's previous research focused on what antiseptics, hand sanitizers and soaps work best in controlling Staphylococcus aureus and other common bacteria. In general, antibacterial compounds work best. So far, Dr. Gillen and his students found that chlorhexidine and triclosan antibacterial soaps are the most effective toward all of the bacteria types tested while antiseptics such as alcohol (found in hand sanitizer) are the least effective. What effect does repeated handwashing have on the normal microbiota and the health of skin? How do you keep skin from being damaged by zealous handwashing? Are there 'probiotic' solutions to replacing the repeated scrubbing action of handwashing? Dr. Gillen's students hope to publish this study in an ASM journal. The results of this research could thus benefit the entire student body by helping to educate students regarding proper hand hygiene, keeping skin healthy, and the awareness of germs living in and on their bodies. This is especially true for those going into clinics carrying SuperStaph and MRSA.