Dr. Natalie A. van Breukelen

Assistant Professor of PracticeBiological Sciences

Dr. Natalie van Breukelen (Dr. VB) is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Biological Sciences and Post-Baccalaureate Premed Programs at Goucher College. She teaches a wide variety of courses in biological sciences as well as participating in research projects with undergraduate students. Part of her interest also lies in developing and implementing innovative teaching pedagogies and utilizing evidence-based teaching including active learning. She completed her doctorate in Integrative Biology with a focus on behavioral ecology and neuroendocrinology in 2008 at Lehigh University. Prior to her arrival at Goucher in 2020, she taught at Salem Community College and Mount Aloysius College. In addition, she has taught abroad in Costa Rica and Australia.
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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

Dr. VB’s research explores reproductive behavior using a monogamous fish as a model species. She explores evolutionary, ecological, environmental, and physiological factors which impact behaviors such as parental care, courtship, and territoriality. Her research includes both laboratory and field work research in Costa Rica.


van Breukelen, N.A., Santangelo, N. (2021) Parental male and female convict cichlids assess and respond to threat differently depending on intruder species. Behavioral Processes (in review)

van Breukelen, N.A., Santangelo, N. (2020) Aggression by convict cichlid pairs as a means to deter brood mixing in a natural setting. Animal Behaviour. Vol 162: 105-113 

van Breukelen N.A., Snekser JL, Itzkowitz M (2015) Male convict cichlid 11-ketotestosterone levels throughout the reproductive cycle: an exploratory profile study in laboratory and field populations. PeerJ 3:949

Additional publications available: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Natalie_Van_Breukelen/research

External Awards, Honors, Grants

American Cichlid Association, Guy Jordan Research Grant 2009, 2020

Conference Papers & Panel Participation

van Breukelen, N.A., Santangelo, N. “Aggression by convict cichlid pairs as a means to deter brood mixing in a natural setting.” Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin TX (2020)

van Breukelen, N.A. “Employing Instructor’s Research Experience to Actively Engage Students with the Scientific Method” American Society of Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, Tysons, VA (2019)

van Breukelen, N.A. “The Convict Cichlid as a Model Species for Undergraduate Research: Bringing Field Research in the Classroom” Animal Behavior Society, University of Toronto - Scarborough, Ontario Canada (2017)

van Breukelen, N.A. “Convict Cichlid as a Model Species for Undergraduate Research: An Overview of Field Projects” Animal Behavior Society, University of Colorado, Boulder (2013)

van Breukelen, N.A., Sawyer, C* “Behavioral interactions of native & immigrant cichlids” Animal Behavior Society, College of William and Mary, VA (2010)

van Breukelen, N.A., Itzkowitz, M. “The effects of an androgen receptor antagonist on the expression of courtship and aggression in the male convict cichlid” Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Michigan State University, MI (2009)

van Breukelen, N.A., Mock, L* “A field investigation of the spatial distribution of breeding pairs of convict cichlids: Possible effects of an immigrant species” Lehigh Valley Evolution and Ecology Society, Cedarcrest College, PA (2009)

van Breukelen, N.A., Itzkowitz, M. “A field investigation of parental care and aggressive behavior in the convict cichlid” Animal Behavior Society, UT (2005)

van Breukelen, N.A., Itzkowitz, M “Steroid hormones and reproductive behavior in the convict cichlid”  Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Austin, TX  (2005)

van Breukelen, N.A. “A field investigation of pair dynamics in the convict cichlid” Lehigh Valley Ecology and Evolution Society, Mulhenburg College, PA (2005)

van Breukelen, N.A., Draud, M.J. “Factors affecting divorce in a monogamous fish species” Animal Behavior Society, Bloomington, IN  (2002)

Invited Talks

“The role of androgens in the expression of male pre-spawning behavior” C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University (2009)

“Selection of courtship and parental roles in a biparental fish” Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Portugal (2004)

Academic or Professional Associations

National Association of Biology Teachers

Animal Behavior Society

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Other Professional or Scholarly Activity

NSF Scientific Teaching Fellow (Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching)