Faculty Directory

Dr. Bill Cliff

Dr. Bill Cliff

Professor and Prehealth Advisor



Dr. Cliff obtained his Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Cornell University.   He joined the faculty at Niagara University in 1992. He is presently a professor in the Department of Biology. He serves as the Pre-Health adviser for the University, and teaches courses in human anatomy and physiology, comparative animal physiology, pharmacology, cell biology and natural history. He has served as chairperson of the Committee for College Teaching and Leaning, and the Task Force on Active and Integrative Learning.

He is a visiting professor at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Here he has pursued interests in many areas including the mechanisms whereby cells regulate the movement of electrolytes and fluid across the plasma membrane.

He is a Carnegie Scholar at the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and a Member of Project Kaleidoscope’s Faculty for the 21st century.  He has a long standing interest in how case studies help students learn the biomedical sciences and his papers on case-based teaching and learning have appeared in Advances in Physiology Education and the Journal of College Science Teaching. He is a regular contributor to the annual summer workshops sponsored by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, an investigative member of the Physiology Education Research Consortium, and a workshop facilitator at the Biology Scholars Program. He has been invited to give seminars and to lead workshops on case-based teaching and learning at the annual meetings of the American Physiological Society and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.  He serves on the editorial board of Advances in Physiology Education.

Current Research

Dr. Cliff investigates how active and integrative approaches to learning impact student understanding of biology.  In particular, he has examined the influence of case-based learning on conceptual change and misconception repair in physiology.   He routinely uses conceptual diagnostic tests, concept mapping and structured Interviews to assess student learning.  His work has been supported by awards from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Physiological Society.   He is a co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation funded  project that seeks to define and assess the core principles of undergraduate physiology.
In conjunction with collaborators from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the UB School of Medicine, Dr. Cliff studies the regulation of potassium channel proteins in liver epithelial cells.  These channels play a key role in the production of bile secretion by the liver.  He uses electrophysiological methodologies to monitor the changes in activity of individual K+ channels in response to various pharmacological and physiological probes.   The results may lead to improved pharmacological treatment of liver diseases that are characterized by altered bile flow, such as cystic fibrosis and the formation of gallstones.   

Current Involvement

  • Member of the Editorial Board – National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.
  • Research Residency Steering Committee.  Biology Scholars Program, Washington DC.
  • Nominating Committee for the Walter C. Randall Lecture on Biomedical Ethics, American Physiological Society.
  • Member of the Editorial Board - Advances in Physiology Education. American Physiological Society.
  • Selection Committee for the Guyton Physiology Educator of the Year Award. American Physiological Society.
  • Coordinator. Experimental Biology Christian Fellowship.
  • University Committee on College Teaching and Learning
  • Chair and Pre Health Advisor, Committee on Recommendations for Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Students
  • Chair, University Radiation Safety Committee    
  • University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
  • Volunteer Naturalist – Beaver Island State Park Nature Center

Educational Background

  • B.S. Cornell University, Biological Sciences
  • Ph.D. Cornell University, Physiology    
  • Post Doctoral Studies University of Alabama at Birmingham, Physiology and Biophysics