66 search results for "naegele"

Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium Feb. 20

The second Neuroscience and Behavior Alumni Symposium will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 in Science Center 121. The public is invited.

Five of the department’s “best and brightest” alumni from the last decade will speak at the symposium.

“We invited these particular alumni because they are at different developmental stages on paths toward uniquely varied careers,” says John Kirn, professor and chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior Department, professor of biology and director of Graduate Studies.  “This symposium will focus on their personal stories of post-Wes training in graduate school, biotechnology, medical school, and at NIH.”

Kirn encourages undergraduate attendees to participate in this unique mentoring experience during the discussion period, when student will be able to ask the speakers questions about career strategies and how experiences at Wesleyan and beyond have shaped the alumni’s career goals.

Lunch will be provided. To attend, please RSVP to Marjorie Fitzgibbons by February 12, 2010 (mfitzgibbons@wesleyan.edu).

The schedule is as follows:
9:30-9:45 a.m.   Welcome (John Kirn, Chair, NS&B Program), David Bodznick, Dean of Natural Sciences & Mathematics) (Science Center 121)

9:45-10:30 a.m.     “Aversive processing in

Stem Cell work of Grabel, Naegele Featured

The Hartford Courant profiled the ground-breaking stem cell research of Laura Grabel, Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science in Society, professor of biology, and Janice Naegle, professor of biology, professor neuroscience and behavior, as well as the work of Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior. Wesleyan, along with Yale University and The University of Connecticut, has received grants from the State Stem Cell Initiative, a program that allows scientists to research human stem cell lines. Grabel, Naegele and Aaron are doing research aimed at replicating cells that would ultimately help cure a form a epilepsy.

NSF, NIH Support Burke’s Development, Evolution Research

Ann

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to study amphibian systems.

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, recently received a three-year, $395,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the development and evolution of the shoulder girdle using transgenic mice, frog and salamander.

The mice will be generated in collaboration with a lab at the University of Michigan and will allow Burke and her associates to turn off Hox genes, which are specific patterning genes, in specific sub populations of the embryonic mesoderm that make the musculoskeletal tissues.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received two grants that fund her research on the scapula's development.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Burke is studying the scapula's development.

“Comparing the dynamics of gene expression and cell interactions during the formation of the pectoral region in a variety of embryos will help us understand the evolution of these musculoskeletal structures and the dramatic variations among vertebrate lineages associated with adaptations for different locomotor strategies, like swimming, scurrying, crawling and flying,” Burke explains.

The frog and salamander experiments will use transplants of mesoderm between wild type embryos and embryos that have Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) expressed in all their cells, allowing Burke and her associates to fate map mesodermal cell populations.

Fate mapping is determining which cellular structures in the embryo give rise to which adult structures.

“We do this by transplanting the embryonic structure from a labeled embryo (GFP in this case) into the same spot in an unlabeled embryo, and tracing the ‘fate’ of the labeled cells, that is which adult structure they end up in,” Burke says.

Burke also received a two-year $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use the same amphibian systems (salamander and frog) to develop a model system for understanding body wall defects in humans.

The grants will provide funds for a team of researchers at Wesleyan working with Professor Burke on these projects, including a postdoctoral fellow, graduate students and undergraduates.

“Receiving these two new federal grants, plus a grant from the Eppley foundation earlier this year, is a remarkable accomplishment in any year, but particularly this year as funding levels have dropped precipitously,” says Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Naegele Honored by Congressman For Work in Bioscience

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor and chair of biology, was honored for her innovative work in bioscience by the organization “We Work For Health” overseen by the Connecticut Consortium of Independent Colleges on May 18. Congressman Joe Courtney presented a plaque to Naegele’s designee, Deborah Hall ’11 at a ceremony in Cromwell, Conn.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics Hosts Poster Session

Jan Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and Wesleyan President Michael Roth listen to Kai Xuan Keith Tan explain his research during the Natural Science and Mathematics Poster Session April 17. Tan's project was titled "The Role of Ku70 in Regulating Cell Death during Cerebral Cortical Development."

Janice Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth listen to Kai Xuan Keith Tan '09 explain his research during the Natural Science and Mathematics Poster Session April 17. Tan's project was titled "The Role of Ku70 in Regulating Cell Death during Cerebral Cortical Development."

Preschoolers' Use of Testimony."

Psychology graduate student Keera Bhandari explains her research on "Acquiring Knowledge from Others: Preschoolers' Use of Testimony."

Shuk Kei Cheng '09 talks to David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, about her project titled "Anodic Oxidative Functionalization of Tolune Derivatives."

Shuk Kei Cheng '09 talks to David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, about her project titled "Anodic Oxidative Functionalization of Tolune Derivatives."

Finding Intermediate Mass Black Holes in the Local Universe," with Laurel Appel, director of the Wesleyan McNair Program, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate.

Hannah Sugarman '09 discusses her research on "Baby Giants: Finding Intermediate Mass Black Holes in the Local Universe," with Laurel Appel, director of the Wesleyan McNair Program, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate.

Physics major Anand Swaminathan '09 explains his research on "Vortex Dissipation in Superfluid Third Sound Flows."

Physics major Anand Swaminathan '09 explains his research on "Vortex Dissipation in Superfluid Third Sound Flows."

Molecular biology and biochemistry major Muna Nahar '09 researched gene regulation.

Molecular biology and biochemistry major Muna Nahar '09 talks about her research on gene regulation.

What is the Releationship?"

Psychology major Sarah Jeffrey '09 presented her findings on "Elementary Neurocognition, Learning Potential, and Function Life Skills: What is the Relationship?" (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Wolfe Honored at Retirement Reception

About 80 colleagues, friends and family gathered in the Daniel Family Commons April 26 to honor Jason Wolfe, professor of biology, emeritus, for his retirement from Wesleyan. Wolfe taught biology at Wesleyan for 39 years. Pictured are former and current members of the Wolfe Lab. Front row, from left, are Emily Lu '00 and Vey Hadinoto '99.  Back row, from left, are Aditi Khatri '11, Joan Bosco '09, Hyo Yang '12, Professor Wolfe, Carlo Balane '06 and Ivy Chen '09.

About 80 colleagues, friends and family gathered in the Daniel Family Commons April 26 to honor Jason Wolfe, professor of biology, emeritus, for his retirement from Wesleyan. Wolfe taught biology at Wesleyan for 39 years. Pictured are former and current members of the Wolfe Lab. Front row, from left, are Emily Lu '00 and Vey Hadinoto '99. Back row, from left, are Aditi Khatri '11, Joan Bosco '09, Hyo Yang '12, Professor Wolfe, Carlo Balane '06 and Ivy Chen '09.

Wolfe earned a bachelor of arts degree from Rutgers University, a master of arts ad eundem gradum from Wesleyan and a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley. He's taught cell biology, human biology, biology of aging and the elderly and structural biology. Wolfe is pictured above with Linda Strausbaugh Ph.D. '77.

Wolfe earned a bachelor of arts degree from Rutgers University, a master of arts ad eundem gradum from Wesleyan and a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley. He's taught cell biology, human biology, biology of aging and the elderly and structural biology. Wolfe is pictured above with Linda Strausbaugh Ph.D. '77.

Wolfe's retirement reception guests included Professor Nancy Schwartz, professor of government; Victor Gourevitch, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, emeritus; and Allan Berlind, professor of biology, emeritus.

Wolfe's retirement reception guests included Professor Nancy Schwartz, professor of government; Victor Gourevitch, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, emeritus; and Allan Berlind, professor of biology, emeritus.

From left, Vera Schwartz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, professor and chair of the East Asian Studies Program, mingles with Susan Wasch P'84 and Bill Wasch '52, P'84.

From left, Vera Schwartz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, professor and chair of the East Asian Studies Program, mingles with Susan Wasch P'84 and Bill Wasch '52, P'84.

Lew Lukens, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, emeritus;  Ellen Lukens; Jan Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Fred Cohan, professor of biology, attended the reception to congratulate Wolfe on his retirement. (Photos by Blanche Meslin)

From left, Lew Lukens, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, emeritus; Ellen Lukens; Jan Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Fred Cohan, professor of biology, attended the reception to congratulate Wolfe on his retirement. (Photos by Blanche Meslin)

Naegele Receives Major Conn. Stem Cell Grant

Janice Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, has received a $499,988.00 grant from the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee for her study titled: “Brain Grafts of GABAergic Neuron Precursors Derived from Human and Mouse ES Cells for Treating Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.”

The four-year grant will begin in July 2009, and will support research in laboratories in Wesleyan’s biology department and neuroscience program. The research is directed toward generating inhibitory interneurons that we will transplant into the hippocampus of mice that have temporal lobe epilepsy. The goal of the project is to investigate the potential therapeutic effects of these embryonic stem cell derived neuron grafts for repairing damage to the brain and suppressing seizures.

The award is part of Connecticut’s $100 million Human Embryonic Stem Cell Initiative. Naegele’s co-investigators on this study will include Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, and Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science in Society, professor of biology.

Grabel Defends Embryonic Stem Cell Research to The Senate

Laura Grabel.

Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, is the co-director of the University of Connecticut Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility. (Photo by Alexandra Portis '09)

Sitting in front of the Senate panel, Laura Grabel was ready for the “when” and “why” questions. But she knew one of these questions held a lot more potential danger to her future than the other.

Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, is a renowned stem cell researcher. She is also the co-director of the University of Connecticut Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility, part of a $100 million human stem cell research initiative created by the State of Connecticut in 2006.

The stem cell initiative was the state’s response to a veto issued by then-President George W. Bush that restricted federally-funded research on human embryonic stem cell lines to cell lines derived before August 2001. The initiative included a collaboration of three state academic institutions with outstanding stem cell researchers: Yale University, The University of Connecticut and Wesleyan University. During the start-up round, Grabel was not only named co-director of the facility, she received an $878,348 grant for her research.

All of this led up to her sitting in front of the panel at the State Senate in Hartford in the last week of February.

Naegele Co-Recipient of Fragile X Grant

Janice Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor and chair of biology, is the co-recipient of a grant from the Fragile X Foundation worth $69,450 for the “Role of STEP in Fragile X Syndrome.” The grant was awarded May 1. Fragile X is the most common inherited cause of mental impairment and the most common known cause of autism. About 25 percent of children with Fragile X have seizures and epilepsy. The grant will support research on the causes and potential treatments for epilepsy in a mouse model of Fragile X. In addition to the grant, Professor Naegele and her collaborators were invited to participate in the FRAXA Research Foundation Investigators Meeting in September 2008 in Durham, N.H.

Graduate Students, Alumni Discuss Science Careers at First-Ever Retreat


Joshua Boger ‘73, P’06 P’09 speaks about “Building a 21st Century Pharmaceutical Company” during the student-organized Graduate Student Career Retreat March 29.
Posted 04/04/08
Students pursuing degrees in biology, molecular biology and biochemistry fields had the opportunity to discuss their future careers with Wesleyan alumni during the Graduate Student Career Retreat March 29.

The first-ever event, held at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, allowed alumni to deliver a series of brief talks on their own careers and participate in panel discussions. In addition, graduate students held a poster session to share their own research with the invited guests.

“I consider this a ‘career banquet’ for our graduate students,” said Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior and chair of the Biology Department. “There’s a diversity of career opportunities awaiting our graduates, and our alumni were eager to come back and speak about their careers.”

Wesleyan alumnus and trustee Josh Boger ‘73, P’06 P’09 was the retreat’s keynote speaker, and presented “Building a 21st Century Pharmaceutical Company” and “Building Your Future.” In the talks, Boger, the founder and CEO of biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass. discussed his company’s current research on developing an antiviral drug for Hepatitis C and increasing lung function in cystic fibrosis patients.

“To work in pharmaceuticals, you have to be passionately excited about it, and know that 99 out of 100 times you’re going to be wrong,” Boger said during his presentation. “You have to be science-driven and focus on unmet medical needs.”

Boger urged graduate students take chances to tackle the unknown and stay true to their personal values.

“Deciding what you’ll want to do is an individual decision and don’t let anyone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t do,” Boger advised. “I come into work every day smiling because I love what I do. I am happy. It is very important to work in a career that makes you happy.”

An additional 19 guests spoke on science-related careers in one of three sessions: academia, industry and alternative careers. Many of these speakers were Wesleyan alumni.

Jacek Majewski Ph.D ’99, assistant professor of human genetics at McGill University and the Genome Quebec Innovation Centre in Montreal, Canada, currently studies pre-mRNA processing among individuals and tissues. Fifteen years prior, Majewski was pursuing a completely different career path.

“I had degrees in physics and electrical engineering, and I really loved physics, but I didn’t like working, and I got confused about what to do next,” Majewski explained during the academia session. “I had a vision. I began thinking about things I liked. Nature, the environment, hiking and biology. And I ended up at Wesleyan working on a Ph.D in biology. Life is so undefined. You don’t always know what your goal is, but when you make a decision, make the most of it.”

No two alumni had similar career paths or current positions. Kristen Martins-Taylor, who received a Ph.D in molecular biology and biochemistry in 2007, is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut Health Center, where she studies embryonic stem cells. Judy Dunn, who received a Ph.D in biology in 1997, is a medical director at researched-based pharmaceutical company Sepracor in Marlborough, Mass., where she provides scientific input for therapeutic product development. Roopashree Narasimhaiah, who earned a Ph.D in biology in 2005, is an assistant director of development, corporate and foundation relations at Yale University and works as a liaison between the Yale School of Medicine and several corporations.

Stephen Saxe, who earned his Ph.D in molecular biology and biochemistry in 1985, spoke on alternative careers in the science. After working for the National Institutes of Health and teaching pharmacy classes as an assistant professor at Albany College, Saxe went on to obtain a law degree and now serves as associate general counsel in intellectual property at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire, Conn.

“I decided to get out of the lab and into law,” Saxe explained. “Pharmaceutical companies need lawyers who can understand the science and write patents. It’s becoming more and more common for Ph.Ds to go off and become patent attorneys.”

About 15 graduate students made poster presentations at the event, sharing their research on topics such as budding yeast telomeres, interneuron death in epilepsy patients, neurons role in finch song production, and cell differentiation in chick and mouse embryonic development. (Pictured at left, Zainab Mithaiwala ’08, a prospective graduate student, examines a poster displaying graduate student research at the retreat.)

The event was funded by the Joseph and Matilda Melnick Research and Endowment Fund and organized by graduate students Noelle Ammon and Tina Motwani. Several other graduate students, faculty and staff helped plan and create the event.

About 70 students, faculty, alumni and guests attended the retreat.

“The event helped all of us feel reassured and inspired having heard about the paths the alumni took to reach their current occupations.” Ammon said. “Also, many students were able to set up network connections with alumni who are professors at various universities and scientists at several pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Overall, the retreat was a huge success.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

NSF Grant Expands Study of Self-Medicating Caterpillars


Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, is the recipient of a NSF grant which will enable him to hire a postdoc and undergraduate student to collaboratively research behavior of the woolly bear caterpillar.
Posted 12/07/07
When a woolly bear caterpillar becomes infected with a parasite, it can’t go to a pharmacy for medicine, so it does the next best thing: It eats the leaves of medicinal plants.

This behavior and recognition for the need to self-medicate when ill is at the heart of a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal by Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, titled “Self-medication: function and mechanism in a woolly bear caterpillar.”

The two-year, $314,267 grant will permit Singer to study in more detail this prescient behavior by the woolly bear caterpillars, also known as Grammia geneura.

“All animals have immunological defenses, subject to modification by diet,” Singer says. “Herbivorous animals may be especially prone to self-medicate by ingesting pharmacologically active chemicals found in the plants they eat. This project will allow me to investigate the means of self-medication by the woolly bear caterpillar, and ultimately help us all better understand the links in the behavior and ecology of wild animals to animal health.”

The grant allows Singer to continue a study he initiated a few years ago, the results of which were published in the July 27, 2005 issue of the esteemed scientific journal Nature.

Singer’s study will include distinct segments. It will begin with behavioral experiments that will characterize the dietary choices of experimentally parasitized caterpillars in relation to caterpillars without parasites. Then experimentally parasitized caterpillars will be given different diets to evaluate the role of specific diets in resistance against parasites. Physiological experiments will evaluate the effects of these diets on the caterpillar’s immune response to parasites.

In addition, to analyze the direct effects of caterpillar diet without the immune system, the parasites will be grown in artificial diets that reflect different caterpillar diets. Theory predicts that caterpillars employ two distinct mechanisms of self-medication that vary in their severity of negative side effects.

“We hope to generate some definitive findings by the end of the study, Singer says.

The grant comes at a time when grant funding by the NSF has become extremely competitive and difficult to obtain.

“That Mike has been successful in obtaining NSF funding indicates the very high regard that Mike’s colleagues across the country have for his research and scholarship,” says Janice Naegele, professor and chair of biology. “This recognition in the area of ecology and integrative organismal biology comes early in his career and will have a positive impact on his upcoming case for tenure and promotion at Wesleyan.”

Along with funding Singer’s research, the grant will also pay for a post-doctoral research fellow. In addition, there is funding to hire an undergraduate research assistant during each summer.

“This will allow a student to gain a high quality research experience along with peers in the Hughes and Mellon summer research programs at Wesleyan,” says Singer. “A postdoc will also enhance training of undergraduate and graduate students working in my lab by spending more hands-on time with students in the lab than I can provide as well as by offering a different intellectual perspective than my own.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Student Presents Stem Cell Research at International Symposium


Jenna Gopilan ’07 researches neural stem cells in mice brains, and presented her research at a recent StemCONN conference.
Posted 04/02/07
Jenna Gopilan ’07 familiarized herself with the scientific research environment during her freshman year as a work study student. As a sophomore, she shadowed graduate students to learn their techniques. Now, as a senior, the neuroscience and behavior major had the opportunity to present her own research project to the Media and Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The briefing took place during Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research International Symposium, also known as StemCONN 07, March 27-28. Gopilan’s research, presented on a poster, was titled “Defects in the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Adult Mice Deficient for DNA Double-Strand Break Repair.” Political leaders, scientists, academics and the general public attended the symposium. Gopilian was the only undergraduate chosen from 10 other students to present for this session.

“It was a little intimidating to present my research to scientists from around the world and our state’s legislators, but it was an educational experience,” Gopilan says. “Listening to legislators’ inspiring speeches, I learned that scientists should take a more active role in their community.”

Launched in the wake of Connecticut’s historic decision to support human stem cell research, StemCONN attracted stem cell researchers from around the world. The program included events touching all aspects of stem cell research, including scientific, commercial, political and ethical dimensions. Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell opened the proceedings.

Gopilan received funding for her project from Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) and Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). The grant funds her studies of endogenous neural stem cells in the hippocampus of adult mice and the neurogenic response of the brain to seizures.

Last summer, Gopilan conducted research at the University of California, San Francisco. There, she learned how to harvest neural stem cells from the central nervous system of adult mice. She was able to use the technique back at Wesleyan in the lab supervised by Janice Naegele, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department.

“Although these are early days in her research project, Jenna already has some interesting data that she had the opportunity to present in the Capital and at StemCONN,” Naegele says. “Not only is this a very nice recognition of her interesting project, it is also an opportunity to present her ideas at an international conference where she was able to receive feedback from experts in the stem cell field.”

Prior to her junior year, Gopilan was accepted to be a Hughes Fellow, spending the entire summer working on a single research project “The Effects of Serotonin on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus of DNA-PKcs Mice”. Gopilan will graduate this May, but will continue her research as a fifth-year master’s student at Wesleyan.

After Gopilan offered her presentation side-by-side with scientists who have received major grants from the state, Dr. Gerald Fishbone and Dr. Jerry Yang, members of the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, lauded her work and offered advice for the young scientist.

“Their input allowed me to reevaluate my research and think of new and innovative experiments to answer questions I have for my research,” Gopilan says. “I would to like continue working with adult neural stem cells in the future. There are still many things left to understand and decipher.”

The long-term goal of her work is to repair brain damage in disorders such as epilepsy.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor