Tag Archive for Biology

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)

Hingorani, Biro ’09 Co-Author Article on Metal Toxin

Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, is the co-author of “Mechanism of Cadmium-mediated Inhibition of Msh2-Msh6 Function in DNA Mismatch Repair,” published in Biochemistry, March 25, 2009. Three undergraduates from three countries worked on the project in the Hingorani Lab at Wesleyan. They include Francis Noah Biro ’09; Markus Wieland, an exchange student from University of Konstanz; and Karan Hingorani, Manju Hingorani’s nephew from St. Xaviers College in Mumbai who did volunteer work in the lab. The project focused on how the heavy metal toxin Cadmium (found in cigarette smoke, industrial pollution, batteries, etc.) causes DNA damage and blocks DNA repair, which promotes development of cancer.

Hingorani also co-authored the article “Mechanism of ATP-Driven PCNA Clamp Loading by S. cerevisiae RFC,” published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, March 13, 2009.

Faculty Teach Elementary Students DNA, Natural History

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, taught a workshop on "Biodiversity in Connecticut and Beyond" during the Middletown Minds in Motion program March 21 at Snow Elementary School.

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, taught a workshop on "Biodiversity in Connecticut and Beyond" during the Middletown Minds in Motion program March 21 at Snow Elementary School. Singer taught participants about natural history and the biologically diverse animals that inhabit Connecticut ecosystems, focusing on insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, taught a workshop titled "Who Done It? A DNA Investigation."

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, taught a workshop titled "Who Done It? A DNA Investigation."

During a “Who Done It? A DNA Investigation,” elementary school aged children sported white lab coats and became “detectives” hoping to solve a crime.

The students learned about DNA structure by isolating DNA from wheat germ and comparing DNA samples from a ‘crime scene’ with the DNA from five suspects. They learn how DNA forensics actually works – just like on the television show “CSI.”

Singer, Mace ’07 Research Published in Scientific Journals

When parasites attack woolly bear caterpillars, such as this <em> Grammia incorrupta</em>, the insects eat leaves loaded with chemicals called alkaloids, which seems to cure the infection. The discovery, by Michael Singer, represents the first clear demonstration of self-medication among bugs.

When parasites attack woolly bear caterpillars, such as this Grammia incorrupta, the insects eat leaves loaded with chemicals called alkaloids, which seems to cure the infection. The discovery, by Michael Singer, represents the first clear demonstration of self-medication among bugs.

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, is the author of “Self-Medication as Adaptive Plasticity: Increased Ingestion of Plant Toxins by Parasitized Caterpillars,” published in PLoS ONE, March 2009. PLoS ONE is an open access, online scientific journal from the Public Library of Science.

This new article rigorously demonstrates that caterpillars can self-medicate, following up on a previous publication in Nature in 2005. This is the first experimental demonstration of self-medication by an invertebrate animal.

This paper also represents the first publication to arise from research funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to Singer in December 2007. Kevi Mace BA ’07 MA ’08 assisted with the research.

The research also was featured in an article titled “Woolly Bear, Heal Thyself,” published in Discover Magazine online, and in an article titled “Woolly Bear Caterpillars Self-Medicate — A Bug First,” published in National Geographic News.  The caterpillars also were mentioned in the March 26, 2009 edition of nature-research-highlights-09.

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.

Aaron Awarded $50,000 for Epilepsy Study

Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $50,000 grant from The Epilepsy Foundation on Dec. 6 titled “STEP Regulation of Epileptogensis in the Hippocampus.”

Drugs prescribed to combat epilepsy can yield unwanted side effects. One reason that drugs have side effects is that they can affect almost every neuron in the brain, regardless of their roles in spreading seizures. Aaron will research ways target only the neurons that may be most important in stopping the spread of seizures. Previous work has shown that a certain protein, STEP, is found in select groups of neurons. One of those groups of neurons, the hilar interneurons of the hippocampus, is a crticial group with regards to epilepsy. By manipulating that protein, researchers can target that group of neurons, and hopefully gain traction in a selective therapy for preventing and curing epilepsy.