Tag Archive for Biology

Cohan, Kopac Awarded Grant for Death Valley Bacteria Study

Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, and biology graduate student Sarah Kopac received a $20,000 Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Training Grant on March 9. The award, which is subcontracted through the University of Hartford, supports a study titled “The Speciation of Bacillus Subtilis along a natural Salinity Gradient in Death Valley.”

Aaron, Naegele, Briggs, Walker, Asik Published in Epilepsia Journal


The March 2011 cover of Epilepsia.


Faculty, alumni and students from the Biology Department and Neuroscience and Behavior Department have an article titled “STEP regulation of seizure thresholds in the hippocampus,” published in Epilepsia, Volume 52, Issue 3, March 2011. Epilepsia is the journal of the International League Against Epilepsy.

The paper’s co-authors include Gloster Aaron assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; Stephen Briggs BA ’07, MA ’08, Jeffrey Walker BA ’08, MA ’09, and biology Ph.D. candidate Kemal Asik. Paul Lombroso, a professor at Yale University, contributed to the report.

This study found that mice lacking a specific enzyme (STEP) have a significantly heightened resistance to developing epileptic seizures. The study then documents a mechanism and location in the brain where this enzyme might have its effect in regulating the seizure thresholds. Briggs and Walker were BA/MA students in the NS&B program, and they worked in the labs of Naegele and Aaron, respectively. Asik works with John Kirn, chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior Department.

Naegele, Students Attend “Mysterious Brain” Forum

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neurosceince and behavior, and a group of Wesleyan students attended the Connecticut Forum on “The Glorius, Mysterious Brain” Feb. 25 at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Forum is a nationally recognized, nonprofit organization that offers live, unscripted panel discussions among renowned experts and celebrities, and community outreach programs. Nagele’s group listened to Autism advocate Temple Grandin, author and Harvard professor Steven Pinker and cognitive scientist Paul Bloom.

In addition, Michael Greenberg ’76, chair of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, spoke to Naegele’s students about “experience-dependent changes in gene expression.”

Ph.D Candidate Kopac to Study Bacterial Evolution with NASA Award

Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac samples soil that contains a bacterium that can endure extreme conditions.

Sarah Kopac, a Ph.D student in Professor of Biology Fred Cohan’s lab, has won a $20,000 NASA grant for research on ecological aspects of bacterial evolution in Death Valley National Park.

The grant, announced Jan. 11 by the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium, will support Kopac’s study of Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium commonly found in soils that can endure extreme conditions, such as high heat levels.

Kopac, a third-year Ph.D candidate, is focused on identifying bacterial species that evolved within a gradient of salty soils – part of a broader effort to understand how ecological factors influence the spawning of new species.

Taylor, Bonfert-Taylor, Bodznick Awarded NSF Grant

Edward Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; Petra Bonfert-Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; and David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a grant worth $199,924 from the National Science Foundation for their “Collaborative Research: Analytic and Geometric Methods in Limited Angle Tomosunthesis.” The grant expires Aug. 27, 2011.

NIMH Supports Naegele’s Cellular Analysis Study

Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $100,000 from the National Institute of Mental Health for her research on “Molecular and Cellular Analysis of Brand-Enriched PTPs.” The grant will be awarded through March 2010. This is a renewal of a previous grant, which is subcontracted with Yale University.

Students Present Summer Research at Poster Session

Wesleyan presented its annual Summer Research Poster Session July 30 in Exley Science Center. More than 100 students, mostly from Wesleyan, participated. Students are funded from Hughes, the Mellon Foundation, a Rauch Environmental Grant, the Wesleyan McNair Program, Sonnenblick and the Robert Schumann Endowment. Students from the Quantitative Analysis Center also participated.

Biology majors Nora Vogel ’11 and Caleb Corliss ’13 discussed their poster titled “Genetic Variation for Invasiveness: Are there Monster Genotypes in Polygonum cespitosum?” They’ve spent the summer trying to understand what role “monster” genotypes (genotypes with the highest relative fitness) play in the invasive spread of this species. Their advisor is Sonia Sultan, chair of the Biology Department, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Grabel Receives Grant to Support Stem Cell Seminar, Workshop

Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, received a $28,750 grant from the Connecticut Stem Cell Initiative for a “Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core” outreach component. The grant is subcontracted with the University of Connecticut Health Center. Outreach activities include running a seminar program for Connecticut colleges and universities, and holding a workshop every summer at the UConn Health Center.

NIH Supports Burke’s Lateral Plate Symposium in Uruguay

Ann Burke, professor of biology, received a $5,700 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, to support a symposium on “Evolution and Development in the Lateral Plate Mesoderm.” This symposium was part of the program of the Ninth International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology held July 26-31 in Punta del Esta, Uruguay. The funds supported the housing and registration costs for six invited speakers.

The symposium brought together paleontologists, developmental and evolutionary biologists to discuss major morphological innovations occurring in the lateral plate mesoderm.