Tag Archive for Biology

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.

Local Students Sample the Sciences at Wesleyan

Isaac Lichter-Marck '11 shows an eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar to fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School on June 16. The Snow School students sampled the Wesleyan Sciences during a tour of Wesleyan’s biology, physics and scientific imaging departments.

Grabel, Naegele Published in Regenerative Medicine Publication

Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, and Jan Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor of biology, are the co-authors of “Migration of transplanted neural stem cells in experimental models of neurodegenerative diseases,” published in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine by Springer/Humana Press, 2010.

Singer Published in Annals of the Entomological Society

Michael Singer, associate professor of biology, associate professor of environmental studies, is the co-author of “Triptrophic effects of host plants on an herbivore-pathogen interaction,” published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 2010.

Bodznick Published in Zoology, Biology Journals

David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology and professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of “Functional origins of the vertebrate cerebellum from a sensory processing antecedent,” published in Current Zoology 56 (3): 277-284, 2010 and “The Importance of N-methyl d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in subtraction of electrosensory reafference in the dorsal nucleus of skates,” published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, 2010.

Naegele’s Articles in Epilepsy, Stem Cell Publications

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of “Gene and stem cell therapies for treating epilepsy,” published in Epilepsy: Mechanisms, Models, and Translational Perspectives, Dekker M, Inc., 2010; “Migration of transplanted neural stem cells in models of neurodegenerative diseases,” published in  Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine by Springer Science (Humana Press, 2010; “Westward Ho! Pioneering mouse models for X-linked infantile spasms syndrome,” published in Epilepsy Currents 10(1): 1-4, 2010; “Trekking through the telencephalon: hepatocyte growth factor-mediated guidance for parvalbumin-expressing interneurons,” published in Epilepsy Currents 10(4), 2010; and “Transplants for brain repair in epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases,” published in Neuropharmacology 58: 855-864, 2010.

NSF Supports Holmes’ Gene Expression Research

At right, Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a three-year grant to support his research gene expression. His lab uses a budding yeast for the studies.

At right, Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a three-year grant to support his research gene expression. His lab uses a budding yeast for the studies.

For the next three years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support gene expression research led by Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

On March 2, the NSF awarded Holmes a $599,832, three-year grant for his studies on “Epigenetic Silencing of Gene Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

Scott Holmes

Scott Holmes incorporates his research into the spring semester course Advanced Laboratory in Genetics and Molecular Biology.

Gene expression refers to the observable characteristics generated on a molecular level by a particular sequence of DNA or gene; epigenetic controls are essential in maintaining the specific patterns of gene expression that distinguish hundreds of distinct cell types in skin, muscles and other types of tissue.

“I’m thrilled to get the funding,” Holmes says. “It’s very timely for us, and it’s a testament to the great work that graduate and undergraduate students have done in the lab over the last few years.”

Holmes, currently working with four graduate and four undergraduate students, uses a simple budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to study gene expression. Yeast uses an epigenetic gene repression mechanism, known as “silencing” to control the genes responsible for determining cell type.

“Two organisms, or two cells within the same organism, can have identical genetic information, or the same DNA sequence, but can have very different characteristics and functions,” Holmes explains. “We want to know how the gene expression patterns that determine cell type are first established, and then propagated as cells divide.”

The DNA in cells is organized into structures known as chromosomes. A key mechanism for controlling whether genes are on or off is by altering the structure of the chromosome. Once established, these alterations can become a stable, heritable part of the chromosome.

The nature of these structures and the manner in which they are inherited is not clear, Holmes says. Studies conducted on yeast will reveal the basic mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance.

This is the ninth year the NSF has supported Holmes’s research on yeast. He incorporates this research into the spring semester course MB&B 294, Advanced Laboratory in Genetics and Molecular Biology, which is required for undergraduate majors in the MB&B Department.

“This course is designed to familiarize undergraduates with the methods and approaches of the field in the context of pursuing novel research questions,” Holmes explains.

He also has partnered with a local high school biology teacher to devise and implement lesson plans, focusing on key concepts in genetics. Advanced students from this high school also visit the research lab to shadow graduate students.

Scott Holmes Awarded NSF Grant

Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) on March 2. The three year grant, worth $599,832, will support his studies on “Epigenetic Silencing of Gene Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

Read more on Holmes’s study here.

NS&B Alumni Speak to Students, Faculty About Post-Wesleyan Life

Dan Austin '08 speaks to students and faculty on "Research opportunities before graduate/medical school: The national Institutes of Health IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship," during the second Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium Feb. 20 in Exley Science Center. Austin was one of five NS&B alumni who returned to campus to speak at the symposium. While a student, Austin received university honors, the CBIA/CURE Bioscience Fellowship; and the Hawk Prize in Chemistry.

Dan Austin '08 speaks to students and faculty on "Research opportunities before graduate/medical school: The National Institutes of Health IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship," during the second Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium Feb. 20 in Exley Science Center. Austin was one of five NS&B alumni who returned to campus to speak at the symposium. While a student, Austin received university honors, the CBIA/CURE Bioscience Fellowship; and the Hawk Prize in Chemistry. He currently is a pre-doctorial fellow at the National Institutes of Health.