Three Wesleyan faculty recently received Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
R15 grants stimulate research at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. Awards provide funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing health-related meritorious research projects, enhancing the research environment at eligible institutions and exposing students to research opportunities.
Amy MacQueen, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $492,900 award on Aug. 7 for her research titled “How do Synaptonemal Complex Proteins Mediate the Coordinated?”
MacQueen investigates the molecular mechanisms that underlie how reproductive cells (sperm and eggs in humans and spores in yeast) form. In particular, she focuses on how the genetic material (DNA)—which is packaged into chromosomes—is evenly distributed during the cell division cycle (meiosis) that gives rise to reproductive cells.
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Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon and 26 Wesleyan students are coauthors of a recent paper published in G3.
The second publication by students in Genomics Analysis (BIOL 310) has been accepted by the well-known journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. This adds 26 Wesleyan students to the ranks of more than 40 students who have become published authors through the course’s research on Drosophila sechellia, a type of fruit fly evolved to eat a plant that is toxic to most insects.
The recent paper, “Genomics Analysis of L-DOPA Exposure in Drosophila sechellia,” is coauthored by all 20 students in Assistant Professor of Biology Joseph Coolon’s class, and six students in his lab.
“I created my Genomics Analysis course as a way to provide more students with a course-based research experience where students participate in scientific discovery and the generation of new knowledge, and don’t just consume knowledge generated by others,” said Coolon. “This means each year the students taking the course learn material generated and published by the previous iterations of the course.”
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Twenty-three students and one faculty member are co-authors of a forthcoming manuscript in the journal G3.
More than 20 Wesleyan students — including three former first-years — are co-authors of a research manuscript accepted for publication in a prestigious biology research journal. The paper focuses on a species of fruit fly that has evolved, and has the ability to ingest a toxic plant.
The paper, which is forthcoming in G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics, is the result of a study completed by BIOL310 Genomics Analysis students. Course instructor and co-author Joseph Coolon, assistant professor of biology, created BIOL310 to provide students a course-based research experience focused on measuring gene expression.
“Because the students in the course and in my lab collaborated on all the analysis, interpretation, and wrote the paper, all 23 students are co-authors of the published manuscript,” Coolon said. “G3 is a well-known and highly reputable journal for publishing in my field and I am honored to have been able to publish there, especially given the number of undergraduates that are now published authors in such a great journal.”
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This fall, Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon is teaching Principles of Biology (MB&B181) and Cell and Development Journal Club (BIOL505). (Photo by Olivia Drake)
This fall, Wesleyan welcomes Assistant Professor Joseph Coolon to the Department of Biology.
Coolon comes to Wesleyan from the University of Michigan where he worked as an assistant research scientist and a postdoctoral fellow for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Coolon has a BS in biology and PhD in biology from Kansas State University. His dissertation was titled “Ecological Genomics of Nematode Responses to Different Bacteria.”
At Wesleyan, Coolon plans to have two primary research projects. The first project is aimed at understanding the major sources of variation in gene expression including changes in DNA sequence, responses to the environment, and epigenetic effects of previous generations’ experiences.
This project takes advantage of new technological advances in high throughput sequencing and custom computational tools developed in his lab to measure genome-wide gene expression.
The second project focuses on a largely unmet challenge in genomics, determining the functional consequences of a changes in gene expression. To do this, he uses the fruit fly Drosophila sechellia, which has evolved to eat only a single fruit that produces toxic compounds capable of killing most insects. Through an evolved change in gene expression identified by his group, this species has become resistant to the primary toxin of the plant. This project will functionally characterize how this adaptation works mechanistically.
“I am excited to bring new genomics research to Wesleyan,” he said.
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