Tag Archive for sciences

DNA Workshop, African Drumming, Compass Use at Minds in Motion


Pictured at right, Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, director of graduate studies, taught a Minds in Motion program March 12 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. Her student assistants, pictured in the back row, are graduate student Jacob Litke, graduate student Li Yan and Hyo Jung Yang ’12. “Minds in Motion” is an afternoon of fun, fast-paced, hands-on workshops geared to high-interest, motivated students in grades K-8.


Hingorani, Bricca Explain Science Documentary Filmmaking Class in ASBMB Today

Stephen Devoto, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is featured in a video created by a student enrolled in the course, Making the Science Documentary.

Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies, explained their experimental cross-disciplinary course on science documentary filmmaking at Wesleyan in a December 2010 article published in American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Today.

In the article, Hingorani and Bricca wrote about their course, “Making the Science Documentary,” which they co-taught together, starting in 2007. The course was designed to introduce undergraduate students to the life sciences and to documentary filmmaking

Sciences Across the Curriculum Project Encourages Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

Jack Glenn ’11 created a double-pendulum program during a Science Across the Curriculum course, Composing, Performing and Listening to Experimental Music. The class was taught by faculty in music and mathematics and computer science.

Last fall, Stephen Devoto, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, took on an unusual teaching engagement — to work with Peter Gottschalk, chair and professor of religion, in order to bring the science of evolution and animal development into Gottschalk’s course, “Religion, Science and Empire: Crucible of a Globalized World.”

“It was liberating to teach science in a different context than a typical science course with its attendant responsibility to cover a vast knowledge base, and to have students’ learning be driven by their interest in the intersection of science and religion,” Devoto says. “Students felt more comfortable learning about science in this type of environment.”

Religion, Science and Empire was one of four courses that received a 2009-10 Sciences Across the Curriculum (SaC) grant to support development of undergraduate courses that integrate Natural Sciences and Mathematics with Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities through cross-disciplinary collaboration between faculty. Initial funding for SaC was provided by the Mellon 23 Assembly, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Academic Affairs.

This year, SaC secured a grant from Wesleyan’s Fund for Innovation to support additional collaborative teaching experiments over the next few years, and faculty are invited to submit proposals for new courses or existing courses reconfigured to incorporate scientific content.

GSAC, Wesleyan Students Teach Minds in Motion Workshops

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Le Na Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Na Le Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated in a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Faculty, Guests Discuss “Stem Cells into the Clinic”

Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, speaks during a symposium titled "Stem Cells into the Clinic: Biological, Ethical and Regulatory Concerns," Jan. 28 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. The event was sponsored by the Dachs Chair, the Faust Lectures in Ethics, and the Ethics in Society Project.

Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, speaks during a symposium titled "Stem Cells into the Clinic: Biological, Ethical and Regulatory Concerns," Jan. 28 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. The event was sponsored by the Dachs Chair, the Faust Lectures in Ethics, and the Ethics in Society Project.

Keynote speaker Bonnie Steinbock, professor of bioethics at the Union Graduate College-Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and professor of philosophy at the University of Albany spoke on “The Ethics of Stem Cell Policy." Her research focuses on the ethics of reproduction and genetics.

Keynote speaker Bonnie Steinbock, professor of bioethics at the Union Graduate College-Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and professor of philosophy at the University of Albany spoke on “The Ethics of Stem Cell Policy." Her research focuses on the ethics of reproduction and genetics.

Stephen Latham, deputy director of Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, joined Gruen and Steinbock in a panel discussion of "Stem Cell Research in the Obama Era."

Stephen Latham, deputy director of Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, joined Gruen and Steinbock in a panel discussion of "Stem Cell Research in the Obama Era."

Dr. Irving Weissman, professor of pathology and developmental biology at the Stanford School of Medicine and director of the Stanford Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, spoke on “Normal and Neoplastic Stem Cells. Weissman’s research focuses on hematopoietic stem cell biology. Other speakers at the symposium included Gordon Carmichael, professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and Valerie Horsley, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University. Carmichael, who spoke on “Double Stranded and Noncoding RNAs in Human Embryonic Stem Cells” studies molecular signals which control the expression and function of mRNA molecules. Horsley, who spoke on “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Control of Skin Stem Cells," studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control stem cell activity and function within epithelia, the tissues that line internal organs and outer surfaces. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Dr. Irving Weissman, professor of pathology and developmental biology at the Stanford School of Medicine and director of the Stanford Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, spoke on “Normal and Neoplastic Stem Cells. Weissman’s research focuses on hematopoietic stem cell biology. Other speakers at the symposium included Gordon Carmichael, professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and Valerie Horsley, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University. Carmichael, who spoke on “Double Stranded and Noncoding RNAs in Human Embryonic Stem Cells” studies molecular signals which control the expression and function of mRNA molecules. Horsley, who spoke on “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Control of Skin Stem Cells," studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control stem cell activity and function within epithelia, the tissues that line internal organs and outer surfaces. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

5th Graders Sample Wesleyan Sciences

Brian Stewart, associate professor pf physics, demonstrates how liquid nitrogen looks like water but evaporates rapidly at room temperature. Fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School toured the Wesleyan sciences June 19.

Brian Stewart, associate professor pf physics, demonstrates how liquid nitrogen looks like water but evaporates rapidly at room temperature. Fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School toured the Wesleyan sciences June 19.

Vacek Miglus, lab technician and curator of the Physics Department, shows the students how various lamps are lit by a Tesla coil without being attached to wires. Brian Stewart is on the right.

Vacek Miglus, lab technician and curator of the Physics Department, shows the students how various lamps are lit by a Tesla coil without being attached to wires. Brian Stewart is on the right.

Laurel Appel, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate and director of the McNair Program, watches DNA fibers come out of a solution as ice-cold alcohol meets the warm, salty, DNA solution. One of the students described the reaction as looking like a spiderweb.

Laurel Appel, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate and director of the McNair Program, watches DNA fibers come out of a solution as ice-cold alcohol meets the warm, salty, DNA solution. One of the students described the reaction as looking like a spiderweb.

McNair fellow Kelley Miller '10, at right, helps the Snow Elementary School students isolate DNA from wheat germ. The recipe for this, and other experiments is online at http://lappel.web.wesleyan.edu/expts.htm.

McNair fellow Kelley Miller '10, at right, helps the Snow Elementary School students isolate DNA from wheat germ. The recipe for this, and other experiments is online at http://lappel.web.wesleyan.edu/expts.htm.

Astronomy graduate student Amy Langford, at right, teaches the students about Wesleyan's Alvan Clark 20-inch refractor telescope inside the observatory. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Astronomy graduate student Amy Langford, at right, teaches the students about Wesleyan's Alvan Clark 20-inch refractor telescope inside the observatory. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Hughes Summer Research Program Begins with a Bash

Michael Weir, director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, professor of biology, speaks to students at the 21st Hughes Summer Research Program pizza party May 27.

Michael Weir, director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, professor of biology, speaks to students at a pizza party that launched the the 21st Hughes Summer Research Program May 27. Weir and Laurel Appel, director of the McNair Program, explained various seminars and workshops available to complement the students' summer-long research efforts.

The gathering allowed the students to meet and mingle with several faculty members including, at left, Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

The gathering allowed the students to meet and mingle with several faculty members including, at left, Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Pizza party attendees included 58 Hughes Fellows, eight McNair Fellows, nine Mellon Fellows, six SCIC Fellows, 11 students supported by other funds, and volunteers who started their 10 week summer research projects.

Pizza party attendees included 58 Hughes Fellows, eight McNair Fellows, nine Mellon Fellows, six SCIC Fellows, 11 students supported by other funds, and volunteers who started their 10 week summer research projects.

Bill Nelligan, director of environmental halth, safety and sustainability, stands by empty pizza boxes from the party. Nelligan taught the fellows about safety issues. (Photos by Laurel Appel)

Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability, stands by empty pizza boxes from the party. Nelligan taught the fellows about safety issues in and around the labs. (Photos by Laurel Appel)

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)

Mukerji Awarded NSF Funding for Her DNA Research

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Errors in genomic DNA can lead to tumors and other diseases. By probing specific DNA structures, Ishita Mukerji hopes to gain an understanding of how such medical conditions can be prevented or possibly cured.

Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, studies how different proteins recognize and bind to DNA. Specifically, she examines four-stranded DNA structures, known as “Holliday junctions,” which are involved in DNA repair and recombination. These are different from the common, two-stranded DNA.

On April 1, Mukerji will receive a four-year grant worth $798,368 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund her research project, “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed With Proteins Probed by Fluorescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

“Both DNA repair and recombination are vital functions of the cell, which are needed to maintaining a stable and active genome,” Mukerji explains. “Our goal is to study the structure of the junctions and how that relates to their function.”

Holliday junction structures can be changed by protein binding. Mukerji will examine how these structures are altered by proteins that are known to be involved in repair and recombination and are known to bind to junctions.

“These studies address the overall mechanism of how DNA recombination occurs in the cell and the function of these proteins,” she says.

Chemistry graduate students Andrew Moreno and Jon King, MBB graduate student Yan Li and molecular biology and biochemistry major Olga Buzovetsky ’10, will assist Mukerji with the ongoing research.

Two different methods are used to study the DNA interactions: fluorescence spectroscopy and a laser technique, UV resonance Raman spectroscopy. By using the fluorescence method, the Mukerji group can examine and compare the structure of the junction and the protein-binding sites. By using the Raman technique, which examines molecular vibrations, they can probe protein and ion binding sites.

Wesleyan’s Chemistry Department and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department own several fluorescence spectrometers, and Mukerji has built her own, specialized UV resonance Raman spectrometer.

Most of the proposed research will be completed in Mukerji’s lab, although some computational studies will be done in collaboration with David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and mathematics, professor of chemistry. She is also collaborating with the Hingorani lab (MBB department) to study how proteins involved in mismatch repair and meiotic recombination bind to Holliday junctions. One set of experiments will be conducted at SUNY Buffalo.

The group will also examine how the protein-junction complex either facilitates or suppresses certain processes.

“One theory that we have is that the proteins we are studying suppress recombination as a means of preserving or maintaining the genome.” Mukerji says. “This is an idea that will be tested with the proposed experiments.”