The second symposium of the year was held on May 13, 2010. Participants included students from Aquatic Biology, Advanced Physiology, Molecular Biology and researchers from Dr. Adam Kay's lab. A program in PDF format is available here.
Two researchers in biology labs win national awards
Albert Kertho, an international student from Uganda, was one of 15 students nationally to win a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists. You can read more about his award in the Bulletin archives.
Nick Huynh, a 2010 Biochemistry graduate, won a prestigious Fulbright grant to study HIV in Sweden for 10 months. More about Nick and his award can be found here.
On Thursday, December 10th, the department held it's semi-annual Symposium in which students from 400-level courses and students doing independent research present talks and posters. Participants are listed below and a program in PDF format can be obtained here.
Alex Kokula (with Dr. Amy Verhoeven)
Evan Smith (with Jennifer Klein)
Dustin Potter, Adam Johannsen, John Yang, Ryan Lil, Rachael Carter, Danielle Grassel, Kelsey Sletten, Caitlyn Thompson, Lindsay Morgenstern, Sarah Willman, Adam Okeson, and Noelle Fabian
Kyley Crotty, Jonathan DeBoer, Dan Desmond, Denny Gillen, Jake Kraemer, Madelyn Mayry, Luyen Nguyen, Beth Rhein, Dave Turner, and Aly Wadley
Luke Anderson, Marissa Horntvedt, Nick Huynh, Sydney Kuramoto, Nick Lesmeister, Nick Parker, Christine Spampinato, Darby Steiner, and Joshua Turner
Dr. Jayna Ditty received an NSF grant to study bacterial chemotaxis. She is collaborating with Dr. Rebecca Parales, UCDavis. A summary of the project appears below.
Bacterial Chemotaxis to Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Related Pollutants.
Chemotaxis is the ability of motile bacteria to detect and respond to specific chemicals in the environment, moving up gradients of attractant compounds and away from repellents. Although diverse bacteria appear to have conserved chemotaxis signal transduction systems, soil bacteria seem to have more complex chemosensory systems than the well-studied enteric bacteria. The overall goal of this project is to characterize the chemotactic responses of a biodegradative bacterium to aromatic hydrocarbons and related pollutants, using the catabolically versatile aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacterium Pseudomonas putida F1 as the model organism for these studies.
Dr. Jennifer Cruise and Dr. Simon Emms will be on sabbatical for this entire academic year. Dr. Kyle Zimmer will take his sabbatical for fall semester only.
Kyle Zimmer (UST Biology) and Kevin Theissen (UST Geology) received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study carbon burial in shallow Minnesota lakes (Project title: Burial of organic carbon in temperate, shallow lakes). This three-year project is being done in collaboration with scientists at the St Croix Watershed Research Station and the University of Minnesota. The study will test the core hypothesis that lakes dominated by submerged aquatic plants bury more organic carbon in their sediments compared to turbid lakes dominated by algae.
Collection of a lake sediment core to estimate carbon burial rates, or testing to see how long fingers last at 5 below zero
Two new clinical faculty members were hired to begin Fall 2009. Dr. Colin Martin will be teaching BIOL 204 beginning in September and Dr. Kerri Carlson will be lecturing in BIOL 201.
Dr. Tim Lewis will be joining the department as our new chair in September 2009. Dr. Lewis comes to us from Whittenburg College in Ohio.
Dr. Adam Kay received an NSF grant to study ant communities in Panama. There are more details about the project below.
Toward a stoichiometric theory of ant ecology
This 3-year project funded by the National Science Foundation aims to assess how the balance of available nutrients affects the population and community ecology of ants. The field work will be conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. The research, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Michael Kaspari at Oklahoma University, focuses on the diverse community of litter ants found in the pristine tropical rainforest on the island. The project is organized around two broad hypotheses: 1) organisms have different traits that require particular mixtures of materials, and 2) scarcity of particular materials will have distinct effects on the expression of traits. The work will consist of a mixture of biochemical analyses of ant tissues, diet manipulation studies under controlled conditions, and large-scale experiments in the forest that will test whether inputs of particular nutrients predictably change the structure and composition of litter ant communities. Combined, these studies represent the most thorough and mechanistic linking of biogeochemistry to evolutionary ecology yet attempted for a terrestrial animal system. Undergraduate students will play key roles in all phases of the planned work. The familiarity and experimental tractability of ants make them an ideal instructional tool, and the multiple research foci of the project will provide opportunities for students to acquire a diversity of skills. Together, these experiences should provide students with the skills, knowledge, and motivation to pursue a career in science.
Dr. Jayna Ditty and Dr. Kyle Zimmer were granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.
Dr. Dalma Martinovic joined the department in January of 2009. She came to us from the EPA where she did research in environmental toxicology. She is teaching a 400-level topics course in Advanced Environmental Physiology in Spring of 2009.
Dr. Kurt Illig, a neurobiologist, will be joining the department in the Fall of 2009.
The first issue of our new departmental newsletter,Transcripts, was published in November. Click here to read.