Dr. Jerry Husak Hired
Beginning in Fall 2011, the Biology Department will welcome a new ecological physiologist, Dr. Jerry Husak. Dr. Husak comes to us from a post-doctoral research appointment at the University of South Dakota. While at St. Thomas, he will continue the research described below (click here to go to Dr. Husak's web page)
My research program addresses fundamental questions in evolutionary biology via the study of links among organismal form, function, behavior, survival, and reproductive success in natural populations. More specifically, my research program focuses on three inter-related areas: 1) Sexual selection – integrating physiological, ecological, and behavioral approaches, 2) Proximate determinants of performance traits, and 3) Evolution of locomotor performance.
St. Thomas Community Garden
The St. Thomas Community Garden - under the direction of Dr. Adam Kay, with assistance of Dr. Chester Wilson and Steve Trost - is up and running. St. Thomas students Aaron Hayes, Josh Prebeck, and Megan Sheridan worked hard to keep it going all summer long.
The UST Stewardship Garden project is motivated by the need for strong, just and local food production systems. The main goals are to create research opportunities for UST students, to provide an important service to nearby low-income communities, to build community relationships on campus and with local residents, and to develop urban agricultural practices that can be used as a model for future projects.
The garden is designed for testing hypotheses about the importance of biodiversity for ecological processes. Garden plots contain either 1 or 6 crop species; plant density is standardized across plots.
Food from the garden will primarily be distributed to local food shelves. For those in need of food shelf services, fresh produce is often unavailable. To date, the garden has provided 200 pounds of fresh produce to local food shelves.
More often than we would like, community members engage with St. Thomas students at unpleasant hours of weekend mornings. This garden is helping to create an opportunity to build community around something that fundamentally connects our humanity to one another – food.
Half of the world’s population lives in cities, and as access to affordable, nutritious food becomes more difficult, city dwellers are looking for new solutions. Urban agriculture is a key tool in meeting the growing need for fresh, safe food in cities.
John Roach Center Greenhouse Renovated
The Biology Department added a new greenhouse and two labs this fall located on the North Campus attached to the John Roach Center academic building. The JRC greenhouse has been unoccupied for the last decade since Biology moved to the new Owens Science Center on the South Campus, but was completely renovated and modernized this summer. From new glass to a new computer-controlled climate control system, the three-roomed greenhouse increases space available for classes and student/faculty collaborative research. It will also support the Community Garden. The renovation included a new lab for small-class botanical use and greenhouse support functions as well as a new faculty/student research lab. For more information, check out a more complete article from the Bulletin archives.
St. Thomas student, Tom Langer, is awarded a fellowship from the EPA.
Tom Langer, Environmental Science major (with Biology emphasis), has won a fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greater Research Opportunities Undergraduate Student Fellowship Program. The Fellowship provides funds for tuition, room and board, and other academic expenses for two years, and also provides a paid summer internship at an EPA research facility. Tom explains a little about his project below.
Dr. Kyle Zimmer is my undergraduate research advisor. My individual research project is looking at influences of agriculture in lake watersheds on concentrations of nitrogen isotopes in fish. The stable isotope of nitrogen (15N) can be used to assess agricultural inputs of nitrogen into lakes, and can also be used to assess overall input levels of nitrogen into lake ecosystems.
With Dr. Kerri Carlson:
Rob White, a sophomore in September 2010, will be working with Dr. Carlson at the University of Minnesota on the genetic regulation of eye development using zebrafish as a model system.
Dr. Jennifer Klein (sabbatical replacement for Dr. Jennifer Cruise)
One of my Biol 462 students, Morgan Lillehei, was selected for the Lillehei Heart Institute's Summer Research Scholar's Program at the University of Minnesota. She will be working on a project involving oxidative stress and muscle protein function.
Evan Smith has been a research assistant in a muscle biophysics lab at the University of Minnesota since last summer when he started volunteering. His project has involved creating myosin and muscle regulatory protein mutants to be used in biochemistry and spectroscopy experiments. The manuscript to which he contributed will be submitted to Biophysical Journal this summer.
Yusuf Adam received a STEM fellowship to carry out J-term research in molecular biology at the University of Minnesota.
With Dr. Kurt Illig:
There will be five students working in Dr. Illig's lab this summer: Nick Hafften (St. Thomas Young Scholar Grant recipient), Meghan Hurley, Leah Streitman (St. Thomas Young Scholar Grant recipient), Chad Weigelt, Anna Zimmerman (St. Thomas Young Scholar Grant recipient)
With Dr. Martinovic-Weigelt:
In summer 2009, Jascha Marchuk received Young Scholars Award to conduct research at University of St. Thomas in collaboration with Dr. Martinovic-Weigelt. He also received travel award grants from the University of St. Thomas and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) to present results of his research, which examined the effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on prostaglandin synthesis and reproductive behavior, at the SETAC’s National Meeting in New Orleans.
With Dr. Glenn Sherer:
Anna Meyer, a current junior majoring in biology, started working with me in the research lab the summer after her freshman year (2008). Working on the developmental origins of the liver’s sinusoidal capillaries, she has demonstrated that many of the cells that make these structures (vascular endothelial cells and/or their precursors, angioblasts) are derived from circulating blood. This spring Anna presented her work at the annual meetings of the Minnesota Academy of Science (April 23, at UST)) and the American Association of Anatomists (April 26, Anaheim, CA), both of them under the title, “On the developmental origin of hepatic sinusoidal endothelium: confirmation of angiocirculatory vasculogenesis.” She also presented her work at a departmental seminar entitled, “Hepatic Vasculogenesis: Growing with the Flow” (March 19). In the spring of 2009 Anna was awarded a Young Scholars Grant which supported her work the following summer. This summer Anna will extend her work to include a host of other organs and the application of additional, endothelium-specific functional markers.
Nine students will be working with me this summer. Five of them are returning students: Clare Conemac, Mohamed Hussein, Laura Kula, and Anna Meyer, all juniors, and Rachel Goldenstein, a sophomore. Our four new recruits are Katelyn Bojan, another sophomore, Elizabeth (Libby) Meyers and Emily Pohl, both freshmen, and Rachel Palermo, a student at Totino-Grace High School.
With Dr. Amy Verhoeven:
Kim Hughes and Angela Ferry both presented posters at the Minnesota Academy of Science Winchell Undergraduate Symposium (April, 2010, Saint Paul, MN). Their presentation titles are as follows:
ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY IN SUMMER VERSUS WINTER IN THREE SPECIES OF CONIFERS - Kimberly Hughes, Alex Kokula, and Dr. Amy Verhoeven (Advisor)
INVESTIGATION OF THE LIGHT DEPENDENCE OF STATE TRANSITIONS IN PINE IN SUMMER COMPARED WITH WINTER - Angela Ferry and Amy Verhoeven (advisor)
Kim Hughes is presenting her research at the 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh, PA in August of 2010. Her abstract was accepted and the title is:
Antioxidant response of overwintering conifers suggest species specific
strategies for coping with excess excitation energy.
Kimberly C. Hughes, Alex M. Kokula and Amy S. Verhoeven, Biology, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN
Working in the Verhoeven plan physiology lab this summer are: Kim Hughes, Christine Buelt, Albert Kertho, and Andy Moy
Working with both Dr. Verhoeven and Dr. Simon Emms on their NSF grant are: Jerald R. Mackey, Ben Schneider, and Phi Lai (REU in California)
With Dr. Kyle Zimmer and Dr. Leah Domine:
Thirteen students keep the aquatic biology lab humming this summer:
McHale, Elisabeth K.
Potter, Dustin C.
Goetting, Jordan M.
Bruchu, Charles W.
Floeder, Vincent I.
Goding, Ann T.
Probst, Dan T.
Ginger, Luke J.
Nolby, Luke E.
Langer, Tom A.
Johannsen, Adam M.
Rockwell, Rachel E.
Gittens, Ariel (from Concordia, former McNair Scholar)