The Initial Apical-Basal Polarization of Early Embryonic Cells (Mark Peifer Lab)
The Biology Advisory Board has issued a challenge match for alumni and friends! They ask for donations totaling $25,000 by December 25th, and they will match the donations dollar-for-dollar. That’s $50,000 to support new exciting research initiatives in the Department of Biology. Please help us meet this challenge! You will receive more email info soon. Go online to learn more and make a donation >>
Congratulations to Dr. Daisuke Urano (recently in the Alan Jones Lab, now Assistant Professor at the National University, Singapore) whose paper was published in the journal Science Signaling and was featured on the journal cover. The paper is entitled: “Saltational evolution of the heterotrimeric G protein signaling mechanisms in the plant kingdom”. Daisuke’s work describes the evolution and function of two distinct families of Gα proteins in plants. The XLG family is similar to the hare, rapidly evolving to enable adaptation to living on land; whereas the canonical Gα family is similar to the tortoise, slowly evolving and maintaining interactions with binding partners. [Image: Ivy Close Images/Alamy Stock Photo] READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Associate Professor Amy Gladfelter, who has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Faculty Scholar. “This designation is awarded to early-career scientists who have great potential to make unique contributions to their field. With the HHMI Faculty Scholar award, Gladfelter will continue her research on how the physical properties of molecules lead to cell organization and function. Her research focuses on two areas: How multinucleate cells are organized in time and space, and how cells perceive their shape and use geometry to inform signaling and decision-making. Although her passion is for understanding the fundamental properties of cells, this work brings insight at the molecular level to triggers of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. For example, proteins and molecules under investigation in her lab have been shown to have aberrant function in different disease contexts.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Meredith Corley (Alain Laederach’s Lab) for her paper in eLIFE titled “Selecting against accidental RNA interactions.” In the manuscript, she discusses a novel concept for bacterial mRNAs, specifically that they evolve sequences to avoid accidental interactions with abundant non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). This presents a novel molecular paradigm to consider when studying the structure of ncRNAs and mRNAs, since accidental interactions can in some cases significantly reduce protein expression. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Zack Nimchuk, who was part of a 4-lab consortium with Cold Spring Harbor and UMass Amherst, for being awarded a $5M Plant Genomes Grant from the National Science Foundation. This NSF grant focuses on understanding the conservation of regulatory networks in plant stem cell regulation across species using genome editing. The Nimchuk lab/UNC receives a $1.1M share of the grant.
Sophie Tintori, a grad student in Bob Goldstein’s lab, published “A Transcriptional Lineage of the Early C. elegans Embryo” in the Aug 22 issue of Developmental Cell. In the article, Sophie and coauthors reported meticulous microdissection and transcriptional profiling to identify the cell-by-cell transcriptional complement of the early C. elegans embryo. The article was featured on the journal’s cover and was accompanied by a “Meet the Author” interview with Sophie. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Chanin Tolson Woods (Alain Laederach’s Lab) for her poster (and oral presentation) which won the “BioVis@ISMB 2016 Best Poster Award” sponsored by F1000. Her poster’s title was “Visual exploration of the functional consequence of structure and structure change in RNA ensembles”. Chanin presented her work at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology Conference in Orlando, Florida in July 2016 and won the “Best Poster Presentation Award”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Katrina Kutchko (Alain Laederach’s Lab) for her paper titled “Transcending the prediction paradigm: novel applications of SHAPE to RNA function and evolution” that was recently published in WIREs RNA. In this work, Katrina describes novel applications of RNA structure probing for understanding multi-scale structure encouraging to the field to transcend traditional structure prediction approaches. READ MORE >>
Graduate student Julia Samson (Laura Miller’s Lab) will be co-organizing a session at the upcoming 2017 ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, HI. The session is entitled “Canopies in aquatic ecosystems: integrating form, function, and biophysical processes” and abstracts are due October 14, 2016. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to graduate student Julia Samson (Laura Miller’s Lab), who was awarded the “HHMI International Student Research Fellowship”. This prestigious fellowship supports international students in their third to fifth year of graduate research in the United States. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Todd Vision, who has received a three year $762K grant from the National Science Foundation Advances in Bioinformatics program. The grant, entitled, “Enabling the preservation of research data underlying scientific findings through the Dryad Digital Repository”, supports the continued work of Dryad in providing open access to the data underlying scientific publications. The repository, which has been managed by a nonprofit spinoff company since 2012, has archived over 13,000 datasets associated with nearly 500 journals, books and theses since its initial launch in 2009, and has grown in scope and scale each year since.
Paul Gabrielson presided over the 70th annual meeting of the Phycological Society of America, of which he is currently President. He also just published in Phycologia, along with colleagues, a revision of the Caribbean branched coralline alga species belonging to the genus Lithophyllum, including recognizing two new species, L. neocongestum and L. pseudoplatyphyllum. The paper is titled “Reassessment of branched Lithophyllum spp. (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) in the Caribbean Sea with global implications.” READ MORE >>
Former Bob Goldstein lab postdoc Dan Marston, PhD student Chris Higgins and coauthors just published a paper in Current Biology reporting that a myosin activator, MRCK, can link developmental patterning to the generation of forces that can change cell shapes. The paper is titled “MRCK-1 drives apical constriction in C. elegans by linking developmental patterning to force generation”. READ MORE >>
Biology PhD student Jenny Heppert (Bob Goldstein’s lab) and coauthors just published a quantitative assessment of several popular fluorescent protein tags in C. elegans, reporting which tags work best in vivo—the first such comparison in an animal model system. The paper is titled “Comparative assessment of fluorescent proteins for in vivo imaging in an animal model system” and will be part of a special issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell on Quantitative Cell Biology. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Zack Nimchuk’s lab, which was awarded a 5-year NIH MIRA (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award) grant totaling 1.2 million dollars. This 5-year grant award will make it possible for the lab to study the function of how receptor kinases and their ligands control development and stem cell regulation in plants.
Professor Gregory P. Copenhaver and Adjunct Professor Hong Ma (primary appointment at Fudan University in Shanghai) have published a review in Science Bulletin entitled “New insights into the role of DNA Synthesis in meiotic recombination”. DNA synthesis is required during meiotic recombination (which is required for proper chromosome segregation), but relatively little is understood about the specific factors that fulfill this requirement. The review focuses on recent advances in characterizing these processes at a molecular level. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kevin Byrd, a graduate student in the Scott Williams lab, who is the first author on a paper that was published in the August issue of Development, and was featured on the cover. The paper is entitled “LGN plays distinct roles in oral epithelial stratification, filiform papilla morphogenesis and hair follicle development.” Kevin is also under consideration for a five-year Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) from the NIH. READ THE PAPER >>
Professor Gregory Copenhaver, in collaboration with his colleagues at Cambridge University, has published a paper in PLOS Genetics entitled “Recombination Rate Heterogeneity within Arabidopsis Disease Resistance Genes”. The paper reveals that some disease resistance genes in Arabidopsis are associated with strong hotspots for meiotic recombination which may reflect the coevolutionary pressures experienced by plants and their pathogens. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Rob Dowen, an iBGS fellow working in Shawn Ahmed’s lab, whose paper entitled “A microRNA program in the C. elegans hypodermis couples to intestinal mTORC2/PQM-1 signaling to modulate fat transport” was recently published in Genes and Development (Dowen RH, Breen PC, Tullius T, Conery AL, Ruvkun G (2016) Genes Dev. Jul 1.) and is accompanied by an Outlook article. The paper uncovered a new non-cell-autonomous input into the mTORC2 signaling pathway that modulates fatty acid metabolism. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology undergraduates Karthika Kandala and Kirsten Adams, who received funding to work in the Greg Matera lab over the summer. Karthika received a “SURF Award” to study the application of tRNA intronic circular (tric)RNA technology, while Kirsten has funding from the “Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program” to study epigenetic regulation of gene expression.
Congratulations to Greg Matera, who was recently awarded an NIH R01 grant from NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) entitled “In vivo models of small RNP biogenesis and Spinal Muscular Atrophy”. This grant provides $1.2M support over 4 years for the Matera lab to elucidate the molecular, cellular and developmental consequences of partial loss-of-function mutations in the Survival Motor Neurons gene, leading to a better understanding of the human neuromuscular disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Congratulations to Mike Meers of Greg Matera’s lab. Mike received a travel fellowship to share his research at the “2016 RNA Society Meeting” in Kyoto, Japan. Mike’s poster describes how mutation of the histone H3K36 residue affects gene expression. RNA 2016 >>
Congratulations to Eric Garcia, Ying Wen, and Greg Matera for their paper published in RNA titled “Transcriptomic comparison of Drosophila snRNP biogenesis mutants reveals mutant-specific changes in pre-mRNA processing: implications for spinal muscular atrophy”. Along with former Matera lab member Kavita Praveen, this paper presents the results of multiple RNA-seq experiments in Drosophila mutants of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) biogenesis, which is an important cellular process. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Casey Schmidt, John Noto, and Greg Matera for their paper published in Methods in Enzymology titled “A Method for Expressing and Imaging Abundant, Stable, Circular RNAs In Vivo Using tRNA Splicing”. Along with collaborator Grigory Filonov from Samie Jaffrey’s lab at Weill Cornell Medical College, the paper details a method to produce and image fluorescent circular RNAs using novel technology. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dayun Jin (Darrel Stafford’s lab) who has published an article in Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The title of the article is “Splice-site mutation of exon 3 deletion in the gamma-glutamyl carboxylase gene causes inactivation of the enzyme”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Joe Kieber, who received the “2016 Silver Medal Award for Distinguished Research” from The International Plant Growth Substances Association (IPGSA). The IPGSA was founded in 1937 and awards a silver medal every three years to recognize excellence in research. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Joe Kieber, who received the newly established “2016 OlChemim Award” for his research in plant hormones. “OlChemim Ltd. is an established leader and supplier of plant growth regulators and their immunodiagnostics to world markets.“ READ MORE ABOUT OLCHEMIM >>
Pat Pukkila (Professor Emerita and President-Elect, UNC Retired Faculty Association) was the keynote speaker for a symposium on undergraduate research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in May. The university has implemented a Graduate Research Consultant program modelled after the GRC program at UNC-CH (!) READ MORE >>
Gregory P. Copenhaver together with Gregory Barsh, his co-Editor-in-Chief at PLOS Genetics, have published an editorial honoring a decade of iconic published interviews with important figures in the genetics community conduced and written by Jane Gitschier. The editorial is entitled “The Language of Genetics In the Interviews of Jane Gitschier.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dave Ernst (Ken Lohmanns’s lab), whose research paper was just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The paper is titled “Effect of magnetic pulses on Caribbean spiny lobsters: implications for magnetoreception”. In this paper, Dave found that exposure to a brief, strong magnetic pulse altered the orientation behavior of Caribbean spiny lobsters, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that lobsters have magnetoreceptors based on the magnetic mineral magnetite. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kayleigh O’Keeffe (Charles Mitchell’s lab) who received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Kayleigh is studying how microbial interactions affect a plant pathogen. “NSF awards these fellowships to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements, and they are investments that will help propel this country’s future innovations and economic growth.” Learn more about Kayleigh’s research fellowship here >>
Congratulations to Biology graduate student Talia Hatkevich (Jeff Sekelsky’s lab) for receiving a 3-year F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship from the National Institute on Aging. These awards provide institutional research training opportunities to trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.
Congratulations to Jill Dowen on being selected as a Kimmel Scholar! The Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research has selected the 2016 recipients for the Kimmel Scholar Program. Fifteen of the nation’s most creative and innovative young researchers will receive 2-year grants totaling $200,000. This program funds promising young scientists at the start of their independent careers. Jill’s project will focus on the role of long-range chromosomal interactions during gene expression in cancer. READ MORE >>
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences recently piloted a new grant program, the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) (R35). These 5-year grants are designed to replace all existing R01 funding held by an NIGMS-funded Investigator, and seek to balance greater long term stability and scientific flexibility with somewhat reduced award size. UNC Biology’s Jeff Sekelsky and Mark Peifer were among the NIGMS-funded Investigators awarded the first round of MIRA Awards, which begin this summer. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Wangsun Choi, a postdoc in the Mark Peifer lab, whose paper entitled “Remodeling the zonula adherens in response to tension and the role of afadin in this response” was published in the Journal of Cell Biology, accompanied by a Commentary. This was a multidisciplinary effort combining cell biology, computational biology and biophysics, via collaborators from UNC (Alan Fanning) as well as teams in Australia and France. Wangsun is now an Associate Scientist and Instructor at Harvard Medical School. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kerry Bloom and Josh Lawrimore for their NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH publication entitled: “Entropy gives rise to topologically associating domains”. [Vasquez, P.A., Caitlin Hult, David Adalsteinsson, Josh Lawrimore, M Gregory Forest, and K. Bloom (2016).] This paper is a joint effort between biologists (Josh Lawrimore) and applied mathematicians (Vasquez et al.). The paper shows that TAD’s (topologically associated domains) originate from the thermodynamics of chromosomes. Chromosomal proteins such as condensin and cohesin increase their lifetime. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kerry Bloom and Elaine Yeh on their Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) paper titled: “Polo kinase Cdc5 associates with centrosomes to facilitate the removal of centromeric cohesin during mitosis”. (Mishra PK, Ciftci-Yilmaz S, Reynolds D, Au WC, Boeckmann L, Dittman LE, Jowhar ZJ, Pachpor T, Yeh E, Baker RE, Hoyt MA, D’Amours D, Bloom K, Basrai MA (2016) Mol Biol Cell. May 25. pii: mbc.E16-01-0004.) [Epub ahead of print.] This work was a collaborative effort with Munira Basrai at NIH. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Lyndsay Wylie (Vicki Bautch’s lab) for receiving a two-year American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Winter 2016 Predoctoral Fellowship that will begin on July 1 of this year. The title of Lyndsay’s project is: “SMAD6 Function in Endothelial Cells.”
Congratulations to Kerry Bloom and his lab associates Alyona Fulp (undergraduate student) and Josh Lawrimore (graduate student) on their Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) publication titled: “SUMO-Targeted Ubiquitin Ligase (STUbL) SIx5 regulates proteolysis of centromeric histone H3 variant Cse4 and prevents its mislocalization to euchromatin”. [(2016) Ohkuni K, Takahashi Y, Fulp A, Lawrimore J, Au WC, Pasupala N, Levy-Myers R, Warren J, Strunnikov A, Baker RE, Kerscher O, Bloom K, Basrai MA. Mol Biol Cell. Mar 9. pii: mbc.E15-12-0827.] This work was a collaborative effort with Munira Basrai at NIH. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Kerry Bloom and Jolien Verdaasdonk, whose research paper has been published in eLIFE. The paper is titled “Spatial signals link exit from mitosis to spindle position” [Falk JE, Tsuchiya D, Verdaasdonk J, Lacefield S, Bloom K, Amon A. Elife. 2016 May 11;5. pii: e14036.] The paper is a collaborative effort with Angelica Amon at MIT. Jolien Verdaasdonk (Tyler) [formerly a Bloom grad student at UNC, currently the Director of the Microscopy facility at the University of Colorado, Boulder] taught Jill Falk how to FRAP. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Kerry Bloom and his lab associates, whose paper was published in PLoS Genetics: “A Cohesin-Based Partitioning Mechanism Revealed upon Transcriptional Inactivation of Centromere.” [Tsabar M, Haase J, Harrison B, Snider CE, Eldridge B, Kaminsky L, Hine RM, Haver JE, Bloom K. PLoS Genet. 2016 Apr 29;12(4):e1006021.] So, where are these former lab members now? Julian Haase is currently a Scientific Specialist at NIH. Ben Harrison (a former graduate student) is currently an Assistant Professor at Concordia University in Saint Paul, MN. Chloe Snider (a former undergraduate) is currently a graduate student with Kathy Gould at Vanderbilt University. Brittany Eldridge submitted this work as her undergraduate Biology Honors thesis and is currently a graduate student in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at Wake Forest Graduate School. READ THE PAPER >>
UNC Biology undergrad alumnus Joseph Pickrell, now a researcher at the New York Genome Center, is highlighted in a Science Magazine News article about a pair of recent studies presented at the Cold Spring Harbor Biology of Genomes Conference that demonstrate the “power of large studies to understand what factors determine survival and reproduction in humans in present-day societies”. READ MORE >>
The recent passage of HB2 compels us, as biologists and educators, to state unambiguously that all people are equally valued, respected, and accepted in our department, without discrimination on any basis, including sexual orientation or gender identity. As biologists, we affirm that these characteristics are natural and intrinsic to a person and must not be used as criteria for discrimination of any kind. Thus, we reject both the spirit and substance of HB2. This statement is part of a more general principle of the Department of Biology: that all people are welcomed in our department. We embrace diversity and are deeply committed to building a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students. We value and respect each and every individual with whom we work.
Statement adopted by unanimous vote of the faculty of the Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on April 27, 2016.
Mark Peifer has been appointed to the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, an advisory body of NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The NAGMS is composed of leaders in the biological and medical sciences, education, health care and public affairs. Its members are appointed for 4-year terms and meet three times a year, performing the second level of peer review for research and research training grant applications assigned to NIGMS. Council members also offer advice and recommendations on policy and program development, program implementation, evaluation and other matters of significance to the mission and goals of NIGMS. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology undergraduate Andrew Saintsing for being selected for the Stephen G. Brantley Award. This award was established in honor of the first professor of biology at UNC, Henry Van Peters Wilson. It is presented to a senior Biology major based on excellence in research in molecular, cell and developmental biology.
Congratulations to Biology undergraduate Laura Hamon, for being chosen for the Robert Coker Award. This annual biology award is presented to a senior undergraduate for excellence in research in organismal biology and ecology.
Congratulations to Biology undergraduate Harish Pudukodu for being chosen for the Irvine Hagadorn Award. “Established in 1983, the Hagadorn Award is given to an outstanding rising senior Biology major. The recipient is selected on the basis of academic achievement and excellence in Biology research. This award was established in honor of Dr. Irvine Hagadorn, former Chair of the Department of Zoology at UNC.”
Congratulations to Biology undergraduate Emily Jennings for being chosen for the Francis J. LeClair Award. “This LeClair Award was established by friends to honor this renowned horticulturist and landscape architect, whose labor, love and skill added so measurably to the interest and beauty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The award is given annually to an outstanding graduating senior for academic excellence in biology with an emphasis in plant sciences.”
Since 1988 the “International Association for Vegetation Science” has elected an honorary member approximately once every two years. Congratulations to Biology Professor Robert Peet, who is the 2016 Honorary Member and the first from the Americas to be so honored. He will present his Honorary Member Lecture on June 17 in Pirenópolis, Brazil.
Congratulations to Professor Darrel Stafford, who recently had a paper published in the journal Blood. The title of the article is “Prophylactic efficacy of BeneFIX vs Alprolix in hemophilia B mice”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Joel Kingsolver, who has been elected to the membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world.” READ MORE ABOUT THE ACADEMY >> NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS >>
Congratulations to these Biology Honors students who received the indicated designations this spring upon completion of their Honors Thesis projects. HIGHEST HONORS IN BIOLOGY: Cathy Anderson, Allison Baker, Mark Baumgarten, Tony Boutelle, Suzahn Ebert, Laura Hamon, Pranav Haravu, Blake Hauser, Szu-Aun Lim, Andrew Saintsing, James Zhiren Zhu, Viktoriya Zhuravleva. HONORS IN BIOLOGY: Krunal Amin, Suud Ashur, Kendall Bagley, Lauren Bauer, Yasemin Cole, Emma D’Agostino, Noopur Doshi, Peter Fan, Katie Foley, Ariana Gavin, Chelsea Gustafson, Rafael Gutierrez, Victoria Isler, Sara Johnson, Deborah Kiserow, Akhil Patel, Michael Peralta, Holly Pittard, Austin Quimby, Hayden Saunders, Brian Saway, Blake Schofield, Julian Willett, Clara Williams. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Jessica Higgins (Joel Kingsolver lab postdoc) who recently won the “Best Postdoctoral Poster Award” at the annual UNC Women in Science Symposium held earlier this month. The title of her poster was: “Seasonal variation and phenotypic plasticity in a montane species of Colias butterfly”.
The “Lawrence I. Gilbert Undergraduate Educator Award” was initiated by Dr. Gilbert to recognize undergraduates who have done the most to further biology education of his/her fellow undergraduates. This award, which confers $500 and a framed certificate, will be presented at the Biology Graduation Ceremony. Congratulations to these two winners of the “Lawrence I Gilbert Undergraduate Educator Award” – Sarah McShane (teaching in Biology 101) and Pranati Panuganti (teaching in Biology 252 and Biology 101).
Congratulations to Jian-Ke (Jack) Tie (Darrel Stafford’s lab) whose paper titled “Characterization of vitamin K-dependent carboxylase mutations that cause bleeding and non-bleeding disorders” appears in this week’s issue of the journal Blood. The paper was selected as the “Featured Plenary Paper.” (The journal states: “Definitive original research articles of exceptional scientific importance may be considered for designation as Plenary Papers”.) In addition, a commentary article about the paper was written by an expert in the field, and appears in the same issue. READ MORE >>
Victoria Bautch and her lab were recently awarded a 4-year R01 grant from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) entitled “Molecular Control of Angiogenesis”. This grant has been continuously funded since Vicki started her lab and funds research into VEGF receptor trafficking and stability for year 24 onward.
Amy Shaub Maddox, Paul Maddox, and former members of their labs including first author Benjamin Lacroix have published new findings in their Molecular Biology of the Cell paper entitled “Identification of microtubule growth deceleration and its regulation by conserved and novel proteins.” They discovered that the dynamic cellular polymers microtubules can change growth speed in a single growth excursion. They call this novel behavior “growth deceleration,” and report several molecular contributors to its regulation. READ MORE >>
Postdoctoral fellow Aussie Suzuki (Ted Salmon and Kerry Bloom labs) has published a paper in Nature Cell Biology entitled: ‘How the kinetochore couples microtubule force and centromere stretch to move chromosomes’. This paper proposes Ndc80 force coupler model by using both tension biosensor and computer simulation. Benjamin Badger (former UNC biology undergrad), Julian Haase (former Bloom lab tech), Harold Erickson (Duke University) and his postdoc, Tomoo Ohashi also contributed to this study. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Peter White, who was named to the list of the 100 Most Influential People in the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This list was put together as part of the celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service and the list for the Smokies spans individuals in all walks of life from about 1900 to the present who have contributed to the conservation of the National Park. READ MORE >>
UNC plant ecology graduate students Dennis Tarasi & Alissa Brown brought home all four student awards of the Ecological and Botanical Societies of America presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists. Dennis, a PhD student in Ecology (Bob Peet’s lab), won both the Botanical Society of America – Southeastern Chapter’s award for Best Student Oral Presentation in Plant Science and the Ecological Society of America – Southeastern Chapter’s Odum Award for best student oral presentation in ecology. His paper was titled “Biotic and abiotic community changes with species invasions.” Alissa, a PhD student in Biology (Bob Peet’s and Peter White’s labs), won both the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America’s Quarterman-Keever Award for the best student poster presentation in ecology and the Southeastern Section of the Botanical Society of America’s Outstanding Student Poster Presentation Award for a poster in plant science. Her poster was titled “Do spatial patterns of temperate trees reflect successional status?
The Graduate School’s annual Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Awards recognize graduate students for contributions they are making to our state. Dennis Tarasi, an Ecology graduate student with Bob Peet, received the Impact Award April 14, 2016 for his work on “Invasive shrubs and their influence on North Carolina forests.” Peet wrote that “Dennis is providing comprehensive and compelling evidence as to the impacts of exotic plant species and the pattern of these impacts across the Carolina landscape. This is work that advances our conceptual framework regarding the impacts of invasive species and, in addition, helps inform managers as to where and how to focus their efforts to control invasive exotics.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. At the induction ceremony, new members receive certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol. The new inductees are: Hannah Louise Angle, Sierra Johleen Atwater, Alexander Brown, Zachary M. Brown, Mehmet Levent Calikoglu, Kathryn Citrin, Steven Richard DeBiase, Kelly Anne Duffy, Abigail Ferrell, Andrew William Harrelson, Kathleen Harris, Tracie Elizabeth Hayes, Sarah Elizabeth Howard, Brenham Townsend Hughes, Sean Christopher Johnson, Samuel Robert Kerr, Deborah Kiserow, Serafim Mixail Pistiolis, Anita Simha, Andrew William Trexler, Brooke Leigh Turnamian, Hannah Olivia Verrilli, and Bryan S. Wang. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Anaïs Monroy-Eklund (Corbin Jones’ lab) who received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Anaïs is studying the evolution of long non-coding RNA. “NSF awards these fellowships to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements, and they are investments that will help propel this country’s future innovations and economic growth.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to postdoctoral fellow Kevin Potter (Joe Kieber’s lab) who was awarded a “National Plant Genome Initiative in Biology” Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The grant provides three years of support to study the dynamics of the transcriptional response to the phytohormone cytokinin in rice. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Daniel Cortes, a postdoctoral fellow who recently joined the labs of Amy and Paul Maddox, who has been awarded a Diversity Supplement from the NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) at the NIH (National Institutes of Health). Daniel’s award will support his salary, participation in modeling and programming workshops, and attendance of international meetings. Daniel’s PhD at UC-Davis defined mechanisms of chromosome segregation in meiosis; here at UNC he will work on cytoskeletal organization.
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of one of our undergraduate biology students this week. Vincey Varghese was a junior biology major who was also an undergraduate researcher in Jeff Dangl’s lab. Vincey passed away last week after a brief illness. FOR MORE INFORMATION >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Maria Servedio, who has been elected Vice President of the American Society of Naturalists for 2018, and will be serving alongside President Sharon Strauss from UC Davis. Dr. Servedio will join the Council in 2017 as Vice President Elect. “The American Society of Naturalists is the oldest scientific society dedicated to the study of ecology, evolution, and behavior.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Department graduate student Rebecca Adikes (Kevin Slep’s lab) who was just awarded a F31 predoctoral fellowship from NIGMS-NIH (National Institute of General Medical Sciences). Rebecca will study how members of the XMAP215 family of microtubule regulators regulate mitotic structure. It is a two-year award and is co-mentored by Ted Salmon and Kevin Slep.
Congratulations to Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate student Amy Howard (Kevin Slep’s Lab) who was awarded a F31 predoctoral fellowship from NIH-NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences). Amy will study how XMAP215 family members utilize TOG domains to bind different forms of tubulin and promote processive microtubule polymerization. It is a two-year award that is co-mentored by Kevin Slep and Ted Salmon.
Amy Shaub Maddox and her lab published a manuscript in Molecular Biology of the Cell entitled “A theoretical model of cytokinesis implicates feedback between membrane curvature and cytoskeletal organization in asymmetric cytokinetic furrowing.” Amy and colleagues including Paul Maddox worked with NIH/NHLBI theorist Jian Liu to combine quantitative cell biology and theory and describe general principles of cytoskeletal remodeling during cytokinesis. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Frank Conlon’s lab for their research article which appeared in Development. Authors on the paper were: Panna Tandon (post-doc), Caralynn M. Wilczewski (graduate student), Clara E. Williams (undergrad) and Professor Frank Conlon. The paper is titled: “The Lhx9-Integrin Pathway is Essential for Positioning of the Proepicardial Organ”. READ MORE >>
Robert Peet and Alan Weakley are proud to announce the public release of the “U.S. National Vegetation Classification”. This represents the culmination of over 20 years of collaboration that started in 1994 when Peet, Dennis Grossman of the Nature Conservancy and Michael Jenkins of the USGS developed a joint vision for a data-based, peer-reviewed national classification administered jointly by the federal agencies, The Nature Conservancy and the Ecological Society of America. Since its inception, Peet has been a leader of the ESA Vegetation Panel and also the US FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee. He conceived of and guided development of VegBank, the requisite national data infrastructure for disseminating vegetation plot data, and then helped develop the peer review process. Weakley developed much original content during his years as Chief Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy and now serves as Regional Editor.
The North American Coastal Plain has just been declared the World’s 36th Biodiversity Hotspot. A team of seven led by Reed Noss of the University of Central Florida and including Alan Weakley, Bruce Sorrie and Robert Peet of UNC proposed in a paper published in 2015 in Diversity and Distributions titled “How global biodiversity hotspots may go unrecognized: lessons from the North American Coastal Plain” that the often overlooked North American Coastal Plain meets the criteria for designation as a global biodiversity hotspot (more than 1500 endemic vascular plant species and greater than 70% habitat loss). The designation by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund was announced February 18. This Biodiversity Hotspot news was also featured on WUNC radio.
Congratulations to Dr. John Bruno who has become a “Safe Zone Ally” through the UNC LBGTQ Center. Safe Zone Allies pledge to affirm the identities of and provide resources to people of all sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expressions. He joins a growing number of allies in the department. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Lauren Waldron and the Conlon lab, which in collaboration with the Davis lab at UNC LCC, the Cristea lab at Princeton University, and the Moskowitz lab at University of Chicago, recently published an article entitled “The Cardiac TBX5 Interactome Reveals a Chromatin Remodeling Network Essential for Cardiac Septation” in Developmental Cell. The article is also covered in Cell Prospective, Science Daily and others. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to postdoctoral fellow Nicole Crown (Jeff Sekelsky’s lab) who just learned she was awarded a K99 Pathway to Independence grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The grant provides two years of additional postdoctoral training and up to three years of funding as an independent investigator. Nicole will be co-mentored by Corbin Jones during the two-year postdoctoral phase.
Julia Samson (Laura Miller’s Lab) was awarded an “Advanced Dive Training Grant” from the Women Divers Hall Of Fame. With this award, Julia will be able to further develop her diving skills and get the Deep Diver certification needed to start training for technical dives. Julia’s research focuses on pulsing behavior in corals and underwater research is an important part of the project. READ MORE >>
The University of North Carolina Herbarium recently discovered in its holdings specimens collected by African American scientist and educator George Washington Carver (1860-1943). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Lecturer and Advisor Gidi Shemer, who was honored with a 2016 UNC-CH Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. UNC created the Tanner Awards with a bequest from the Tanner family in 1952 to recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first-year and second-year students. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Graduate Student Kayla Peck (Christina Burch’s lab) who was selected to receive the “2016 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award in Biological & Life Sciences”. The award will be presented to Kayla at the Graduate Student Recognition Celebration which will take place on April 14, 2016.
Christopher Martin and colleagues recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B titled: “Diabolical survival in Death Valley: recent pupfish colonization, gene flow, and genetic assimilation in the smallest species range on earth”. The paper was covered by Science, Nature, Discovery News, and the BBC. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Elizabeth Shank, who was recently awarded her first NIH R01 grant from NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) entitled ‘Using Co-culture and Bioinformatics to Discover New Antibiotics’. This grant provides $1,477,875 support over five years for the Shank lab to identify new bioactive molecules using microbial co-culture, imaging mass spectrometry, and genome mining. SHANK LAB WEBSITE >>
“Blake M. Hauser, a fourth-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (double major in Biology and Environmental Health Sciences), has been named a recipient of the Churchill Scholarship, a research-focused award that provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College, based at the University of Cambridge in England.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Jian-Ke (Jack) Tie (Darrel Stafford’s lab) who recently had two papers published. “Characterization of vitamin K-dependent carboxylase mutations that cause bleeding and non-bleeding disorders” appeared in the journal Blood. “Structural and functional insights into enzymes of the vitamin K cycle” appeared in the Journal of Thrombosis and Hemostasis. READ THE BLOOD PAPER >> READ THE JTH PAPER >>
Ken Lohmann and a multi-national team of researchers, including biology graduate student Roger Brothers and colleagues from the NC State Veterinary School of Medicine, have published a paper in the journal Conservation Physiology reporting on the blood chemistry of marine iguanas in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. The paper is titled: “Blood gases, biochemistry and haematology of Galápagos marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)”. This study is the first to provide baseline values that can be used to assess the health of these rare lizards, which live only in the Galápagos archipelago. READ MORE >>
Ken and Cathy Lohmann have received a new grant from the National Science Foundation to continue their research on how sea turtles navigate using Earth’s magnetic field. The grant, titled “Geomagnetic Imprinting and Natal Homing in Sea Turtles”, is from the Integrative Organismal Systems section of NSF and provides $555,000 to support research efforts in the US and in Costa Rica for a three-year period.
Congratulations to the Lillie Searles lab for their paper that was recently published in the journal RNA. Paul Brewer-Jensen (research specialist) is the first author. The co-authors are Lonna Mollision (graduate student), three former lab members–Carrie Wilson (graduate student), John Abernethy (technician), Samantha Card (undergraduate), and Lillie Searles. The paper is entitled “Suppressor of sable [Su(s)] and Wdr82 down-regulate RNA from heat-shock-inducible repetitive elements by a mechanism that involves transcription termination.” This study identified the protein Wdr82 as a component of the Su(s) regulatory pathway and revealed new mechanistic insights. READ MORE >>
Associate Professor Gregory P. Copenhaver and Adjunct Professor Hong Ma have published a paper in The Plant Cell entitled “Arabidopsis Cell Division Cycle 20.1 Is Required for Normal Meiotic Spindle Assembly and Chromosome Segregation” which reveals that a spindle assembly checkpoint component (CDC20.1) is required to synchronize the timing of chromosome alignment and ensure proper segregation during meiosis in plants. READ THE PAPER >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for the following faculty positions: A tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Ecology, and a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Molecular Neurobiology. READ MORE >>
Associate Professor Gregory P. Copenhaver, together with the senior editors at PLOS Genetics, published an article describing the data sharing expectations for PLOS Genetics. The article is entitled “PLOS Genetics Data Sharing Policy: In Pursuit of Functional Utility”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Christina Swanson from the Bob Duronio lab for the great “Holiday-colored” photo on the cover of the latest issue of Development. The article is titled “Expression of an S phase-stabilized version of the CDK inhibitor Dacapo can alter endoreplication”. READ THE ARTICLE > >
Karen Plevock, a joint graduate student between Kevin Slep’s lab and Nasser Rusan’s lab at the NIH-NHLBI, recently published an article in PLoS ONE. The paper is titled: “Newly Characterized Region of CP190 Associates with Microtubules and Mediates Proper Spindle Morphology in Drosophila Stem Cells”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Bill Kier and his former Ph.D. student Ted Uyeno, for receiving the “2015 Reinhard Rieger Award in Zoomorphology”. This annual award is given in memory of the zoologist Reinhard Rieger (a former faculty member in our department), and recognizes outstanding research in the field of zoomorphology. READ MORE >>
The “Lawrence I. Gilbert Undergraduate Educator Award” has been initiated by Professor Emeritus Larry Gilbert to recognize undergraduates who have done the most to further the biology education of fellow undergraduates. (Examples of undergraduate educators include S.I. leaders, peer mentors, tutors, etc.) If your education has been enriched by an undergraduate assigned to your course for the purpose of helping you learn, please nominate that person for a “Gilbert Award” using the link to the one-page nomination form. Nominations will remain open until March 21, 2016. NOMINATION FORM SITE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for the following faculty positions: A tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Ecology, and a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Molecular Neurobiology. READ MORE >>
EEOB graduate student Julia Samson (Laura Miller’s lab) received a Travelling Fellowship from “The Company of Biologists” to fund collaborative fieldwork in Israel. The team, composed of professors and students from UNC, UC Merced, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, spent ten days collecting data on the effects of water flows on the pulsing behavioral of soft corals. This collaborative project was a great success and subsequent field expeditions are being planned.
Congratulations to Amanda Solem (Post-Doc, Alain Laederach’s Lab) who is first author on a ‘News and Views’ story in Nature Chemical Biology titled: “RNA folding: A clear path to RNA catalysis.” In this paper she discusses a new high-resolution crystal structure of the subdomain from a catalytically active group II intron that reveals important conformational rearrangements necessary to achieve the fully formed catalyst. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Alka Das (Kevin Slep’s lab), who along with Dan Dickinson, Bob Goldstein and a former UNC undergraduate student, Cameron Wood (who conducted his honors project with Alka) recently published a paper in the November 15th issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell. The paper is titled: “Crescerin uses a TOG domain array to regulate microtubules in the primary cilium”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. At the induction ceremony, new members received certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol. The new inductees are: Rohini Bahethi, Lauren Nicole Bauer, Tyler George Beames, Santosh Bodepudi, Anthony Michael Boutelle, Susana Lea Bracewell, Sarah Chen, Emma Hope D’Agostino, Noopur S. Doshi, Suzahn Erin Ebert, Blair B. Flint Lindsey Kristin Freeman, Henry Gong, Tavia Isaura González Peña, Alexandra Olga Hamberis, Wesley Cole Holland, Mariya Husain, Amanda Caroline Lohmann, Zachary Colin MacKenzie, Brooke Gavin McKenna, Claudia Nicole Meyer, Julia Elizabeth Mullendore, Katherine Hannah Mulligan, Alex Justin Nusbickel, Harish Seshadri Pudukodu, Pranavi Sanka, Sophia Maria Vaporis Schermerhorn, Kristen Leigh Segars, Siddharth Shankar, Kate E. Stanton, Jasmine K. Sun, Julian Daniel Sunday Willett, Ting Wei Xiang, and Jimmy Zhang. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for the following faculty positions: A tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Ecology, and a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Molecular Neurobiology. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Kerry Bloom for his PLoS One paper titled: “Inferring Latent States and Refining Force Estimates via Hierarchical Dirichlet Process Modeling in Single Particle Tracking Experiments”. [PLoS One. 2015 Sep 18;10(9):e0137633. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137633. eCollection 2015.] Understanding the basis for intracellular motion is critical as the field moves toward a deeper understanding of the relation between Brownian forces, molecular crowding, and anisotropic (or isotropic) energetic forcing. This paper uses a nonparametric Bayesian modeling technique to identify the sources of motion during the constantly fluctuating motion of a single particle in a living cell. READ MORE >>
Josh Lawrimore (Kerry Bloom’s lab) spearheaded a collaboration with computer scientists and physicists to create ChromoShake, a three-dimensional simulator designed to find the thermodynamically favored states for given chromosome geometries. This is the first molecular dynamic model that can run over 1 mega-base of DNA in a timely fashion. Simulations of chromatin in differing initial configurations reveal novel principles for understanding the structure and function of a eukaryotic centromere. This work was published in Molecular Biology of the Cell in a paper titled: “ChromoShake: a chromosome dynamics simulator reveals chromatin loops stiffen centromeric chromatin” [Mol Biol Cell. 2015 Nov 4. pii: mbc.E15-08-0575]. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology grad student Kayla Peck, (Christina Burch’s Lab), who was the “People’s Choice” award winner in the first-ever UNC-CH “Three Minute Thesis” (3MT®) competition on November 4th. “3MT is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kathryn Citrin (Vicki Bautch’s Lab) on receiving a Beta Beta Beta Research Grant for her project entitled “Regulation of BMP-dependent Angiogenesis Via the SMAD7 Inhibitor.” TriBeta is a national honors society for students dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study. The TriBeta Research Foundation supports research activities undertaken by members during their undergraduate careers. Ms. Citrin is a member of Tau Iota, UNC’s TriBeta chapter, and is the first UNC undergraduate to receive one of these prestigious awards.
Five Biology undergraduates have been awarded “Tom and Elizabeth Long Research Awards” from Honors Carolina. The award funds may be spent on travel, equipment, or reagents for their work. Congratulations to the five students and their advisors: Emma Hope D’agostino (Dr. Matthew Redinbo), Katie Mary Foley (Dr. Tope Keku), Rafael Gutierrez (Dr. Karin S. Pfennig), Austin Louis Quimby (Dr. Samantha Pattenden), and Julian Daniel Sunday Willett (Dr. Oliver Smithies).
Professor Emerita Pat Pukkila and colleagues at Akita Prefectural University (Japan) and the Joint Genome Institute published a paper in PLOS ONE entitled “Strand-specific RNA-seq analyses of fruiting body development in Coprinopsis cinerea.” The paper provides a comprehensive overview of stage-specific gene expression in the mushroom. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Meredith Corley (BCB graduate student, Alain Laederach’s Lab) whose poster titled “Extensive alternative splicing in a 5′ UTR controls translation through a combination of uORFs and secondary structure” won a “Best Poster Prize” at the biennial North Carolina RNA Society meeting.
Congratulations to Lela Lackey (Post-Doc, Alain Laederach Lab) and Evonne McArthur (UNC QBio Class of 2015, Alain Laederach Lab) for their recent PLOS ONE manuscript titled “Increased Transcript Complexity in Genes Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” They performed a genome-wide analysis of complex genetic diseases and found that COPD associated genes have a significant enrichment in transcriptionally complex messenger RNAs. This finding is significant as it suggests a common mechanism, specifically alternative splicing for COPD which is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. READ MORE >>
The Scientific Research and Education Network (SciREN) Triangle chapter held its second annual set of events at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh in August and September 2015. In addition to Kate Augustine (Joel Kingsolver lab) and Avery Paxton (Charles Peterson lab) who helped organize and put on both events, two UNC Biology grad students, Anais Monroy-Eklund (Corbin Jones lab) and Jeeyun Lee (Chris Willett lab), participated and shared their lesson plan about inheritance in fruit flies entitled “Connecting traits across the family”. UNC Biology faculty member Dr. Allen Hurlbert also participated and brought his lesson plan entitled “Phenology matching and mis-matching across trophic levels” and advertised his new citizen science project “Caterpillars Count!”. READ MORE >>
Associate Professor Gregory P. Copenhaver in his role as Editor-in-Chief at PLOS Genetics, together with his co-Editor-in-Chief Gregory S. Barsh, have published an editorial that includes a David Letterman-esque list of 10 reasons to publish with PLOS and a top 10 list of the best papers published at PLOS Genetics in the last 10 years. The editorial is entitled: “A Decad(e) of Reasons to Contribute to a PLOS Community-Run Journal”. READ MORE >>
Postdoctoral fellow Aussie Suzuki (Ted Salmon’s lab) has published a paper in Nature Communications entitled: “A Quantitative Description of Ndc80 Complex Linkage to Human Kinetochores”. This paper uses quantitative microscopy to reveal the kinetochore protein copy number and stoichiometry of Ndc80 complex recruitment in human cells. Benjamin Badger (a former UNC biology undergrad) also contributed to this study. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Alain Laederach and his lab collaborators for the publication of their research paper in NATURE METHODS. The paper is entitled: “Single Molecule Cluster Analysis dissects splicing pathway conformational dynamics”. READ THE PAPER >>
Graduate student Josh Lawrimore’s (Kerry Bloom’s lab) publication was highlighted in an “In Focus” essay by Ben Short : “The tension mounts at centromeric loops” which appeared in the Journal of Cell Biology (Aug 17, 2015 Vol. 210). Lawrimore’s publication entitled “DNA loops generate intracentromere tension in mitosis” was in the Top 10 of Papers read for several weeks. “The study reveals how pericentric chromatin generates tension between sister centromeres.“ IN FOCUS ESSAY >>
Congratulations to senior Tim Barry (Elaine Yeh and Kerry Bloom’s lab) who received an ASCB travel award to the 2015 American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting in San Diego from the Triangle Cytoskeletal Meeting on September 21.
Four UNC School of Medicine researchers headed to Capitol Hill to take part in the Rally for Medical Research on September 17 to bring awareness to the need for more federally funded medical research. UNC Professors Bob Duronio (Biology Dept.), Blossom Damania, David Peden, and Brian Strahl were among hundreds of researchers from around the country who met with various Congressional leaders to urge them to ensure that funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a national priority and to support continued investment in medical research.” READ MORE >>
Associate Professor Gregory Copenhaver in collaboration with his colleagues at Fudan University in Shanghai, China has published a paper in PNAS entitled “Formation of interference-sensitive meiotic cross-overs requires sufficient DNA leading-strand elongation”. A co-advised graduate student, Cong Wang, and a Biology Department adjunct faculty member, Hong Ma, are also authors. The paper describes novel insights about the contribution of DNA synthesis to meiotic recombination in plants. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology PhD student Mira Pronobis (Mark Peifer’s lab) who recently published a paper in eLife entitled “A novel GSK3-regulated APC:Axin interaction regulates Wnt signaling by driving a catalytic cycle of efficient βcatenin destruction”. Mira’s work reveals new insights into the function of the “destruction complex”, which is the key negative regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway in both development and disease. Her work provides some of the first insights into the mechanisms of action of the critical human tumor suppressor gene APC, mutated in most cases of colon cancer. Co-authors on the paper include Nasser Rusan (NIH) and Mark Peifer. READ MORE >>
The Alain Laederach Lab was awarded a new grant from NHGRI (National Human Genome Research Institute) titled “Predicting the causative SNPs in LD blocks by allele-specific structural analysis of the transcriptome.” A description of their research project: “Although non-coding regions of the genome are not translated into proteins, they may be transcribed into single-stranded RNA. Such RNA carries out various regulatory functions in a cell. The researchers have shown that disrupting RNA structure in non-coding regions of transcribed RNAs can lead to diseases in people, including an inherited eye cancer, retinoblastoma. They would like to develop computational approaches to predict structural changes in RNA that are caused by tiny differences in the DNA sequence.” READ MORE >>
The Greg Matera Lab recently published a paper in RNA that describes the identification of a novel class of circular non-coding RNAs and the development of an in vivo circular RNA expression system based on this technology. The lead author is former Biology graduate student Zhipeng Lu, who identified these circular transcripts as part of a high-throughput sequencing analysis. Co-authors include GMB graduate students John Noto, Casey Schmidt and former rotation student Talia Hatkevich. The paper was featured on the RNA website for nearly a month prior to its September publication date as one of the top 5 “RNA most read” articles. READ MORE >>
Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Jennifer Modliszewski together with Gregory Copenhaver have published an invited commentary entitled “Meiotic Recombination Heats Up” in the journal New Phytologist. In the commentary, they discuss how meiotic recombination is influenced by environmental factors such as temperature as described in an accompanying research article in the same issue by Phillips et al. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Este Terzo, Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology PhD student (Bob Duronio’s lab), who earlier this year published a paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell entitled “Distinct self-interaction domains promote Multi Sex Combs accumulation in and formation of the Drosophila histone locus body”. Este’s work defined new domains a protein that functions as a scaffold to organize a nuclear body that controls replication dependent histone gene expression. For his work Este collaborated with Bill Marzluff and Shawn Lyons from the Bill Marzluff lab, John Poulton from the Mark Peifer lab, and Brenda Temple from the Structural Bioinformatics core facility, all of whom are coauthors. READ MORE > >
Congratulations to Taylor Penke, Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology PhD student (Bob Duronio’s lab), who was recently was awarded an F31 fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences entitled “Investigating the role of histone modifications in heterochromatin formation“.
Congratulations to Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology PhD student Joy Meserve (Bob Duronio’s lab) who recently published a paper in Development entitled “Scalloped and Yorkie are required for cell cycle re-entry of quiescent cells after tissue damage”. Joy’s paper was selected as an Editor’s Choice by both Development and Science Signaling.
Congratulations to Jeff Dangl’s Postdocs Freddy Monteiro, Marc Nishimura and Nak-Hyun Kim for their preliminary research which helped spur a new $2.3 million collaborative grant award from the “Two Blades Foundation”, a charitable organization that supports the development of durable disease resistance in crop plants and their deployment in agriculture. READ MORE >>
UNC undergraduate Laura Hamon’s research project on butterflies was highlighted in UNC’s Endeavors magazine this month. Laura worked in the Joel Kingsolver lab as a SURF (UNC Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow) student this summer. WATCH THE VIDEO >>
The American Society for Cell Biology’s newsletter features an interesting profile about Professor Bob Goldstein. Follow the story of Bob’s professional career, and read about his unique hobbies outside the lab. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about this UNC Biology scientist! READ THE ARTICLE >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Joseph Kieber who has recently been named a Kenan Distinguished Professor. “Dr. Kieber is an International leader in the study of cell signaling in plants – how cells communicate with one another to regulate both growth and development. This is a critical question in understanding such things as how fertilized eggs develop as well as the causes of cancer and aging.” READ MORE >>
A Viewpoint in the latest issue of Bioscience entitled “Linking Evolution, Ecology, and Health: TriCEM” describes how UNC, Duke, NC Central, and NCSU are jointly transforming the NSF-supported National Evolutionary Synthesis Center into the new Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM). The aim is to apply a synthetic approach, coupled with NESCent’s successful model of research incubation, to new questions in human, animal, and plant health posed explicitly in their ecological and evolutionary context. READ MORE >>
Associate Professor Gregory Copenhaver is an inventor on a U.S. patent entitled “Sorghum centromere sequences and minichromosomes” (9,096,909) that issued on August 4, 2015. This patent describes how to generate transgenic sorghum plants using engineered chromosomes. Sorghum is a high-energy drought tolerant crop used primarily for biofuel production and livestock feed and is grown on over 7 million acres in the United States. PATENT SITE >>
The newly-released FloraQuest app provides mobile device accessibility to the contents of the 1,320 page Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States, a comprehensive guide to the over 7,000 vascular plants that call the southeastern United States home. Development of the app was spearheaded by Dr. Alan Weakley (Biology Department Adjunct Associate Professor) and Michael Lee. The nearly weightless app is easy to take on a hike, and streamlines plant identification by narrowing results to plants found in the device’s general location. Users can pinpoint specific plants by answering key questions about the plant. Developed by the UNC Herbarium (a department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden) and funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research through the Carolina Apps Program, the app is available at the Apple Store.
Dr. Gregory P. Copenhaver in conjunction with his collaborators at the University of Birmingham and the IMP-IMBA in Vienna published an article in PLOS Genetics entitled “Arabidopsis PCH2 Mediates Meiotic Chromosome Remodeling and Maturation of Crossovers”. The paper uses advanced microscopy and genetic analysis to examine the meiotic phenotype of a mutant in an AAA+ ATPase called PCH2. The mutant experiences abnormal chromosome organization, decreased crossovers and a defect in CO interference – phenomena that are essential for normal gamete production. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to former Dangl lab post-doc Sarah Lebeis, current graduate BCB student Sur Herrera-Paredes, former GMB graduate student Derek Lundberg and their colleagues and collaborators on a paper just published on SCIENCE Express. The paper is titled “Salicylic acid modulates colonization of the root microbiome by specific bacterial taxa”. This work details genetic functions for defense hormones that regulate the output of the plant immune system in tuning the plant root microbiome. READ MORE >> READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Biology staff members Bill Abbotts and Susan Whitfield, who received their 35th year service awards at the UNC Service Appreciation Reception held recently at the Carolina Club. The reception honored employees who have reached 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service to UNC during the past year. During the presentation ceremony, the honorees were photographed with Chancellor Carol Folt as she presented each of them with a transparent plaque etched with their years of service.
Congratulations to post-doc Lela Lackey (Alain Laederach’s lab) who was awarded an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellowship for her research project titled “RNA structure mutations in Ovarian and Breast Cancers”. This three-year fellowship is made possible through the very special efforts of the American Cancer Society – Lee National Denim Day. Lela will continue to study RNA structure in the lab using a variety of experimental and computational approaches.
UNC-Chapel Hill posted a YouTube video about Pat Pukkila and her influence on undergraduate research and inquiry-based education at Carolina. It is one of a series of interviews (“Good to Great at Carolina”) with Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser. WATCH THE INTERVIEW >>
Dr. Gregory P. Copenhaver in conjunction with his collaborators at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and University of Birmingham have published an article in PLOS Genetics entitled “Analysis of the Relationships between DNA Double-Strand Breaks, Synaptonemal Complex and Crossovers Using the Atfas1-4 Mutant”. The paper describes the meiotic phenotype of a mutant in the protein complex that helps assemble acetylated nucleosomes. The mutant experiences an increase in meiotic DNA double strand breaks but not a corresponding increase in crossovers. Instead, gene conversion events are increased suggesting that plants experience a phenomenon known as crossover homeostasis. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Amanda Solem and Matthew Halvorsen (Alain Laederach’s lab) who co-authored a paper titled “The potential of the riboSNitch in personalized medicine,” which was published in WIREs RNA. In this review, the authors summarize recent developments in our understanding of transcriptome structure and how disease-associated human genetic variation affects the folding of important RNAs in the cell. This work is particularly important relative to private variants, i.e. polymorphisms that occur in individuals of families and lead to heritable traits. READ THE ARTICLE >>
Teresa Bonello (Mark Peifer’s lab) gave a talk at the Cell Contact and Adhesion Gordon Research Seminar held in New Hampshire this month. The title of Teresa’s talk was: “Defining the Network of Proteins Driving Apical-Basal Polarity Establishment in Early Drosophila Development”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Shank (Biology) and her co-PIs Dr. Jeff Dangl (Biology), Dr. Carol Arnosti (Marine Sciences), and Dr. David Berry (University of Vienna), who were recently awarded a $2,021,649, three-year grant from the Department of Energy. This grant will allow this multi-disciplinary team to develop an imaging platform using ‘transparent soil’ to non-destructively visualize the growth, metabolic activity, and carbon utilization of soil microbes and plants in native-like microcosms, and thus address key questions about community assembly and carbon cycling in soil ecosystems. [Transparent soil image obtained by Kriti Sharma, EEOB Graduate Student.]
Alan Feduccia is quoted in Duke Magazine’s summer 2015 issue on the new massive whole genome analyses of bird orders led by Erich Jarvis, which support Feduccia’s “Big Bang” theory of modern bird evolution following the extinction event that closed the Cretaceous Period (Feduccia, A. 1995. Explosive evolution in Tertiary birds and mammals. Science 267:637-638). This theory, formulated in the 1970s while working with the late Berkeley biochemist Allan Wilson*, was based on the mosaic nature of Eocene bird fossils (50 Ma), the absence of modern birds before the Cretaceous boundary (65Ma), and very small protein differences between modern orders. [*Wilson (a pioneer in the “molecular clock” field) and Vincent Sarich, also of Berkeley, proposed in the late 1960’s the provocative but now-accepted theory that apes and humans evolved from lineages that split off from one another five million years ago, The African Eve Hypothesis.] QUICK VIEW >>
Bob Goldstein’s lab members scatter around the world to present at conferences… PhD student Jenny Heppert was selected to give a short talk on mechanisms of spindle positioning by cell-cell signaling at the June Developmental Biology Gordon Research Conference in Massachusetts. Jennifer and PhD student Sophie Tintori presented posters on their research as well. Postdoc Dan Dickinson co-organized a workshop, spoke on improved CRISPR methods, and presented posters at the International C. elegans Meeting held in Los Angeles in June. Postdocs Frank Smith and Thomas Boothby spoke at the 13th International Symposium on Tardigrades held in Modena, Italy in June.
Professor Emeritus Haven Wiley’s new book, “Noise Matters: The Evolution of Communication”, has recently been published by Harvard University Press. The book’s comprehensive approach considers communication on many different levels of biological organization, from cells to individual organisms, including humans. READ MORE >>
Anne-Marie Ladouceur (Paul Maddox’s lab) had a paper accepted by the Journal of Cell Biology. The title of her paper is: “Mitotic chromosome length scales in response to both cell and nuclear size”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to former undergraduate Katherine Sholtis, former graduate student Ryan Shelton, and Associate Professor Ty Hedrick, whose paper: “Field Flight Dynamics of Hummingbirds during Territory Encroachment and Defense” was just published in the journal PLoS ONE. READ MORE >>
Anne-Marie Ladouceur (Paul Maddox’s lab) has been selected to give a talk at the Developmental Biology Gordon Research Conference later this month. The title of Anne-Marie’s talk will be: “Mitotic chromosome size scaling during C. elegans early development”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Katrina Kutchko and Wes Sanders (Alain Laederach’s lab) who were co-first authors on a paper in RNA titled “Multiple conformations are a conserved and regulatory feature of the RB1 5′ UTR”. In this paper, they identified a novel set of RNA structures that affect RB1 expression in patients presenting with retinoblastoma. These elements are also conserved in Bos taurus (cow) and Trichechus manatus latirostris (manatee), suggesting this novel mechanism of gene expression control is evolutionarily conserved. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Postdoctoral fellow Christopher Slagle (Frank Conlon’s lab) who received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association. Christopher’s research grant is titled: “Cardiac-specific mechanisms of Eomesodermin-mediated transcriptional regulation”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Chanin Tolson and Meredith Corley (Alain Laederach’s lab), whose posters titled “Autonomous Classification of RNA Structure Change” and “Detecting riboSNitches with RNA folding algorithms: a genome-wide benchmark” both won awards for computational innovation in RNA at the 20th Annual Meeting of the RNA Society in Madison, Wisconsin last week. Chanin and Meredith developed novel approaches to predict the deleterious effects of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) on RNA structure and identify structure changes in the human genome. They were each awarded a cash prize and recognized at the meeting’s awards ceremony on May 30th.
Congratulations to Postdoctoral fellow Erich Kushner (Vicki Bautch’s lab) who received a “Scientist Development Grant” from the American Heart Association. Erich’s research grant is titled: “Centrosomes and Cytoskeletal Mechanisms of Blood Vessel Dysfunction”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to post-doctoral fellow Omri Finkel (Jeff Dangl’s lab) who was awarded a $1300 ‘Early Career Travel Award’ to attend this summer’s meeting, “Phytobiomes 2015: Designing a New Paradigm for Crop Improvement”, in Washington, D.C. Omri’s presentation will be titled: ‘Designing and testing microbial consortia for improved plant productivity’. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kerry Dorr (Frank Conlon’s lab) for the publication of her paper titled ‘Casz1 is required for cardiomyocyte G1-to-S phase progression during mammalian cardiac development’ in the journal Development. The paper’s authors include former graduate student Marta Charpentier, former post doc Nirav Amin and former Biology undergraduate Hanna Labiner. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Diana Chong (Vicki Bautch’s lab) for receiving a two-year American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Winter 2015 Predoctoral Fellowship that will begin on July 1 of this year. The title of Diana’s project is: “Analysis of Tortuous Vessel Formation and Sprouting.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Shawn Ahmed’s lab, which has a new paper out in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is titled: “Lack of pairing during meiosis triggers multigenerational transgene silencing in Caenorhabditis elegans“. [Leopold LE, Heestand BN, Seong S, Shtessel L, Ahmed S. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 May 19;112(20):E2667-76. doi: 10.1073/pnas. 1501979112. Epub 2015 May 4.] The paper’s authors include former graduate students Luciana Leopold and Ludmilla Shtessel, postdoc Bree Heestand, and former Biology undergraduate Soobin Seong. READ THE PAPER >>
An NIH RO1 grant in Shawn Ahmed’s lab has been renewed by NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences). This research grant funds studies of ‘Genetic Analysis of Germ Cell Immortality’. This grant funding provides a total of $1,183,320 for four years of support. READ MORE ABOUT RESEARCH IN SHAWN AHMED’S LAB >>
Congratulations to BCB and Biology doctoral student Scott Yourstone (Jeff Dangl lab & Corbin Jones lab), who was awarded a $1300 ‘Early Career Travel Award’ to attend the upcoming Washington, DC meeting – Phytobiomes 2015: Designing a New Paradigm for Crop Improvement. Scott’s presentation at this meeting will be titled: “Estimating the functional potential of Arabidopsis thaliana root endophyte communities.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Amy Howard (Kevin Slep’s lab) whose research paper was recently published in “The Journal of Biological Chemistry”. The paper is titled: “Drosophila melanogaster Mini Spindles TOG3 Utilizes Unique Structural Elements to Promote Domain Stability and Maintain a TOG1- and TOG2-like Tubulin-binding Surface”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Alakananda Das (Kevin Slep’s lab) who has been selected as a recipient of a “Dissertation Completion Fellowship Award” from the UNC Graduate School for 2015-2016. Each award provides a stipend and a scholarship to cover all university fees, as well as tuition and health insurance, in order to allow each student to devote full time to dissertation completion.
Congratulations to Amy Howard (Kevin Slep’s lab) for receiving a two-year American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Winter 2015 Predoctoral Fellowship that will begin on July 1 of this year. The title of Amy’s project is: “A structural and mechanistic study of XMAP215-mediated MT polymerization and cell migration.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dr. Alan Weakley (Biology Assistant Professor and NCBG Herbarium Director), who has won the Center for Plant Conservation’s “2015 Star Award” for his “exemplary service to further the knowledge of plants. His tireless work and exceptional skill in documenting the flora of the United States Southeast is what prompted his selection as this year’s winner.” READ MORE >>
This year’s Biology Commencement Recognition Ceremony was held on May 9th in Carmichael Arena. The Saturday afternoon event hosted a record number of graduates this academic year. Of the 676 Biology student graduates, 411 were in attendance at this event! More UNC students were granted degrees in Biology than in any other major.
Springer’s Journal of Ornithology has just published an online paper authored by Alan Feduccia and Stephen A. Czerkas (DOI 10.1007/s10336-015-1190-9) entitled: Testing the neoflightless hypothesis: propatagium reveals flying ancestry of oviraptorosaurs. The paper describes the discovery of a propatagium (flight membrane from the proximal humerus to the hand), in the so-called “feathered dinosaur” Caudipteryx, providing evidence that its primary flight remiges and avian flight hand evolved in an aerodynamic context, from flying ancestors, and not as exaptations in earth-bound theropods, a view championed by many paleontologists. The many other bird characters suggest that it is a secondarily flightless bird, like the ratites (ostrich and allies), as advocated earlier by a number of independent analyses. This paper falsifies the famous 1998 Nature cover article that described this animal as a dinosaur with advanced avian flight feathers. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to two graduate students in Biology who have been awarded funds to support their summer research from the “Henry Van Peters Wilson Memorial Fund for Marine Biology” – Dave Ernst (Ken Lohmann’s lab) and Julia Samson (Laura Miller’s lab). Dave will take advantage of a unique set of experimental reefs in Florida to track the movement and magnetic orientation of lobsters. Julia works on upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea) and will use the funding to become AAUS SCUBA certified as a scientific diver, so that she can pursue research underwater. Dave and Julia vow not to consume their study organisms when their work is complete, as per IACUC regulations.
Congratulations to these PhD candidates in Biology labs, Fletcher Halliday (Charles Mitchell’s Lab), Rob Heckman (Charles Mitchell’s Lab), Anne-Marie Ladouceur (Paul Maddox’s Lab), Bianca Lopez (Plant Ecology Lab), Susan Lyons (Keith Sockman’s Lab), and Chris Payne (Plant Ecology Lab), who have been selected as recipients of “Dissertation Completion Fellowship Awards” from the UNC Graduate School for 2015-2016. Each award provides a stipend and a scholarship to cover all university fees, as well as tuition and health insurance, in order to allow each student to devote full time to dissertation completion. In addition, Alissa Brown (Plant Ecology Lab) was selected to receive “The Kevin Satisky and Judith Thorn Summer Research Fellowship” (for $4000), which will allow her to devote full time to conducting her dissertation research.
Family fun at the 2015 UNC SCIENCE EXPO, a free event of the North Carolina Science Festival. Saturday, April 11, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on campus. Enjoy a street-fair type atmosphere and participate in the science activities. VISIT THE BIOLOGY BOOTH!! PERFORMERS, FOOD TRUCKS, CAMPUS TOURS, ACTIVITIES. LEARN MORE >>
Congratulations to Matthew Powers, an undergraduate researcher (Junior, Biology Major) in Dr. Elizabeth Shank’s lab, whose first-author paper entitled “Inhibition of Cell Differentiation in Bacillus subtilis by Pseudomonas protegens” was published in the Journal of Bacteriology this week. This manuscript describes Matthew’s identification of a soil microbe that secretes an antibiotic that, at subinhibitory concentrations, inhibits biofilm formation and sporulation in B. subtilis. These findings have potential implications for understanding the interactions between these two microbes on plant roots in the natural world, as well as support the idea that many compounds thought of as antibiotics can also impact bacterial development at subinhibitory concentrations. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Vishal Iyer (Biology undergraduate student), who has been selected as a recipient of a Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award (SUTASA), given for excellence in teaching undergraduate students. Established in 1989, the SUTASA awards are the only teaching and staff awards funded, nominated, and selected entirely by undergraduates at the University, with $1000 given to each recipient. Vishal is a supplemental instructor for both BIOL101 and BIOL202 classes, working with both Dr. Blaire Steinwand and Dr. Jean DeSaix.
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. At the induction ceremony, new members received certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol. The new inductees are: Kendall A. Bagley, Allison Renee Baker, Yasemin Canan Cole, Travis D. Corriher, Connor J. Davis, Lorelei Feeny, Pranav Nagaraj Haravu, Laurel Ann Keefer, Catherine Keller, Steven Kufert, Kyle Henry Mcknight, Sarah Rebecca Mcshane, Mitchell Garrison Nash, Sean M. O’Neill, Robert D. Price, Andrew Steffensen Romaine, Andrew J. Saintsing, John Matthew Sincavage, Nandan P. Thakkar, and Maura Elizabeth Thornton. READ MORE >>
Dr. Gregory P. Copenhaver together with a former graduate student Luke Berchowitz (now at MIT), and in conjunction with his collaborators at Cambridge University have published an article in eLIFE entitled “Juxtaposition of heterozygosity and homozygosity during meiosis causes reciprocal crossover remodeling via interference”. The paper describes novel and surprising insights into how the distribution of meiotic recombination events (crossovers) are influenced by genomic patterns of homozygosity and heterozygosity. Proper distribution of crossovers is critical for ensuring faithful chromosome segregation during the production of gametes. The paper is freely available by open access in pre-print form. READ THE PAPER >>
Congratulations to Professor Frank Conlon, (UNC Biology) and Ilena Cristea (Princeton University) who were awarded a four-year R01 grant from the NIH, entitled “Functional investigation of the TBX20 cardiac interactome.” The studies will establish the mechanisms of how the cardiac transcription factor TBX20 is causative to human congenital heart disease.
Associate Professor Gregory Copenhaver is an inventor on a U.S. patent entitled “Methods for Generating or Increasing Revenues from Crops” (8,981,183) that issued on March 17, 2015. This patent describes how to generate transgenic sugarcane plants using engineered chromosomes. Sugarcane is one of the world’s biggest crops and is an important source of biofuel. READ THE PATENT INFORMATION >>
Biology Distinguished Professor & Chair Victoria Bautch was elected to co-chair the “Developmental Vascular Biology and Genetics Meeting” sponsored by NAVBO (North American Vascular Biology Organization) in 2017. Brian Black of the University of California-San Francisco is the other co-chair. “NAVBO provides a forum for vascular biologists who are either in the traditional basic science disciplines (structural/molecular biology, cell biology, physiology) or studying the pathogenesis and treatment of human disease in disciplines such as medicine, pathology, and surgery.”
Biology Distinguished Professor & Chair Victoria Bautch was recently appointed to the International Scientific Advisory Board for the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Muenster, Germany. Investigating the formation of cells, tissues and organs, the Institute’s work is dedicated to three areas – stem cell research, inflammation processes, and blood vessel growth.
Biology Assistant Professor Elizabeth Shank, along with UNC School of Pharmacy colleagues Rachel Bleich (graduate student) and Albert Bowers (Assistant Professor) and others at UCSD, published a paper in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) last week entitled “Thiopeptide antibiotics stimulate biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis.” This paper describes how they used imaging mass spectrometry to identify the antibiotic thiocillin as an inter-bacterial signal that activates biofilm formation. They go on to show that this molecule possesses two structurally independent activities (killing and biofilm-formation), a finding that has implications for how we treat infections as well as our perception of why bacteria produce such molecules in the first place. READ MORE >> READ THE PAPER >>
Nautilus, a magazine on science and culture, published a very interesting article written by Biology Professor Bob Goldstein entitled: “The Thrill of Defeat”. “The story describes one of the biggest scoops in the history of science, the 1961 deciphering of DNA’s language, the genetic code. Sydney Brenner and Francis Crick, now famous as two of the 20th century’s most brilliant geneticists, worked on this problem from 1953 to 1961, only to be beaten to the punch by a little-known American biochemist. Their reaction? They were thrilled.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology seniors Michael Auriemma, Connor Ifkovits, Shane Dulin, Brett Barnard and Stephen Santangelo, and to Biology graduate student Vincent Boudreau for winning the ACC Hockey League Championship hosted by the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. After posting a stellar eight wins, two losses and one tie during the second semester, the Tar Heels went on to win the Admiral’s Cup in the ACC championship game, defeating three time defending champions, the Georgetown Hoyas. This is the first ACC Hockey League championship title the Tar Heels have brought back to Chapel Hill in the program’s 40-year history!
Congratulations to the McKay, Strahl, Duronio, and Matera labs for their featured article published in the February issue of Developmental Cell entitled: “Interrogating the Function of Metazoan Histones using Engineered Gene Clusters”, which describes a new platform for histone gene engineering in Drosophila. Their approach improves upon previous approaches by directly testing the function of histone residues in vivo, rather than by relying on inferences from mutations in the enzymes that modify histone residues. The system will be used as part of an ongoing collaboration to unravel the basic mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance in animals. Lineberger Postdoc Stephen Klusza (Duronio and Matera labs) and GMB Graduate Students Taylor Penke (Duronio lab), Michael Meers (Matera lab), Katy Curry (Duronio lab), and Stephen McDaniel (Strahl lab), as well as former Biology Graduate Student Deirdre Tatomer (Duronio and Marzluff labs) and former Biology undergraduate Stephen Cooper (Matera lab) contributed to the work. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia, whose July 2014 Journal of Ornithology paper was the top downloaded paper for that journal in 2014. His paper is entitled “Jurassic archosaur is a non-dinosaurian bird”. “Re-examination utilizing Keyence 3D digital microscopy and low angled illumination of the fossil Scansoriopteryx, a problematic sparrow-size pre-Archaeopteryx specimen from the Jurassic Daohugou Biotas, provides new evidence which challenges the widely accepted hypothesis that birds are derived from dinosaurs in which avian flight originated from cursorial forms.” READ MORE >>
“NatureServe’s Larry E. Morse Visiting Botany Fellowship for 2015 has been awarded to Alan Weakley—one of the country’s foremost botanical taxonomists—for his long-standing and ongoing dedication to plant conservation. Weakley, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and herbarium director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, is also a longtime botanist and ecologist in the NatureServe Network. The Larry E. Morse Visiting Botanist Fellowship was established in 2012 to honor Morse’s legendary career, long-standing commitment to plant conservation, and dedication to mentoring botanists of all ages and at any stage of their career.” READ MORE >>
Dr. Vasantha Mutucumarana retired on January 30, 2015 after working in the Department of Biology for twenty-one years. Vasantha began his career with Dr. Darrel Stafford as a Post Doctoral Research Associate, then as a Research Associate until his retirement. Dr. Mutucumarana was involved in investigating the structure and function of vitamin K-dependent carboxylase, an enzyme that catalyzes the post-translational modification of specific glutamates to gamma-caboxy glutamate in certain proteins involved in blood coagulation, bone metabolism and cell proliferation. He has had peer-reviewed articles published in journals, such as: Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry, Journal of Structural Biology and Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis; with over 300 citations to his work. He has presented his research at numerous scientific meetings, such as: the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/Biophysical Society, the American Society of Hematology, and the FASEB Summer Research Conference.
An article appearing in both the online Endeavors Magazine and the print Carolina Alumni Review entitled “The Bugs in your Drugs” highlights the research of Dr. Elizabeth Shank (along with that of Dr. Rita Tamayo in Microbiology & Immunology and Dr. Scott Singleton in the School of Pharmacy). The article discusses how the Shank lab’s research exploring how bacteria interact with each other using chemical signals may help identify new therapeutic approaches. READ MORE >>
Cretaceous Research selected Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia’s recent paper to appear in their Virtual Special Issue (VSI) which will be freely available to everyone until April 24, 2015. The paper is entitled “Avian extinction at the end of the Cretaceous: Assessing the magnitude and subsequent explosive radiation”, and was the journal’s most downloaded paper for most of the summer of 2014, with over 800 downloads. The paper updates Feduccia’s controversial theory of “Bird Evolution’s Big Bang” which was formulated in 1974, and was recently confirmed by massive bird whole-genome analyses (Jarvis et al. 2014. Science 346:1320-1331). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Peter White, who has been selected to receive “The Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award” for helping to define the role of botanical gardens in conservation through his work at the North Carolina Botanical Garden and in the research community. “The award is given annually by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to recognize achievements in conservation both in California and around the world. Established in 2007, the award honors John Pritzlaff’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation, take action, and help the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden reach its plant conservation leadership goals.” READ MORE >>
The UNC-CH website has posted a Spotlight feature article on retired Biology Professor Aristotle Domnas. The story describes the daily workout program of 91 year-old Domnas at the campus Student Recreation Center, which varies from his stretching and cardio-work to his weight-lifting program and includes photographs taken during his activities there. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Senior STEM Lecturer and Director of Instructional Innovation (College of Arts & Sciences) Kelly Hogan, who was honored with a 2015 UNC-CH Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. UNC created the Tanner Awards with a bequest from the Tanner family in 1952 to recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first-year and second-year students. READ MORE >>
Biology Assistant Professor Alain Laederach along with Meredith Corley (graduate student, BCB curriculum) and Amanda Solem (Post-doc, Laederach Lab) published a paper last week in Nucleic Acids Research that was titled: “Detecting riboSNitches with RNA folding algorithms: a genome-wide benchmark”. In the paper, Laederach and his collaborators evaluate 11 different RNA folding algorithms’ riboSNitch prediction performance from a recently published human genome-wide parallel analysis of RNA structure (PARS) study. This study establishes best practices for predicting how SNVs (Single Nucleotide Variants) will affect transcriptome structure. READ MORE >>
“Sea turtles migrate across thousands of miles of ocean before returning to nest on the same stretch of coastline where they hatched, but how they do this has mystified scientists for more than fifty years,” said J. Roger Brothers (Ken Lohmann’s lab). “Our results provide evidence that turtles imprint on the unique magnetic field of their natal beach as hatchlings and then use this information to return as adults.” The findings by Brothers and Distinguished Professor Ken Lohmann were reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on January 15. The story was also featured in an NPR news segment and in a BBC article. READ THE UNC NEWS STORY >> READ THE ARTICLE >>
Dr. Kelly Hogan (Senior STEM lecturer and the Director of Instructional Innovation in the College of Arts & Sciences), and her husband Dr. Brian Hogan (Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry) created “The Hogan Book Award for First Generation College Students in STEM” in partnership with Pearson Education. The award provides free introductory Chemistry, Biology and Physics course textbooks to a selected group of first generation college students to help defray the costs of taking STEM discipline classes. The five inauguaral award recipients are: Chuyin Fan (Biology BS, Winston Salem, NC), Atemnkeng Forwang (Chemistry BS, Lanham, MD), Cherrel Manley (Chemistry, Fayetteville, NC), Brandon Carpenter (Biochemistry B.S., Cary, NC), and Brianna Albritton (Biology Major, Mebane, NC). READ MORE >>
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of retired UNC Biology Associate Professor Dr. Seth Robert Reice on Dec. 23, 2014. Dr. Reice was a faculty member in the department from 1973-2011, serving as Chair of the Ecology Curriculum from 1986-1996. During his 38 years in the department, he taught over 1000 students, published many research papers in a variety of journals, and wrote an ecological book about environmental disturbances and their role in bringing balance to an ecosystem. OBITUARY LINK >>
Congratulations to Biology PhD student Leslie Kennedy (Frank Conlon’s Lab) for being a recipient of the “Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship Candidacy Award”. This is a university-wide competition that has been made possible through the effort of Chancellor Folt to advance the Initiative for Minority Excellence at UNC.
Abel Valdivia (graduate student, John Bruno’s lab) was quoted in a recent “SCIENCE” article entitled: “Researchers applaud U.S.- Cuba accord”. The story discussed how the recent diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and Cuba might further scientific research collaboration between the two nations. READ MORE >>
Dr. Gregory Copenhaver has been appointed as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. Fudan University, founded in 1905, is one of the oldest and most selective universities in China. Dr. Copenhaver has long-standing collaborations with several faculty at Fudan including Professors Hong Ma and Yiangxiang Wang with whom he co-advises two graduate students Cong Wang and Hongkuan Wang. In addition, Dr. Copenhaver is working with UNC Global to establish a semester abroad program for UNC undergraduates to visit and study at Fudan. READ MORE >>
Ever wonder what mathematical models are really telling you? Members of the Servedio lab, Maria Servedio, Sumit Dhole, Caitlin Stern, Justin Yeh, and NESCent postdocs Courtney Fitzpatrick and Jeremy van Cleve, along with collaborators Yaniv Brandvain and Emma Goldberg, have published an Essay in PLoS Biology entitled: “Not Just a Theory—The Utility of Mathematical Models in Evolutionary Biology”. The essay explains the purpose of proof-of-concept models in Evolutionary Biology. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for two faculty positions: an Assistant Professor in Plant Molecular Biology and Genomics and a Lecturer to teach courses in Ecology/Evolution and Introductory Biology. READ MORE >>
In recognition of his 28 years as Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the growth and transformation of the Garden during that period, Professor Peter White received two recent honors. On November 14th, he was made a member of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Pat McCrory, and the Town of Chapel Hill declared December 3rd as “Dr. Peter S. White Day”. World-renowned botanist Peter Raven also traveled to UNC to honor Dr. White and presented a program at the Botanical Garden on December 3rd entitled “Saving plants, saving ourselves”.
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. At the induction ceremony, new members received certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol. Cathy Jeanette Anderson, Connor Moss Belson, Caitlin Bissette Biddell, Zachary Tyler Blom, Joseph Benjamin Bridgers, Anna Katherine Cook, Megan Seema Gurjar, Blake Marie Hauser, Catherine Peach Haviland, Stephanie Mae Hess, Taylor Anne Johannigman, Katherine Elizabeth Jordan, Olivia Karas, Andrew B. Koo, Sonya Roosa Kowalczyk, Ethan Jeremy Ledbetter, Elizabeth Helen Long, Samuel Jackson Resnick, Alexander Dean Sherry, Elizabeth Emily Straub, Sarah Frances Tomlinson, Hannah Emily Webber, Brendan Matthew Wesp, Julia Danielle Elizabeth Whitley, and Jaclyn Wu. READ MORE >>
Former Biology graduate student John Pelton (Bautch Lab) has published a paper in Development entitled “Multiple Endothelial Cells Constitute the Tip of Developing Blood Vessels and Polarize to Promote Lumen Formation “. The article is featured in a Preview entitled “Two Top Tips for Angiogenesis”. This work challenges the current paradigm that blood vessels have a single cell at the sprouting tip as networks form. Former GMB grad student Catherine Wright (Bautch Lab), Michael Leitges (Biotechnology Center Norway), and Victoria Bautch also contributed to the work. READ MORE >>
Dr. Pat Pukkila was an invited speaker at the October EMBO conference in Heidelberg Germany on Experimental Approaches to Evolution. She presented conclusions regarding epigenetic modifications of gene duplications, including a novel pattern of hypomethylation across core centromere regions in Coprinus cinereus. The work (including contributions from Dr. Ginnie Hench and Dr. Sylvia Frazier-Bowers at UNC-CH and from Dr. Anjana Rao and her collaborators at LIAI) will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for two faculty positions: an Assistant Professor in Plant Molecular Biology and Genomics and a Lecturer to teach courses in Ecology/Evolution and Introductory Biology. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Gabriel Allen, a biology and Asian studies double major from Apex, NC, who has been selected as a UNC Phillips Ambassador for study abroad in Asia. Allen will study at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, during the spring 2015 semester. Phillips Ambassadors are selected twice a year and receive $5,000 each to defray the cost of a UNC-approved study abroad program in Asia. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement, strong communications skills, intellectual curiosity and ambition, evidence of generous service to campus and community, and a previous record of leadership. READ MORE >>
Jolien Verdaasdonk (now Jolien Tyler), a former graduate student in Professor Kerry Bloom’s lab and now Director of the Microscopy Core Facility at the University of Colorado Boulder, together with Josh Lawrimore (current graduate student) wrote a detailed methodological account of how to determine absolute protein numbers using fluorescence microscopy. The work has been published in Methods in Cell Biology, and is entitled “Determining absolute protein numbers by quantitative fluorescence microscopy”. READ MORE >>
The journal Nucleus has published a research paper entitled “Polymer models of interphase chromosomes” which is a collaboration between Professor Kerry Bloom and Assistant Professor Paula Vasquez (University of South Carolina, Department of Mathematics). This is a joint project between applied math and biology to develop models based on statistical mechanics of polymers that predict the behavior of chromosomes in living cells. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for two faculty positions: an Assistant Professor in Plant Molecular Biology and Genomics and a Lecturer to teach courses in Ecology/Evolution and Introductory Biology. READ MORE >>
Professor Kerry Bloom’s paper entitled: “Centromeric Heterochromatin: The Primordial Segregation Machine” appears in the Annual Review of Genetics. This review explores the physical properties of centromeric DNA to understand how a molecular spring is built and contributes to the fidelity of chromosome segregation. READ MORE >>
First author Chloe Snider, (a former undergraduate student in the Kerry Bloom lab-now a graduate student at Vanderbilt University) discovered a novel role for tRNA transcription factors and modification enzymes in recruiting condensin to centromeric heterochromatin. This function is conserved from yeast to human and explains the mitotic defect in DKC1 (dyskerin), a gene defective in Dyskeratosis congenita and Hoyeraal–Hreidarsson syndrome. The Journal of Cell Biology publication is entitled: “Dyskerin, tRNA genes, and condensin tether pericentric chromatin to the spindle axis in mitosis”. READ MORE >>
The Danforth Award for Plant Sciences recognizes a prominent national or international leader for outstanding achievement and service for the benefit of agriculture, food nutrition or human health. Past recipients include Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, World Food Prize co-winners Mary-Dell Chilton and Robb Fraley, and L’Oreal Prize winner Joanne Chory. Congratulations to this year’s recipient, Jeffery L. Dangl, who has advanced our understanding of how plants fight infection and interact with beneficial microbial communities, a key to improving agricultural productivity. His contributions include, with Jonathan Jones, the Guard Hypothesis, which proposed that plant disease-resistance proteins respond to cell damage caused by pathogen virulence effectors, rather than by direct recognition of those effectors. Dangl is a passionate advocate for the importance of plant science and a committed mentor to students and postdoctoral researchers. VIDEO LINK >>
Marine Ecologist Serena Hakerott (John Bruno’s lab) was recently quoted in a Washington Post news article entitled: “Divers try spoon feeding lionfish to sharks, a method that could come back to bite them”. In the article, Hackerott and her UNC colleagues said “feeding lionfish to sharks is crazy. Sharks are going to associate divers with food”. In a recent blog post, she said “I’ve been a diver for more than 10 years and have never felt threatened by a shark. I might not feel so comfortable, though, if sharks began to expect snacks every time I enter the water.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dangl-Grant lab post-docs Eui-Hwan Chung and Farid El-Kasmi who, with former post-doc Yijian He and former UNC undergrad Alex Loehr, have published a paper in the October issue of Cell Host & Microbe entitled: ‘A plant phosphoswitch platform repeatedly targeted by type III effector proteins regulates the output of both tiers of plant immune receptors.’ This paper provides an evolutionarily consistent molecular mechanism to describes how several bacterial pathogen effectors enhance virulence by manipulating the ratio of specific phosphorylation events on their host target protein. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to former Dangl-Grant lab Senior Research Associate Petra Epple, current post-doc Li Yang, and former post-doc Yijian He, who were all co-first authors on a multi-institution paper in the September issue of Cell Host & Microbe entitled: ‘Convergent targeting of a common host protein-network by pathogen effectors from three kingdoms of life’. This paper demonstrates that plant pathogens separated by over 2.5 billion years have evolved sets of non-homologous virulence effector proteins that target a shared set of plant cellular proteins that are highly enriched for components of the plant defense machinery. Former UNC undergrads Nathan McDonald and Kristin Wiley were major contributors, working with Petra, to getting this project going. READ MORE >>
The Biology Department Picnic is coming up! It will be held on October 15th from 4:00 – 6:00 pm in the Genomic Sciences courtyard and will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some good barbecue before heading off for Fall break. So mark your calendars and we hope to see you at the picnic!
Postdoctoral fellow Aussie Suzuki (Ted Salmon’s lab) has published a paper in Developmental Cell entitled: ‘The Architecture of CCAN Proteins Creates a Structural Integrity to Resist Spindle Forces and Achieve Proper Intrakinetochore Stretch’. The article is featured in Previews entitled: ‘How Kinetochore CCAN Resist Force’ and is also featured on Developmental Cell’s top website page. Benjamin Badger (UNC biology undergrad and an awardee of SURF 2014), Dr. Xiaohu Wan (former Salmon lab post-doc), and Dr. Jennifer DeLuca (Colorado State) also contributed to this study. READ MORE >>
Biology Postdoc John Poulton and Undergraduate John Cuningham (both from Mark Peifer’s lab) have been exploring the roles of the centrosome and how animal cells compensate in the absence of this organelle. Their findings were just published in Developmental Cell in a paper entitled: “Acentrosomal Drosophila Epithelial Cells Exhibit Abnormal Cell Division, Leading to Cell Death and Compensatory Proliferation”. Mark Peifer was also an author on this paper. READ MORE >>
Former Postdoctoral fellow Aisa Sakaguchi and graduate student Matt Simon (both from Shawn Ahmed’s lab) have published a paper in PNAS entitled: ‘Caenorhabditis elegans RSD-2 and RSD-6 promote germ cell immortality by maintaining small interfering RNA populations’. Dr. Peter Sarkies and Dr. Eric Miska from the University of Cambridge made significant contributions to this study. READ THE PAPER >>
Professor Greg Copenhaver and his lab have received a $500,000 grant from the Dutch plant breeding company Rijk Zwaan to understand the fundamental biology of how gametes are produced and the rules that govern chromosome behavior in plants. READ MORE about Dr. Copenhaver’s research >> READ MORE about Rijk Zwaan >>
Congratulations to Nitin Sekar, a UNC Biology graduate, who has won a prestigious award for his PhD work at Princeton University. The annual “John L. Harper Young Investigator’s Prize” was given to Nitin for having the best paper in Journal of Ecology by a young author at the beginning of his research career. While at UNC, Nitin did a biology honors project with Professor Peter White, and also worked with Professor Haven Wiley. READ MORE >>
Hínár Polczer (Biology IT Support) and his “Carolina Monkey Kung Fu” Sport Club were featured on UNC’s Carolina Week (Sports Xtra) TV newscast (9/22/2014). Hínár has been the instructor/coach for the club for about 8 years. VIEW THE NEWSCAST >> (segment is 26 minutes into the program)
Postdoctoral fellow Nicole Crown (Jeff Sekelsky’s lab) just had a publication in PLoS Genetics entitled: “Eliminating Both Canonical and Short-Patch Mismatch Repair in Drosophila melanogaster Suggests a New Meiotic Recombination Model”. Susan Cheek and Jeff Sekelsky were also authors on this paper. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Jeff Sekelsky, whose grant from NIH to study meiotic recombination was renewed for four more years (years 14-17 of the grant). READ MORE ABOUT RESEARCH IN THE SEKELSKY LAB >>
Would you like to have food and conversation with one of your Biology professors, instructors, or Teaching Assistants, on the Biology Department’s tab? You and one or two friends can invite a faculty member or TA to lunch anywhere within walking distance (e.g. Lenoir, Franklin Street) and the Abbey Fellows Program will pay the bill. The budget is limited, so only a limited number of lunches can be funded. To sign up, send an email to Dr. Elaine Yeh [email@example.com] with the names of the two or three students doing the inviting, and she’ll let you know whether there are still funds left. Then invite the biologist of your choice!
Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Ken Lohmann, who has received a $2.4 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to investigate how sea turtles and other animals detect the Earth’s magnetic field. Collaborators on the 5-year project are UNC Physics Professor Amy Oldenburg, and Professor Sonke Johnsen, a former UNC biology graduate student who is now on the faculty at Duke University. The team will use techniques from biology, physics, and genomics in an effort to identify receptors that underlie magnetic sensitivity. READ MORE >>
“The Department of Biology and the School of Education collaborated to determine the literacy of plant biology in kindergarten and first graders. Dr. Janice Anderson (Assistant Professor, School of Education) and Dr. Alan Jones (Kenan Distinguished Professor of Biology) published a paper in CBE Life Science Education entitled “Understanding Early Elementary Children’s Conceptual Knowledge of Plant Structure and Function through Drawings” where they used the classical “Draw a Scientist” test to measure the baseline understanding of plant structure and function in pre and young readers. Many interesting findings came out of this study.” READ MORE >>
On September 2, 2014, “The New York Times” featured a front-page interview with Biology Senior STEM Lecturer Dr. Kelly Hogan about research published that day in CBE Life Sciences Education. Results showed structured lessons with pre-class homework and reading coupled with active in-class group activities help black and first-generation college students overcome a grade gap, presumably by developing stronger study skills and becoming more active in class participation. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to postdoc Erin Mordecai (Charles Mitchell’s lab) for accepting a job as Assistant Professor in Biology at Stanford University. She leaves North Carolina in mid-September and will begin the job in January. She plans to continue her work on the ecological interactions between pathogens, host communities, and climate change. READ MORE >>
Laura Miller (Associate Professor of Biology and Mathematics) presented a Plenary Talk at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology in Osaka, Japan in July. Selected as a Plenary speaker for her “exemplary interdisciplinary science,” Dr. Miller spoke about the mechanics of jellyfish swimming, cilia beating, and the flight of very tiny insects. Several students in the Miller lab, Alexander Hoover, Julia Samson and Nick Battista also gave oral presentations. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology graduate student Thiago Lima (Chris Willett’s lab), whose paper entitled: “Higher levels of sex chromosome heteromorphism are associated with markedly stronger reproductive isolation” was just published in the journal Nature Communications. Thiago’s paper explores the importance of the presence and nature of sex chromosomes for the evolution of reproductive isolation across taxa. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor John Bruno whose paper “How do coral reefs recover?” was just published in SCIENCE. The paper summarizes new work on this topic and the implications for coral reef management. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor John Bruno whose paper “Economic development and coastal ecosystem change in China” was just published in NATURE’S open access journal Scientific Reports. The paper highlights “the need for a national policy of environmental management to protect the coupled human-ocean ecosystem in China”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Bill Kier and his spouse Professor Kathleen Smith, who just completed a cross-country cycling trip on a tandem bike! Starting in Kitty Hawk, N.C. on April 20, the couple covered 4318miles in 85 days. This fascinating journey is chronicled with daily reports and beautiful photographs in their online journal: READ MORE >> You can follow their daily trip progress at this “Track My Tour” map site.
Congratulations to Erich Kushner and the Vicki Bautch Lab for the publication of their paper entitled “Excess Centrosomes Disrupt Endothelial Cell Migration via Centrosome Scattering” which appears in the July 21 issue of Journal of Cell Biology. This study shows that blood vessels of tumors have many cells that carry excess centrosomes, and links the excess centrosomes to cellular defects in tumor blood vessels. The work was conducted by Erich Kushner (Post doctoral Fellow), Luke Ferro (Biology Undergraduate Student), Jie-Yu Liu (GMB Student), and Jessica Durrant, with contributions by Stephen Rogers (Biology Faculty) and Andrew Dudley (McAllister Heart Institute Faculty) as well as Victoria Bautch (Biology Faculty). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia, for his paper entitled “Avian extinction at the end of the Cretaceous: Assessing the magnitude and subsequent explosive radiation” which appears in the July 2014 issue of Cretaceous Research. This article was the journal’s most downloaded paper for the month of July and first part of August. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Stephen Sojka and the Frank Conlon Lab for the publication of their paper entitled “Congenital heart disease protein 5 associates with CASZ1 to maintain myocardial tissue integrity” which appears in the August issue of Development. This study shows that the cardiac transcription factor CASTOR Directly Interacts With Congenital Heart Disease 5 Protein (CHD5) a gene located on chromosome 21 in the proposed region responsible for congenital heart disease in individuals with Down’s syndrome. This work was conducted by Stephen Sojka (Biology Graduate Student), Nirav Amin (Post Doctoral Fellow), Devin Gibbs (Biology Undergraduate Student), Kathleen S. Christine (former Graduate Student), and Marta S. Charpentier (Graduate Student). READ MORE >>
Dr. Ann Matthysse recently published an article in Frontiers in Plant Sciences entitled “Attachment of Agrobacterium to plant surfaces”. The article describes mechanisms involved in the binding of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacteria to the surfaces of inanimate objects, plants, and fungi. READ MORE >>
The Biology Department welcomes three new faculty members: Daniel Matute, a new assistant professor whose work spans the gamut from ecology to genomics to studying reproductive isolation and speciation, Dan McKay, a new assistant professor studying chromatin and gene regulation during development, and the nationally known toxicologist and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, who studies metal toxicity and effects of dietary mercury and arsenic on aquatic life and human health. READ MORE ABOUT DANIEL MATUTE > > DAN MCKAY >> CHANCELLOR CAROL FOLT >>
Congratulations to Biology Department Chair Victoria Bautch who has became the Beverly W. Long Chapin Distinguished Professor of Biology. Dr. Long Chapin, for whom the professorship is named, is the Kenan Distinguished Professor Emerita of Communication Studies.
Biology Associate Professor Ty Hedrick and collaborators at Vanderbilt University recently had their article on hummingbird flight aerodynamics titled “Three-dimensional flow and lift characteristics of a hovering ruby-throated hummingbird” published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. LINK TO THE ARTICLE >> WIRED.COM PRESS COVERAGE AND ANIMATION >>
In a Raleigh “News & Observer” story entitled “10 NEW PLANTS IDENTIFIED FOR THE 21st CENTURY”, Biology Adjunct Assistant Professor and UNC Herbarium Director Alan Weakley describes the process of new plant discovery, description, and presentation by plant taxonomists in North Carolina. This story also provides brief information on ten new North Carolina plant species discovered since 2000. READ MORE >>
Thanks to the exiting 2013-14 BGSA Officers: President-Kayla Peck, Webmaster-Jes Coyle, Treasurer-Jenny Heppert, EEOB representatives-Kate Augustine, Antonio Serrato, and Fletcher Halliday, MCDB representatives-Kathryn Trogden and Rebecca Adikes, CEE liaison-Bianca Lopez, and GPSF representative-Lisa Jones.
Congratulations to the incoming 2014-15 BGSA Officers: President–Julia Samson, Vice President–Audrey Kelly, Treasurer–Rebecca Adikes, EEOB representatives–Kate Augustine and Justin Yeh, MCDB representatives–Carly Sacks and Leslie Kennedy, CEE liaison–Peter Wilfahrt, and GPSF representative–Kriti Sharma.
Biology lecturers Brian Rybarczyk and Blaire Steinwand were selected to present their research at the annual Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research Conference (SABER) on July 17-20 in Minneapolis, MN. The conference focuses on reforms in biology teaching and sharing research data about how students learn science. Their project created a way to analyze student’s critiques of journal articles and measured the extent of their science process skills. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia, for his paper entitled “Jurassic archosaur is a non-dinosaurian bird” which appears in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Ornithology. “Re-examination utilizing Keyence 3D digital microscopy and low angled illumination of the fossil Scansoriopteryx, a problematic sparrow-size pre-Archaeopteryx specimen from the Jurassic Daohugou Biotas, provides new evidence which challenges the widely accepted hypothesis that birds are derived from dinosaurs in which avian flight originated from cursorial forms.” READ MORE >> SCIENCE DAILY ARTICLE >>
The research of Distinguished Professor Jeff Dangl, Professor Joe Kieber and Assistant Professor Elizabeth Shank is featured in UNC-CH’s publication Endeavors, and tells the story about how it was part of luring a new company to locate in RTP. “The Business of Bugs” describes how “this basic research helped attract biotechnology company Novozymes to the Triangle, where it will employ 100 people and collaborate with UNC scientists to make microbe products for agriculture.” READ MORE >>
Gregory Copenhaver is an inventor on another U.S. patent entitled “Methods for Generating or Increasing Revenues from Crops” (8,759,086) that issued on June 24th. This is a “business method” patent that describes how to use crop plants modified with an engineered chromosome for commerce and to provide services. Read the full patent >>
Congratulations to Gregory Copenhaver’s lab who, together with colleagues at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have published a paper that appeared in the “Early Edition” of the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). The paper, entitled “Detection of genomic variations and DNA polymorphisms and impact on analysis of meiotic recombination and genetic mapping”, describes methods for differentiating sequencing errors and natural variation (polymorphisms) from signatures of meiotic recombination when analyzing genomic sequence data. You can read more about the work at >>
Congratulations to Jeff Dangl’s post-docs Meghan Feltcher and Ryan Anderson, who are recent recipients of Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowships. Meghan’s project is titled “Exploiting the Root Microbiome to Improve Plant Fitness”. Meghan was trained as a microbiologist here at UNC, and is now moving into a combination of microbiology, plant biology and genomics. Ryan’s project “Activation Mechanism of an NLR Protein Innate Immune Receptor” aims to understand the mechanistic details of how the plant immune system’s intracellular receptors are activated upon perception of intracellular pathogen virulence factors. Ryan received his PhD at Virginia Tech working on plant-pathogen interactions. Read more on the lab’s research >>
Gregory Copenhaver is an inventor on a U.S. patent entitled “Plants Modified with Mini-chromosomes” (8,729,341) that was issued on May 20th. The patent describes genetically modifying plants with engineered chromosomes that can be used to carry genes that encode desirable traits. Read the full patent >>
Congratulations to Lauren Slevin (Biology graduate student, Kevin Slep’s lab), Erin Romes (Biochemistry & Biophysics) and Mary Dandulakis (former UNC undergraduate student). Their paper entitled ” The mechanism of dynein light chain LC8-mediated oligomerization of the Ana2 centriole duplication factor” was published in the June 11 issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Joshua Boucher (Vicki Bautch’s lab) for receiving a Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant from the American Heart Association entitled “Spatiotemporal Characterization of Flt-1 during Sprouting Angiogenesis”. Receptor trafficking is an important regulatory step in controlling the localization and availability of a receptor to bind its ligand. Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (Flt-1) is important for proper vascular morphology and guidance. The primary objective of this fellowship is to understand the intracellular spatial distribution of Flt-1 in endothelial cells during nascent sprout formation and to determine what mechanism(s) may be involved in regulating receptor trafficking.
Congratulations to Rebecca Adikes, Vincent Boudreau, and Carlos Patiño-Descovich (UNC Biology Department), partnered with Karen Plevock (UNC Biochemistry and Biophysics) and Kaelyn Sumigray (post-doctoral fellow in Cell Biology at Duke) for securing funding from the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) for the organization of a local cell biology meeting . The funds will be used to organize The Triangle Cytoskeleton Meeting (TCM), which will aim to bring together researchers across multiple disciplines and institutions (UNC, Duke, State, NIEHS), to foster interdisciplinary research, develop novel methods and establish new networks among researchers. READ MORE & REGISTER >>
Ty Hedrick and a bevy of UNC collaborators including Brandon Jackson, Dennis Evangelista (Hedrick lab postdocs) and Evan Bluhm (former UNC undergrad student) along with Nathan Fuller (Biology, Boston University), Diane Theriault, Zheng Wu and Margrit Betke (Computer Science, Boston University) published a Journal of Experimental Biology paper entitled “A protocol and calibration method for accurate multi-camera field videography”. The paper details a protocol and method for rapid field calibration of cameras for 3D recording of animal biomechanics and behavior. READ THE ARTICLE >>
Victor Manuel Ortega-Jimenez (UC Berkeley, former Hedrick lab postdoc) together with Rajat Mittal (The Johns Hopkins University) and Ty Hedrick published an article in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics entitled “Hawkmoth flight performance in tornado-like whirlwind vortices”. READ THE ARTICLE >> SEE THE BBC NEWS FEATURE >>
Ryan Shelton (recent Masters of Science degree graduate from Ty Hedrick’s lab), together with Brandon Jackson (Postdoc, Ty Hedrick’s lab) and Ty Hedrick published a Journal of Experimental Biology paper entitled “The mechanics and behavior of Cliff Swallows during tandem flights”. READ THE ABSTRACT >> SEE THE SCIENCE NEWS FEATURE >> LISTEN TO THE QUIRKS AND QUARKS RADIO SHOW FEATURE >>
Congratulations to Biology PhD student Leslie Kennedy (Frank Conlon’s lab) for her receipt of an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for her proposal entitled “A Novel Tbx20/Casz1 Transcriptional Complex is Required for Normal Cardiomyocyte Function in Mice”. The overall goal of her proposal is to define the transcriptional networks by which TBX20 functions in normal development and in human congenital heart disease.
Congratulations to Dr. Peter White (Biology Professor and Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden), who has won the “2014 Star Award” from the Center for Plant Conservation for his “service to the conservation of the flora of the United States. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate the concern, cooperation and personal investment needed to conserve imperiled native plants. ” READ MORE >>
Maria Servedio, with co-author Reinhard Bürger (University of Vienna), has published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “The counterintuitive role of sexual selection in species maintenance and speciation”. Using population genetic models, the authors show that when in its purest form of Fisherian sexual selection, sexual selection inhibits species maintenance and speciation when isolated populations begin to exchange migrants. The stronger this sexual selection becomes, the more it erases any effects of local adaptation that drive trait divergence. These results emphasize that additional complications have to be added to sexual selection scenarios for sexual selection to contribute to divergence; Fisherian sexual selection alone has the opposite effect. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to a team of UNC-Chapel Hill scientists (Michael K. Slevin, Stacie Meaux, Joshua D. Welch, Rebecca Bigler, Paula L. Miliani de Marval, Wei Su, Robert E. Rhoads and Jan F. Prins), led by Kenan Distinguished Professor William Marzluff, for a publication in the March 20th edition of Molecular Cell. In the article, titled “Deep Sequencing Shows Multiple Oligouridylations are Required for 3’ to 5’ Degradation of Histone mRMAs on Polyribosomes”, Marzluff and his research team describe the process they discovered by which “cellular intermediaries degrade histone mRNA after it has performed its role in cell reproduction.” READ MORE >> READ THE ARTICLE >>
Congratulations to Vincent Boudreau (Paul Maddox’s lab) who has been awarded a 3-year pre-doctoral fellowship from the FRQS, the health science institute for the government of Quebec. Vincent’s research is titled “Phosphoregulation of the centromere and its impact on chromosome segregation dynamics”. READ MORE >>
The Flora of Virginia, published in 2012 and authored by Alan Weakley, Chris Ludwig, Johnny Townsend, and edited by Bland Crowder, has received another award, the “2014 Annual Literature Award of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries”. The Flora won against 40 other nominees, ranging from the scholarly to the popular, published around the world! READ MORE >> NOMINEE LISTING >>
NSF (ADBC – Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections) has awarded a $2.5 million grant to a group of Southeastern United States herbaria for ““Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Key to the Cabinets: Building and sustaining a research database for a global biodiversity hotspot”. The UNC Herbarium is the largest herbarium involved in the project, and will receive a $334,000 portion of the grant to support digital imaging of a majority of its 800,000 specimens.
GRADUATING BIOLOGY CLASS OF 2014 PHOTO GALLERY > >
Congratulations to Matt Simon (Shawn Ahmed’s lab) and University of Cambridge collaborators Peter Sarkies and Eric Miska for their Cell Reports publication entitled ‘Reduced Insulin/IGF-1 Signaling Restores Germ Cell Immortality to Caenorhabditis elegans Piwi Mutants’. This study demonstrates that the Piwi small RNA pathway suppresses transgenerational aging of germ cells, and shows that activation of one of the most studied somatic aging pathways can suppress the transgenerational epigenetic defect of Piwi mutants. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Shank (Biology) and Dr. Carol Arnosti (Marine Sciences), who have been awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Initiative Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences for their proposal “Shedding light on the ‘cheaters of the carbon cycle’: a multi‐disciplinary investigation.” Their project will utilize an in vitro transparent soil system (containing bacteria and carbon that are fluorescently labeled) to ‘shed light’ on the interactions of the microbes responsible for global carbon cycling in soils and sediments. The seed funds provided by this grant will provide critical early support for this cross-disciplinary and cross-Departmental collaboration between the Shank and Arnosti labs. SHANK WEBSITE >> ARNOSTI WEBSITE >>
“Congratulations to Senior Lecturer Kelly Hogan, who was selected as this year’s recipient of the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council sponsored Faculty Mentoring Award in the Undergraduate Student mentoring category. The award recognizes outstanding faculty members who go the extra mile to guide, mentor, and lead undergraduate and graduate students and junior faculty as they make important career decisions, embark on innovative research challenges, and enrich their lives through public service, teaching, and meaningful educational opportunities.”
“Protecting shorelines with natural, vegetative barriers is not only better for the ecosystem, it’s a more effective means of slowing shoreline erosion. Graduate student Rachel Gittman (John Bruno’s and Pete Peterson’s labs) studies living shorelines and her preliminary research shows they are as effective in low wave situations as bulkheads. But Gittman says decades of study needs to be conducted to determine if living shorelines offer the same amount of protection as a bulkhead or sea wall over time. “ Her research was featured in an interview with National Public Radio. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to undergrad Biology majors Varun Gulati, Laura Kim, Travis Murphy, and Ian Rahn from Alan Jones’ Biology 447 class, for publishing articles describing work of Darrel Stafford, Artur Romanchuk, Kay Lund and Daisuke Urano in the Spring issue of UNC’s “Carolina Scientific Magazine”. CAROLINA SCIENTIFIC ONLINE >>
Congratulations to Joy Meserve (Professor Bob Duronio’s Lab) for her receipt of a “Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship”, awarded by the National Institute on Aging for her proposal entitled “Identifying a transcriptional program that regulates compensatory proliferation”. The goal of her studies is to determine the molecular pathways that govern compensatory proliferation. Read more about research in the Duronio Lab >>
Congratulations to postdoc Benjamin Lacroix (Assistant Professor Amy Maddox’s Montreal lab) whose research, in collaboration with other Maddox labs members and Dave Sherwood’s lab at Duke, will be published this April in Developmental Cell. Lacroix explored how the dynamics of the microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton facilitate and are regulated by tissue biogenesis and cell differentiation. He developed a novel in situ system using the developing egg-laying apparatus of C. elegans and imaged and measured all parameters of MT dynamics. He also devised a new way of displaying these complex data sets: the diamond graph. READ MORE >>
Senior undergraduate student Georgia Titcomb has three pieces of artwork on exhibit until May 11 in the Alcott Gallery, located at the back of UNC’s Hanes Art Center. From the Art Department’s web site: “Her thesis work, The Folds of β-Amyloid, is an imaginative exploration of several aspects of the protein responsible for Alzheimer’s disease, from its amino acid sequence to its folding pattern and destructive impact on the brain.” READ MORE >>
Among the more than 30,000 people assembled in Washington Monday for the 136th White House Easter Egg Roll were Dr. Alan Jones and his wife Cathy, who volunteered at the event. Alan and Cathy set up a booth where they demonstrated to children how to make garden necklaces with carrot and lettuce seeds. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kevin Edwards, an undergraduate in Joe Kieber’s lab, who received a “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) award from the NSF. Kevin’s award will support his research over the summer to characterize the molecular mechanism of downstream targets of the cytokinin signaling pathway. READ MORE about the NSF REU program >>
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia’s new paper, “Avian extinction at the end of the Cretaceous: Assessing the magnitude and subsequent explosive radiation” has just been published by Cretaceous Research. In this paper, Feduccia reviews the end-Cretaceous extinctions and updates his 1970s ‘big bang’ theory for Cenozoic bird and mammal evolution. He concludes, “Our continued inability to produce a veracious phylogeny of higher avian taxa is likely related to a Paleogene explosive burst or ‘big bang’ evolution of bird and mammal evolution, resulting in short ordinal internodes,” and “Massive extinctions in birds, mammals and other groups were the driving force for an explosive evolution characterizing the early Paleogene.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Postdoctoral Fellow Christopher Slagle (Frank Conlon’s lab) for being awarded a “Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA F32 Grant” from the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. His project is titled: “Tissue-Specific Mechanisms of Eomesodermin-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation”.
Professor Patricia Gensel recently published a research paper in the Journal of Sedimentary Research entitled: “LOWER DEVONIAN COALY SHALES OF NORTHERN NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA: PLANT ACCUMULATIONS IN THE EARLY STAGES OF TERRESTRIAL COLONIZATION”. This paper describes the earliest plant accumulations that can be termed coal. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Hong Lee (Vicki Bautch’s lab), who was awarded the HHMI-Future Scientist and Clinician Summer Fellowship to do full-time research over the summer in the Bautch lab. Hong will be working on a project characterizing motility defects in tumor endothelial cells under the co-mentorship of a graduate student, Zhixian Yu. The HHMI-FSC program is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and offered through the UNC’s Office of Undergraduate Research for Carolina Covenant scholars interested in biomedical research. READ MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM >>
Abel Valdivia (John Bruno’s lab) has a cover article published in PeerJ, entitled “Re-examining the relationship between invasive lionfish and native grouper in the Caribbean”. “In this study, researchers re-evaluated the potential ecological relationship between the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish and native predators such as groupers in the Caribbean. They concluded that native grouper are not able to control the spread of the lionfish, and that environmental processes and human activity are actually the strongest influencers on lionfish density.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Ashley Albright, an undergraduate in Greg Copenhaver’s lab, who received a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) award from the NSF. Ashley’s award will support her research over the summer to characterize the molecular mechanisms that regulate meiotic recombination. READ MORE about the NSF REU program >>
Congratulations to Este Terzo (Professor Bob Duronio’s Lab) for his receipt of a “Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship”, awarded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his proposal entitled “Regulation of Histone Locus Body (HLB) Organization and Function.” Understanding how nuclear bodies assemble and the roles they play in the regulation of gene expression will enable us to diagnose tumor formation and to identify targets for therapeutic treatments. Read more about research in the Duronio Lab >>
Congratulations to Postdoc Kevin Mouillesseaux (Vicki Bautch’s lab), who was awarded an F32 National Health, Lungs and Blood Institute NIH grant entitled: “Notch-dependent Regulation of BMP Signaling in Endothelial Cells”. Heterogenity in endothelial cell molecular identity is essential for proper patterning and function of the blood vasculature. Notch signaling is a common mechanism to generate distinct populations of cells from common progenitors or neighboring cells. Kevin will use combined in vitro and in vivo models of angiogenesis to determine how Notch influences the molecular identity of individual endothelial cells (EC), creating repressive or permissive environments for BMP signaling.
Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Hogan, (Biology Senior Lecturer), who will become the first “Director of Instructional Innovation” in the College’s Office of Undergraduate Education. Beginning her three-year appointment on July 1st, Kelly will work directly with faculty in the College to update and improve their teaching through new pedagogical techniques, particularly in large gateway courses. She will promote and implement new initiatives and programs that bring together a diverse group of faculty at various stages in their careers and across many disciplines. She will also interact and collaborate with the Center for Faculty Excellence concerning course redesign and evaluation initiatives.
Congratulations to Biology student Abe Sterling, the winner of a “2013 Friday Award”. This award is presented by the Carolina Parents Council, in honor of Dr. Bill Friday, to a graduating first generation college student who shares Dr. Friday’s passion and commitment to public service and education.
Congratulations to 21 UNC graduate students and 17 UNC undergraduates who were just awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships, including at least four students working in Biology labs. “The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.” The four students working in Biology labs and their projects were: Katrina Kutchko (Alain Laederach’s lab): “Identifying functionally important conserved structural motifs in non-coding eukaryotic RNAs”, Ben Morris (Allen Hurlbert’s lab): “How can phylogenies inform macroecology and community ecology?”, Kristi Schaefer (Mark Peifer’s lab): “Defining how the destruction complex is regulated and transfers beta-catenin to the E3 ligase”, and Casey Schmidt (Greg Matera’s lab): “Analyzing transcriptome changes in response to the loss of transcriptional regulators”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Hogan (Biology Senior Lecturer), who received a 2014 “Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award” for exemplary public service efforts. The award was presented to Hogan by Chancellor Carol Folt in recognition of her service-learning course that is geared towards increasing blood platelet donation awareness. “Through work with the UNC Blood Donation Center, Hogan’s students focus marketing and education efforts on diverse student groups and the local community.” READ MORE >> As an example of her students’ work in the class, watch the video on donation >>
Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Lydia Morris (Jeff Sekelsky lab) was awarded a “Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA F32 Grant” from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH. Her project is titled, “Elucidating roles of RTEL in replication fork repair in Drosophila melanogaster”. READ MORE >>
Dr. Daniel Matute, who joins the Biology Department as an assistant professor in the fall of 2014, has been awarded the “Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize”, which is awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize the accomplishments and future promise of an outstanding young evolutionary biologist. “Dr. Matute’s research record studying genetic changes associated with speciation in Drosophila incorporates genetics and molecular biology as well as physiological assays, all geared at testing “big” questions such as the pace of accumulation of genetic incompatibilities.” READ MORE >>
Distinguished Professor Ken Lohmann, together with colleagues at Oregon State University and the University of Washington, has published a paper in “Current Biology”. The study, titled “An inherited magnetic map guides ocean navigation in juvenile Pacific salmon”, reveals that young salmon use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate in much the same way that sea turtles do. The paper was accompanied by a commentary by Professor James Gould of Princeton University and has been featured by the BBC, National Geographic, and numerous other media outlets. READ MORE >>
Professor John Bruno and his colleagues have a paper appearing in Nature today entitled: “Geographical limits to species-range shifts are suggested by climate velocity” that describes how ocean warming is affecting global biodiversity. The paper is the third installment from an international working group that has been meeting since 2010 (the first two papers were in Science and Nature Climate Change). Their findings are being incorporated into the new IPCC Climate Change Report. READ MORE >>
Gregory Copenhaver’s lab along with colleagues at Fudan University in Shanghai, China published a paper in the Journal of Genetics and Genomics entitled “Arabidopsis PTD Is Required for Type I Crossover Formation and Affects Recombination Frequency in Two Different Chromosomal Regions”. The paper advances the understanding of the molecular machinery that controls the frequency and distribution of meiotic recombination events in plants. READ MORE >>
Biology graduate student Zhipeng Lu and his advisor Dr. Greg Matera have published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research. The paper is titled “Vicinal: a method for the determination of ncRNA ends using chimeric reads from RNA-seq experiments”. Zhipeng developed a computational method called ‘Vicinal’ to extract and map chimeric reads from hundreds of RNA-seq datasets and used the chimeric reads to precisely determine the ends of non-coding RNAs. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Michael Meers (Professor Greg Matera’s Lab) for his receipt of a “Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship”, awarded by the National Cancer Institute for his proposal entitled “Studying the role of H3K36 methylation in development and gene expression.” Mike’s work uses a novel genetic system for in vivo replacement of the histone genes in Drosophila to study the effects of histones upon development, gene expression and RNA processing. Read more about work in the Matera Lab >>
Professor John Bruno’s Biology 395 class project resulted in a PeerJ publication entitled “Is coral richness related to community resistance to and recovery from disturbance?”. Lead author Stacy Zhang (research technician, Joel Fodrie lab) and the other UNC undergrad researchers Kelly Speare, Zachary Long, Kimberly McKeever, Megan Gyoerkoe, Aaron Ramus, Zach Mohorn, Kelsey Akins, and Sarah Hambridge “tested the hypothesis that species richness is related to community stability (resistance and recovery) in coral reef ecosystems.” READ MORE >>
Alan Feduccia’s latest book “Riddle of the Feathered Dragons” (Yale University Press, 368 p., 7 x 10 242 b/w illus.), has just been published in a paperback edition. In ”Riddle” Feduccia provides the most comprehensive discussion yet of the avian and associated evidence found in China, then exposes the massive, unfounded speculation that has accompanied these discoveries and been published in the pages of prestigious scientific journals. READ MORE >>
Colleen Bilancia led a multidisciplinary team including her Mark Peifer lab colleague Stephanie Nowotarski as well as scientists from UNC’s Pharmacology Department, the University of Chicago and the University of Bath, whose work was published in the February 24th issue of Developmental Cell. The article is titled: “Enabled Negatively Regulates Diaphanous-Driven Actin Dynamics In Vitro and In Vivo”. The researchers combined cell biological, biophysical and computational tools to explore how different actin regulators act separately and together to shape the actin cytoskeleton and thus regulate cell migration. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Jessica Coyle, PhD student in the Allen Hurlbert Lab, on her recently awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant titled “Do environmental constraints on photosynthetic symbionts alter the community structure of their fungal partners? A case study with canopy lichens”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor John Bruno, on the publication of a new marine ecology textbook entitled: “Marine Community Ecology and Conservation”. Co-authored with three other marine ecologists and conservationists, “the book was written to give advanced undergraduate and graduate students a current overview of what is known about the structure, organization, and conservation of organism assemblages that live in the ocean”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Marta Charpentier (Frank Conlon’s lab) for the cover article publication in this month’s BioEssays entitled, “Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Blood Vessel Lumen Formation”. READ MORE >>
Dr. Yan Fu (Alan Jones Lab) had a research paper published in the February 27 issue of Cell magazine entitled: “Reciprocal Encoding of Signal Intensity and Duration in a Glucose-Sensing Circuit”, in which she reveals the discovery of an emergent property of plant cells. These cells use both the amount and duration of sugars to inform the cells about its nutritional status and about the variation of this energy source in real time. This information is probably used to adjust the efficiency of photosynthesis and metabolism. (Susan Whitfield and Alan Jones created the cover art shown at left but unfortunately it was not selected.) READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Peter White and graduate student Bianca Lopez, whose research regarding climate change impacts on North Carolina forests is featured in the latest issue of “Endeavors”. White’s research revealed the role of forest density and rate of harvest on climate change effects in forest understories. Lopez’s work is examining the Urban Heat Island effect on plant diversity. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to graduate students Jes Coyle, Fletcher Halliday, Bianca Lopez, Kyle Palmquist, and Peter Wilfahrt and Assistant Professor Allen Hurlbert for getting their research paper entitled “Using trait and phylogenetic diversity to evaluate the generality of the stress-dominance hypothesis in eastern North American tree communities” accepted in the journal Ecography. This paper was the result of an NSF-funded Distributed Graduate Seminar in the fall of 2011 led by Allen Hurlbert, Bob Peet, and Charles Mitchell. READ MORE >>
Jean DeSaix (Biology Master Lecturer) is Co-Principal Investigator on a three-year $499,340 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) grant given to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the National Science Foundation. Physics and Astronomy Professor Laurie McNeil is the PrincipaI Investigator on this NSF award that will be used to develop an introductory physics course sequence for life science majors to improve the students’ grasp of physics concepts and their understanding of the concepts’ relevance to biology. READ MORE >>
Biology Graduate student Vincent Boudreau (Paul Maddox’s lab) helped UNC’s club hockey team triumph over rival Duke in a home-and-home 2 game series. Vincent scored the eventual game-winning goal in the first game as UNC beat Duke 2-1. In the rematch, UNC dominated 5-0. Congrats to Vincent and thanks for representing UNC! READ MORE >>
The first installment resulting from a collaboration led by Colleen Bilancia (Biology Department Postdoc) was just published in the February 3 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology. The paper titled “CellGeo: A computational platform for the analysis of shape changes in cells with complex geometries” describes a novel computational software package developed by Denis Tsygankov and Tim Elston (Pharmacology Department) that measures dynamic cell movements and protrusive behavior, and the insights it provided into regulation of actin-based protrusions and the dynamics of neuronal growth cones. Other co-authors include Hooker Distinguished Professor Mark Peifer, and Eric Vitriol and Klaus Hahn (Pharmacology Department). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Frank Conlon’s lab for the publication of their paper entitled “Proteomic Profiling of Cardiac Tissue by Isolation of Nuclei Tagged in Specific Cell Types (INTACT)”, which appears in the February 15th issue of Development. The work is a collaboration between lead author Nirav Amin (post doctoral fellow), Lauren Kuchenbrod (research associate), and John Wallingford’s (HHMI/UT Austin) and Ileana Cristeas’ labs (Princeton University). This work describes the technologies for purification of nuclei from defined cell or tissue types in vertebrate embryos using INTACT (isolation of nuclei tagged in specific cell types) and demonstrates the utility of this approach in coupling it with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to profile proteins expressed in the nuclei of developing hearts. From these studies the authors have identified the Xenopus orthologs of 12 human proteins encoded by genes, which when mutated in human lead to congenital heart disease. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Alain Laederach and his lab collaborators for their publication in Nature’s “News & Views” section that is titled: “Molecular Biology: A Second Layer of Information in RNA”. The publication describes three recent articles that have systematically probed the structure of RNA in plants, humans and yeast. Common features in the transcriptomes of these eukaryotes demonstrate that RNA structure is conserved and is an important component of cellular regulation. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for five faculty positions — tenure-track Assistant Professor positions in Evolutionary Biology, Plant Genomics, and Developmental Genomics, as well as two Lecturer positions in Biology. READ MORE >>
Surojit “Surge” Biswas (Jeff Dangl, Corbin Jones, and Vladimir Jojic labs), a May 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has received a 2014-2015 “Churchill Scholarship” for graduate work at the University of Cambridge in England. “The award is given to American undergraduates planning to pursue graduate studies in science, mathematics and engineering. Recipients are chosen for exceptional academic talent and achievement, capacity for original and creative work at an advanced level, and outstanding personal qualities.” READ MORE >>
Moving on! John N. Couch Professor Jeff Dangl has two postdocs in his lab who are departing for exciting new jobs beginning February 1, 2014. Former UNC SPIRE Fellow Sarah Lebeis begins as an Assistant Professor in the University of Tennessee’s Department of Microbiology, where she will continue her work exploring the plant root-associated microbiome. (READ MORE >> ) Current Ruth Kirchstein NRSA Fellow Natalie Breakfield will begin work the same day as a Senior Research Scientist at “NewLeaf Symbiotics” in St. Louis, MO. NewLeaf is an early stage start-up company associated with the Donald J. Danforth Plant Science Center. (READ MORE >> )
Congratulations to Tatiana Mucyn (Biology Department Postdoc) for her research paper titled “Variable Suites of Non-effector Genes Are Co-regulated in the Type III Secretion Virulence Regulon across the Pseudomonas syringae Phylogeny” which appears in the January 2, 2014 issue of PLOS Pathogens. Tatiana collaborated with three biology department faculty: Jeff Dangl, Sarah Grant and Corbin Jones, UNC graduate student Scott Yourstone, and UNC undergraduates Abigail Lind and Surogit Biswas. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kelly Hogan (Biology Advisor and Senior Lecturer), one of the authors of the newly released Biology textbook, “Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections”. “The 8th Edition of this market-leading book builds on its hallmarks of accuracy, currency, and a dedication to revolutionizing teaching and learning solutions”.
Congratulations to Kathryn Kohl (former graduate student, Jeff Sekelsky lab) who was runner-up for the “Larry Sandler Memorial Award”. This annual award is given by the Genetics Society of America for the most outstanding dissertation in any area of Drosophila research. This year there were 23 nominees nationally, from which one winner and two runners-up were chosen. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Alan Weakley (Director & Curator, UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden and Adjunct Assistant Professor, UNC Biology Department and UNC Curriculum in Ecology and the Environment), his co-authors Chris Ludwig and Johnny Townsend, and editor Bland Crowder, who will receive the “Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation” given by the Virginia Museum of Natural History for their publication, the Flora of Virginia, at an awards ceremony in March, 2013. Dr. Weakley says that “As a thirteenth generation Virginian, it is a humbling honor to receive an award named for Thomas Jefferson, one of our most scientific presidents and a man deeply appreciative of the native flora and natural science of Virginia and the United States, as wonderfully explicated in Andrea Wulf’s 2011 book, Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation.” READ MORE >>
Biology graduate student Zhipeng Lu has published a paper in Genome Biology as part of a special ‘RBPome’ issue on RNA binding proteins. Zhipeng is joined by co-author Casey Schmidt, a student in the GMB curriculum and their mentor, Professor Greg Matera in the publication titled: “RIP-seq analysis of eukaryotic Sm proteins identifies three major categories of Sm-containing ribonucleoproteins”. Using next-generation RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (RIP-seq), the study provides the first comprehensive analysis of eukaryotic Sm-containing RNPs in fruitfly and human cells. Sm proteins are core RNA binding factors in all three domains of life. READ MORE >> FOLLOW ON TWITTER >>
Servedio lab PhD student Joel Adamson was recently interviewed by PeerJ after the publication of his paper “Evolution of male life histories and age-dependent sexual signals under female choice”.
See the full interview here.
Interesting Factoid: UNC has utilized Poll Everywhere’s teaching technology more than any other university! A representative from the company states, “You and your colleagues have been our most successful users, receiving almost 1.2 million responses as of January, 2014. Keep up the great work, and may your students’ education stay interactive!” The Biology Department drives these numbers up because we have the greatest number of faculty using this resource compared to other departments on campus, we have large classes, and we were early adopters of this innovative technology. The company sent a “Thank You” to Biology in the form of cupcakes! READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Jeff Sekelsky and his laboratory associates for a paper highlighted in the current issue of Genetics titled: “Sources and Structures of Mitotic Crossovers That Arise When BLM Helicase Is Absent in Drosophila” . Co-first authors Matt LaFave and Sabrina Andersen are former graduate students. Other authors include Eric Stoffregen (SPIRE postdoctoral fellow), Kathryn Kohl (former graduate student), Julie Holsclaw (current graduate student) and Lewis Overton (former undergraduate student). “LaFave et al. demonstrate that mitotic crossovers are non-randomly distributed across the genome in Drosophila, providing novel insights into processes that result in mitotic crossing over.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to graduate students Jessica Higgins & Heidi MacLean (Joel Kingsolver’s Lab) and collaborator Lauren Buckley (University of Washington), who have completed research on caterpillars from two species of butterflies in Colorado and California. Study results demonstrate the first instance where the butterflies can show changes in physiological traits in response to recent climate change. The group’s research is titled: “Geographic Differences and Microevolutionary Changes in Thermal Sensitivity of Butterfly Larvae in Response to Climate” and appears in the journal Functional Ecology . READ MORE >> READ THE ARTICLE >>
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Amy Shaub Maddox, who was recently awarded a “Junior Faculty Development Award” to establish a novel technology on campus and use it to address fundamental questions in cell biology. This award will allow her to use open-source assembly instructions in order to build a microscope to do light-sheet, or selective plane illumination, fluorescence microscopy.
Congratulations to Charles P. Postelle, Jr. Distinguished Professor Ken Lohmann, who was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society. This honor is bestowed upon association members by their peers in recognition of their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Professor Lohmann will be honored at the February 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, where he will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette as a symbol of his distinguished accomplishments. READ MORE >>
Erin Kaltenbrun (Frank Conlon’s lab), lead author together with Biology graduate student Leslie Kennedy and post-doctoral fellow Christopher Slagle (in collaboration with Ileana Cristea’s lab at Princeton University), who published their findings entitled “A Gro/TLE-NuRD Corepressor Complex Facilitates Tbx20-Dependent Transcriptional Repression” in the Journal of Proteome Research. The work focuses on the mechanisms by which Tbx20, an evolutionarily conserved protein mutated in human congenital heart disease, functions to prevent inappropriate gene activation within the forming vertebrate heart. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Graduate Student Anne-Marie Ladouceur (Paul Maddox’s lab), who was chosen to give an oral presentation this month at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in New Orleans. Anne-Marie’s work focuses on mechanisms that regulate chromosome size during cell division in embryonic development. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society: Amanda Leigh Carringer, Marie Elise Clements, Holton J. Dunville, Sakib Huq, Hanna Emily Labiner, Meredith Lindsey Lewis, Evonne McArthur, Helen Bobbitt Powell, Jennifer Evelyn Schneider, Paige Mason Tummons, Nikhil Umesh, Sudheer Reddy Vemuru, Cameron Champion Wood, and Linran Zhou. At the induction ceremony, new members received certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology major Daisy Kaur, who has just been named a recipient of the Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship. She will be going to Mexico and Costa Rica following graduation. The Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship provides an opportunity for Juniors and Seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill to engage in individual self designed and directed international travel experiences for periods ranging from two to six months. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to sophomore undergraduate Matthew Powers who received a Student Presentation Award at the 2013 Sigma Xi Student Research Conference, which was held November 7th – 8th in Research Triangle Park, NC. Matthew has been performing co-culture screens in Elizabeth Shank’s lab to identify soil bacteria that inhibit biofilm production in Bacillus subtilis. Matthew’s poster presentation about his research was his first at a national scientific conference, and was selected as one of the three top presentations in the Cell Biology and Biochemistry Undergraduate Division. READ MORE >>
Professor Alan M. Jones, who has been a Biology faculty member since 1986, was recently recognized by the College of Arts & Sciences as a “W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor”. Professor Jones is an internationally recognized leader in the field of cell biology and was also named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year. READ MORE >>
Postdoctoral fellow Daniel McKay (Jason Lieb’s lab) published a paper in the November 11th issue of Developmental Cell entitled: “A Common Set of DNA Regulatory Elements Shapes Drosophila Appendages”. The paper shows that body parts with different shapes and sizes, such as fly wings and legs, can be made during development using a shared set of DNA regulatory elements. The work was supported in part with funding from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. READ MORE >>
Graduate Student Andrew Stephens (Kerry Bloom’s lab) is lead author together with undergraduates Chloe Snider and Rei Haggerty on a Journal of Cell Biology paper describing how the pericentromeres of individual chromosomes are cross-linked in mitosis. The paper is titled: “Individual Pericentromeres Display Coordinated Motion and Stretching in the Yeast Spindle”. This paper will be Highlighted by Ben Short in JCB’s “In this Issue” section. READ MORE >>
Professor Patricia Gensel recently published a paper in the International Journal of Plant Sciences entitled: “Spore Wall Ultrastructure of the Lower Devonian Zosterophylls Renalia hueberi and Zosterophyllum divaricatum”. This paper is the last in a series on spore ultrastructure in major groups of early land plants. READ MORE >>
The new Genome Sciences Building (GSB) is highlighted in an article published in the current issue of “Architectural Record”. The article highlights the innovative design of the GSB, including its goal of providing cutting edge research and teaching space fostering multidisciplinary interactions coupled with a sustainable design that has achieved a LEED Gold certification. READ MORE >>
Alyssa Manning and Kim Peters (Steve Roger’s lab) are lead authors on a paper in Science Signaling entitled: “Regulation of Epithelial Morphogenesis by the G Protein–Coupled Receptor Mist and Its Ligand Fog”. They describe the identification of the G-protein coupled receptor that acts in one of the best characterized developmental signaling pathways. Their work is featured on the cover, and was the subject of a journal podcast. Associate Professor Steve Rogers and Distinguished Professor Mark Peifer were co-authors on the paper. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Undergraduate Spencer Nelson of Pittsboro, who has been selected as one of eight Phillips Ambassadors for study abroad in Asia. Spencer is majoring in Biology and Environmental Science, with a minor in Asian Studies. READ MORE >>
The 1,546 page “Flora of Virginia”, written by Alan S. Weakley (Adjunct Assistant Professor & UNC Herbarium Director), J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend, and published by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), has exhausted its first printing of 3500 copies and has entered a second press run of 3000 copies, along with a price increase to $90. It can be ordered from BRIT, Amazon, or from Dr. Weakley, who has several copies available at the $80 former price. READ MORE >>
Julian Haase (Kerry Bloom’s lab) is lead author together with undergraduate Rei Haggerty on a paper in Current Biology describing two distinct pools of the centromere specific histone at the yeast centromere: “A 3D map of the yeast kinetochore reveals the presence of core and accessory centromere specific histone”. This paper was also the topic of a Dispatch in Current Biology entitled: “Chromosome Segregation: Not to Put Too Fine a Point (Centromere) On It” (pR875 Thomas J. Maresca). READ MORE >>
Andrew Stephens (Kerry Bloom’s lab) is lead author together with undergraduate Binny Chang on a Molecular Biology of the Cell paper using Model Convolution to deduce the fine structures of cohesin and condensin with sub-pixel localization accuracy that reveals critical features of how these complexes mold pericentric chromatin into a functional spring. The paper is entitled: “The spatial segregation of pericentric cohesin and condensin in the mitotic spindle”. READ MORE >>
Jolien Verdaasdonk Tyler (Kerry Bloom’s lab) is lead author together with three undergraduates, Raymond Barry, Tim Barry (brothers) and Scott Goodwin (former goalie on UNC Men’s championship soccer team) on a Molecular Cell paper that combines experimental data and mathematical modeling to understand how the centromere dictates the dynamic fluctuations and territorial organization of eukaryotic chromosomes. The paper is titled: “Centromere tethering confines chromosome domains”. (Photo: Raymond Barry-top left, Tim Barry-top right, Jolien Verdaasdonk Tyler, bottom.)
Jolien Verdaasdonk Tyler (Kerry Bloom’s lab) contributed a review article in the Journal of Cellular Physiology on new developments in microscopy: ‘Bending the Rules: Widefield Microscopy and the Abbe Limit of Resolution’ [J. Cellular Physiology 2013 Jul 24. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24439]. READ MORE >>
Jessica Diggs, a senior Biology major, was chosen to given the student address at the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation “Women In Science” Annual Meeting. Her talk was titled: “Empowering Women from Belly to Birth”. Jessica is one of two current UNC Scholarship Recipients for the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation “Women In Science” Scholarships and appears next to her on-campus mentor, Kelly Hogan (Biology Dept. Senior Lecturer & Advisor; right) in this photograph. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Associate Professor Greg Copenhaver and his graduate student Daniela Muñoz for publishing their research paper in Nature Protocols. The paper, entitled “High-throughput analysis of meiotic crossover frequency and interference via flow cytometry of fluorescent pollen in Arabidopsis thaliana”, describes an extension of the lab’s visual assay for meiotic recombination that enables high throughput analysis using flow cytometry. The technique was developed in collaboration with the Copenhaver lab’s colleagues at Cambridge University. READ MORE >>
Kenan Distinguished Professor Alan Jones introduced his coloring & activity book entitled “My Life as a Plant” to kindergarten and first grade classes in Orange Country schools during September and October. The efficacy of the coloring book (which teaches the 12 principles of plant biology) to convey complex principles to non-readers is being evaluated and the results will be published in the journal Cell Biology Education. READ MORE >>
Distinguished Professor Kerry Bloom & Research Associate Professor Elaine Yeh, along with graduate student Josh Lawrimore, spent two months in Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand this summer serving as instructors in the SEAS (SouthEast Asia Studies) International Program.
The Greg Copenhaver lab has a new publication in Nature Genetics entitled “Arabidopsis meiotic crossover hot spots overlap with H2A.Z nucleosomes at gene promoters”. The paper describes the influence of epigenetic regulation on meiotic recombination. READ MORE >>
Biology Associate Professor Greg Copenhaver recently served as a panelist for a public forum entitled, “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): What is All The Buzz About? Myth or Manipulation?” The forum was part of the Sustainable Classroom series hosted by an organization named TerraVITA. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to UNC Biology graduate student and Albanian Center for Marine Research (ACMR) Research Associate Avery Paxton (Charles Peterson lab) and University of Washington graduate student and ACMR Coastal Ecologist Derek Smith, who were recently awarded a Waitt Foundation Rapid Ocean Conservation grant to study the nearshore environment in Ksamil Bay, Albania. This research will bridge the knowledge gap and foster ongoing conservation efforts, sustainable tourism, and green coastal development along the southern Albanian coast.
Congratulations to Biology Lecturer/Advisor Gidi Shemer who received a “Spirit of Inquiry Award” from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy for work with his “Human Anatomy and Physiology” course. The Spirit of Inquiry program increases attention to quality teaching by recognizing faculty at North Carolina colleges and universities who teach difficult courses while emphasizing open intellectual inquiry.
Congratulations to Dr. Dileep Varma for receiving the “Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) Award” from the National Cancer Institute. Dileep will study novel mechanisms of kinetochore microtubule (kMT) attachments during mitosis. He will be mentored by Biochemistry and Biophysics Associate Professor Jean Cook, and advised by Biology Professor Ted Salmon during the initial mentored phase of the grant period.
Biology Associate Professor Greg Copenhaver was as a panelist on a “FOOD DIALOGUES” public forum about genetically modified food hosted by The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) that was moderated by Lynda Loveland (MIX101.5 Morning Show Co-host). A panel of experts including farmers, food scientists, health care professionals and leaders in the consumer food service industry addressed questions related to what’s on our plates and how our food is grown and raised. You can watch the “What’s on my plate?” forum here: (copy/paste the address into your browser) http://www.fooddialogues.com/events/the-food-dialogues®-north-carolina
Hinar Polczer (Biology IT Support) and his “Carolina Monkey Kung Fu” Sport Club were recently featured on UNC’s Carolina Week (Sports Xtra) TV newscast. Hinar has been the instructor/coach for the club for about 7 years. VIEW THE NEWSCAST (segment is 26 minutes into the program) >>
Congratulations to Dr. Christina Swanson (Bob Duronio lab, postdoc) for receiving the “Best Poster Award” at the 2013 EMBO Workshop on the Drosophila Cell Division Cycle held September 12-16th in Totnes, England. Dr. Swanson’s poster described how cell cycle-coupled protein destruction is modulated during development.
Join us for delicious food and fun games at the annual Biology Department Picnic on Wednesday, October 16th from 3:00 – 5:00 pm in the Genomic Sciences Building courtyard.
The BGSA is taking orders for Biology T-shirts! You can place your order with Julie Lawrence in Coker 212 until Friday, October 25th. The T-shirts are $15 (cash or check made payable to BGSA) and should be available for pick-up in late November. Additionally, we would like to order new shirts toward the end of the Spring semester, but this relies on a new design! Please submit a design (or recruit submissions from your artsy colleagues) to any BGSA member by the end of the semester. For T-shirt photo, description, and sizing information, please visit: bgsa.web.unc.edu
Graduate student Sophia Tintori’s work for a science communication video project that she helped start at Brown University was featured in “The New York Times” (science section). The New York Times will continue releasing short videos from this project on a weekly basis, including new animations made by Sophia. Please get in touch with her if you have a science story that you think would make a good animation (or if you’d like to discuss science storytelling in general). She’ll be looking for material! READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Bob Duronio, Greg Matera, and Brian Strahl (Biochemistry and Biophysics) who were awarded a five-year, $2.06M R01 grant from the NIH Office of the Director, entitled “Engineering histone genes to interrogate the epigenetic code in space and time.” The studies will establish new tools that biologists can use for the general study of histone-mediated epigenetic phenomena, which are known to play a role in human disease.
Katrina Kutchko (graduate student, Alain Laederach lab) and Alain Laederach co-authored a new manuscript entitled “Small RNAs derived from lncRNA RNase MRP have gene-silencing activity relevant to human Cartilage Hair Hypoplasia.” This paper appeared in “Human Molecular Genetics” and was published in collaboration with Chuck Rogler at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Dan Dickinson (Goldstein lab postdoc) and Bob Goldstein for their paper appearing in the October issue of “Nature Methods”, entitled “Engineering the Caenorhabditis elegans genome using Cas9-triggered homologous recombination”. The paper reports a fast and inexpensive method to make essentially any edit to the C. elegans genome, including targeted mutations and GFP insertions in endogenous genes. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Susan Lyons (Keith Sockman lab) for receiving the “Graduate Student Mentoring Award” (given by the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research) for her superb mentoring of her undergraduate field research crew at Molas Pass, Colorado this past summer of 2013. This mentoring involved two months of camping in a semi-remote region of the Colorado Rockies – enduring extreme weather, wild animals, armies of biting flies, and most importantly, social isolation with a small group of people for an extended period. READ MORE ABOUT THE GSMA >>
Dr. Jules Hoffmann, a 2011 Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology who has made major contributions to a revolution in our understanding of the immune system, will present The Lawrence Gilbert Lecture in Biology on Wednesday, September 18th. His talk entitled “Innate Immunity: From Flies to Humans” will be held in Room 201, Coker Hall at 4 p.m. Light refreshments will be available in Room 215, Coker Hall at 3:45 p.m. Plan on attending this lecture – it is a great chance to see a renowned scientist speak about his exciting work!
Congratulations to Dr. Yan Fu (Alan Jones and Tim Elston’s labs) for receiving the “Best Poster Award” at the 2013 International Conference on Computational Cell Biology held August 14-16th in Blacksburg, Virginia. Dr. Fu’s poster described how cells can use both the dose and the duration of a signal to control cell behavior.
Congratulations to Susan Whitfield (Visual Arts Specialist, Biology Department) for being recognized in this month’s issue of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) newsletter. Susan’s work on the preparation of the Japanese-translated version of “My Life as a Plant”, a children’s plant science coloring book created by Kenan Distinguished Professor Alan Jones, is chronicled in the article. READ MORE >>
Maria Servedio (Associate Professor, Biology) was awarded an NSF Grant from the Division of Environmental Biology for a project entitled “The evolution of stable intermediate levels of reproductive isolation”. This research uses mathematical models to determine conditions under which the evolution of premating isolation between two species will stall partway, neither progressing to complete speciation nor collapsing back to into one species. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Gidi Shemer (Biology Lecturer/Advisor) on being selected for a Joseph S. Pagano Award for one of the best papers by a postdoctoral fellow for 2012: “Triggering a Cell Shape Change by Exploiting Preexisting Actomyosin Contractions”, which was published in Science. Gidi, previously a postdoctoral fellow in Bob Goldstein’s lab, will receive a cash award, and will be recognized at the 38th Annual LCCC Postdoc-Faculty Research Day reception in honor of the winners of the 2013 Pagano Awards. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Sur Hererra-Paredes (Jeff Dangl lab), who was selected as one of 42 HHMI International Student Research Fellows. This prestigious Fellowship covers years 3-5 of the student’s doctoral program. Sur’s research project uses the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to study how the root-associated microbiome is organized and how it functions to provide ecosystems services to the growing plant. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Frank Conlon (Professor, Department of Biology) and Ileana Cristea (Princeton University) who were awarded an R21 grant from NIH/NICHD entitled “Direct and Quantitative Proteomic Approaches in Xenopus“. This research will further establish the frog species Xenopus as an animal model for studying tumor blood vessels and human congenital heart disease.
Joe Pearson (postdoctoral research associate, Stephen Crews lab), has created a software program for displaying and analyzing gene enhancers or cis-regulatory modules. This program named “Twine” was published in the journal Bioinformatics and is freely available. Twine can display multiple views of enhancer alignments that display DNA sequence motifs and transcription factor binding sites in the context of phylogenetic conservation. READ MORE >>
The journal Behaviour (founded by Niko Tinbergen in 1948) has just published a Special Issue on the Evolution of Communication based on a symposium in honor of Professor Emeritus Haven Wiley at the 2012 meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. The special issue is edited by two of Wiley’s former doctoral students, Marc Naguib and Jordan Price, and includes contributions from other former UNC students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as Wiley’s contribution, “A receiver-signaler equilibrium in the evolution of communication in noise”, Behaviour 150: 957-993. READ MORE >>
An interview with Bob Goldstein was published in the August 5, 2013 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology. UNC faculty previously featured in this series include Ted Salmon (Biology) and Keith Burridge (Cell Biology & Physiology).
Congratulations to five UNC-CH undergraduate biology majors who were selected as Phillips Ambassadors for summer and fall study abroad in Asia: Neelesh Dewan (senior from Mint Hill, NC), Evonne McArthur (senior from Raleigh, NC), Abraham Sterling (senior from Durham, NC), Lauren Toppin (junior from Waxhaw, NC), and Kou Xu (senior from Chapel Hill, NC). The Phillips Ambassadors Scholarship Program is designed to broaden awareness of Asia on and off campus. The scholarship combines an Asian study award with an academic course that challenges students to share their experiences upon their return. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Alain Laederach and collaborators Justin Ritz and Joshua Martin, whose research article, “Evolutionary Evidence for Alternative Structure in RNA Sequence Co-variation” appears in a recent issue of PLOS Computational Biology. This peer-reviewed open access journal features works of exceptional significance that further understanding of living systems through the application of computational methods. READ MORE >>
The UNC-CH Biology Department (along with the Physics and Chemistry Departments) has received a STEM Education Grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU) that will significantly advance the use of innovative teaching techniques in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Kelly Hogan, Biology Senior Lecturer & Advisor, will coordinate the efforts in Biology including the hiring of additional Biology education lecturers, developing student-centered introductory courses, and the training of a faculty network that will teach sections of the student-centered introductory courses via a course-related apprenticeship program. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Patricia G. Gensel who will be honored with the 2013 Botanical Society of America’s “Paleobotanical Award” given for outstanding contributions to the field of paleobotany. Scheduled for the last week of July, the Annual Meeting will also feature a symposium entitled: “The Devonian Period: a time of major plant diversification: a symposium in honor of Patricia G. Gensel and her contributions to Devonian paleobotany”. The Botanical Society of America is a membership society whose mission is to: promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. 2013 BSA AWARDS >>
Congratulations to Victoria Bautch (PhD, Chair of Biology) who published “Flt-1 (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1) is Essential for the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-Notch Feedback Loop During Angiogenesis” in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. The paper shows how Flt-1 is important in VEGF-Notch pathway crosstalk, which is critical for developmental angiogenesis and perturbed in tumor angiogenesis. John Chappell (Lineberger Post-doc, Pagano Award Winner, K99/R00) was first author and Kevin Mouillesseaux (Lineberger Post-doc) was co-author. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Erich Kushner (Vicki Bautch lab) who was awarded a two-year Post-doctoral Fellowship by NIH-NHLBI. Erich’s research will involve the study of effects of centrosome over-duplication on vascular biology.
Congratulations to Victoria Bautch (Professor & Chair of Biology) who was awarded a $1.5 million grant from NIH-NHLBI for 4 years to investigate centrosome mis-regulation and blood vessel function. This research will help scientists to understand how excess centrosomes in tumor blood vessels contribute to abnormalities and their ability to act as conduits for metastatic tumor cells. The pilot work was supported by a UCRF Innovation Award from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Congratulations to Daisuke Urano (Alan Jones Lab) who received a “2013 UNC Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence”. This monetary award is given in recognition of the research promise demonstrated by individual postdoctoral scholars and is to be used for research training and development. Daisuke will be recognized at a ceremony during the 2013 Postdoc Appreciation Week (Sept. 16-20). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Serena Hackerott (Spring 2013 Biology Honors student, John Bruno lab) whose research on controlling the red lionfish population in the Caribbean, “Native Predators Do Not Influence Invasion Success of Pacific Lionfish on Caribbean Reefs”, was published in PLOS ONE. READ MORE >> READ THE PAPER >> LISTEN TO BBC STORY >>
Congratulations to Biology Graduate Student Rob Aldredge (Keith Sockman lab), whose project “The developmental changes associated with differences in adult body size across latitude” received a Grant-in-Aid of Research from The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. For his project titled “The proximate regulation of avian clutch size”, Rob received a Student Research Grant from the Animal Behavior Society and a Research Award from The American Ornithologist’s Union.
Congratulations to Biology Graduate Student Susan Lyons (Keith Sockman lab), whose research project “Behavioral and Neural Plasticity in Lincoln’s Sparrows (Melospiza lincolnii): Does the Quality of Song Experienced Early in Life Matter?” received multiple honors. For her research work, Susan received a Student Research Grant from the Animal Behavior Society, a Research Award from the American Ornithologists’ Union, and the “Joseph Grinnell Student Research Award” from the Cooper Ornithological Society.
Congratulations to Bob Goldstein, who was awarded a National Science Foundation Grant, “Uncovering the Origins of Arthropod Body Plan Patterning”. This grant will support his lab’s work using water bears (tardigrades) to study the evolution of animal body plans through alterations to developmental patterning mechanisms. READ MORE ABOUT TARDIGRADES >>
Congratulations to Joanna Polko (Joe Kieber lab) for receiving a prestigious Rubicon postdoctoral fellowship from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The fellowship provides funds for talented researchers to do studies at a top institution outside the Netherlands. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Susanne Wolfenstetter (Alan Jones lab), for receiving a very prestigious “Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship” sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This fellowship allows postdoctoral researchers from Germany to carry out research projects abroad with an academic host who has already been sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation. READ MORE ABOUT THE HUMBOLDT FOUNDATION >>
Congratulations to Paulo Teixeira (Jeff Dangl lab), who has been selected as a “2013 Pew Latin American Fellow in the Biomedical Sciences”. These fellowships provide postdoctoral training support in the United States for young Latin American scientists, offering them an opportunity to further their scientific knowledge while promoting exchanges and collaboration between investigators in the U.S. and Latin America. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Staff members Julie Lawrence (Graduate Student Services), Brian Nalley (Visual Media Specialist), and Jordan Simmons (Facilities), who were selected as 2013 UNC-CH STAR HEELS award winners. STAR HEELS, sponsored by TIAA-CREF, is an award program designed to allow University departments to provide awards to recognize and reward excellent employees. Award winners received a personalized certificate and a $30 gift card. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Staff member Summer Montgomery (Undergraduate Student Services), who received the 2013 Employee Forum “Congeniality Award”. This Peer Recognition Award is given to a UNC-CH staff member who deserves recognition as “someone who improves the office morale and is a pleasure to be around”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Daisuke Urano (Alan Jones lab) for his cover image and paper in the May 21st issue of Science Signaling: “Eukaryotic G Protein Signaling Evolved to Require G Protein–Coupled Receptors for Activation”. An astonishing 800 views were made on the paper within the first 24 hours. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Charles P. Postelle, Jr. Distinguished Professor Ken Lohmann, on the publication of a new book he co-edited with Jeanette Wyneken and John Musick. The Biology of Sea Turtles, Volume III provides a thorough summary of recent scientific advances in understanding the physiology, behavior, and ecology of sea turtles. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to the Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program “Art of Science” competition’s Third Place winner Jes Coyle (Allen Hurlbert lab), with her entry: “Symbiotic Continent” and Honorable Mention winner Jeff Sekelsky and lab, with their sculpture entry: “Polypropylenetenes”. This first-ever BBSP “Art of Science” competition was a great success, with over 50 entries created in various media including photography and digital images, paintings, videos and sculpture. View all the “Art of Science” entries >> (This page may not display correctly in some browsers.)
Congratulations to the Frank Conlon, Vicki Bautch and Joan Taylor research laboratories (collaborating at the UNC McAllister Heart Institute) for their April 29th Developmental Cell cover image and paper: “CASZ1 Promotes Vascular Assembly and Morphogenesis through the Direct Regulation of an EGFL7/RhoA-Mediated Pathway”. “These researchers have discovered that disrupting a gene that acts as a regulatory switch to turn on other genes can keep blood vessels from forming and developing properly.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Thad L. Beyle Distinguished Professor Kerry Bloom, who was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, “an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems”. The newly elected members join a prestigious membership list ranging from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams to Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Assistant Professor Ty Hedrick, who is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, one of the most prestigious NSF awards “supporting junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations”. READ MORE ABOUT NSF CAREER AWARDS >>
Congratulations to Kyle Palmquist (Bob Peet’s lab) who received the 2013 Eugene P. Odum Award from the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America for the best student paper presented on an ecological topic at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists. Kyle’s paper was titled “Species frequency patterns in the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystem: Characterizing the identity and dynamics of infrequent plant species.” READ MORE ABOUT ESA AWARDS >>
The Genome Sciences Building has achieved LEED Gold certification! This is an amazing accomplishment for a science building, especially one that includes a number of chemistry labs. LEED certification is a recognized standard that measures building sustainability, and demonstrates that a building is “green”. The Genome Sciences building features “a green roof, high-performance glazing, and the use of special concrete for high thermal efficiency”. The GSB’s LEED “gold” plaque will be displayed in the building’s lobby. Congratulations to Masaya Konishi, lead UNC Facilities Planner on the design team, and to the “Skidmore, Owings & Merrill” team of architects who worked so hard on this building.
Congratulations to Daisuke Urano (Alan Jones lab), winner of the “Eric E. Conn Young Investigator Award” given by the American Society of Plant Biologists. “The award recognizes not only outstanding research but also demonstrated excellence in outreach, public service, mentoring, or teaching by plant scientists at the beginning of their careers.” MORE ABOUT THE CONN AWARD >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their Spring 2013 induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society: Yash Neeraj Agrawal, Aiden Joy Berry, Chelsea Elizabeth Earley, Michael A. Gonzalez, Kai Kang, Rachel Lynn Kaplan, Molly Anne Laux, Nicole Lawing, Maheer Muhammad Masood, Jennifer Elizabeth Neal, Chelsea Elizabeth Steele, Michelle Marie Thompson, and Georgia Catherine Titcomb. READ MORE >>
“Two-thirds of undergraduates will gain experience in research by the time they leave Carolina, thanks to Pat Pukkila’s leadership. During 14 years as the founding director of the Office for Undergraduate Research, she made the OUR program a national model. She retires in June after 34 years at UNC as a teacher, scholar and leader.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Master Lecturer Jean DeSaix and fellow campus lecturers, who were featured in a recent “University Gazette” article on the dedication, value, and lengthy service records of campus fixed-term faculty. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Lauren Buckley, who was selected as a 2013 Frontiers of Science Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences and the Kavli Foundation and invited to participate as a speaker in the Kavli Foundation’s Frontiers of Science symposium. “The Academy’s Kavli Frontiers of Science symposia bring together outstanding young scientists to discuss exciting advances and opportunities in a broad range of disciplines.” READ MORE > >
Congratulations to Roger Brothers (Ken Lohmann lab), who received the “Archie Carr Award” for the Best Student Presentation at the 2013 International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation, hosted by the International Sea Turtle Society and held in Baltimore, Maryland. This honor provides each winner with a cash award, and recognizes excellence in graduate student research. The title of Roger’s oral presentation was “A Mathematical Model of Geomagnetic Imprinting in Sea Turtles.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Charles P. Postelle, Jr. Distinguished Biology Professor Kenneth Lohmann, for his recent paper published in Current Biology: “Evidence for Geomagnetic Imprinting as a Homing Mechanism in Pacific Salmon”. In this article, Lohmann and former UNC grad student Nathan Putman “provide the first empirical evidence of geomagnetic imprinting in any species and imply that forecasting salmon movements is possible using geomagnetic models”. READ MORE >> PAPER SUMMARY >>
Congratulations to Kathryn Kohl (Jeff Sekelsky lab) for winning the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences. Recipients of this prestigious national award receive a certificate, travel expenses and an honorarium, and participate in a scientific symposium to be held this spring at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Lecturers Jennifer Coble and Corey Johnson, each of whom were honored with a 2013 UNC-CH Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. According to UNC, the awards were created with a bequest by the Tanner family in 1952 to recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first-year and second-year students. Each of the five 2013 winners received a one-time stipend of $ 7,500 and a framed citation. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to UNC Herbarium Director, Curator, and Research Assistant Professor Alan Weakley (along with J. Christopher Ludwig, John F. Townsend and Bland Crowder, Editor) on the landmark publication of the “Flora of Virginia”. This new publication, a collaborative effort with the Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project Inc. and the Botanical Research of Texas Press, represents a continuation of the long tradition of UNC’s regional leadership in systematic and floristic biology. This publication describes approximately 3,200 plant taxa in 200 families, and features 1,400 captioned, scaled, and botanically accurate illustrations, along with 1,552 pages of text. READ MORE >> “A New Flora for the Old Dominion” READ MORE >> The Flora of Virginia Project
Congratulations to William Rand Kenan Professor Bill Marzluff and Research Professor Zbigniew Dominski, who are co-authors on a paper published in SCIENCE Magazine: “Structure of Histone mRNA Stem-Loop, Human Stem-Loop Binding Protein, and 3′hExo Ternary Complex”. This paper describes the structure of the complex that processes the 3′ ends of some of our cells most important mRNAs, the histones. This publication is a major milestone in Bill’s decades-long investigation of these critical cellular components. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Emeritus Clifford Parks, who received the President’s Medal from the International Camellia Society (ICS). The ICS President’s Medal, created to recognize people who make extraordinary contributions to the world of camellias, was presented to Dr. Parks in recognition of his valuable breeding work to create cold hardy camellias in the United States. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Department Graduate Student Stephanie Nowotarski (Mark Peifer lab) whose video entitled “Drosophila Dorsal Closure” won the First Place award in “Celldance”, the cell biology video contest at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 2012 Annual Meeting. READ MORE >> WATCH THE WINNING VIDEOS >>
Alan S. Weakley, Herbarium director and Biology faculty member, and biology graduate student Derick B. Poindexter, have named a new rare plant species, Marshallia legrandii. Their taxonomic treatment was published in the journal Phytoneuron. READ MORE >>
Christopher Higgins, John Poulton, Bob Goldstein and Mark Peifer are co-authors on an article in the December 7 issue of Cell entitled “Noninvasive Imaging beyond the Diffraction Limit of 3D Dynamics in Thickly Fluorescent Specimens”. The article describes how to apply new microscopy technology (developed by the Betzig lab at HHMI’s Janelia Farm) to larger biological specimens, like whole worm or fly embryos. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Kathryn Kohl, Corbin Jones and Jeff Sekelsky for the recent publication of their paper in Science entitled “Evolution of an MCM Complex in Flies That Promotes Meiotic Crossovers by Blocking BLM Helicase”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Bob Peet who has just been named a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA). The Society designates as Fellows of the Society certain members who have made outstanding contributions to the wide range of fields served by the ESA. SEE THE FELLOWS LIST >> READ MORE >>
Three faculty members from the UNC-Chapel Hill Biology Department, Robert J. Duronio, Alan M. Jones, and Ann G. Matthysse are among 702 new scientists to have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society. This honor is bestowed upon association members by their peers in recognition of their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The AAAS will present the new fellows with a pin and a certificate on Feb. 16, 2013, at its annual meeting in Boston. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.
Seung Samuel Choi, Stephanie Manisha Doctor, Henry Washburn Evans, Evan Michael Farina, David Gu, Matthew Adam Hodges, Brent Blackwell Hoffman II, Jessica Brooke Koontz, Robert Hollinshead Long, Paul Thomas McIntosh, Jacqueline Wynne Nichols, Scott Hunter Oppler Jr., Kathleen Marie Quintana, Kristen Knutsen Rosano, Patrick Joseph Short, Trent L. Wei, Mary Katherine Weinel, Brooke Nichole Wolford, Jenna Leigh Wood, and Everett Glenn Young. READ MORE >>
Kelly Hogan, award-winning senior lecturer and adviser in biology, teaches a Biology 101 section that has close to 400 students enrolled. She has made many changes in the way this large class is taught in order to provide better learning opportunities for all of those students. Kelly also co-chairs a task force set up by the College of Arts and Sciences to transform instruction in large lecture classes across the College. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology is proud to announce a new Distinguished Lecture series established by Paul and Mary Love Gabrielson – The Max and Fran Hommersand Distinguished Lecture in Biology. The new lecture series honors Dr. Max H. Hommersand (Professor Emeritus of Biology) for his years of research and teaching service to the university and his wife Fran Hommersand for her years of service establishing and curating (along with Max), the Algal Herbarium. The annual lecture will be presented by a distinguished scholar in the area of Evolution, Ecology or Organismal Biology.
Congratulations to Karin and David Pfennig on the publication of their new book, Evolution’s Wedge: Competition and the Origins of Diversity, which explores competition’s role in generating and maintaining biodiversity. READ MORE >>
The Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for two faculty positions — a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Evolutionary Biology and a Lecturer in Biology. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor David W. Pfennig, who has been appointed the Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education. During his three-year appointment, Pfennig will serve as Director of the Royster Society of Fellows, a selective interdisciplinary fellowship program administered by the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Courtney Endres (Ken Lohmann lab), a Biology EEOB graduate student, whose loggerhead turtle olfactory research was featured in an article in “The Economist”, a prominent British magazine that focuses on economic issues. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Associate Professor Gregory Copenhaver who has been appointed as Editor-in-Chief for PLoS Genetics. PLoS Genetics is a top-tier, peer-reviewed journal in the field of genetics and has been at the forefront of open-access publishing. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Alan Jones (along with collaborators Jane Ellis and Janice Anderson) on the American Society of Plant Biologists funded publication of “My Life As A Plant”, an exciting coloring & activity book that inspires younger children to explore the world of plants and the 12 Principles of Plant Biology. UNC Undergraduate Biology Students Jordan Humphrey and Emily O’Mara were part of the Design Team that produced this extremely successful book, which is already undergoing translation for distribution to other countries. READ MORE >> UNC NEWS STORY >>
Congratulations to collaborators in the Terry Furey and Jason Lieb labs who were part of the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) mega-consortium that published its analysis of the human genome in 30 interconnected papers in Nature, Genome Biology and Genome Research. READ MORE >> VISIT THE NATURE ENCODE EXPLORER WEBSITE >>
Congratulations to Jian-Ke Tie (Darrel Stafford lab), whose manuscript: ”Human vitamin K epoxide reductase and its bacterial homologue have different membrane topologies and reaction mechanisms” was selected as a Journal of Biological Chemistry “Paper of the Week”. These papers are selected by JBC Associate Editors and Editorial Board Members and represent the top 2% of papers reviewed in terms of significance and overall importance. An image submitted by Jian-Ke is also featured on the cover of the October 5th issue of JBC. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to the Jeff Dangl lab graduate students Derek Lundberg, Sur Herrera-Paredes, and Scott Yourstone, SPIRE Post doc Sarah Lebeis and UNC undergrad Jase Gehring who anchored a team of scientists in the largest genomics-based analysis to date of root-associated bacteria that establish complex communities inside plant roots, contributing to plant health and growth, in a paper featured on the cover story in this week’s NATURE entitled: “Defining the core Arabidopsis thaliana root microbiome”. READ MORE >> READ THE ARTICLE >>
Congratulations to Dr. Kun Jiang (Alan Jones Lab) and coworkers for having a research article (and cover image) published in Plant Physiology, an international journal devoted to physiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, genetics, biophysics, and environmental biology of plants. Their research demonstrated that it is possible to make informed mutations on the protein surface of an essential signaling molecule to confer specific plant growth and behavioral traits that may be beneficial to agriculture and avoiding detrimental traits often associated with standard genetic ablation. Congratulations also to UNC undergraduate researcher, Ms. Arwen Frick-Cheng, who is a co-author on this work. [Photo and art credits: Susan Whitfield, Paul Braly, Brian Nalley, and Alan M. Jones. Cover image copyright 2012 by Alan M. Jones, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.] READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Alakananda Das, a Biochemistry & Biophysics Ph.D. student (Kevin Slep lab), who was awarded a 2012 Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellowship for her project entitled: “Elucidating the mechanism of the Che-12-dependent ciliogenesis through in vivo, biochemical and structural analysis”. This three year fellowship from the HHMI supports outstanding international predoctoral students studying in the United States. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Mira Pronobis, a Genetics and Molecular Biology Ph.D. student (Mark Peifer lab), who was awarded a 2012 Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellowship for her project entitled: “Regulating Wnt signalling via the tumor suppressor APC: Defining the catalytic cycle of the beta-catenin destruction complex and its interface with the E3-ligase”. This three year fellowship from the HHMI supports outstanding international predoctoral students studying in the United States. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Meredith Newton, a 2012 UNC-CH Biology major graduate and former women’s lacrosse player, who has been awarded a prestigious $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate scholarship. Along with her multitude of athletic accomplishments, Meredith accumulated many academic honors as a UNC student and will begin medical school this fall. READ MORE > >
Congratulations to Associate Professor Gregory Copenhaver, whose research article “FANCM Limits Meiotic Crossovers” recently appeared in SCIENCE magazine. The article identifies the FANCM helicase as a major factor limiting meiotic crossover formation, and that its manipulation could be very important to plant breeding. The article was also selected for a highlight in the “This Week in Science” section of the same journal issue. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Alan M. Jones, who was recently elected President of the American Society of Plant Biologists, a professional society devoted to the advancement of plant sciences. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Ben Ritchie, a Biology Ph.D. student (Mark Peifer lab), who was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of American Heart Association for his project entitled “Mechanisms by which Abelson kinase regulates the actin cytoskeleton during morphogenesis and organogenesis”. The fellowship begins July 1, 2012 and lasts for two years. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to John N. Couch Professor Jeff Dangl, who has won the Ruth Allen award from the American Phytopathological Society. This award is given annually to honor individuals who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology. READ MORE >>
“The most comprehensive perspective to date on how young loggerheads navigate the transoceanic migration was recently published in two complementary papers produced by a research team led by Professor Kenneth J. Lohmann, a marine biologist at UNC-Chapel Hill.” Simulating transoceanic migrations of young loggerhead sea turtles: merging magnetic navigation behavior with an ocean circulation model appears in June 2012 issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology. READ MORE >> A related paper, The magnetic map of hatchling loggerhead sea turtles, was published in the April 2012 issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology. READ MORE >> An interesting article and video link on the Lohmann loggerhead navigation research project also appears on the UNC-CH “Spotlight” website. VISIT THE SITE >>
Congratulations to evolutionary biology graduate students Jessica Higgins and Sarah Seiter (Joel Kingsolver lab), whose blog “Butterflies and Science” was recently featured in the Raleigh News and Observer. READ MORE >> VISIT THE BLOG >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Pat Gensel, recipient of the 2012 Botanical Society of America Merit Award. This award is given in recognition of excellence in basic research, education, public policy, or exceptional service to the professional botanical community. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Lecturer/Advisor Gidi Shemer, who has been named Winner of the Outstanding New Advising Award – Faculty Academic Advising, given by the National Academic Advising Association. “The NACADA Annual Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising. NACADA is a representative and advocate of academic advising and those providing that service to higher education.” READ MORE ABOUT NACADA >>
Congratulations to Jeremy Greeter (Ty Hedrick lab), who has been selected to receive a prestigious 2012 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, administered by the American Society for Engineering Education. The NDSEG Fellowships demonstrate the Department of Defense’s commitment to increase the quality and quantity of scientists and engineers in our country. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Megan Rúa (Charles Mitchell lab), who was awarded a three-year NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Megan’s postdoctoral research project will begin in August and will be conducted in Dr. Jason Hoeksema’s laboratory at the University of Mississippi.
Congratulations to Kyle Palmquist (Bob Peet lab) who received an Honorable Mention for the Eugene P. Odum Award for her talk entitled “Dramatic declines in small-scale species richness in longleaf pine savannas” at the Association for Southeastern Biologists annual meeting in Athens, GA. The Eugene P. Odum award is given by the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America for the best oral presentation on ecological research given by a student at the annual ASB meeting.
Congratulations to Blaire Steinwand (Joe Kieber lab) who was awarded a 2011-2012 undergraduate teaching assistant award from the Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Awards (SUTASA) Committee at the Chancellor’s Award Ceremony. SUTASA Teaching award recipients are chosen on the basis of demonstrated teaching excellence, success in positively affecting a broad spectrum of students both in and outside of the classroom, and creation of a dynamic learning environment. READ MORE > >
Congratulations to graduate student Andrea Anton (Ecology, John Bruno lab), who was honored at the 2012 University Research Day. Andrea’s poster won third place in the Biological Sciences Division. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to graduate students Kyle Palmquist (Ecology, Bob Peet lab) and Nate Geraldi (Marine Sciences, Charles Peterson lab) who received 2012 Impact Awards from the UNC-CH Graduate Education Advancement Board. “The Impact Awards recognize outstanding graduate students whose research covers a variety of areas: education, the environment, economic development, health, public administration and more.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to EEOB graduate student Abel Valdivia (John Bruno lab), who was awarded third place in the best student oral presentation category (out of 250 student talks) at the Annual Benthic Ecology Meeting. Abel’s talk was titled “Caribbean reef fish assemblage and tropic structure along a fishing pressure gradient”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students conducting research in Biology faculty laboratories for being named recipients of prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships: Graduate Students-Becky Bigler (Bill Marzluff lab), Diana Chong (Vicki Bautch lab), Fletcher Halliday (Charles Mitchell lab), Sophie Tintori (Bob Goldstein lab) and Honorable Mention-Megan Brady (Shaun Ahmed lab). Undergraduate Students-Susan Clark (Bob Goldstein lab). READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Professor Bob Peet, whose recent Journal of Vegetation Science research paper, “Plant species richness: the world records”, has attracted the attention of National Geographic, Science, and ScienceShot (AAAS), as well as other publications and newspapers. READ THE RESEARCH PAPER >> READ THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STORY >> READ THE SCIENCE STORY >> READ THE SCIENCESHOT (AAAS) STORY >>
Congratulations to Biology Department Senior Lecturer Jean DeSaix, who received the “Faculty-to Student” Mentoring Award given by the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council. “The mentoring award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who makes an extra effort to guide, mentor and lead students as they make career decisions, embark on research challenges and enrich their lives through public service, teaching and educational opportunities.” READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Patricia Pukkila, who heads a new international functional genomics initiative, funded by the Department of Energy through the Joint Genome Institute Community Sequencing Program. Professor Pukkila and her colleagues from around the world will characterize gene expression, chromatin dynamics and genome stability in the model mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea with the goal of expanding the range and efficiency of fungi that can be harnessed for industrial applications in alternative fuels, global carbon cycling, and biogeochemistry. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Allen Hurlbert and former lab associate Zhongfei Liang, whose research article about the effects of climate change on bird migration patterns, “Spatiotemporal Variation in Avian Migration Phenology: Citizen Science Reveals Effects of Climate Change”, recently appeared in PLoS ONE. READ THE ARTICLE >> Dr. Hurlbert was also interviewed on WUNC (public radio) about this study. LISTEN >> Dr. Hurlbert’s research story was featured in the UNC-CH newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Minna Roh-Johnson, Gidi Shemer and Chris Higgins, current and former members of Bob Goldstein’s lab, for an upcoming publication in Science on how cells change shape! SEE NEWS IN “THE SCIENTIST”>> READ PREPRINT OF ARTICLE IN SCIENCE >>
Congratulations to UNC biology graduate student Courney Endres, who was named the 2012 Boyd Lyon Award recipient. This is a new award that was given for the best talk at the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Symposium, which is the premier meeting for sea turtle research and conservation in the United States. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Thad L. Beyle Distinguished Professor Kerry Bloom, who has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. The Academy is an honorific leadership group within the American Academy of Microbiology that “recognizes excellence, originality, and creativity in the microbiological sciences”. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Senior Lecturer Jean DeSaix, who received a University Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Mentor Award was created in 1997 and “acknowledges a lifetime of contributions to a broad range of teaching and learning, particularly beyond the classroom”. READ MORE >> SEE AWARDS RECIPIENTS >>
Congratulations to Hooker Distinguished Professor Mark Peifer, who received a J. Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award. The Sitterson Award was created in 1998 to “recognize excellence in freshman teaching by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences”. READ MORE >> SEE AWARDS RECIPIENTS >>
And the winner of this year’s Biology food drive is… The needy people of Orange County! The food that was collected by the UNC Biology Department and delivered to the Inter-faith Council for Social Service (IFC) for distribution completely filled a Suburban van and a Honda Accord! While the analysis of which building had the most food donations is still under discussion, the outcome of these donations is that hundreds of meals will be served to needy Orange County families for weeks to come. Thanks to Blaire Steinwand for organizing this effort, Mark Peifer for leading the charge in Fordham Hall, John Craig for helping deliver the food to the IFC, and to all who so generously contributed!
Congratulations to Senior Lecturer Kelly Hogan, who received a Spirit of Inquiry Award from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. The Spirit of Inquiry program increases attention to quality teaching by recognizing faculty at North Carolina colleges and universities who teach difficult courses while emphasizing open intellectual inquiry. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to these UNC-CH students, enrolled as Biology majors or minors, for their induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society: Ranjan Banerjee, Daniel Louis Bernstein, Ivy Pauline Brisbin, Kit Randall Broome, Nicolette Raquel Chahin, Scott Ryan Ellis, Roger Fan, Samuel Harrison Farber, John Michael French, Jessica Lauren Glatz, Matthew Steven Krantz, Jacqueline Christine Lee, Lei Lei, Zachary Ryan McCaw, Timothy Ryan Palpant, Madison Elizabeth Phillips, Brienne Rae Poole, Kavya Sekar, Eva Janet Stein, Kiri Elyse Sunde, Emily Barrows Welker, and Kelly Alicia Wolfe. READ MORE >>
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Lauren Buckley and UNC student Madison Foushee, whose research article “Footprints of Climate Change in U.S. National Park Visitation” was published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, and has also been picked up by numerous news organizations. In this study, Buckley and Foushee observe that some human weather-related behavior is being affected by global warming, notably the shifting of peak visitor attendance at U.S. national parks in response to a change in mean spring temperatures. READ THE ARTICLE >>
Congratulations to S. K. Heninger Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alan Feduccia, whose new book, “Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China” has just been published by the Yale University Press. “In this book, evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia provides the most comprehensive discussion yet of the avian and associated evidence found in China, then exposes the massive, unfounded speculation that has accompanied these discoveries and been published in the pages of prestigious scientific publications.” -Yale University Press READ MORE ABOUT RIDDLE OF THE FEATHERED DRAGONS >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Jeff Sekelsky, who has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS is an international organization that advances science around the world. Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers, and recognizes distinguished efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications. The induction ceremony is scheduled for February 2012, and will be held in Vancouver, BC. READ MORE ABOUT THE AAAS >>
Congratulations to Biology Professor Jeff Dangl, who heads a new genome sequencing initiative, funded by the Department of Energy. Professor Dangl and his colleagues will study the rhizosphere microbiomes of various plant species in order to better understand the plant genetics involved in determining the microbial communities associated with them, and how this information can be applied towards the fields of bioenergy and carbon cycling. READ MORE >>
Welcome to our new and improved Biology Department website. We hope you’ll explore the improved navigation structure and updated content, and enjoy the slideshow of images as you navigate from page to page. Special thanks to the UNC Digital Commons project for making it easy to adopt the Carolina website theme, and to all of the faculty and staff who worked hard to make the new website possible. LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK »
Congratulations to Ken Lohmann, who was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN). The RIN was founded in 1947 with the goals of uniting professionals and amateurs interested in navigation, furthering the development of navigation, and increasing public awareness of the art and science of navigation. READ MORE ABOUT THE RIN »
Giffin Daughtridge was one of seventeen UNC students and recent graduates to receive 2011-2012 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards to study, teach or conduct research in other countries. Giffin’s project, “The Epidemiology of the Hepatitis B Virus After 20 years of Vaccination,” will be conducted in Colombia. READ MORE »