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Professor Dangl Awarded Martin Gibbs Medal

March 30, 2021

Professor Jeff Dangl has been awarded the 2021 Martin Gibbs Medal of the American Society of Plant Biologists!

The Martin Gibbs Medal was instituted by the Society’s executive committee in 1993 to honor Martin Gibbs, editor of Plant Physiology from 1963 to 1992. The Gibbs Medal is presented biennially to an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences.


Dangl Lab featured in Cell Host & Microbe!

March 29, 2021

Nicholas Colaianni, Ph.D. student in the Dangl lab, collaborates with researchers at the Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI) of Molecular Plant Biology and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) for back-to-back papers in Cell Host & Microbe. From the article, the researchers “use two complementary approaches to unveil a co-evolutionary mechanism between bacteria and plants and also explain complex immune response patterns observed in the wild. Together the papers change the way scientists have been thinking about the relationship of a bacterial antigenic component with its plant immune receptor.” Congratulations to the Dangl lab and Nicholas!

According to his profile on the Dangl lab’s website, Nick is “interested in understanding how bacterial communities interact with their plant hosts. Currently, I am working on understanding how plants respond to a diverse set of bacterially derived proteins. I am also working on computational pipelines to utilize shotgun metagenomic sequencing data in our understanding of the important functional differences between microbial communities.”

Read about the article on Eureka Alert and!

ANNOUNCING: Greg Copenhaver, Sr. Associate Dean for Research & Innovations

March 26, 2021

Greg Copenhaver has been appointed as the new Senior Associate Dean for Research & Innovations for the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, effective July 1st. Congratulations to Greg!

From Dean Terry Rhodes:
“Greg will bring a wealth of experience to this role. A member of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty since 2001, he shares joint appointments as a professor in the department of biology and the Integrative Program for Biological and Genome Sciences (IBGS). He also served on committees that led to the formation of the College’s Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship. He has taught in the program since 2008. In addition, he is affiliated with the UNC Center for Bioethics, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the curriculum in genetics. He has also made important contributions to science outside the university setting and has experience launching a startup: Prior to joining the university, he co-founded and grew a biotechnology company and has been at the forefront of promoting open-access science by serving as editor-in-chief at PLOS Genetics.

Greg’s scholarly work explores chromosome structure and dynamics in the processes that give rise to reproductive cells. His research relies heavily on genetic and genomic approaches to yield insights into how genes are inherited between generations. His research group’s work has used many model species including fungi, plants and animals and currently emphasizes plant biology with the broad aim of improving global food security.

In 2019 he received a Breakthrough Technology Award from the National Science Foundation and in 2020 he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Greg received his B.S. from the University of California Riverside, his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago.
As associate dean for research and innovation, Greg will be responsible for developing and implementing research and innovation strategies for the College and supporting leadership and faculty to enhance the College’s research and scholarship portfolio. As a member of my senior leadership team, he will provide executive management advice to the interdisciplinary research and scholarship enterprises within the College, working with the senior associate deans, the faculty director of convergent science, UNC Research, the vice chancellor for research, Innovate Carolina and other units throughout the University.”

Dr. Maria Servedio, 2023 President American Society of Naturalists!

March 26, 2021

Congratulations to Dr. Maria Servedio, elected as the 2023 President of American Society of Naturalists!

ASN is a membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences. Maria’s leadership exemplifies her dedication and reputation as a biologist. ASN will be as fortunate as we are to have her among UNC Biology Faculty!

Publications from Bloom Lab!

March 23, 2021

Below are recent publications by members of the Bloom Lab. Undergraduate researchers/authors are in bold.

He, Y.; Lawrimore, J.; Cook, D.; Van Gorder, E.E.; De Larminat, S.C.; Adalsteinsson, D.; Forest, MG; Bloom, K. (2020) Statistical mechanics of chromosomes: In vivo and in silico approaches reveal high-level organization and structure arise exclusively through mechanical feedback between loop extruders and chromatin substrate properties Nucleic Acids Res Nov 18;48(20):11284-11303 NAR-01822-N-2020.R2 doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa871

    An in silico study that shows mechanical feedback between condensin and histones as they interact on chromatin with our collaborators in Applied Math and two of Biology’s undergraduates, Solenn De Larminat and Elizabeth Van Gorder.

Mishra, P., Chakraborty, A., Yeh, E., Feng, W., Bloom, K.S. and Basrai, M.A. (2021) R-loops at centromeric chromatin contribute to defects in kinetochore integrity and chromosomal instability in budding yeast Mol Biol Cell Jan 1;32(1):74-89. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-06-0379

    A study showing R-loops at the yeast centromere and its function in kinetochore integrity with our collaborators at NIH

Kefer, P., Iqbal, F., Locatelli, M., Lawrimore, J., Zhang, M. Bloom, K., Bonin, K., Liu, J., Vidi, P-A. (2021) Performance of deep learning restoration methods for the extraction of particle dynamics in noisy microscopy image sequences. Mol Biol Cell Jan 27:mbcE20110689. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-11-0689.

    A quantitative analysis tool using artificial intelligence methods with our collaborators at Wake Forest University

Cook, D., Long, S., Stanton, J., Cusick, P., Lawrimore, C., Yeh, E., Grant, S. and Bloom, K. (2021) Behavior of Dicentric Chromosomes in Budding Yeast. PLOS Genetics (accepted) PGENETICS-D-20-00674R2

    A study showing differential repair pathways for dicentric chromosomes depending on the position of the two centromeres. This study stemmed from a CURE course Bio 423 taught by Dr. Sarah Grant. The two undergraduates in the class, John Stanton and Patrick Cusick worked in Dr. Bloom’s lab as post-bacs to finish up the experiments.

Lawrimore, J., Kolbin, D., Stanton, J., Khan, Muznah, De Larminat, S., Lawrimore, C., Yeh, E., Bloom, K. (2021) The rDNA is Biomolecular Condensate Formed by Polymer-Polymer Phase Separation and is Sequestered in the Nucleolus by Transcription and R-loops. Nucl. Acids Res. (accepted).

    A study demonstrating the role of transcription and R-loops in preventing rDNA demixing from the liquid phase of the nucleolus. The study was initiated by a quantitative Biology undergraduate student, Muznah Khan, with assistance from two undergraduates, John Stanton and Solenn De Larminat.

Jiyue (Jeff) Huang featured in BMC Genomics!

March 22, 2021

Dr. Jiyue (Jeff) Huang a postdoctoral associate in the Copenhaver lab has published a paper in BMC Genomics entitled “Comparative transcriptomic analysis of thermally stressed Arabidopsis thaliana meiotic recombination mutants” together with our colleagues from Fudan University in Shanghai. Congratulations, Dr. Huang! The paper explores how elevated environmental temperatures influence gene expression in the reproductive cells of plants. The research provides insights into how meiosis works and is also relevant for understanding how plants respond to climate stress.

Gregory Copenhaver featured in Frontiers in Plant Science!

March 15, 2021

Professor Gregory Copenhaver has published a collaborative paper in Frontiers in Plant Science entitled “The Role of Chromatid Interference in Determining Meiotic Crossover Patterns” together with his colleagues from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. The paper provides a new way to measure how chromosomes interact with one another during reproduction. When these interactions don’t happen correctly chromosomes can mis-segregate which can result in chromosome number imbalances.

To learn more about Professor Copenhaver and his lab, visit his lab website and read the Frontiers article here.

Congratulations to the Phi Beta Kappa Initiates!

March 10, 2021

Congratulations to the following spring 2021 Phi Beta Kappa inductees:

Allen, Zachary Paul (“Zach”)
Boone, James Dylan (“Dylan”)
Chan, Priscilla
Cicalo, Alyssa Nina
Crater, Caroline Victoria
Dave, Mili
Furlong, Anna Grace
Greaves, Emily Piper
Gupta, Anahita
Hercules Alfaro, Daniela Del Carmen
Hnatov, Anton Andre
Jones, Catherine Paige
Kellogg, Camryn Gerard
Landry, Pearce Armstrong, II
Lanier, Lindsey Kate
Lee, Hannah Nicole
Li, Jiayi
Li, Samuel Michael
LoFrese, Elizabeth Kaitlyn
McCoppin, Jessica Ann
Montani, Maya Tobin
Morton, Elizabeth Rebecca
Oberhauser, Jane Elizabeth (“Janie”)
Pang, Gehao
Rao, Preeyanka Prasanna
Ruiz, Paloma Armendariz
Salama, Elias Joshua (“Josh”)
Sansbury, Griffin Marsh
Saran, Tanvi
Shah, Khushmi Nitesh
Silver, Benjamin Patrick (“Ben”)
Sobon, Holly Kay
Wainwright, John Michael
Womack, Caroline Kayman
Yang, Shiyue

To learn more about Phi Beta Kappa, visit their website.

Congratulations to the 2021 Hagadorn Award Winner and Runner-Up!

March 8, 2021

Congratulations to 2021 Hagadorn Award recipient Ralph Alberto and runner-up Lauren McCormick!

In the words of Professor Mark Peifer, “The Biology Department at UNC-Chapel Hill is fortunate to have many remarkable students. In addition to Awards given to seniors on the basis of their undergraduate research, each year the Hagadorn Award is given to an outstanding junior Biology major. The recipient is selected on the basis of academic achievement, excellence in biology research and contributions to the Biology Department. This award was established in 1983 in honor of Dr. Irvine Hagadorn, former Chair of the Department of Zoology at UNC.

“Each year this is a challenging task for the selection committee, as we consider many outstanding students. After considering a slate of more than a dozen highly qualified students based on their academic record, their undergraduate research and their service to the Department as TAs, Supplemental Instructors Peer mentors and Biology Ambassadors, we narrowed the field to two finalists and asked them for one-page summaries of their research and service, and also reached out to their faculty research mentors for recommendations. Both finalists were outstanding. After extensive deliberations we selected Ralph Alberto as the 2021 Hagadorn Award winner. His 3.94 GPA, his research in the lab of Dr. Richard Loeser in the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, and service as the Research Executive Head of the UNC Biology Ambassadors and as a Biology TA were remarkable. The runner-up was Lauren McCormick. Her 4.0 GPA, research in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Juliano in the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Ecology Lab, and her service as a Supplemental Instructor and TA were also very impressive. We’re fortunate to have such outstanding students in our Department.”

To learn more about the various Chancellor’s Awards at UNC, click here.

Brian Taylor’s magnetoreception research featured in Endeavors!

March 3, 2021

UNC Biology’s Brian Taylor‘s research has been featured in “Nature’s Compass,” an article in the most recent issue of Endeavors. Congratulations, Brian!

From the article: “How can animals travel thousands of miles on a migratory path yet most people need to rely on GPS to get around town? UNC researcher Brian Taylor explores the ability of many animals to use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation in hopes of improving humanmade systems.”

If you want to learn more about Brian’s experience at Case Western Reserve University, his magnetoreception research, and the Quantitative Biology and Engineering Sciences Laboratory, read the article here.