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From Academia to Industry: Q&A with Cellular Analysis Specialist Dr. Rob Peterson

September 23, 2020

From Academia to Industry: Q&A with Cellular Analysis Specialist Dr. Rob Peterson – Sponsored by UNC oSTEM

Do you want an insider view of life after undergrad? What about graduate school? Are you curious about biology jobs outside of medicine and academia?

Join oSTEM UNC and chat with Dr. Rob Peterson, a cellular analysis specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Dr. Peterson earned his PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology, worked as an Assistant Professor at UNC, ran a microscopy core facility, and now works in the microscopy industry. Join us to learn about pursuing a career in STEM!

Where: Zoom
When: September 30th, 7:30-8:30pm

Zhenyu Hao’s Paper Appears in “Blood”

September 15, 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Zhenyu Hao (a postdoc in Dr. Darrel Stafford’s Lab), whose paper titled, “Gamma-glutamyl carboxylase mutations differentially affect the biological function of vitamin K-dependent proteins”, was recently published in the journal, Blood. In this paper, Dr. Hao evaluated how carboxylase mutations affected the biological function of proteins involved in blood coagulation, vascular calcification, and bone metabolism. Read more >>

Article link:

Celia Shiau’s lab published new study bridging brain to liver in eLife

September 9, 2020

Congratulations to Celia Shiau and her lab researchers Alison Earley and Victoria Kwon and former lab members on their paper published in eLife. The article is titled “Drainage of inflammatory macromoleules from the brain to periphery targets the liver for macrophage infiltration.”

From the abstract, “Many brain pathologies are associated with liver damage, but a direct link has long remained elusive. Here, we establish a new paradigm for interrogating brain-periphery interactions by leveraging zebrafish for its unparalleled access to the intact whole animal for in vivo analysis in real time after triggering focal brain inflammation. Using traceable lipopolysaccharides (LPS), we reveal that drainage of these inflammatory macromolecules from the brain led to a strikingly robust peripheral infiltration of macrophages into the liver independent of Kupffer cells. We further demonstrate that this macrophage recruitment requires signaling from the cytokine IL-34 and Toll-like receptor adaptor MyD88, and occurs in coordination with neutrophils. These results highlight the possibility for circulation of brain-derived substances to serve as a rapid mode of communication from brain to the liver. Understanding how the brain engages the periphery at times of danger may offer new perspectives for detecting and treating brain pathologies.”

Read the full article here:

Kacy Gordon featured in eLife Sciences!

September 3, 2020

Kacy Gordon’s article, “Stem cell niche exit in C. elegans via orientation and segregation of daughter cells by a cryptic cell outside the niche,” has been featured in eLife Sciences. Congratulations, Kacy!

From the abstract, “Stem cells reside in and rely upon their niche to maintain stemness but must balance self-renewal with the production of daughters that leave the niche to differentiate. We discovered a mechanism of stem cell niche exit in the canonical C. elegans distal tip cell (DTC) germ stem cell niche mediated by previously unobserved, thin, membranous protrusions of the adjacent somatic gonad cell pair (Sh1). A disproportionate number of germ cell divisions were observed at the DTC-Sh1 interface… Because Sh1 membrane protrusions eluded detection for decades, it is possible that similar structures actively regulate niche exit in other systems.”

Read the full article here.

Senay Yitbarek is a 2020 Cohort for CPPFD!

August 12, 2020

Congratulations to Senay Yitbarek for being chosen as one of the 2020 cohorts for the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity (CPPFD)!

According to their website, “CPPFD is one of the oldest diversity fellowship programs for postdoctoral scholars in the nation, and it receives strong support and recognition across UNC and peer institutions. The program was launched in 1983 as part of a continuing commitment to enhance culturally diverse, intellectual community and support scholars from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in higher education. More than 190 scholars have participated to date and more than 60 faculty hires here at UNC.”

“Yitbarek’s research focuses on the community ecology of infectious diseases, with a focus on understanding how microbial interactions are shaped by host population structure. In his work, he combines experimental evolution approaches with mathematical modeling. He is also a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and is the current president of the Black Ecologists organization within the Ecological Society of America.”

Congratulations Senay!

Brian Taylor joins KEEN Faculty Learning Community Program!

August 11, 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Taylor for his acceptance into the 2020-2021 KEEN Faculty Learning Community Program. According to their website, the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) “focuses on one mission: To graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset (EM) so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. KEEN is a partnership of more than 45 colleges and universities across the United States. The schools in the Network are driving change within engineering education—each committing to reach all of their undergraduate engineering students with entrepreneurial mindset. KEEN specifically impacts and influences the broader engineering ecosystem and reflects the belief that networks scale impact. KEEN serves as a lab to test and showcase best practices in entrepreneurially minded learning. The Network seeks to represent the larger engineering education landscape, showing that EM benefits students regardless of institution type, size, or location. Through this collaborative network, institutions are able to work together to transform engineering education.” Congratulations Brian!

Meet oSTEM UNC at Queer Fall Fest!

August 10, 2020


We hold social and professional events, and we partner with queer graduate students to provide one-on-one mentorship opportunities.

Come meet us virtually at Queer Fall Fest on Wednesday, August 12th from 7-8:30pm. Access the Zoom event at If you can’t make it, join our listserv by emailing for future events.

Kacy Gordon featured in the Journal of Developmental Biology!

August 6, 2020

Kacy Gordon was recently featured in the Journal of Developmental Biology for the article Recent Advances in the Genetic, Anatomical, and Environmental Regulation of the C. elegans Germ Line Progenitor Zone. According to the abstract, “This review describes the recent progress that has been made in characterizing the undifferentiated germ cells and gonad anatomy, and presents open questions in the field and new directions for research to pursue.”
Congrats Kacy!

Kacy Gordon joined the UNC Department of Biology from a postdoctoral program at Duke University. Gordon attended graduate school in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and obtained her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth.

The Journal of Developmental Biology “is a peer-reviewed open access journal on the development of multicellular organisms at the molecule, cell, tissue, organ and whole organism levels, and is published quarterly online by MDPI.”

To read more, visit this link.

The Taylor Lab is Presenting at Living Machines 2020!

July 7, 2020

A peer-reviewed paper that the Taylor lab submitted titled “Bioinspired Navigation Based on Distributed Sensing in the Leech” was accepted to be presented at the Living Machines 2020 conference (which is being held remotely). The paper is a culmination of the work of Sebastian Nichols (Quantitative Biology undergraduate) in BIOL 395, Dr. Brian Taylor, and Dr. Cynthia Harley of Metropolitan State University, a minority-serving and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon institution.

Follow this link to learn more about the Living Machines 2020 conference. Congratulations Sebastian and Dr. Taylor!

Caterpillars Count featured on KAXE Morning Show!

July 6, 2020

Dr. Allen Hurlbert was recently a guest on KAXE’s Morning Show. Hosted by Heidi Holtan, Maggie Montgomery, John Bauer, and Katie Carter, the Morning Show is part of 91.7 KAXE, a radio station based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. According to their website, the Morning Show is a “mix of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and local features including Arts, Nature, Sports, Weather and More.”

Dr. Hurlbert was a guest on the show on June 30, 2020 to speak on his organization, Caterpillars Count. Caterpillars Count is a “citizen science project for measuring the seasonal variation, also known as phenology, and abundance of anthropods like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders found on the foliage of trees and shrubs.” The project encourages everyone to get involved and their website provides many tips on how to do your part!

To listen to the excerpt from the show, check out the Morning Show’s podcast, available on iTunes at this link.