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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.

Ways You Can Foster Educational Equity

July 1, 2020

Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy have been featured in the advice section of Their article, authored with Calvin Sims, outlines more than a dozen ways in which white and non-Black educators of color can support the Black Lives Matter movement and create inclusive learning environments. Please read this very important article and work to make these changes in each classroom!

Congrats to Lela Lackey on hackseq 2020!

June 18, 2020

Congratulations to Lela Lackey (Alain Laederach’s Lab), the People’s Choice Winner for hackseq 2020. Hats off to team OpenASO led by Lela Lackey and her members for taking the cake and being crowned the bio-hackers supreme. The OpenASO team shall receive a $1,000 cash prize. You can read about all hackseq 2020 projects at Ivan Jimenez-Ruiz and Jayashree Kumar were also members of team openASO.

Congratulations Dr. Copenhaver and Wang!

June 12, 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Gregory Copenhaver’s lab who, together with their collaborators at Fudan University in Shanghai, published a new study in PLOS Genetics. The paper reveals novel roles for SCC2 – a protein that helps hold chromosomes together during meiosis. The first author, Hongkuan Wang, was internationally co-advised by Dr. Copenhaver and the paper is the culmination of his Ph.D. work.

Read the article here.

Congrats to Biology’s Andrius Dagilis and Daniel Matute for their Perspective in Science!

May 26, 2020

Congratulations to UNC Biology’s Andrius Dagilis and Daniel Matute for their Perspective featured in Science magazine!

The article highlights a new paper by Dagilis and Matute which touches on important sights into the evolution of species barriers and hybrid incompatibility. Congrats!

Andrius Dagilis is a post-doc in the UNC Department of Biology and Daniel Matute is an assistant professor with a focus on genetic and ecological basis of reproductive isolation.

Check out the article here.

Biology Department gets an Instagram!

May 19, 2020

Follow the UNC Biology Department’s new Instagram: @uncbiology. Here, we will post all things UNC and biology, so make sure to follow to keep updated!

Congratulations to Top 10 Scholar-Athlete Jamie Antinori and her Faculty Honoree, Dr. Gidi Shemer!

May 19, 2020

Congratulations to Jamie Antinori on being chosen as a Top 10 Scholar-Athlete for 2019-2020! These ten students, five male and five female, are the graduating student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade point averages.

As noted on the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes (ASPSA) website, Jamie is a member of the gymnastics team and is from Park City, Utah. She is majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. Jamie has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and has been on the Dean’s List each of her semesters at UNC. She has been conducting research on air pollution and lung health at the Alexis Lab in the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology. After graduating this month, she will continue her work full time at the Alexis Lab while she is applying to medical school. In five years, she will be about to start her residency.

Jamie selected Biology’s Dr. Gidi Shemer as a faculty member that made a significant contribution to her academic and personal success! You can see more in the following video, including a special thank you from Jamie to Dr. Shemer. Congratulations to both!


May 12, 2020

Congratuations to Xuejie Chen, a postdoc in Darrel Stafford’s Lab who recently published a paper in Blood titled “A cell-based high-throughput screen identifies drugs that cause bleeding disorders by off-targeting the vitamin K cycle.” In this study, the authors adapted a cell-based screening approach to identify several drugs from the NIH Clinical Collection drug library that caused bleeding disorders by impacting the biosynthesis of active coagulation factors. The paper also explored the mechanisms of action and prevention of drug induced bleeding disorders.

Read more here:

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Shines a Timely Spotlight on Virology

May 6, 2020

Collin Hill, undergraduate majoring in Biology and Chemistry, presented his Honors Biology Thesis which focused on the very timely topic of virology. Collin summarizes his thesis:

“In this study, we examined three potentially mutagenic nucleoside analogs, N4-beta-hydrocytidine (NHC), Favipiravir, and Ribavirin using Primer ID with next-generation sequencing (NGS) on a panel of RNA viruses in cell culture, including MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Zika virus (ZIKV), and La Crosse virus (LACV). We found that NHC exhibited antiviral and mutagenic effects in each of the three viruses, supporting that this nucleoside analog is a broad-spectrum antiviral that acts through lethal mutagenesis. Favipiravir and Ribavirin was found to exhibit moderate antiviral and mutagenic effects in LACV only. Additionally, using a MERS-CoV mouse model, we found that an NHC prodrug (EIDD-2801) also exhibited the same antiviral and mutagenic effects in vivo and also found that there was no significant findings of cytotoxicity or increases in transcriptional error rates. However, an additional study of cytotoxicity of each of the three nucleoside analogs in a cell culture of 8E5 cells found that NHC at high dosage concentrations can significantly increase the transcriptional error rate of the cells, indicating misincorporation of NHC by eukaryotic RNA polymerases. The findings of this study support that these nucleoside analogs could potentially be able to be used to treat a wide variety of RNA viral infections in humans, including newly emerged viruses that lack other forms of treatment.”