Biology Dept. News

Student News:

The Botany Club will be meeting for the Fall term (2014) in JE230, every Thursday from 12-1PM!  

iGEM logoSCSU Students are now in the process of forming a 'SCSU Synthetic Biology Club' /iGEM team to compete at MIT for fall 2015. iGEM is the "International Genetically Engineered Machine" competition where interdisciplinary (usually Math, Physics, Biology, Computer Science, Chemistry) student teams perform a Synthetic Biology project over the summer to create or redesign genetic 'circuits' in living cells that allow the cells to perform a useful function for humans. If you are interested in joining the team, please contact Dr. Edgington by email. The team needs to begin fund-raising soon in order to cover the entry fee. The next SCSU Synthetic Biology/iGEM Club meeting will begin meeting again in the spring term.


Congratulations to undergraduate biology students Jasper Larioza, and Gabriel Hamal, who were both accepted to the Summer Medical and Dental Enrichment Program (SMDEP) at Yale University!

SCSU Undergraduate Researcher, Kirsten FamigliettiCongratulations to one of our Undergraduates, Kirsten Famiglietti, who was awarded an  American Society of Plant Biologist Summer Undergraduate ResearchFellowship to do research in the Silady lab. She will be doing an enhancer/suppressor screen of the gravitropism defective2 mutant in Arabidopsis. The award will provide her with a stipend, money for supplies, one year membership in ASPB, and travel money to present her research at the 2015 ASPB annual conference. She was 1 of only 12 recipients in the country, and 1 of 5 from a 'predominantly undergraduate institution'.

One of our majors, AileenFerraro (pictured below with Dr. Roberts), has just been awarded the American Society for Microbiology's Undergraduate Research Capstone grant that will provide up to $1500 travel support to attend the ASM Capstone Research Institute, and present the results of her research project at the 2014 ASM General Meeting in Boston, MA, and will receive a two year complimentary ASM student membership. The program seeks to "focus on enhancing presentations and networking skills, and provide students with resources to transition to disciplinary scientific meetings." CONGRATULATIONS Aileen!

All Majors are welcome for all of the clubs!

Faculty News:

The Biology department has a NEW International summer course (BIO327 Field Natural History in Belize, 3 credits, 2015) available for student registration for ecological studies with Dr. Dunbar in Belize. The course is at the Lamanai Outpost Lodge  in northwestern Belize in the Orange Walk District, which is nestled in the jungle on the bank of New River and adjacent to the Lamanai Maya Archeological Reserve.  Contact Dr. Dunbar for additional details and questions.

Welcome NEW BIOLOGY FACULTY members:

     The department welcomes two new faculty members, Dr. Meghan Barboza and Dr. Michael Fisher! See the Faculty/Staff webpage for more details.
Dr. Barboza holding a baby manatee
Dr. Barboza's
research interests include chemical signaling in aquatic mammals and microanatomic comparisons of chemoreceptive organs. Her overarching research question is 'How do aquatic mammals locate potential mates?' Her PhD research focused on the anatomic description of structures related to taste and smell in the Florida manatee as well as potential expressive organs such as anal glands. In addition Dr. Barboza completed behavioral research to determine whether male manatees can detect changes in female manatee urine from different reproductive states. Currently she is completing histologic examination of manatee facial and intraoral structures and is beginning to collect samples from other marine mammals including seals and cetaceans.

Dr. Fisher
has broad training in Microbiology. His graduate thesis focused on the molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis with an emphasis on respiratory infections. During his first postdoctoral fellowship he studied genetic variation in M. tuberculosis. Over the past several years he has changed research focus from bacterial pathogenesis to genetic regulation in cyanobacteria. The goal of his research is to genetically engineer strains of cyanobacteria for industrial application including bioproduct development and bioremediation. Dr. Fisher's strong belief that research and teaching are complimentary influences his pedagogy. Examples from research are often used in his courses and students are encouraged to critique this new information and infer broader implications of scientific research.

 Dr. Roberts:

     Dr. Roberts was recently awarded an NSF grant to aid in outfitting her lab with modern molecular biology equipment. She has also had a research manuscript with her postdoctoral PI, Steven Lindow, accepted for publication in the ISME journal. ISME journal is the premier journal in Dr. Roberts' field of microbial ecology with an impact factor of 8.951!  A link will be posted when the paper is available online. The paper is titled: "Loline alkaloid production by fungal endophytes of Fescue species select for particular epiphytic bacterial microflora", Elizabeth Roberts PhD and Steven Lindow PhD.  Finally, the Department congratulates Dr. Roberts for being awarded only one of two University-wide  SCSU "Junior Faculty Fellowships" for the Spring of 2014, in which she will be able to spend the majority of her time advancing her productive research agenda due to a reduced teaching schedule.  Dr. Roberts will be working on establishing a bioremediation system to remove Atrazine from soil using bacteria found on the leaves and roots of grasses.

Dr. Roberts in her lab

 Dr. Crawford:
     Dr. Crawford has recently gained media attention for her research on Christmas fern extracts that have demonstrated anti-cancer properties in pre-clinical testing in tissue culture. Click here for the full article from SCSU News.