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Biology Dept. News

Student News:

iGEM logoCongratulations to the  SCSU Biotech Club members that formed the FIRST SCSU iGEM team and competed in Boston, MA for fall 2016! They won a bronze medal!  They were also honored by the Mayor of New Haven over winter break for their project to create a cell-based breathalyzer to diagnose lung tuberculosis infections.

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.

Dr. Roberts and Dr. Silady were recently awarded an USDA grant to offer summer research internships in plant health. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28th , 2017, and much more information is available here.

Spring 2017 Club meeting times:

All Majors are welcome for all of the clubs!

Faculty News:


The department welcomes a new faculty member, Dr. Sarah Wojiski, who started at SCSU in the Fall of 2016!
Dr. Sarah Wojiski
Dr. Wojiski's research interests began with the genetics and molecular biology of cancer. Her dissertation research focused on identification and characterization of cancer stem cells in a particular type of acute leukemia. While in graduate school, Dr. Wojiski participated in extensive undergraduate teaching, and realized that her true passion was in education. She obtained valuable classroom experience while earning her Master's degree in Education and working as a high school biology teacher in Connecticut. Her postdoctoral fellowship was in the area of curriculum development and reform for graduate and medical school genetics courses. Dr. Wojiski now conducts classroom-based research focused on the development and assessment of effective strategies to promote active learning and engagement of students in science. She writes and develops novel curricular materials to help students to meet learning objectives, and relies on valuable feedback from her students to inform her teaching practice. Dr. Wojiski sees the student as central to her work and would love to collaborate with students on science education projects!


Dr. Grace is a kelp Helper

     Dr. Grace's efforts to study the decline of kelp forests in the NorthEast through the Kelp Ecosystem Ecology Network, have been publicized in the New Haven Register. You can read about it here.


Did you know that the SCSU Biology Dept. is involved in TWO

National educational programs?

     Both programs seek to engage undergraduates and promote retention through performing authentic research that is embedded within a course (also called a 'CUR', 'CURE', or 'CRE').  Both courses in addition to providing content, seek to address a current real-world global problem, and fulfill degree program requirements in the ''Cell/Molecular" content category. 

     The 'Small World Initiative' (SWI) seeks to address the increasing problem of antibiotic resistant 'superbugs' or bacteria, by having students isolate soil microorganisms that may produce new antimicrobial products. The program was created at the Yale Center for Scientific Teaching. Dr. Roberts directs and incorporates the SWI program in the course BIO233 General Microbiology I for the first time in the spring of 2015, and annually thereafter.

     The second program is called  "SEA-PHAGES" and was created by Dr. Graham Hatfull and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's  Science Education Alliance division. The SEA-PHAGES acronym stands for "Science Education Alliance's Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science", and it is "a two-semester, discovery-based undergraduate research course that begins with simple digging in the soil to find new viruses, but progresses through a variety of microbiology [& molecular] techniques, and eventually to complex genome annotation and bioinformatic analyses."  
Dr. Edgington will be offering the SEA-PHAGES program to Biology Majors in two new courses (BIO 298 Genomics I, & BIO386 Genomics II).  SCSU freshman students have already isolated nearly 60 novel bacterial viruses called 'bacteriophages' through the program.  BIO 298 'Genomics I' was offered for the first time in the fall 2015 term. If you are interested in taking it in the fall  2016, please email Dr. Edgington if you:

    (1) are a Freshman or Sophomore who plans to take both courses sequentially  
'Veracruz'- A phage isolated by a SCSU student!
                       (2) have taken BIO102 or BIO103  ( BIO220 recommended)  
    (3) have an interest in contributing data to an international program through lab-based research.     
    (4)  want to become a SCSU Phage Hunter!  

The Biology department has a NEW International summer course
(BIO327 Field Natural History in Belize, 3 credits) 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.  The course for summer 2015 is currently full and has a waiting list. Contact Dr. Dunbar for additional details and questions.

 Other faculty news:

Dr. Roberts, Dr. Silady:
     Dr. Roberts and Dr. Silady were recently awarded an USDA grant to offer summer research internships in plant health. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28th , 2017, and much more information is available here.

 Dr. Edgington:
     Congratulations to Dr. Edgington for being an author on a recent publication in Nature Microbiology entitled "Prophage-mediated defence against viral attack and viral counter-defence"!