Associate Professor George Ellmore led two
research students on a one-month research trip to Vietnam, from Dec.
10, 2012 to Jan. 10, 2013. Prof. Ellmore teamed with Mr.
Charles vanRees (Biology Ph.D. student) and Ms. Mae
Humiston (Senior Anthropology major) to improve the
efficiency of family farms growing Dragon Fruit, a valuable export
commodity for Vietnam. Our objective was to reduce costs associated
with night-time lighting used to promote fruit growth in winter. In
addition, we collected data on food autonomy and biodiversity
associated with different crop management strategies, for both
Dragon Fruit (in Binh Thuan Province), and ancient tree Shan Tuyet
tea (in Yen Bay Province).
Our Tufts research team (Ellmore, vanRees, and Humiston) also
presented a seminar on Biodiversity hotspots to students and faculty
at Vietnam National University (VNU) Faculty of Science, Hanoi. We
met with VNU President Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan to explore
collaborative funding sources to support both projects over the near
future, and in time to incubate collaborative projects on other
systems, such as studies of medicinal plants and how to cultivate
The work was funded by the newly-instituted International Scholar
Development Fund at Tufts, and Deans' Research Support at Vietnam
National University Faculty of Science, Hanoi, where Prof. Ellmore
has done collaborative work since 2011.
The Pechenik Lab (Prof. Jan Pechenik,
Casey Diederich, 4th year
graduate student, and Sam Bashevkin, A'14) was awarded a grant
through the Sandler International Research Program which allowed
them to travel to Chile for 25 days to conduct collaborative
research at the marine lab of the Universidad Austral de Chile.
Professor Joanne Berger-Sweeney has been elected Fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor
bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Professor Berger-Sweeney
is recognized for her research on the development of the brain,
particularly the cerebral cortex which is responsible for higher
cognitive functions such as learning and memory and language.
Assistant Professor Eric Tytell was the recipient of The Carl Gans Award presented at this year's SICB Annual Meeting in San
Francisco. This annual prize is given to an outstanding young
investigator for distinguished contributions to the field of
comparative biomechanics. The Carl Gans Award is in recognition of
Carl Gans' scientific career and editorial contributions to animal
morphology, biomechanics, and functional biology.
Sergei Mirkin, Professor, White Family Chair in Biology, was a
keynote speaker at the International School for Young Scientist in
Molecular Genetics, which was held in December 2012 in Moscow
Region, Russia. The title of his talk was "Mechanisms of Expansions
of Simple DNA Repeats".
Sergei Mirkin will deliver a seminar at Duke University, Program in
Genetics and Genomics in April 2013 entitled "Stable DNA repeats are
all alike; every unstable repeat is unstable in its own way".
Sergei Mirkin will be an invited speaker at the International
Conference " Genome Instability, Evolution and Human Diseases"
Petersburg, Russia, June 2013.
Sergei Mirkin will chair a session "Genome Weak Links" at 18th
Conversations in Biomolecular Dynamics in Albany, June 2013.
The Organizing Committee of the 2012 International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS)
has unanimously selected Michael Levin as the recipient of the Scientist of Vision Award.
This award is presented to researchers who are pushing the boundaries of electrical stimulation
and envisioning the future of science for the benefit of humanity. This award was presented
at the 17th annual meeting of the Society in Banff, Alberta, Canada, in September.
Kartik Shah, graduate student in the
Sergei Mirkin Lab, defended his Ph.D. thesis "Genetic control of DNA
repeat expansions and mutagenesis." Congratulations Kartik!
Jennifer Mortensen, 3rd year
doctoral candidate in the Michael Reed lab, is one of 85 doctoral
students nationwide selected to receive a $15,000 Scholar Award from
the P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was sponsored by Chapter A\MA of Boston,
MA. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards (PSA) was established in 1991 to
provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United
States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an
accredited college or university. The P.E.O. Sisterhood,
founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant,
Iowa, is a philanthropic educational organization interested in
bringing increased opportunities for higher education to women.
There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the United States
and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members.
Amy Yu, G'11, former member of the
McVey Lab, has been awarded a three-year American Cancer Society
postdoctoral fellowship to carry out research investigating links
between inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer in the lab
of Dr. Leona Samson at MIT. Specifically, Amy is examining the
mechanism by which the DNA repair protein Mbd4 protects against
colon tumorigenesis in the context of chronic inflammation.
Two Tufts students win the Goldwater Scholarship this year:
Sam Bashevkin, A14, a Biology major and
Noah Kurinsky, E14, an Engineering Physics major!
The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit
from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science, and engineering students
who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have
garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs.
The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed
to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the
fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater
Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.
Jen Mortensen, 3rd year Graduate Student in the
Michael Reed lab, has been recommended for an NSF doctoral dissertation
improvement grant (DDIG) for her project, Understanding effects of social
behavior on extinction risk in avian cooperative breeders. NSF DDIGs award
up to $15,000 to PhD candidates to conduct research related to their
dissertations. Jen will be using some of this award to do molecular ecology
work, as well as expand her field studies in the Caribbean. Jen also
received the following grants for her White-breasted Thrasher work:
Nuttall Ornithological Society Blake-Nuttall fund, Tufts Graduate Student
Research Grants-in-Aid, Fall 2012 and Ornithological Council small grants
for research in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Carolyn Bauer, 4th year doctoral student in the
Romero lab, received a Tufts Institute for the Environment
Fellowship for 2013-2014 and a Sigma Xi grant-in-aid of research.
Carolyn also had papers recently accepted to General and Comparative
Endocrinology (Bauer, C.M., Skaff, N.K., Bernard, A.B., Trevino,
J.M., Ho, J.M., Romero, L.M., Ebensperger, L.A., and Hayes, L.D.
Habitat type influences endocrine stress response in the degu (Octodon
degus)) and Ecological Modelling (Bauer, C.M., Nachman, G.,
Lewis, S.M., and Reed, J.M. Modeling effects of harvest on firefly
Casey Diederich, 4th year doctoral student in the Pechenik Lab,
was awarded a Sigma Xi grant entitled "The tradeoff between
desiccation and aerial respiration as a factor controlling the
distribution of an important invasive species" and was also awarded
the Tufts Grants-in-aid grant entitled "Assessing the ability of an
invasive gastropod to compensate for food shortage in the intertidal
Robert Burns, a graduate student in the Pechenik lab, has been
selected to be a fellow of the Tufts Institute for the Environment
for 2013-2014. Robert will be using next-generation RNA sequencing
technology to study the transcriptome of the marine pollution
indicator polychaete Capitella teleta.
Jenny Lenkowski, G10, will be starting a position in 2013 as an
Assistant Professor of Biology at Goucher College in Towson, MD. She
completed her doctoral work on developmental toxicology in the lab
of Kelly McLaughlin in the Department of Biology. Dr. Lenkowski is
currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Michigan
working on retina regeneration in the lab of Pamela Raymond.
Adam Thomas, doctoral student in the McVey lab, (with co-authors
Carrie Hui and Adam South) published a paper in the January 2013
issue of G3: Genes, Genomes, and Genetics, titled, "Common variants
of Drosophila Cyp6d2 cause camptothecin sensitivity and synergize
with loss of Brca2."
Kartik Shah, graduate student in the Mirkin Laboratory, has
published a seminal paper entitled "Role of DNA polymerases in
repeat-mediated genome instability" (Shah KA, Shishkin AA, Voineagu
I, Pavlov YI, Shcherbakova PV & Mirkin SM. (2012) Cell Reports
Shoni Caine, doctoral student in the McLaughlin Lab, has a paper
accepted by the Developmental Dynamics journal entitled
"Regeneration of functional pronephric proximal tubules after
partial nephrectomy in Xenopus laevis." The paper is available
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dvdy.23916/abstract and will be available in print shortly.
Simran Kaushal, 2nd year doctoral candidate from the Freudenreich
Lab, recently published two papers: "Evidence for Grow-Through
Penetration of 0.2-Micrometer-Pore-Size Filters by Serratia
marcescens and Brevundimonas diminuta. in JIMB and "A survey of
quality attributes of virus spike preparations used in clearance
studies." in PDA J Pharm Sci Technol.
Christine Lattin, 5th year doctoral student in the Romero Lab,
had the following paper accepted: Lattin, C. R., K. Waldron-Francis
and L. M. Romero. In press. "Intracellular glucocorticoid receptors
in spleen, but not skin, vary seasonally in wild house sparrows
(Passer domesticus)." Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological
Sciences. Christine also received a Charlotte Magnum Student Support
award for travel to the 2013 Society for Integrative and Comparative
Biology meeting in San Francisco CA, where she gave a talk.
Christine Lattin, graduate student in the Romero lab, was
awarded a fellowship from the Tufts Institute for the Environment
for 2012-13. Christine also presented a talk entitled "Seasonal
changes in brain and peripheral intracellular glucocorticoid
receptors in wild house sparrows" at the 10th International
Symposium on Avian Endocrinology in Gifu Japan in June. She received
travel grants to attend this conference from the Graduate School,
the Tufts Institute for the Environment, and Graduate Women in
Science. She also received a research grant from the American
Congratulations to Jason Heustis, from the Juliet Fuhrman
lab, upon successfully defending his Ph.D. thesis entitled
"Characterization of Chitin Synthases and Chitin Deacetylases that
Function During the Development of the Nematode Caenorhabditis
Congratulations to Alexander "Sasha" Keyel, from the Michael
Reed lab, upon successfully defending his Ph.D. thesis entitled
"Examining the effects of behavior, landscape fragmentation, and
climate change on avian distributions."
Maria Lobikin, 3rd year doctoral candidate in the Levin
Lab, is the first author on a paper in the Journal PNAS titled:
"Early, nonciliary role for microtubule proteins in left–right
patterning is conserved across kingdoms." Joan Lemire and Michael
Levin are also co-authors.
Carolyn Bauer, 3rd year doctoral candidate in the Romero Lab,
has received a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation
Improvement Grant, a grant-in-aid from the American Society of
Mammalogists, and a student research grant from the Animal Behavior
Society. Carolyn is also a co-PI with Dr. Michael Romero on a Tufts
International Research Program Grant.
Faith Blake, LA'13, is the 2012-13 recipient of The Paula
Frazier Poskitt Scholarship. The Poskitt scholarship was established
in 1995 to provide tuition support for a senior biology major who
intends to pursue graduate studies in the biological sciences. This
award was established by Dr. Thomas R. Poskitt, A'66, M'70, in
memory of his wife Paula Frazier Poskitt, A'66, G'72.
Sam Bashevkin, Biology, (LA '14), has been named Astronaut
Scholar for 2012-13. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards
scholarships to college students engaged in serious scientific
research at specific partner institutions. Tufts is one of the 26
universities with whom the Astronaut Foundation maintains a
relationship. The other universities are also leaders in
undergraduate scientific research. Since 1994, almost each year, one
Tufts student is selected to be an Astronaut Scholar. It's a great
honor and it comes with a generous financial award.
Emily Pitcairn, 1st year doctoral student in the Trimmer lab,
has been awarded a 2012 National Defense Science and Engineering
Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. The NDSEG Fellowship is sponsored and
funded by the Department of Defense (DoD). Their applications were
selected by the DoD from over 3,000 applications that were received
this year. The NDSEG Fellowship covers tuition and fees and offers a
$31,000 stipend for three years. Congrats Emily!
Nicole Soltis, Thesis Masters student in the Colin Orians
Lab, has been awarded the TIE graduate student fellowship for
2012-2013, for the project "Sapped of energy: the role of invasive
herbivores as a resource drain on hemlock trees".