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News Archives: 2013-2014

Faculty News

The Department of Biology is pleased to announce our new Department Chair, Sergei Mirkin and Deputy Chair, Francie Chew. As Prof. Chew is on leave this fall semester, Prof. Harry Bernheim will be Acting Deputy Chair. Prof. Juliet Fuhrman is stepping down as Department Chair after 6 years in that position. We thank Juliet for her dedication and commitment to our department over the years! Best of luck to all.

Eric Tytell and his collaborator, Lisa Fauci, from Tulane University, recently had two grants approved to continue their computational work study the neural control and biomechanics of swimming fishes. The National Science Foundation's Division of Mathematical biology awarded them $207,562 to study the impact of mechanosensory feedback on the stability of a swimming organism with a flexible body. The Army Research Office also recommended $358,530 to support their studies of the interaction between the flexible body and the fluid around it, and how that interaction can contribute to stable swimming.

Michael Reed, Professor of Biology, has been selected to receive the 2013 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Mentoring Award. This award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding support of our graduate students from course completion through research and post-degree placement.

The National Science Foundation awarded Erik Dopman a $866,440 collaborative grant with Rick Harrison at Cornell to study the role of ecology in the speciation process. Ecological barriers, the result of divergent natural selection, are currently much studied, but the primary focus has been on organisms in which divergence is associated with the partitioning of habitats and resources. In contrast, temporal isolation, a phylogenetically widespread class of ecological isolation, has received relatively little recent attention. His research focuses on life cycle variation in strains of the European corn borer moth (ECB), and how genotypic and phenotypic variation in development rate impact patterns of genetic exchange in nature.

Student and Post Doc Highlights

Tufts University has selected Shoni Caine's doctoral dissertation, entitled "Repair and regeneration of the pronephric kidney in Xenopus laevis tadpoles", to be nominated for the 2013 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. This selection was made by the university administration, among all doctoral dissertations in the field of Biological and Life Sciences submitted between July 2011 and June 2013.

Shoni Caine received the second place award in the 2013 Graduate Student Photo Contest, for "Head of a Xenopus laevis Tadpole."

Biology Union of Graduate Students won the Graduate Student Council Outstanding Graduate Student Organization for the 2012-2013 academic year. Also, Jennifer Mortenson, Jennifer Nguyen, Nooria Al-Wathiqi, Christine Lattin, and Simran Kaushal all won Tufts Graduate Student Research Awards. Congrats!

Sergei Mirkin, Professor of Biology, and Jane Kim, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Mirkin Lab, recently published a review article in Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. The issue (June 2013) focuses on the molecular and genetic bases of disease. Their contribution, "The balancing act of DNA repeat expansions," describes mechanisms of aberrant DNA replication that contributes to microsatellite repeat instability.

Christine Lattin
, doctoral student in the Romero Lab, published 3 papers recently: 

Lattin, C. R. and L. M. Romero. 2013. Seasonal variation in corticosterone receptor binding in brain, hippocampus and gonads in house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Auk 130(4). 

Crossin, G. T., R. A. Phillips, C. R. Lattin, L. M. Romero and T. D. Williams. 2013. Corticosterone mediated costs of reproduction link current to future breeding. General and Comparative Endocrinology 193: 112-120.

Medina, C. O., C. R. Lattin and L. M. Romero. 2013. There is no correlation between glucocorticoid receptor mRNA and protein expression in the brain of house sparrows (Passer domesticus). General and Comparative Endocrinology 193:27-36.

Carolyn Bauer, doctoral student in the Romero Lab, was awarded a research grant from the Animal Behavior Society, a research grant from Sigma Xi, and a travel award from the Graduate Women in Science.

Sarah DuRant, former postdoctoral research associate in the Romero Lab, accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at Oklahoma State University.  Congratulations Sarah!  We'll miss you.

Anne Madden
, doctoral candidate, with professor Philip Starks, and a former Tufts undergraduate, Jon Soriano, published a paper entitled "Actinomycetes with antimicrobial activity isolated from paper wasps," in the journal Environmental Entomology. 

Anne Madden gave an oral presentation entitled "The mycobiomes of sympatric native and invasive paper wasp species," at the spring 2013, Eastern branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Lancaster, PA.

Nealia House, Freudenreich Lab, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, "Histone modifications promote DNA repair fidelity to prevent disease associated CAG repeat expansions.” Nicole Soltis, Orians Lab, successfully defended her Research Masters thesis, "Costs of herbivory: Resource partitioning and biomechanics in Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) under exotic herbivore attack." Adam Thomas from the McVey Lab also defended his Ph.D. thesis, "A Drosophila model of chemotherapy: Targeting DNA Repair and Drug Detoxification." Congratulations Nealia, Nicole and Adam!

Congratulations to Shoni Caine from the McLaughlin Lab for successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis, "Repair and regeneration of the pronephric kidney in Xenopus laevis tadpoles.” Great job, Shoni!

Casey Diederich, graduate student in the Pechenik Lab, has been awarded "Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education” by the Graduate Student Council. Also, the Biology Union of Graduate Students (BUGS) was awarded Outstanding Graduate Organization.

Nealia House, doctoral student in the Freudenreich Lab, has been selected to receive the 2013 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education Award. This award recognizes a student who has distinguished him/herself in excellence in their teaching and mentoring of undergraduates. This award will be presented to Nealia at the Annual Graduate Student Awards Ceremony. Congratulations Nealia!

Congratulations to the 2013 Russell L. Carpenter Summer Internship recipients, Summer Morrill, A'15, and Connor Clairmont, A'14. The Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology was established in 1983 by Dr. Cynthia McFadden and Dr. Russell F. Carpenter in honor of their father, distinguished Tufts alumnus and Professor of Zoology, Russell LeGrand "Bud" Carpenter, A24, H77.