BIOrhythms

a publication of the Washington University Biology Department for Undergraduate Majors

BIOrhythms April 2021

This issue features:

Faculty Spotlight: Jason Weber, Professor, WUSM, Oncology

Course Spotlight: Bio 4715: Basic Cancer Biology and Bio 4716: Advanced Cancer Biology

Bio 500 Research Spotlight: Michelle Pollowitz on the Penczykowski Lab

Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium

Biology Undergraduate Awards

Rising senior Irene Antony accepted into Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Rising senior Irene Antony accepted into Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Antony’s project is based on the identification of genomic variants that likely contribute to autism. As part of her involvement with the Astronaut Scholars Foundation, she will present her research at the Astronaut Scholar Technical Conference during 2021 Innovators Week in Orlando, Florida.

rebstock hall

New student representatives named to Board of Trustees

Biology Major Gaby Smith appointed as undergrad student representative to WashU Board of Trustees.

Bio 200/500 Research Spotlights

Kristen Reikersdorfer on Hengen Lab

I have spent the last four years as a member of the Hengen Lab, where I have taken a deep dive into neuroscience and neural engineering. Our group focuses on understanding the self-organization of complex brain activity in freely behaving animals. Paramount to this investigation are robust, long-term electrophysiological recordings, which allow us to study the same subset of neurons over many months.

Read More

Michelle Pollowitz on the Penczykowski Lab

Many labs and research opportunities closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just as my research in plant disease ecology was beginning. In January 2020, I began research in the Penczykowski lab to study effects of temperature on fungal infection of common weedy plants in the genus Plantago. I spent the first weeks of the semester learning skills and techniques that I would need in the lab-based data collection that would begin after spring break. Things went a little differently than planned.

Read More

Ellie Sapiro on the Herzog Lab

I have had the privilege of working in the Herzog Lab since the spring of my sophomore year. The Herzog Lab studies biological clocks and different cells, circuits, and molecules that affect circadian rhythms. Biological clocks are intrinsic oscillators that coordinate approximately 24 hour physiological and behavioral rhythms in almost all organisms.

Read More

Eka Jose and Ethan Lowder on the Kranz Lab

For both of us, COVID has changed things but we believe that the Kranz lab has adapted well to these challenges. I believe that our openness in communication, adaptation to challenges of zoom, and recognition that COVID has made our personal lives more flexible has greatly added to this success. The support from WashU through technology and study spaces, the Kranz lab, and the WashU research community as a whole has made this change much easier for us. We hope that we can continue to stay safe doing this work and look forward to making the adjustment back to normal in the future!

Read More

Shayna Rosenbloom on the Gordon Lab

My name is Shayna Rosenbloom and I am a senior majoring in Environmental Biology. For the last year and a half, I have been lucky to work with Dr. Swanne Gordon as part of her eco/evo lab with Dr. Andrés López-Sepulcre. Dr. Gordon studies evolution and maintenance of color polymorphisms and sexual selection in the Wood Tiger Moth and the rapidly evolving Trinidadian Guppy.

Read More

Ethan Weiner on Haswell Lab

Hello! My name is Ethan Weiner and I am currently a senior about to graduate with a Biology major with a Biochemistry concentration. Since spring semester of my sophomore year, I have had the privilege of working in Dr. Haswell’s lab. Her lab studies the ways in which plants respond to mechanical stimuli. I have utilized algae and moss as model organisms in order to better understand a specific family of protein channels (Piezos) that are likely involved in not just plants’, but many eukaryotes’ responses to certain mechanical stresses.

Read More

Irene Hamlin on the Budge Lab

In the Budge Lab we focus on the eradication of lymphatic filariasis (LF) which is a neglected tropical disease caused by the Wuchereria bancrofti worm endemic in Western and Central Africa. This disease damages the lymphatic system, often causing lymphoedema and elephantiasis of the limbs. I’ve spent the last year and a half as an undergraduate research assistant working towards improving the rapid diagnostic test for LF. The World Health Organization’s Global Program for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis depends on efficient and accurate diagnoses to inhibit transmission. Currently, cross reactive antigens from the co-endemic Loa loa worm produce false positive test results and impede the successful treatment of those with Lymphatic Filariasis. Misdiagnosis bears significant risks, as treating false positives may lead to encephalopathy and death.

Read More

Maya Dutta on the Olsen Lab

Adaptation to local environments is critically important for a plant’s ability to survive in a variety of ecological settings and persist in the face of climate change. The genetic and physiological mechanisms that regulate these processes, however, are not well known. In the Olsen Lab, we aim to understand the genetic basis of evolution in plants.

Read More

Kevin Yin on the Rentschler Lab

In the Rentschler lab, we aim to address heart disease by looking at how developmental pathways and gene regulation networks are associated with various heart diseases. We are specifically interested in how alterations of genes during development or in the adult can lead to arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

Read More

Samuel Kim on the Kummer Lab

In the Kummer lab, we are focused on creating the tools needed to help localize the foci of neural circuit dysfunction. Although the historical attention has been on axonal injury, with synapses below the resolution of classical techniques, new technology enables us to overcome this barrier.

Read More

Mitchell Grinwald on the Chheda Lab

My work in the Chheda lab as a Bio500 independent research student has given me a fantastic opportunity to explore my interests at the intersection of epigenetics and cancer biology. Additionally, the ability to conduct independent research with the exceptional support which my PI (Dr. Chheda) and bench mentor (Dr. Galdieri) provide has enabled me to learn new techniques and think critically about experimental design and analysis.

Read More

Do You Have...

An announcement you’d like to make? An interesting story or fun fact you’d like to share? A professor or course you’d like to suggest for a spotlight? We want your input!

Send Us Your Ideas and Information

Q&A with Jason Weber, Professor, WUSM, Oncology

Q: Was there an early life experience that sparked your interest in medicine and pointed you in the direction that led you where you are today?

A: I really had two influential moments in my life that showed me my path in the biological sciences. The first one came when I was a high school student. I was interested in science, but I had no idea what I wanted to do or study in college. My dad brought home a Scientific American magazine for me. He thought I might be interested in one of the articles inside that talked about the new field of genetic engineering and the ability to manipulate DNA in cells. I was hooked. The second moment came when I was a student in college. I was doing poorly in my physical chemistry class. I went to see the professor during open office hours to get help. Instead of helping me, he insisted that I would never have a successful career in science. That memory is etched in my mind and I revisit that moment whenever things get tough at work. It has always helped me push through the toughest of times.

Read more about Jason WEber

BIOrhythms archive

  • February 2021

    This issue features Eleanor Pardini, new Environmental Studies minors, Bio 500 research stories

  • November 2020

    This issue features Andrés López-Sepulcre, Bio 4193 Experimental Ecology Laboratory, Fall OUR Symposium

  • September 2020

    This issue features Professor Erik Herzog, National Voter Registration Week, student group announcements and more.

  • April 2020

    This issue features Bio 4492 to refocus on COVID 19, Maggie Schlarman on the challenge of teaching a lab online, Bio 500 spotlight on Ethan Weiner of Haswell Lab, new video series WashU Between the Lines, undergrad scholarship winners, and more.

  • February 2020

    This issue features information about new assistant professor Michael Landis, Bio 472: Behavioral Ecology, Bio 500 spotlight Irene Hamlin on Budge Lab, WashU Votes, BioSURF and more.

  • November 2019

    This issue features new assistant professor Swanne Gordon, WUSTL Endure Neuroscience Pipeline program, Research opportunities at Tyson Research Center and MO Botanical Gardens and more.

  • September 2019

    This issue features a Faculty Spotlight on Barbara Kunkel; New Course Spotlight on Bio 4582: Essentials of Biomedical Scientific Reviewing, Writing, and Presenting; Bio 500 Spotlight: Mitchell Grinwald on the Chheda Lab and more!

  • March 2019

    This issue features Faculty Spotlight April Bednarski, New Course Spotlight Bio 144: The Biology of Cancer, Bio 500 Spotlight: Maya Dutta on the Olsen Lab, Career Center events, 2019 Bunche Scholars and more

  • January 2019

    This issue features new biology faculty member Heather Barton, new Area C course Bio 4195 Disease Ecology, Bio 500 Research spotlight about Kevin Yin in the Rentschler Lab, Biosurf, and a new Living Earth Collaborative undergrad group.

  • November 2018

    This issue features new biology faculty member Dr. Mary Lambo, changes to the Neuroscience Track of the Biology Major, Bio 500 Research spotlight about Benjamin French in the Elgin Lab and the new Biology Commons.

  • September 2018

    This issue features new biology chair Joe Jez, the Biotech Explorers Pathway, Undergrad Research Symposium, Career Center events and more.

  • April 2018

    This issue features new biology faculty member Jonathan Losos, Bio 1811, MedPrep Global Scholars Program, Bunche Scholar Awards, Minority Association of Rising Scientists, and Career Center Events.

  • February 2018

    This issue features new biology faculty member Keith Hengen, Bio 3411: Research Spotlight on Molly Shallow’s work in the Hengen Lab, Career Center events, summer internship opportunities, the Public Health Major at Wash U and more.

  • More BIOrhythms Archive

    All issues of BIOrhythms dating back to September 2008

more news

Visit our News page for more stories and the latest info about Biology at Washington University.

Visit News