News

Erik Herzog named Viktor Hamburger Professor of Biology

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“I am deeply honored by this recognition. Viktor Hamburger is a hero to so many of us at Washington University and, Sally Elgin, who held this Endowed Professorship before me, has been an inspiration to me for her studies on epigenetics and her leadership to incorporate research into our teaching curriculum and to create the Institute for School Partnership. I’m particularly thankful to my lab, Dean Schaal and the folks in the Biology Department for their support over my 19 years at Washington University.”-Erik Herzog

Unleashing the Power of the CRISPR system

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In the year 2010, as a Washington University undergraduate student Lucas Harrington could be found most likely in the lab – the lab of Biology Professor Robert Blankenship – doing experiments. During incubations, he worked on his homework assignments for class. Fast forward to the year 2019, Harrington, Ph.D., still spends most of his day in the lab. Except now instead of doing the experiments, he manages a team of scientists who are working to enable the use of the powerful CRISPR technology for disease diagnosis. Learn about his journey out of academia and into industry where he now acts as the Co-founder and Chief Discovery Officer at Mammoth Biosciences. 

ISP to improve math education in local schools through Math314 Program to support K-12 teachers, boost student scores, engagement

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Stagnant scores, frustrated students, daunted educators — such is the state of math education across the nation and in the region. That’s why the Institute for School Partnership (ISP) at Washington University in St. Louis is introducing Math314, an innovative professional development program that will improve math instruction and boost student enthusiasm and scores.

Market Fresh Science at Ferguson Farmer’s Market

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Volunteers from the Strassmann Queller Lab including faculty, postdocs, grad and undergrad students, have been bringing science to the community through games and demonstrations at Ferguson Farmer’s market the first Saturday of each month (spring, summer and fall) for more than a year.

Four ways to curb light pollution, save bugs Insects have experienced global declines. Flipping the switch can help.

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Writing in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, Brett Seymoure, the Grossman Family Postdoctoral Fellow of the Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University in St. Louis, and his collaborators reviewed 229 studies to document the myriad ways that light alters the living environment such that insects are unable to carry out crucial biological functions. “Artificial light at night is human-caused lighting — ranging from streetlights to gas flares from oil extraction,” Seymoure said. “It can affect insects in pretty much every imaginable part of their lives.”

WUSTL ENDURE Neuroscience Pipeline Program

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“Science has its own culture, language and unspoken norms that are hard to understand and navigate. When you do not understand that culture, it makes the already difficult journey to becoming a scientist harder. I did not want other students to have that difficulty or to have it dissuade them from pursuing a scientific career. As the ENDURE program coordinator, my goal is to help students both understand scientific concepts and culture, while encouraging them to change it to reflect all scientists” (Diana José-Edwards, WUSTL ENDURE Program Coordinator).

Faculty Spotlight: Swanne Gordon, Assistant Professor of Biology

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Swanne Gordon, assistant professor of biology, talks about her background, career challenges and passionate belief in embracing diversity and broadening horizons. "As a minority in STEM it is easy to feel that you don’t belong in academia because there are rarely people that look like you in positions of power in it, or really in any positions at all. The overt racism my father went through as a black scientist in North America in the 70’s has now given way to more covert racism (although my experiences show me the other definitely still exists); where people in academia (students and staff) devalue your merits, question your presence even in spite of your CV, limit your promotions, cite and collaborate with you less, etc. It is imperative that we fight against and fix these issues. The importance of this cannot be overstated because as I always say and wholeheartedly believe, only when the broad diversity of humanity is fairly represented, can science truly appeal to our society as a universal knowledge."

Straight from the source: Arts & Sciences researchers discover novel process microbes use to harvest electrons

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Bacteria don’t have mouths, so they need another way to bring their fuel into their bodies. New research from Washington University in St. Louis reveals how one such bacteria pulls in electrons straight from an electrode source. The work from the laboratory of Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, was published Nov. 5 in the scientific journal mBio.

Getting to know Tyson's plant disease research team

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As a member of the science communication team led by Suzanne Loui, lecturer in environmental studies, recent graduate Christian Fogerty and I developed projects to identify methods to best communicate the research happening at Tyson. Both of us shadowed a different research team in order to document and express the human elements that make their scientific work possible. I had the privilege of embedding with the plant disease team, led by Rachel Penczykowski, assistant professor of biology. I worked in the field with the team every day for two weeks while taking notes and capturing photos and video footage.

This year, let’s make standard time permanent

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Herzog is a professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR), a scientific organization dedicated to the study of biological clocks and sleep. He is often asked his opinion about time changes. The SRBR recently released a formal position paper, titled “Why Should We Abolish Daylight Saving Time?” The researchers have been carefully following the initiatives of the European Commission and California Proposition 7 to abandon the annual clock-time changes in spring and autumn. There is a consensus among experts that the advantages of permanent standard time outweigh those of switching back and forth to daylight saving time annually — or of switching to daylight saving time permanently.

Dr. Elizabeth Haswell: Researching How Plant Cells Sense and Respond to Internal Forces-#524 of People Behind the Science Podcast

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Dr. Elizabeth Haswell is a Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-Simons Faculty Scholar. She received her B.S. degree in biochemistry from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco. Afterwards, Liz conducted postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis where she remains today. In addition to being named an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar, Liz received a National Science Foundation Early Faculty Career Development (CAREER) Award. In our interview she shares more about her life and science.

This Strange Rule Is What Makes the Human Brain So Powerful

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This week, a team from Washington University in St. Louis combined neural recordings from rats with computer modeling to uncover one of the largest mysteries of the brain: why, despite noisy components, it’s so damn powerful. By analyzing firing patterns from hundreds of neurons over days, the team found evidence that supports a type of “computational regime” that may underlie every thought and behavior that naturally emerge from electrical sparks in the brain—including consciousness.

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