Recognizing excellence in teaching and service
On Sept. 10, Dean Barbara Schaal presented the annual Arts & Sciences faculty awards. This year's awardees were Stan Braude, Lerone Martin, Elizabeth Borgwardt, Steve Fazzari, and Adrienne Davis.
On Sept. 10, Dean Barbara Schaal presented the annual Arts & Sciences faculty awards. This year's awardees were Stan Braude, Lerone Martin, Elizabeth Borgwardt, Steve Fazzari, and Adrienne Davis.
Most of today's antibiotics have come from a surprising source: bacteria. In fact, just one type of bacteria — Streptomyces and their cousins — produce two out of three antibiotics now in use. “Bacteria are constantly waging chemical warfare with other microbes, so they’ve evolved all kinds of weapons that we can use,” explains Joshua Blodgett, PhD, a biologist at the University of Washington in St. Louis.
Stan Braude, professor of the practice of biology, was awarded the Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award. Braude is ever deserving of this award – an award he is receiving because he was nominated by numerous students. The impact he has had on the students he has taught and mentored over the years is impossible to measure. Read some of their stories.
Learn about new Biology faculty members Swanne Gordon, Michael Landis and Andrés López-Sepulcre.
“What’s really interesting is that we don’t see any middle ground here,” Fristoe said. “The resident species with intermediate brain size are almost completely absent from high latitude (colder and more climatically variable) environments. The species that don’t go all in on either of the extreme strategies are forced to migrate to more benign climates during the winter.” “Having a large brain is typically associated with strong energetic demands and a slower life-history,” said Carlos Botero, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and co-author of the paper. “Free from these constraints, species with small brains can exhibit traits and lifestyles that are never seen in larger-brained ones.”
Picture a pinkish, hairless, wrinkly rodent about the size of a small sweet potato. Researchers are studying naked mole rats to figure out what they can learn about longevity and health.
“Species are being lost at a rate not seen since an asteroid slammed into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs and many other species 66 million years ago,” Losos said. “The Endangered Species Act has been successful at slowing this rate and preventing the extinction of many species, and it has served as an inspiration for countries around the world. Sadly, the recent proposals of the federal government, if put into place, will greatly weaken the act’s protections and hasten the extinction of countless species,” he said.
“You can have any cue,” said lead researcher Lucia Strader, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and associate director of the Center for Science & Engineering of Living Systems. “Light, temperature, different nutrients … the plant makes auxin in response to all of these things.” What follows as a result of that auxin release can also vary, from stress responses to leaf development to changes in the root system architecture. Those responses are all results of Auxin Response Factors (ARFs), proteins which bind to DNA in a cell’s nucleus to facilitate growth and development in one way, or another.
Research from Washington University in St. Louis finds that mutations of a gene implicated in long QT syndrome in humans may trigger seizures because of their direct effects on certain classes of neurons in the brain — independent from what the genetic mutations do to heart function. The new work from Arts & Sciences was conducted with fruit flies and is published Aug. 8 in PLOS Genetics. “This gene seems to be a key factor in the physiological process that protects neurons from starting to fire uncontrollably in response to a rapid increase in temperature, which could lead to paralysis and death,” said Yehuda Ben-Shahar, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences.
Elizabeth S. Haswell, professor of biology, and Anders E. Carlsson, professor of physics, both in Arts & Sciences, received a $954,779 grant from the National Science Foundation for their project titled “Pollen: A model system for computational and experimental study of plant biomechanics at the cellular scale.”
Given that our understanding of evolution and genetics is incomplete, and that much will likely depend on chance events, no one can know for sure what future life will look like. Picking the evolutionary winners of the future is like trying to pick winners on the stock market, or forecasting the weather, writes Ward. We have some data for making educated guesses, but also a large degree of uncertainty. “The colours, habits, and shapes of the newly evolved fauna can only be guessed at.” Losos agrees. “At the end of the day,” he says, “the possibilities are so wide and uncertain that it’s really pointless trying to speculate about what life might look like – there are just way too many degrees of freedom. Life could go in so many different ways.”
With their shared passion for animals, bird watchers and cat lovers should be allies. Instead, they’re often at each other’s throats. The reason is simple: We love cats—there are more cats in the United States than dogs and a loosely estimated 600 million Felis catus worldwide. The problem is that many cats are outside some or all of the time, killing birds, rodents, insects, and just about every other type of small creature. Plus, outdoor cats can spread human diseases, most notably toxoplasmosis.
Petra Levin, PhD, professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, explained how triclosan is very stable and lingers in the body and in the environment for a long time. Levin and Corey Westfall, a postdoctoral scholar in the Levin Lab, are not supporters of the antibacterial consumer push, regardless of the active ingredient. Both say hand washing with plain soap and water does the job, and the same goes for cleaning and wiping things down, encouraging regular soap, cleaning or bleach products- depending on the task. “I think when it comes to anything antibacterial or antimicrobial should be left to doctors mainly,” said Westfall. “We should leave them out of consumer products.” “At least in your day to day life, washing with antibacterial soap does not provide any advantage to cleaning your hands as to really lathering with soap and washing your hands with just plain soap that doesn’t have anything added in it,” said Levin.
It’s not clear-cut how a plant determines enough is enough and stops making roots. New research from Washington University in St. Louis identifies a cellular transporter that links two of the most powerful hormones in plant development — auxin and cytokinin — and shows how they are involved in putting the brakes on root initiation and progression. The new work by Lucia Strader, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, and her co-authors is published July 18 in the journal Developmental Cell.
Hengen discusses his self-described “wandering” path to get to the area of his current research. He outlines some context to explain the kinds of research he delves into. Hengen provides an overview of brain function, in regard to some of its processing. As he explains, the brain is not crystallized or ‘locked in’ and our synapses are responding to various experiences all throughout the day. Change is occurring rapidly and yet the final outcome at the end of the day so to speak is incredibly stable. We think a myriad of thoughts and learn things, but the foundation of who we are remains stable. He explains how our continuous narrative, our identity remains steadfast and firm, in spite of millions of interactions and inputs, and constant learning/changes. The brain is computationally stable, and this is one way our brains differ from artificial neural networks. Hengen’s neuroscience laboratory at Washington University focuses on the investigation of the role of sleep and wake in chaperoning various interactions between specific and distinct plasticity mechanisms.
“All of the Brassicas — be it Indian mustard, Arabidopsis, broccoli or brussel sprouts — they all make these pungent, sulphur-smelling compounds, the glucosinolates,” Jez said. The compounds have long been recognized as a natural defense against pests. “Plants need to fight back,” Jez said. “They can’t really do anything, but they can make stuff.” “There’s different profiles of glucosinolates in different plants,” he said. “The question has always been if you could modify their patterns to make something new. If insects are eating your plants, could you change the profile and get something that could prevent crop loss?”
Joe Jez began his new journey as Biology Chair on July 1, 2018. One year later, he reflects on what he’s learned and how he would like to see the department move forward in the future.
Jez calls the version of stevia available now “Stevia 1.0.” He thinks that, with greater understanding of the chemicals within the stevia leaf and how they react to human tastebuds, we could come up with Stevia 2.0: sweet, and no aftertaste. The possibility of a plant-based, inexpensive, zero-calorie sweetener obviously has massive industry and public health implications—provided it tastes good.
As momentum builds for next year's climate event, students and faculty in Arts & Sciences look ahead to opportunities for collaboration and reflect on WashU's climate leadership. Early next year, leaders from Midwest universities, governments, and businesses will gather to discuss regionwide strategies for combatting climate change. Anchored by Washington University, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Midwestern Collegiate Climate Summit aims to spur actionable ideas and measurable outcomes to address the changing climate and its impacts.
New research from Washington University in St. Louis reveals the molecular machinery behind the high-intensity sweetness of the stevia plant. The results could be used to engineer new non-caloric products without the aftertaste that many associate with the sweetener marketed as Stevia. “If someone is diabetic or obese and needs to remove sugar from their diet, they can turn to artificial sweeteners made from chemical synthesis (aspartame, saccharin, etc), but all of these have ‘off-tastes’ not associated with sugar, and some have their own health issues,” said Joseph Jez, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the new study.
Do you feel a push toward more applied science. How does that affect your own work? Yes. As a bacteriologist, I am scared that we could return to a ‘pre-antibiotic’ age. That isn’t overdramatic. The challenge of antibiotic resistance among pathogens is growing. People are dying. Pharma companies are scaling back investments in next-generation antibiotics just as the current generation becomes less effective. That’s why my group now is working on the issue. It started when I visited my dentist and noticed that the toothpaste sample I got in the ‘goody bag’ at the end of the appointment included triclosan as an antibacterial agent. That got me thinking whether such everyday antimicrobials hurt us more than help us. Our research shows that the answer is yes. We also tried to make our research story relevant. To our surprise, our findings were picked up by some media outlets. It’s a small contribution to public understanding of antibiotic resistance, but we are happy with it and plan to continue working in this area.
“I think teaching is a critical component of what we do,” Miller says. “All faculty should take pride in teaching and learn as much as possible about how people learn and how they can be effective and motivating teachers. It’s the same mind-set as one brings to research – a stance of life-long learning and experimentation, data collection, analysis, learning about what is known in the field and applying all those pieces to your teaching.” Though she looks forward to a retirement free of grant-related and academic deadlines, Miller says she looks back at the biology department as “a great place to ‘grow up’ as a researcher and teacher.”
“Founding and directing PARC for the nine years of its lifetime as a Department of Energy-supported Energy Frontier Research Center has been the most fulfilling aspect of my professional life,” says Blankenship. He also particularly enjoyed teaching Chem480/Bio4810, an intensive introduction to the field of biochemistry. In order to connect with the large class of 100-200 students, Blankenship would share stories and anecdotes about the history of ideas and key people from the field, many of whom he has met or knows personally. “Many, many times students have come to me later and told me how much they enjoyed these stories, as they humanized the subject and gave some sense of how difficult it is to really know something,” he says.
Sarah Elgin, Viktor Hamburger Professor Emerita in Arts & Sciences, Jonathan B. Losos, the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor, and Richard D. Vierstra, the George and Charmaine Mallinckrodt Professor, all of the Department of Biology, were inducted into the National Academy of Sciences on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Their NAS membership is a recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, and it is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive. Read more on The Source.
There’s still a lot that scientists need to study. Antibacterial clothing’s a good example. It raises several questions, said Harry, including, “How concerned should we be about the development of super bacteria that become resistant to our arsenal of antibiotics? The skin is known to be absorbable, so what materials are used to imbibe antibacterial and odor-killing properties into these fabrics? Are the substances used to infuse clothing safe for use in the long term?” According to a Washington University study, the chemical triclosan (which can be used in antibacterial clothing) may accidentally toughen bacteria to survive normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics. So, perhaps wear everything, including your beloved anti-stink gym clothes, in moderation.
The National Science Board has announced that Dean Barbara Schaal will be honored with the 2019 NSB Public Service Award. Established in 1996, this esteemed award honors exemplary service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. Past recipients include Jane Goodall, Stephen Jay Gould, Craig Barret, Alan Alda, and Dean Kamen. In addition to her role as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Schaal is widely recognized for her pioneering research in plant science and her leadership in addressing critical domestic and global challenges. She was among the first plant biologists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked throughout her career to advance public understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics.
Plant seeds contain tissues that represent three distinct genetic relatives: the mother, the embryo and a bizarre triploid tissue called the endosperm that is involved in nutrient transfer from mother to embryo. Katherine Geist, a PhD candidate in the laboratory led by David C. Queller, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences, and Joan Strassmann, the Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology, used genomic data from the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, to illuminate a dispute between these three parties over how much resources should be given to the embryo.
The Sewall Wright Award, established in 1991, is given annually and honors a senior but still active investigator who is making fundamental contributions to the Society's goals, namely, promoting the conceptual unification of the biological sciences. The 2019 Sewall Wright Award honors Jonathan B. Losos, the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor, at Washington University, and the Director of the Living Earth Collaborative, a collaboration between Washington University, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the St. Louis Zoo.
“Some enzymes that appear to be redundant for bacterial growth and fitness under standard laboratory conditions are specialized for particular environmental conditions,” said Elizabeth Mueller, a PhD candidate and first author of the new study. “We probably miss a lot of interesting and clinically relevant biology by studying bacterial cells predominately during growth in nutrient-rich, neutral-pH, aerated-growth media.” Mueller found that a subset of enzymes involved in making E. coli ‘s cell wall are pH specialists that ensure robust growth and cell wall integrity in a wide pH range. The work was completed with collaborators at Newcastle University in Britain and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Now, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have uncovered a previously unknown structural feature of living cells that is critical to tidying up. The research, led by Richard S. Marshall, research scientist, and Richard Vierstra, the George and Charmaine Mallinckrodt Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences, is published in the April 4 issue of the journal Cell.
Electricity harvested from the sun or wind can be used interchangeably with power from coal or petroleum sources. Or sustainably produced electricity can be turned into something physical and useful. Researchers in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis have figured out how to feed electricity to microbes to grow truly green, biodegradable plastic, as reported in the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. “As our planet grapples with rampant, petroleum-based plastic use and plastic waste, finding sustainable ways to make bioplastics is becoming more and more important. We have to find new solutions,” said Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences.
“Weedy rice may have evolved a go-it-alone ‘cheater’ root growth strategy that could allow it to exploit the nutrient-sharing soil environment of rice fields,” said Kenneth M. Olsen, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and senior author on a new paper in New Phytologist relating their findings. “We tend to think of competition occurring above ground because that’s the part of the plant we see. But that’s only half the plant,” Olsen said. “It’s the ‘hidden half’ — i.e., the root system — that plays a critical role in some of the most important aspects of plant growth and survival, including water uptake and competition for essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous.”
April Bednarski grew up in Iowa, completing her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA. Her parents both grew up on farms in Iowa, a long family tradition, but she was the first person in her family to enter a field of science. Her inspiration for scientific study began with the challenging and engaging classes offered by her middle/high school teacher Larry Zach. Though he retired from teaching, Zach now shares his passion for naturalism and conservation through art. He is a famous wildlife artist, known for his extremely realistic paintings.
New research from Washington University in St. Louis explains the cellular processes that allow a sun-loving microbe to “eat” electricity — transferring electrons to fix carbon dioxide to fuel its growth. Led by Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, and Michael Guzman, a PhD candidate in her laboratory, a Washington University team showed how a naturally occurring strain of Rhodopseudomonas palustris takes up electrons from conductive substances like metal oxides or rust. The work is described in a March 22 paper in the journal Nature Communications.
Phototrophic extracellular electron uptake is linked to carbon dioxide fixation in the bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris, by Michael S. Guzman, Karthikeyan Rengasamy, Michael M. Binkley, Clive Jones, Tahina Onina Ranaivoarisoa, Rajesh Singh, David A. Fike, J. Mark Meacham & Arpita Bose
Microbes never fail to surprise me. Their abilities have amazed me for many years and I have become quite the microbe hunter. On my scientific journey, I have met some really interesting microbes. A few years ago, I came across my strangest and most shocking microbial friend yet, Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1. When I met TIE-1, they were dressed in pink, photogenic and very metabolically versatile. We became friends quickly.
Congratulations to Richard Vierstra, recipient of the Stephen Hales Prize from the American Society of Plant Biologists. This award honors the Reverend Stephen Hales for his pioneering work in plant biology published in his 1727 book Vegetable Staticks. It is a monetary award established in 1927 for a scientist, an ASPB member, who has served the science of plant biology in some noteworthy manner. The award is made annually. The recipient of the award is invited to address the Society on a subject in plant biology at the next annual meeting.
Feeling a bit lethargic this week? It may have to do with the recent time change and a disruption to biological rhythms. Erik Herzog, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and a frequent voice of reason on this topic, said that sticking with standard time makes public health sense. Time is what makes this scientist, well, tick. Herzog’s research is part of a growing body of work that shows the many ways in which circadian rhythms are central to human health and well-being. He is also a gifted teacher and mentor. In honor of his work as principal investigator and director of the St. Louis Neuroscience Pipeline Program, and in recognition of more than 18 years of excellence in teaching at Washington University in St. Louis, Herzog recently received the Award for Education in Neuroscience by the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians focusing on the study of neuroscience.
Joshua Blodgett, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, received a five-year, $900,500 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his research related to actinomycete bacteria. This bacteria produces a majority of current antibiotics and may harbor other useful small molecules that could be revealed by activating silent genes.
A common chemical used to kill bacteria is making them more capable of surviving antibiotics. According to new research from Washington University, triclosan has a protective effect on strains of E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The chemical — which is added to hundreds of consumer products — also interferes with the antibiotic treatment of urinary-tract infections in mice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned triclosan and 18 other antibacterial chemicals from consumer soaps in 2016, on the grounds that they are “not generally recognized as safe and effective.”
“The scientific evidence presently available indicates that installing perennial standard time — or ‘wintertime’ — is the best and safest option for public health,” said Erik Herzog, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St Louis and president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms.
Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology, received a $7,500 award from the U.S. Army to support research on understanding how microbes interact with charged surfaces.
Joshua Blodgett, assistant professor of biology, was awarded a $900,500 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate leveraging polycyclic tetramate macrolactam biosunthesis as a model for understanding actinobacterial metabolic silencing.
Grocery store aisles are stocked with products that promise to kill bacteria. People snap up those items to protect themselves from the germs that make them sick. However, new research from Washington University in St. Louis finds that a chemical that is supposed to kill bacteria is actually making them stronger and more capable of surviving antibiotic treatment. The study, available online Feb. 19 in the journal Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy, suggests that triclosan exposure may inadvertently drive bacteria into a state in which they are able to tolerate normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics — including those antibiotics that are commonly used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Until this point, most bee researchers thought bees recognize and respond to a scent that is the homogenized scent of all of the members of their own colony. That’s how it works for some ants and other insects, at least. But new work from the laboratory of Yehuda Ben-Shahar, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, shows that nestmate recognition instead depends on an innate developmental process that is associated with age-dependent division of labor. The work was completed in collaboration with researchers from the lab of Joel Levine at the University of Toronto.
The American Academy of Microbiology has named three Washington University in St. Louis faculty members as fellows: Gautam Dantas, professor of pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine, and Robert Kranz and Petra Levin, professors of biology in Arts & Sciences. The faculty are among 109 fellows elected this year to the academy, which recognizes scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.
“There’s no reasonable definition as to what an organism is – at the same time it is the most important unit of life. Of course much has been written on the subject, for instance that all parts of an organism must be related, that they are surrounded by a skin, that organisms emerge from a cell. But none of these definitions seem to work universally because most researchers have only examined a small snippet of the world of living beings.” -Joan Strassmann
Roy Curtiss III began crossing tomatoes at age 10, then chickens at age 12, and eventually bacterial viruses at age 21. He switched to the study of genetics of bacterial pathogens, starting in Alabama and continuing at Wash U. Roy studied leprosy and salmonella, learning the biochemical and genetic basis, why they were successful, and how he could use this info to develop better vaccines and diagnostics. Possessing a strong ethical streak, he wanted to use what he learned to benefit society. He entered the world of disease prevention and vaccine development, and started a company in 1992 called Megan Health which developed salmonella vaccines for poultry and swine.
Heather Barton grew up in Meadville, a tiny town in western Pennsylvania. She completed her undergrad work at Grove City College near her hometown. Her family, including her parents and four sisters, lived a quiet country lifestyle. She spent many hours as a child playing outside in the dirt, in streams and in the woods. Nature was a big part of her life from a very young age and her desire to figure out how things work in nature was a driving force behind her interest in biology.
Eye-catching and nutritious, purple rice has been a part of religious and cultural ceremonies across Asia for generations. New research from Washington University in St. Louis uncovers the ways that traditional farming practices have preserved the genetic diversity of Thai purple rice.
Researchers are creating their own podcasts on topics ranging from exoplanets to graduate-student finances.
The 2019 St. Louis Area Brain Bee is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 16, at Washington University’s Danforth Campus. Herzog works with undergraduate and graduate students to formulate the Brain Bee questions. He also taps into his archives, recycling questions from prior years. And for the first time, the Society for Neuroscience, which sponsors the national and international Brain Bee competitions, will provide 100 standardized questions which Herzog is free to use. The competition, open to high school and homeschool students in grades 9-12, starts with a written exam. The top 10 finishers then move on to an oral round, which resembles a spelling bee where students take turns answering questions about the brain and nervous system.
“As an instructor, I try to teach how the topic has relevance from different approaches in biology,” said Erik Herzog, Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. Herzog teaches undergraduate biology courses at the university. His lab uses a variety of techniques to study the cellular and molecular basis of circadian rhythms, biological clocks that drive near 24-hour rhythms in living beings including animals and plants.
In a new publication in the journal Nature Plants, researchers [led by Richard Vierstra] in Arts & Sciences describe the effects of autophagy on metabolism in maize, commonly known as corn, an important crop that is sensitive to nitrogen deprivation.
How does evolution select the fittest “individuals” when they are ecosystems made up of hosts and their microbiomes? Joan Strassmann and other biologists debate the need to revise theories.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has bestowed upon 416 of its members the lifetime honor of being an elected Fellow in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in advancing science. . .This year’s Fellows, who represent a broad swath of scientific disciplines, were selected for diverse accomplishments that include pioneering research, leadership within their field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations and advancing public understanding of science.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have mapped the regions of the brain in mormyrid fish in extremely high detail. In a new study published in the Nov. 15 issue of Current Biology, they report that the part of the brain called the cerebellum is bigger in members of this fish family compared to related fish — and this may be associated with their use of weak electric discharges to locate prey and to communicate with one another.
How does sensory processing lend itself to life as we know it? If our experiences materialize due to sensory transduction, do these processes inspire our entire perspective? These questions sparked Mary Lambo’s interest in neuroscience and eventually motivated her research in neural plasticity and sensory processing. As new teaching faculty at Wash U, Mary now guides students through fundamental neuroscience concepts and challenges them to discover their own motivating questions.
How predictable is evolution? The answer long has been debated by biologists grappling with the extent to which history affects the repeatability of evolution. A review published in the Nov. 9 issue of Science explores the complexity of evolution’s predictability in extraordinary detail. In it, researchers from Kenyon College, Michigan State University and Washington University in St. Louis closely examine evidence from a number of empirical studies of evolutionary repeatability and contingency in an effort to fully interrogate ideas about contingency’s role in evolution.
Most of the country switched their clocks back an hour over the weekend, ending daylight saving time. And even though one hour might not sound like a lot, it has a noticeable impact. "In the long term, this one hour cumulatively can really have effects on our health," says Erik Herzog, professor of biology and neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis.
Richard D. Vierstra, the George and Charmaine Mallinckrodt Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences, received a $304,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project titled “Phytochromes: Structural perspectives on photoactivation and signaling.” Vierstra was also granted $49,000 from the NIH to study autophagic clearance of inactive proteasomes and ribosomes as models for protein quality control.
David L. Kirk, professor emeritus of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at Dougherty Ferry Assisted Living in St. Louis after a long illness. He was 84. Kirk, who was an active and passionate member of the university community for nearly 50 years, spent a lifetime teaching developmental biology and researching the evolutionary origins of multicellular organisms. He was internationally known for his research on the spherical green alga known as Volvox carteri.
Himadri Pakrasi, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Biology, received a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop Anabaena 33047 — a photosynthetic, fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria — as a versatile production platform that can be used by the bioenergy research community.
Next Generation Leaders are selected each year through a competitive process that includes applications from around the world. This year, the six Next Generation Leaders come from universities and research institutes in the U.S., Canada and Germany. They will each have a three-year term on the advisory council.
“The Society is proud to present Dr. Herzog and Dr. Peker with this year’s award,” said SfN President Richard Huganir. “Dr. Herzog is a gifted teacher and science communicator who is committed to increasing diversity through mentoring, while Dr. Peker has been instrumental in demonstrating the benefits of international educational experiences and research collaborations.”
Can electricity serve as an alternative electron supplier for bacterial growth? And can we enhance the electron uptake capacity of bacteria?
Living Earth Collaborative grant supports efforts to understand if Peter's Angola colobus monkeys represent one or two subspecies
Joseph Jez began his work with the Biology Department ten years ago as an assistant professor. He is now Professor of Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and as of July 1, 2018 the Biology Department Chair. We sat down to talk about the changes he’s witnessed over the last decade as well as what he would like to see in the future.
A new study in the journal Scientific Reports gets to the bottom of it: Why do dogs that are trained to locate poop sometimes find the wrong kind of poop?
Li also collaborated with Erik Herzog, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University who studies the cellular and molecular basis of circadian rhythms in mammals
Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution
A&S professor awarded $2 million for research that could help defeat antibiotic-resistant infections
An immediate before-after comparison — the first of its kind — shows that survivors of a hurricane have different traits than the general population.
A $762k collaborative NSF grant will fund a partnership between Joseph Jez (Wash U Biology chair) with Hiroshi Maeda (U Wisconsin-Madison; Botany) on the mechanisms and impacts of de-regulating aromatic amino acid biosynthesis in plants.
Joan Strassmann and David Queller were awarded a $1,139,388 National Science Foundation grant for the four-year project "Kith and kin in amoeba-bacteria cooperation", about the evolution of cooperation both within and between species, using an amoeba-bacteria system.
The two year grant was awarded from the National Science Foundation
Next step could be ‘nitrogen-fixing’ plants that can do the same, reducing need for fertilizer.
“We train our students to do any type of science. We want to give them the tools so that whether they go into industry, academia or government, they will benefit from what they learned in graduate school,” said Dixit.
Congratulations to Jonathan Myers and Hani Zaher who both received promotions with tenure and are now Associate Professors of Biology in Arts & Sciences.
Victoria L. May, assistant dean in Arts & Sciences and executive director of the Institute for School Partnership, has been honored for her work with students.
New species are not hidden only in exotic locales. Recently, graduate student Ben Wolf found a new species of alga in Forest Park.
Three scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are among the 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected May 1 to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Warmer active seasons and fewer freeze-thaw events lead to big changes for the tiniest Arctic ambassadors — its arthropods.
Nowadays Sally Elgin would probably be referred to as gifted or talented. But in the 1950s, a really smart girl was obnoxious or a nerd.
In the midst of what scientists consider to be a sixth mass extinction event, Washington University is joining forces with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo to collaborate on life-saving research and conservation efforts.
Read about Jonathan's background and his new collaboration with MOBOT and the STL Zoo.
Keith Hengen is wowed by the organizational prowess of our brains. How, he wonders, do hundreds of millions of neurons interact reliably time after time, especially given that the proteins that power neurons have half-lives on the order of seconds to hours?
Forty middle and high school students participated in the most recent Teen Science Café in March 2018.
Yehuda Ben-Shahar, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, has been awarded $770,000 by the National Science Foundation to investigate how insects produce and perceive mating pheromones as species diversify.
Three years after launching the Biotech Explorers Pathway, a unique opportunity for first-year and sophomore students, biology professor Joe Jez shares how the program started and some of what its students have accomplished so far.