Fall 2012 Calendar

September 20, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT WEEKLY SEMINAR SERIES

Richmond Thompson, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Director of Neuroscience Program "Vasotocin, Vasopressin and the Evolution of Social Brain Circuits"

My research focuses on how the brain processes social stimuli and on how it uses that information to organize behavioral output, especially emotional interactions between individuals. In particular, I am interested in the effects of sex steroids on brain structures that process social signals and that organize sexual and aggressive behaviors and in the role that neuropeptide brain circuits play in the modulation of social behavior. I have worked with several avian species (Japanese quail, zebra finches), an amphibian (roughskin newts), a teleost fish (goldfish) and a mammal (humans). I have used this comparative approach because I believe it is necessary to study species from a wide range of vertebrate groups in order to fully understand the general, mechanistic principles associated with the regulation of social behavior in vertebrates, as well as to appreciate how specializations of those fundamental systems have made species-specific patterns of social behavior possible in different organisms, including humans. I also use many different tools to answer these questions, including behavioral, neuroanatomical and molecular techniques.

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September 27, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT WEEKLY SEMINAR SERIES

Mary Lou Zeeman, R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, "A BioMath view of critical thresholds and tipping"

Research Interests:
Geometric dynamical systems, mathematical biology, population dynamics, neuroendocrinology and hormone oscillations, hypothalamus-pituitary interactions, climate modeling and sustainability

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October 4, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Anja Forche, Dept. of Biology, Bowdoin College "Increase of Candida albicans genotypic and phenotypic diversity as an adaptation mechanism to changing host environments"

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October 11, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Sarah Iams, Assistant Professor Deparment of Mathematics "The zigzagging flight of mosquitoes (and other insects)"

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October 12, 201212:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Honeybee Democracy

Thomas D. Seeley is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and does research on the functional organization of honeybee colonies. He grew up in Ithaca, New York, and began keeping and studying bees while in high school. He left home to study at Dartmouth College in 1970, but returned to Ithaca each summer to work at the Dyce Laboratory for Honeybee Studies at Cornell, where he learned the craft of beekeeping and began probing the inner workings of the honeybee colony. Thoroughly intrigued by the smooth functioning of bee colonies, he went on to graduate school at Harvard University. His research focuses on the behavior, ecology, and social life of honeybees. In recognition of his scientific work, he has received the Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

To view the Fall 2012 Common Hour program in its entirety, please visit us at: Events and Summer Programs: Common Hour

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October 18, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020


Larry Harris, Center for Marine Biology, Department of Zoology, University of New Hampshire

Research Emphasis
I was trained as an invertebrate zoologist with strong interests in life histories, behavior, and offensive and defensive strategies between members of associations. My research is most accurately described as quantitative and manipulative natural history. I am particularly interested in organisms and how they are adapted to their systems. This would be in contrast to a more theoretical approach that places primary emphasis on testing general models. Both are important-I just happen to like living animals first.
My primary focus is on the ecology of species-specific, predator-prey associations and the role of predation in early community succession. There are two groups of organisms that are my favorites for research, cnidarians and nudibranchs. Both of these are predators so I can look at predation at more than one level in the same association.
I am also continuing some long-term subtidal community studies using both fouling panels and benthic communities. The manipulations involve substrate angle, predator access and depth. Three separate studies have been underway since the late 1970s and are becoming increasingly valuable for observing long-term trends and investigating the roles of new invaders into the Gulf of Maine system.
In the last few years I have become increasingly interested in understanding how sustained species exploitation by man influences community structure. I am presently trying to use this knowledge to develop an integrated approach for enhancing recruitment and growth of sea urchins that might result in a sustainable fishery with healthy benthic communities.

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October 25, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics,
Laurentian University, Ontario

Connecting the Dots between Genes and Traits

Genetics permeates our modern culture. From grade school, students now understand the fundamentals of molecular genetics-that physical characters, from the colour of our eyes to the shape of a pea, are determined by packets of information we call "genes." Many even know that genes are made up of DNA, that differences between gene copies-"alleles"-make up an organism's "genotype", and that the characteristics they lead to are called "phenotypes."
Surprisingly, though, we still do not really understand how genotypes and phenotypes are connected. Several different projects in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics, are investigating this connection by looking at different organisms, from microbes to fruit flies to fish.
Merritt's research explores biological diversity and its underlying genetic architecture by combining bioinformatics-the computer-based examination of gene, genotype and genome (all the genes in an organism)-with functional genomics, or direct manipulation and experimentation.
In one project, student researchers are using genetically engineered fruit flies to investigate how their metabolism affects things such as how long they live and how much fat they store. In another project, Merritt's team is looking at the genome of an entire community of microbes able to thrive in contaminated mine waste, in the hopes of understanding the community's metabolic potential.
Knowing that genetic interactions are complex and sometimes counterintuitive, Merritt's team is developing a better understanding of molecular complexity and protein function in order to tackle a wide range of challenges, from metabolic disease to biological stress to industrial waste clean-up.

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November 1, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

DUE TO THE EFFECTS OF HURRICANE SANDY  FLIGHTS ARE STILL DELAYED AND CANCELED

 TODAY'S SEMINAR WITH JOHN MCBRIDE HAS BEEN CANCELED.

John McBride, Director, Robert T. Stone, MD, Respiratory Center, Akron Children's Hospital, Akron OH

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November 8, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Alex (Smith) Keefe, 06, University of Utah, MD/PhD Program

I am studying the role of muscle stem cells during regeneration. Specifically I am looking at the interactions of 3 cell types during the regenerative process: the satellite cell (the stem cell), fibroblasts and macrophages. We believe these cells are signaling between each other via the Wnt/b-catenin pathway in order to proliferate and differentiate to form a fully regenerated muscle after injury. Using mouse genetics, we can eliminate Wnt secretion (by knocking out a necessary secretion protein) from certain cell types (using a cell specific cre driver), and also prevent Wnt reception in the receiving cell by knocking out the Wnt receptor. We have shown that this disruption of Wnt signaling leads to impaired muscle regeneration. Wnt signaling in muscle is known to be disrupted with age, and perhaps is leading to diseases such as sarcopenia and cachexia.

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November 15, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Pascal-Antoine Christin, Brown University, Providence RI

I am generally interested in the genetic mechanisms that led organisms (and more specifically plants) to acquire new adaptive traits during the course of evolution. I appreciate all the methodological approaches that can address this question, and especially population genetics and phylogenetics. During my PhD studies, I adopted the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in the grass family (Poaceae) as a study system to explore numerous phylogeny-based issues, including the number and timing of independent C4 origins, the genetic basis of these convergent evolutions and the effect of the genetic background on the possibility of acquiring C4 photosynthesis. My projects in the Edwards lab will extend these investigations to larger taxonomic scales and other photosynthetic pathways (in particular CAM) to gain insights into the factors that increased the evolvability of complex traits during the diversification of plants.

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November 27, 20127:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Bruce Kohorn will deliver the Linnean Professorship of Biology and Biochemistry Inaugural Lecture. The lecture, titled "From Mountains to Membranes," will be an exploration of the mechanisms that create plant cell form and function, with a concentration on the cell surface and its interaction with the cell wall.

The Linnean Professorship was established in 1996 to support biology at Bowdoin College with a gift from the estate of Laurence F. Shurtleff of the Bowdoin Class of 1926. Shurtleff worked for the New England Telephone Company for 43 years, while maintaining an active role in civic philanthropy and a keen interest in botany. He was a long-serving president of the Board of Trustees of the Turner Free Library in Randolph, Massachusetts, and continued his avid hobby of raising cranberries until nearly the end of his life

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November 29, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Phil Newmark, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Interest:
Our model for studying the molecular mechanisms underlying metazoan regeneration is the planarian flatworm, a subject of classic regeneration experiments. The choice of planarians as a system to study the problem of regeneration was based upon: their remarkable developmental plasticity; the rapidity of their regenerative response; the ease with which they can be cultured in the laboratory; and the stem cell population that gives rise to their regenerative abilities. The development of functional genomic tools for studying the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea has revitalized studies of these fascinating organisms and permits detailed analyses of the mechanisms underlying regeneration.

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December 6, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Noah Perlut, Assistant Professor, University of New England,

Research Interests
I study the joint ecological and evolutionary consequences of using human-managed habitats as wildlife habitat. In 2002 I began a long-term research project on how hayfield and pasture management affects the life-histories of grassland songbirds. Along with ecology and evolution work, this project has expanded to create and explore federal policies that balance landowners' economic and birds' life-history needs. Additional projects include: studying grey squirrel ecology on the UNE campus; exploring the ecology of urban roof-nesting Herring Gulls; evaluating the marsh bird communities on the Saco River; exploring what the ideal farm looks like--both in terms of maximizing farm production as well as biodiversity.

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