Calendar of Events

Tania Iqbar: "The Environment and Inflammation: Mechanisms of Neurogenic Inflammation in the Mouse Olfactory Epithelium"

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January 29, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Our noses incur damage on a daily basis, and the olfactory epithelium is able to regenerate and maintain function. However, if chronic inflammation is initiated, it can lead to olfactory dysfunction. To begin to understand chronic inflammation, modulation of acute inflammation in the mouse olfactory epithelium is being studied at the Hegg Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

Tania Iqbal spearheads the project, which focuses on elucidating mechanisms of neuroregeneration using the mouse olfactory epithelium as a model. Iqbal's central hypothesis is that environmental irritants activate inflammation by acting on trigeminal nerve receptors to release inflammatory neuropeptides. Neuropeptides then activate the release of cytokines from macrophages and initiate an inflammatory cascade. She anticipates her work will direct studies toward developing therapies for olfactory dysfunction and chronic inflammation. 

Tania R. Iqbal is a postdoctoral candidate at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on mechanisms of regeneration, neuromodulation, and inflammation in the olfactory system.


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Iris Levin '05: "Seabirds, Swallows and Social Networks"

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February 5, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

In her presentation, Iris Levin '05 examines questions and themes from molecular ecology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, and disease ecology. Her research explores biological interactions at multiple scales, from social transactions between individuals to patterns of population structure between hosts and parasites. 

Using subjects within the avian world, she studies the interface between social behavior, physiology and parasite/microbe transmission by testing hypotheses that integrate themes from evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology and wildlife epidemiology, within the mathematical framework of social network theory. 

Iris Levin is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Colorado, Boulder.  She graduated from Bowdoin in 2005 and earned her PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics from the University of Missouri, St. Louis in 2011.


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Emily Doolittle: "Animal Songs, Animal Music"

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February 12, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 016

Can animal songs be considered music? Join composer Emily Doolittle as she explores this philosophical question within the context of zoomusicology, the study of the musical aspects of sound or communication produced and received by animals. Doolittle investigates how humans across cultures and time periods have used animal songs in their music, and analyzes bird and other animal songs from both a musical and a scientific perspective. 

This past year, she was part of a study showing that hermit thrushes base their songs on the overtone series. She was also recently composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen, Germany), where she and ornithologist Henrik Brumm discovered that the musician wren shows a preference for singing perfect consonant intervals. 

Doolittle has written for such ensembles as Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto), Symphony Nova Scotia, the Vancouver Island Symphony, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble and Paragon, and such soloists as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc, Janice Jackson, Patricia Green and Helen Pridmore, pianist Rachel Iwaasa, violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel, viola d’amorist Thomas Georgi and viola da gambist Karin Preslmayr. 

She was born in Nova Scotia in 1972 and educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton University. In 2008 she moved to Seattle, where she is currently an Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts. In addition to her academic pursuits, she plays fiddle in the Seattle-area French Canadian traditional music and stepdance band Podorythmie.

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Jason Castro, Bates College

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February 19, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Jason Castro, Department of Neuroscience, Bates College

Neural circuitry of odor processing: The olfactory system can detect and discriminate between a huge number of chemical stimuli. How does it do it, and what aspects of neural function facilitate these operations? To address these questions, Professor Castro studies the properties of circuits in the olfactory bulb – the first brain structure of the odor processing stream.

Structure-Percept mapping: One of the major challenges in olfactory research is to determine whether there is a systematic relationship between physiochemical features of molecules and their perceived smell.

 


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Christina Richards: "Exploring Implications of Genome Function in Complex Environments Using Model and Non-Model Plants"

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February 26, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Studies on genotype by environment interactions illustrate that the rapidly escalating amount of genomic data and tools applied to model systems in controlled conditions must be tried in more biologically relevant conditions and in a broader array of wild organisms.

Christina Richards examines how incorporating genomics and systems biology into robust experimental design and statistical analysis on model and non-model organisms will be a critical component of fleshing out the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Her research integrates several disciplines to explore how plants respond to natural selection in stressful or novel environments.

Christina Richards is assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include natural selection, local adaptation, evolutionary ecology, and ecological genomics, among others. 

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Sarah Schaack: "Understanding Mutational Dynamics Over Short and Long Time Scales"

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March 26, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Despite the importance of understanding the mechanisms and consequences of mutation, few parameters related to the rate, spectrum, and effects of spontaneous mutation have been estimated. In this talk, Sarah Schaack discusses the dynamics of mutation at small and large scales, within and between lineages, over short and long time periods of time (e.g., empirically-derived estimates of base substitution rates to reports of frequent horizontal transfer among eukaryotes).   

She presents a few short vignettes to highlight the utility of using a variety of study systems and approaches to tackling questions related to understanding the accrual, maintenance, and loss of genotypic and phenotypic mutational variance genome-wide. She also highlights her recent work on the dynamics of mobile DNA (transposable elements and endogenous viruses) which constitute a very significant portion, and in many cases the majority, of the genome in most plants and animals.

Schaack is assistant professor of Biology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon

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Ian Davison, Boston University

April 2, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Ian Davison, Boston University

Our lab studies the neural basis of sensory perception. How does the brain take millions of discrete pieces of raw sensory information, streaming in from primary receptor neurons, and synthesize them into a single unified percept? This process is the foundation of our sensory experience, and our aim is to describe the underlying neural circuit computations.

 

We study this problem in the olfactory system for several reasons. First, smell is highly synthetic. Odors are immediately experienced as a single percept, despite the fact that natural odors often contain dozens of chemical components, and are detected by hundreds of different types of odorant receptors. Second, the olfactory circuit is compact, reducing the path over which information flow needs to be traced: only two synapses separate receptors in the nose from integrative processing in cortical regions. Finally, olfactory associations are notoriously strong and rapid, offering a promising window for understanding how experience is written into the brain's internal structure.

 

To better understand how complex sensory inputs are recognized and stored by networks of neurons, we measure and manipulate the activity of neural populations with both electrophysiological and optical approaches. This is complemented by quantitative behavior, reporting the animal's sensory experience, and by precise measures of circuit connectivity with intracellular physiology in vitro. Ultimately we hope to use olfaction to help reveal some of the brain's general mechanisms for flexible sensory processing, pattern recognition, and neural information storage.

 

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Marshall Iliff, '97 Cornell University

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April 2, 2015 6:30 PM  – 8:30 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Marshall Iliff, 97, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

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Ron Peck, Colby College

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April 23, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Ron Peck, Colby College

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Brad Davidson, Swarthmore College

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April 30, 2015 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Brad Davidson, Swarthmore College

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