Upcoming Events

Anthony Carrasquillo '07: "Formation and Chemical Evolution of Organic Aerosol Particles from Radical Intermediates"

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February 26, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Atmospheric particulate matter (or "aerosol") has important implications for public health, climate change, and visibility. The ability to predict its formation and fate is hindered by uncertainties associated with one type in particular, organic aerosol (OA). In this presentation, Anthony Carrasquillo '07 will examine how the study of the chemistry underlying OA formation is complicated by the large number of reaction pathways and oxidation generations for a given precursor species. 

Carrasquillo will discuss a series of experiments in which the chemistry is simplified to that of a single alkoxy radical (RO) isomer generated from the direct photolysis of alkyl nitrites (RONO) and explain how OA was generated from eleven different C10 RO isomers to determine the role of radical molecular structure in the formation of low-volatility species. He will detail how a method was developed to investigate the reactivity of alkoxy radicals in the condensed phase and how the long chain C20 RO radical was generated in hexane solvent to identify possible intermolecular (bimolecular) reactions with the condensed-phase. Finally, a molecular-level study of this same condensed-phase system with a soft ionization technique permitted the observation of molecular ions assigned to specific oxidation products. This approach enables the determination of the extent of branching for another important intermediate, the alkylperoxy radical.

Carrasquillo is a postdoctoral research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his PhD from MIT and his bachelor's degree in chemistry at Bowdoin. 

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Daniel Mennill: "Love Songs and Battle Cries: Cooperative and Competitive Acoustic Signals in Birds."

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March 3, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Dan Mennill runs the Mennill Sound Analysis Laboratory - Canada's largest laboratory devoted to the study of animal sounds. His research explores the vocal behavior of temperate and tropical birds, including chickadees, wrens, sparrows, warblers, and woodpeckers. Together with his students, he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers on topics that include male singing behavior, female mating behavior, and the behavioral differences between temperate and tropical birds. He has pioneered many new technologies for ecological research, including microphone arrays for spatial monitoring of wild animals, new technologies for sound playback to wild birds, and innovative techniques in radio telemetry.

Mennill is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. He conducted his PhD research at Queen's University, and post-doctoral research in Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology and in Auburn University's Department of Biological Sciences. Mennill loves to teach students about ornithology and animal behavior. His hands-on, outdoor classes have earned him many teaching accolades, including the Alumni Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching, the University of Windsor's highest teaching honor. 

He lives with his wife and two children in LaSalle, Ontario.

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Sharon Swartz: "Bats Aren't Birds or Bugs: Skin, Stretching, Sensing, Spindles, Spinning in Evolution's Youngest Flapping Flyers"

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March 10, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Dr. Sharon Swartz is a Professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology and the School of Engineering at Brown University. In her lecture, she will explore how the evolutionary origin of bat wings from mammalian hands has influenced the biomechanics of flight in this fascinating group of animals.


She will discuss the nature of wing skin as a biomaterial, and how its mechanical properties may be actively modulated during flight by a unique group of muscles found only in bats, and speculate on how selection for reduced weight may interact with aspects of neural control in the most morphologically complex of animal wings. Professor Swartz will show that we can gain insight into the functional architecture of bat wings not only with sophisticated bioengineering approaches such as particle image velocimetry, multi-camera high speed videography, and dynamic modeling, but also low-tech methods including polarized light photography, basic histology, dissection.

Professor Swartz received her undergraduate training at Oberlin College, with a double major in biology and sociology/anthropology, and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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Kevin Rice "Exploring the mechanisms of action for an experimental anticancer agent".

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March 11, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

A talk by Dr. Kevin Rice of Colby College. Kevin Rices laboratory at Colby College seeks to identify biochemically interesting targets of laromustine, a unique anticancer drug that has shown clinical promise against acute myeloid leukemia and glioblastoma multiforme.  This drugs therapeutic cytotoxicity results from the co-generation of two reactive electrophiles in situ, a 2-chloroethylating agent and methyl isocyanate, which carbamoylates sulfhydryl groups and amines.  While laromustine's clinical potential is principally attributed to its 2-chloroethylating activity and its capacity to yield inter-strand DNA crosslinks, pre-clinical experiments reveal that the carbamoylating species amplifies this cytotoxicity.  We are particularly interested in understanding how methyl isocyanate, a compound with known acute toxicity in humans, apparently magnifies the therapeutic window of laromustine.  As an example of one plausible contribution of the isocyanate, we demonstrated that the carbamoylating activity of laromustine inhibits human DNA polymerase beta, which is necessary for base excision repair of damaged nucleotides.  Other targets that will be presented in this lecture include thioredoxin reductase, apoptosis signaling kinase I, and BCL2-associated athanogene 3.

Kevin Rice Received his BA form Colby college and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Melissa Pespeni: "Evolutionary Genomics in a Diverse and Changing World: Studies in Sea Urchins and Horned Beetles."

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March 31, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Dr. Melissa Pespeni is an assistant professor at the University of Vermont in the Department of Biology.  In her talk, she will tell two stories, one about the mechanisms of resilience for sea urchins in the rapidly changing ocean chemistry conditions, and one about dramatic morphological phenotypes in horned beetles that vary both within and between species.  The specific questions she will address are: Do
purple sea urchins have the genetic capacity to respond to ocean acidification?  What are the molecular underpinnings of the morphological diversity encompassed in three dramatically
different, but closely-related horned beetle species?  She addresses these questions through a combination of lab-based and field-based experiments, and through the integration of genomics, developmental biology, and ecology.

Pespeni earned her bachelor's degrees from the University of California, San Diego, and her PhD from Stanford University.     

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Geoffrey Ganter: "How Fruit Flies Might Help Treat Chronic Pain"

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April 7, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Clinical pain places a heavy burden on human productivity and quality of life.  Current treatments, especially for chronic pain, are inadequate.  Using Drosophila, Ganter's laboratory is analyzing pain sensitization, the production of heightened nociceptive sensitivity in response to injury, dysregulation of which in is thought to perpetuate chronic pain in humans. One requirement for pain sensitization in the fly is the activity of the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) pathway in the nociceptor neurons.  BMP signaling components represent attractive targets for novel drugs for the treatment of chronic pain, and therefore a welcome alternative to opioid medications. 


Dr. Ganter earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology at Atlantic Union College, PhD at Boston College, and postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School.  He is currently a Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Center for Excellence in Neuroscience, at the University of New England, in Biddeford, Maine.

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Michael Boyce. "

April 8, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

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Clare Bates Congdon: "Computational Inference of Regulatory Elements for Genes Important in Kidney Development."

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April 14, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Dr. Clare Bates Congdon is Visiting Associate Professor of Computer Science at Bowdoin College. Her primary research addresses the development of computational tools for finding patterns in biological data. In this talk, she will describe the challenge of identifying the regulatory machinery for genes of interest, computational tools that can assist in this endeavor, and bench work that supports the regulatory elements identified. The general idea is to look for patterns in coding DNA surrounding the gene that appear to have been conserved over evolutionary time to find initial candidates and then to use information from the ENCODE project (Encylopedia of DNA Elements) to find the targets most worthy of study at the bench. This work is a collaboration with Dr. Leif Oxburgh at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough.  


Congdon earned her BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and her MS and PhD from the University of Michigan.

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Christina Woo " Chemical glycoproteomics in immunology"

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April 15, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

A talk by  Dr.Christina Woo of Stanford University. Glycosylation of proteins generates greater proteomic diversity than any other post-translational modification (PTM) and plays an essential role in biological regulation.  However, the diversity found in glycoproteins results in limitations to detection and identification that have thus far undermined efforts to describe the intact glycoproteome via mass spectrometry (MS).  To overcome limitations to detection and identification, we developed a chemical glycoproteomics platform, termed Isotope Targeted Glycoproteomics (IsoTaG), for characterization of intact, metabolically labeled glycopeptides at the whole proteome scale.  IsoTaG utilizes isotopic recoding to generate a glycan-specific perturbation in the m/z spectrum.  The unique perturbation is then used as a handle to direct tandem MS and targeted database searching for assignment of glycan structure and peptide sequence from intact N- and O-glycopeptides.  Application to study human T cell activation has revealed a plethora of new O-GlcNAc sites that are now being pursued for functional relevance during T cell activation.  IsoTaG opens the door to the study of glycan biosynthesis and function, and reveals a universe of glycomic and proteomic signatures that are not encompassed by current proteomic databases.

Dr. Woo received her PhD from Yale University.

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Robert Jackman: "Finding the Tumor-Secreted Factors That Cause Whole-Body Muscle Loss in Cancer".

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April 21, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Robert Jackman is a Research Associate professor at Boston University. He studies genes that control muscle degeneration in two situations: where muscles are "unloaded" such as in bed rest or space travel, and in diseases like cancer where muscle atrophy (cachexia) is a secondary effect. Understanding the genes that cause the loss of muscle in unloading and cachexia will enable therapies where these gene functions can be manipulated so that muscle degeneration can be prevented.

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George O' Toole Geisel School Of Medicine At Dartmouth

April 29, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

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Melissa Maginnis: "Cellular Determinants of Viral Infection: Proper ID Required:

May 5, 20164:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Melissa Meginnis' research is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of viral disease. Specifically, her work seeks to define the viral and host cell factors that regulate infection and viral pathogenesis of the human JC polyomavirus (JCPyV). 


The majority of the population is infected with JCPyV, which establishes a lifelong, persistent infection in the kidney without symptoms. In immunocompromised hosts, such as individuals receiving immunomodulatory therapies for autoimmune diseases or those with HIV, the virus can spread from the kidney to the central nervous system and cause a lytic infection in the brain. Viral destruction of the glial cells astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, which are critical for myelin production, results in the fatal, demyelinating disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). There is currently no effective treatment for PML.  Viruses are complex, yet extremely efficient machines that hijack the host cell machinery to complete an infectious cycle and produce progeny virus. The interplay between JCPyV and host cell factors is critical to understanding disease outcomes and PML pathogenesis. 

Research in her laboratory is focused on understanding the detailed molecular interactions between the virus and host cell factors that drive the early steps in the infectious cycle including entry, trafficking, and viral transcription. In particular, she is focused on defining how JCPyV uses the serotonin receptor to transverse the plasma membrane, identifying signaling cascades that drive viral transcription, and elucidating how the virus causes persistent and lytic infections. This research allows her to define key unanswered questions in JCPyV biology, provide crucial insights into JCPyV pathogenesis, and identify novel targets for rational drug design for prevention and treatment of PML.

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George Shields :"

May 6, 20163:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

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