Biology Seminar: Dr. Alana Rader

In our age of increasing and compounding drivers of environmental change, understanding not just how Earth’s landscapes are impacted in the immediate aftermath, but also how they regenerate over a longer time scale after specific events is of critical importance. In the Southeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, forest regeneration following hurricanes has supported both continent wide conservation corridors, but also local communities who depend on forests for resources and food for millenia.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Marice Alcantara

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. Despite significant clinical achievement in treating RCC especially using Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), the response rates remain limited especially in metastatic disease. To better understand immune alterations associated with ICB resistance, my work has focused on assessing blood biomarkers in renal cancer patients classified as responders or non-responders to first line immunotherapy.

Biology Seminar: Julia Mackin-McLaughlin

Coastal environments represent hotspots not only of biodiversity and ecosystem services, but human development and exploitation. This study establishes a baseline describing benthic organisms present along the western coast of Placentia Bay, a declared Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) of the Island of Newfoundland, Canada. Concurrently, this research investigates the methodology behind habitat mapping – using physical seafloor characteristics to predict the distribution of a target organism or group – and discusses ways it can be improved.

Biology Seminar: Whitney Tsai Nakashima

Birds see and produce an astonishing diversity of colors that span the human visible and ultraviolet spectrums. These colors are produced by numerous mechanisms and perceived by birds differently depending on their visual system sensitivity. Despite the wealth of knowledge on bird coloration and vision, few large-scale comparative studies link the evolution of the avian visual system and the colors birds produce. Using genomic data, 3D models of bird museum specimens, and a resolved phylogeny of all bird species we examine how visual system sensitivity evolves across the bird tree of life.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Brandon Taylor

Small molecule modulation of splicing is a therapeutic modality to disrupt or restore expression of proteins. Although high throughput screening efforts can readily identify splice modulating compounds, optimizing them for splice site specific activity remains a key challenge. Here we present how we utilize RNA-mediated oligonucleotide annealing, selection, and ligation (RASLseq) to examine hundreds of exon junctions simultaneously and measure both on-target activity and specificity for thousands of conditions.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Greta Binford

Brown recluse spiders are famous for bites that cause necrotic lesions. Our research advances knowledge about the evolutionary history of brown recluse and their relatives (biogeography) and uses that as a framework to understand where the venom toxins that cause lesions came from and how they have evolved new functions that make them toxic. I will answer the questions of how the brown recluse got to North America, when the venom toxin that causes necrosis originated in this lineage, and what we're learning about how that venom toxin affects insect prey.

Talk by Prof. Kristin Oberiano

"The Pacific island of Guåhan is the land of the Indigenous CHamoru people. This unincorporated territory – read “colony” of the United States— is also home to thousands of Filipinos who have settled on the island. This talk examines the relationships between CHamorus and Filipinos to think about the dynamics of settler militarism within the US empire.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Laura Fejerman

There are well-established disparities in breast cancer preventative behavior and outcomes by racial and ethnic identity in the US, that result from the interplay between structural, socioeconomic, socio-environmental, behavioral, and biological dimensions. Large research studies designed to investigate factors contributing to cancer etiology and progression have mainly focused on populations of European origin.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Maria Ruggeri

As climate change is set to exceed the current physiological limits of many species, survival in future oceans will depend on the ability to acclimate, adapt, and/or migrate. However, this response may be further complicated by ecological interactions, such as symbioses, where the fate of two or more organisms are tied together. Cnidarians, such as coral and sea anemones, form a mutually beneficial relationship with microscopic algae, but this symbiosis breaks down under high temperature.

Biology Seminar: Dr. Zoë Kitchel

The flora and fauna on this planet are currently facing unprecedented environmental change. In response, species can go extinct, adapt, or move where they live. Species in the ocean are moving in response to recent anthropogenic impacts at a rate 6x faster than species in terrestrial ecosystems. However, there is immense variability around this average. Species vary in movement to new locations based on population size, traits such as reproductive strategy and mobility, and where they are living.