2016-2017 Biochemistry Biophysics Seminar Series

In addition to seminars at Amherst College, we will also post off-campus seminars that may be of interest you and, if attended, will count towards the comprehensive requirement for BCBP senior majors. 

2017

Thu, Jan 19, 2017

9th Annual Gerald R. Fink '62 Bioscience Symposium 2017

Amherst at the Forefront of Access to Care and the Treatment of Cancer; In Honor of Rice Cowan Leach ’62

The Gerald R. Fink '62 Bioscience Symposium for 2017 will be held on Thursday, January 19 from 3:00p.m.-9:00p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room of Converse Hall. This is the ninth annual symposium and is sponsored by the Amherst College Class of 1962. To register for the symposium please visit: https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/colloquia/bioscience/2017-symposium....

The following speakers are expected:
George W. Carmany ’62, hospital chairman, health care investor and member of the Advisory Committee on Education of the Harvard Medical School.
Gerald R. Fink ’62, founding member of the Whitehead Institute and the American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at MIT
Barry Bloom ’58, former dean, Harvard School of Public Health
Isaiah Holloway, ’17, current Amherst College undergraduate and intern at The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
David M. Lawrence ’62, former CEO, Kaiser Permanente and national health policy commentator.
Doug Lowy ’64, acting director, National Cancer Institute and keynote speaker for this symposium.
Marc Pohl ’62, Ray W. Gifford, M.D. Endowed Chair in Hypertension, former section head of Clinical Hypertension & Nephrology at the Cleveland Clinic.
Kipp Weiskopf ’07, resident physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and cancer therapy researcher.

Thu, Feb 2, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor David Gorin. Department of Chemistry, Smith College.

11:30 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: "O-Methylation with Safe, Stable Reagents."

Tue, Feb 7, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Robert A. Cramer. Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "Oxygen and Fungal Virulence: To Air or Not To Air?"

Thu, Feb 9, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Nikolay Dokholyan. Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: "Control of Cellular Networks by Structural Disorder."

Tue, Feb 14, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Ruth I. Johnson. Biology Department, Wesleyan University.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "Mechanisms that pattern the fly eye – a model of organ development."

Wed, Feb 15, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Samuel J. Black. VASCI, UMass Amherst.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: “Enhancing Resistance to Animal African Trypanosomiasis.”
Abstract: Tsetse flies are endemic to the humid and semi-humid regions of Africa, a landmass of 10 million km2 that encompasses vast swaths of prime agricultural land suited to rain fed agriculture. Tsetse flies feed on mammal blood and transmit African trypanosomes in their saliva. The inoculated flagellated protozoans invade and multiply in the host blood plasma causing animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT), which is endemic throughout the tsetse habitat and fatal in cattle and other livestock species, but tolerated by Cape buffalo and other wildlife species with which African trypanosomes co-evolved and which serve as reservoir hosts. African trypanosomes change their variable surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat infrequently and stochastically, hence as each wave of parasites grows in the blood and is eliminated by the host immune response, new variants remain to seed the next parasitemic wave. In cattle and other trypanosomiasis-susceptible hosts this process results in recurring waves of trypanosomes in the blood, accompanied by recurring waves of co-lateral damage to the host cumulating in wasting and death. Trypanosome antigenic variation has so far prevented the development of an effective vaccine against AAT, which remains a major contributor to food insufficiency in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Black has worked on mechanisms of host control of AAT for the last 36 years, many of which were spent in Kenya studying how African Cape buffalo control the disease, and all of which were invested in discovering how to curb the severity of AAT in susceptible hosts. The seminar will review this scientific journey, and report progress towards understanding the mechanism of AAT induced pathogenesis and its control.

Tue, Feb 21, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Dmitri Nusinow. Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "Seasonal growth regulation in Arabidopsis."

Mon, Feb 27, 2017

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Scarlet S. Shell '01. Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "The Impact of Post-Transcriptional Regulation on Stress and Antibiotic Tolerance in Mycobacteria."

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in the Life Sciences in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Tue, Feb 28, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Dennis E. Discher. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics - University of Pennsylvania.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "From matrix mechanics to nucleus in development, adults, & disease."

Thu, Mar 2, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Brandon Ruotolo. Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: “Structural Biology in the Gas Phase: New Techniques for the Rapid Analysis of Protein Sequence, Structure and Stability.”

Fri, Mar 3, 2017

Professor Sean Elliott

Pryde Lecturer - Professor Sean Joseph Elliott '94; Boston University, Department of Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology & Biochemistry, and Bioinformatics Programs.

Mon, Mar 6, 2017

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Hewlet McFarlane, Nueroscience, Kenyon College.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "Rescuing Memory Deficits in a Mouse Model of Autism."

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Tue, Mar 7, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Roy Parker. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado @ Boulder.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "RNP Granules in Health and Disease."

Wed, Mar 8, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Brock Christensen. Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth University.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "“DNA methylation in on the continuum from normal breast to breast cancer.”

Mon, Mar 20, 2017

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Michael Levin; Biology Department, Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology; Tufts University.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "Bioelectric regulation of regeneration."

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Thu, Mar 23, 2017

UMass Marvin D. Rausch Seminar in Organometallic Chemistry: Professor Stephen Buchwald. Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: “Copper-Catalyzed Asymmetric Hydrofunctionalization Processes.”

Mon, Mar 27, 2017

Biology Seminar - Professor Ethan Scott. University of Queensland, Australia, School of Biomedical Sciences

Seminar Title: "Sensory Processing in Larval Zebrafish: Perspectives from Whole-Brain Calcium Imaging."

"In the Scott Lab, we are interested in the workings of the brain at the level of cells and circuits. We aim to understand how sensory stimuli are perceived and processed in the brain, and how the brain then interprets these stimuli to produce adaptive behaviours. Because of the brain’s extraordinary complexity, these questions are difficult to address by looking at individual cells. The flow of information through the brain relies on the coordinated activity of thousands or millions of cells, and on ensembles of neurons that are active simultaneously. For this reason, our research involves imaging activity in thousands of cells, and seeking salient patterns of activity across these populations. In a range of projects, we characterise the neurons and circuits that respond to various visual, auditory and vestibular stimuli; that play a role in the integration of information from these modalities; and that filter sensory information to produce behaviour."

Ethan Scott is an associate professor and head of the lab for neural circuits and behaviour at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia.

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Sari van Anders; Department of Psychology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "Beyond Masculinity: Testosterone, Gender/Sex, and Sexuality."

Departments of Psychology & Women's Studies; Program in Neuroscience; Program in Reproductive Sciences; Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Biosocial methods collaborative.

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Wed, Mar 29, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Michele Farkas. Department of Chemistry, UMass Amherst.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "Looking at Disease in a New Light: Chemical Biology-Enabled Tools and Platforms for Studying Cancer."

Thu, Mar 30, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor John Matson. Department of Chemistry, Virginia Tech.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: “Materials for Therapeutic H2S Delivery.”

Mon, Apr 3, 2017

Biology Seminar - Professor Joshua M. Kaplan. Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Seminar Title: "From Compost to the Clinic: Using C. Elegans to Study Psychiatric Disorders."
Recent human genetic studies suggest that mutations in ~1000 genes are linked to autism spectrum disorder. Although many of these genes encode proteins that are localized at synapses, the sites of connection and communication between neurons, relatively little is known about how these mutations alter brain function or development. An important goal for the field is to identify specific cellular defects caused by mutations linked to Autism and to determine how (and if) these defects contribute to the cognitive and developmental deficits found in Autism. My lab uses a simple model organism (Caenorhabditis elegans) as a genetic platform to investigate the impact of Autism-linked genes on brain development and function. C. elegans is a small worm (1 mm long as an adult) that lives in rotting organic matter (like compost heaps).
Why would anyone use a worm to study Autism? The justification for our strategy is three-fold. First, it is very difficult (both technically and ethically) to study this problem in brain tissue obtained from Autistic patients. Second, the majority of human genes linked to Autism are ancient and, consequently, counterparts for these genes are found in invertebrate animals (including C. elegans). Third, we assume that the core psychiatric symptoms found in Autism result from specific changes in the properties of neurons in brain regions associated with cognitive function and social behavior. Because Autism-linked genes are ancient, we assume that their cellular functions are also ancient and can be studied in C. elegans.
Our studies suggest that mutations linked to Autism in humans alter neurotransmitter release, the strength of inhibitory synapses, and activity-induced gene expression in worms. We propose that these cellular defects play an important role in the pathophysiology of Autism.

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Stephany Biello '90; Neuroscience and Biopsychology, University of Glasgow.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "Circadian Rhythms and Sleep."

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Wed, Apr 5, 2017

Thu, Apr 6, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Andreas Martin. Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California-Berkeley.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: “The 26S Proteasome: A highly coordinated Protein Degradation Machine.”

Tue, Apr 11, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Benjamin Tu. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: "Metabolic insights into pathways linked to neurodegenerative disease."

Wed, Apr 12, 2017

UMass Seminar: Dr. Misty Riddle. Harvard University, The Tabin Lab.

4:00 pm UMass @ Amherst; Integrated Science Building, Room 221

Seminar Title: “It takes guts to live in a cave: the blind cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, as a model to study the development and evolution of the gastrointestinal tract.”

Five-College Chemistry Seminar @ Hampshire College. Professor Sam Houk. Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University; and Ames National Laboratory.

4:30 pm Hampshire College - Adele Simmons Hall, Ruth Hammen Auditorium.

Seminar Title: "The Origins and Development of ICP-Mass Spectrometry: A 20 Year Research Project in Instrumentation."
This talk is a personal trip through the author’s grad school and postdoc days, when there were no plugand-play ICP-MS instruments. The talk also describes subsequent instrumentation developments that improved the capabilities of ICP-MS, i. e., collision cells to remove polyatomic ions, and GC and LC separations to provide speciation information. Interactions with scientific users and instrument companies played a big role in these developments, as will be described.

Link to Professor Houk's Research: http://www.chem.iastate.edu/faculty/Robert_Houk

Thu, Apr 13, 2017

Five-College Chemistry Seminar @ UMass: Professor Samuel Houk. Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University; and Ames National Laboratory.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: "Mass Spectrometry from Atoms to Metabolites: Fundamentals and Applications of ICP-MS and Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization MS."
One approach to chemical analysis by mass spectrometry (MS) is to use an ion source that converts the sample into atomic ions, i. e., ICP-MS. Basic instrumentation, capabilities and scientific uses of ICP-MS will be described, including standard applications and new ones such as a) discovery of entirely new elements, and b) large-scale screening of antibody binding in biomedical research. Areas of new research will also be discussed.
The second, more common approach is to use an ion source that produces gas-phase ions from the analyte molecules without fragmenting them. There are many such sources; our work combines two of them, laser ablation (LA) for solid sampling plus electrospray ionization (ESI) for supplemental ionization. This combination is amenable to applications that employ mass spectrometry imaging. We use this LAESI-MS method for large scale identification of metabolite compounds in plants.

Link to Professor Houk's Research: http://www.chem.iastate.edu/faculty/Robert_Houk

Five-College Chemistry Seminar @ Smith College. Professor Sam Houk. Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University; and Ames National Laboratory.

5:00 pm Smith College, Ford Hall 240.

Seminar Title: "Structural Studies of Biomolecules by Mass Spectrometry and Ion Mobility."
There are several relatively new developments in MS that allow study of the actual 3-dimensional structures of biomolecules, not just their identification based on molecular weight and fragmentation. This talk describes the use of ion mobility separations to determine ion cross-sections, combined with ion-ion reactions to manipulate their structures. Proteins are emphasized.

Link to Professor Houk's Research: http://www.chem.iastate.edu/faculty/Robert_Houk

Mon, Apr 17, 2017

Biology Seminar - Professor Stefan Pukatzki. University of Colorado, School of Medicine.

Seminar Title: "Driven to Survive: Resolving Microbial Competition Strategies of the Cholera Bacterium."
Bacteria have evolved sophisticated strategies to compete for nutrients and space. One prominent strategy relies on the type VI secretion system (T6SS) that allows injection of toxins into neighboring bacteria. Translocation of toxins by T6SS is lethal unless the receiving cell produces immunity proteins that bind and deactivate the incoming toxins. In today’s seminar, we discuss how the cholera bacterium Vibrio cholerae uses this system for transmission and pathogenesis.
Dr. Pukatzki is a Professor of Immunology & Microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Fri, Apr 21, 2017

Mon, Apr 24, 2017

Smith College - Biological Science Seminar; Professor Jesse Bellemare; Biological Sciences, Smith College.

4:30 pm Smith College; McConnell Hall - Room 103.

Seminar Title: "Climate Change, Plant Conservation, and the Possibility of Human-Assisted Range Shifts."

(Mary Elizabeth Dickason King M.D. Annual Lecture Series in Memory of Professor Howard Parshley.)

Thu, Apr 27, 2017

UMass Seminar: Professor Matthew Liptak. Department of Chemistry, University of Vermont.

11:00 am UMass @ Amherst; Lederle Graduate Research Tower, Room 1634

Seminar Title: "Non-Canonical Heme Oxygenases: A New Chapter of Heme-Oxygen Chemistry."