2015-2016 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. 


Wed, Feb 3, 2016

Mt. Holyoke College Computer Science Seminar: Professor Gevorg Grigoran, Computer Science, Dartmouth College. Seminar Title: "Learning to Program Protein Structure and Function."

12:15 pm - 1:15 pm Mt. Holyoke College - Kendade, Room 307

Professor Grigoran's Research:  http://grigoryanlab.org/?sec=research

Nature appears to "program" proteins to perform remarkably complex tasks. We would like to do the same, on demand! Protein design is a problem that embodies this aim. Designing a protein means choosing a specific amino-acid sequence, from an astronomical number of possibilities, which folds into the desired structure and performs the desired function. Computational protein design seeks to do this by combining concepts from physics, biology, and chemistry into predictive models of protein structure and function. However, the unresolved grand challenge in the field is to make models that are accurate enough to be useful but are computationally f easible. In this talk I will summarize some of the advances we have made towards this goal through complementary approaches. 

Thu, Feb 4, 2016

UMass Microbiology Seminar: Professor Manish Kumar. Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University. Seminar Title: "Designing Biomimetic Interfaces for Efficient Electron and Water Transport."

11:30 am UMass @ Amherst, Morrill Science Center II, Room 222

Fri, Feb 5, 2016

Chemistry & BCBP Seminar with Professor David Christianson; University of Pennsylvania, Department of Chemistry. Seminar Title: "Structural Biology and Chemistry of Histone Deacetylases in Human Disease and Drug Discovery."

Mon, Feb 8, 2016

Katherine Lemon

Biology Seminar with Katherine P. Lemon, MD, PhD. Department of Microbiology, The Forsyth Institute. Seminar Title: "Nose Picking for Progress: Mining the Nasal Microbiome for New Insights into Pathogens."

Abstract: Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae are medically important bacterial pathogens. Both are also common constituents of the healthy nasal microbiome, and, in the case of S. aureus, the skin microbiome. The emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant clones of both of these species accentuates the need for new approaches to prevent infections by either. A number of commensal/mutualistic bacteria colonize the same body sites as S. aureus and S. pneumoniae. It is commonly accepted that bacteria occupying the same habitat may profoundly influence each other’s physiology. Yet, remarkably little is known about interactions that can occur between benign commensal bacteria and either S. aureus or S. pneumoniae. Our focus is to identify and characterize such interactions at a molecular level to better understand potential drivers of nasal and skin microbiome composition, and of pathogen colonization. We hypothesize that among the commensal members of the human nasal and skin microbiomes, there are beneficial bacteria that can interfere with pathogen colonization and/or shift pathogen behavior towards benign commensalism. Such beneficial bacteria, and the molecules they produce, could be the basis for novel small molecule and probiotic therapies to both prevent and treat infections.

Tue, Feb 9, 2016

Wed, Feb 17, 2016

UMass Animal Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences Seminar: Professor Weston Porter, Genetics, Texas A&M. Seminar Title: "SIM2s Regulation of the DNA Damage Response and Metabolic Adaptation in DCIS Progression."

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

Professor Porter's Research:  http://genetics.tamu.edu/faculty/westin_porter and https://www.vasci.umass.edu/graduate/departmental-seminars/spring-2016/sim2s-regulation-of-the-dna-damage-response-and-metabolic

Mon, Feb 22, 2016

Amherst College Department of Mathematics and Statistics Seminar: Aaron Coburn, Web Services @ Amherst College. Seminar Title: "Protein Data Analysis at Scale."

Abstract: The R programming environment is used by researchers and students alike to perform all manner of statistical analysis. This talk will describe a project at Amherst College that is using R to simulate and analyze protein structure perturbation, an area of study that has wide ranging implications for many branches of medical research. While writing the code for these simulations in R is relatively straight forward, running the code on a single machine can be prohibitively time consuming. In this situation, the typical approach is to rewrite the software so that it can be deployed on a Hadoop- or
MPI-based cluster.
With this project, we took a different approach and used Spark, one of the newer distributed computational platforms. The primary advantage of Spark in this case is its tight integration with the R execution environment, meaning the R code did not need to be substantially changed in order to run across a cluster of worker machines. Using the protein simulation project as a case study, this
talk will explore how Spark allows data scientists to make use of existing Rbased code both to analyze very large datasets and run highly parallelized computations.

Wed, Feb 24, 2016

UMass Animal Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences Seminar: Dr. Sarah Perry, UMass Amherst. Seminar Title: "Nature-Inspired Materials Design."

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

Professor Perry's Research:  http://www.umass.edu/perry/People/Sarah_Perry.html and https://www.vasci.umass.edu/graduate/departmental-seminars/spring-2016/nature-inspired-materials-design

Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Thu, Mar 3, 2016

UMass Microbiology Seminar: Dr. Rika Anderson. NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illiinois-Urbana/Champaign & Marine Biological Lab. Seminar Title: "Unraveling the Impact of Environmental Dynamics on the Microbial Pangenome."

11:30 am UMass @ Amherst, Morrill Science Center II, Room 222

Tue, Mar 8, 2016

Wed, Mar 9, 2016

Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Thu, Mar 24, 2016

UMass Chemistry Seminar: Professor Veronica Vaida (Five College Lecture Seminar Series). University of Colorado @ Boulder, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Seminar Title: "Building Molecular complexity with Sunlight at Aqueous Interfaces."

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

Professor Vaida's Research:  http://chem.colorado.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=288:veronica-vaida&catid=41:faculty&Itemid=93  and  https://chem.colorado.edu/vaidagroup/

UMass Microbiology Seminar: Professor Dong Wang, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, UMass @ Amherst. Seminar Title: "Host Control of Intracellular Bacteria in a Model Symbiotic System."

11:30 am UMass @ Amherst, Morrill Science Center II, Room 222

Fri, Mar 25, 2016

Veronica Vaida

Five College Lecturer - Professor Veronica Vaida; University of Colorado @ Boulder, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Seminar Title: "Sunlight and Water Mediated Chemistry in Planetary Atmospheres Including the Contemporary and Ancient Earth."

Professor Vaida's Research:  http://cires.colorado.edu/about/organization/fellows/veronica-vaida/  and https://chem.colorado.edu/vaidagroup/

Professor Vaida will also be giving a lecture at UMass Amherst on 3/24/16:  "Building Molecular Complexity with Sunlight at Aqueous Interfaces."  11:30a.m. in LGRT, Room 1634.

Mon, Mar 28, 2016

Biology Seminar with Professor Adam Learner, Professor of Medicine, PI and Director of Hematology Training Program

Boston University School of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology

Seminar Title: To Be Announced

Wed, Mar 30, 2016

UMass Animal Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences Seminar: Professor Juan Jimenez, UMass Amherst. Seminar Title: "Fluid Dynamic Implications in Vascular Disease and Development."

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

Professor Jimenez's Research:  http://juanmjimenez.weebly.com/  and https://www.vasci.umass.edu/graduate/departmental-seminars/spring-2016/fluid-dynamic-implications-in-vascular-disease-and

Thu, Mar 31, 2016

UMass Chemistry Seminar: Professor Daniel Nocera. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University. Seminar Title: "Authentic Artificial Photosynthesis: Solar + Water + CO2 to Liquid Fuels at High Efficiency."

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

UMass Microbiology Seminar: Professor Mara Prentice, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Harvard University. Seminar Title: "New Insights Into RecA Protein Mediated DNA Recombination and Repair."

11:30 am UMass @ Amherst, Morrill Science Center II, Room 222

Mon, Apr 4, 2016

Biology Seminar with Professor Rustum Antia. Emory University; Emory Vaccine Center.

Professor Rustom Antia, Emory University, Department of Biology.  Seminar Title:  "Can we make a “universal” influenza vaccine?"
We use mathematical models to address a broad range of study a number of questions on pathogen-host interactions.  How do how immune systems provide robust defenses against rapidly evolving pathogens?  What determines whether an infection is short lived or chronic, and if it generates long-lasting immunity? What are the roles of ecological changes and evolutionary factors in the emergence of new infectious diseases.  When possible we bring our models into risky confrontation both with experimental data. The answers to these questions could help us design vaccines against antigenically variable pathogens such as influenza, malaria and HIV. 

Wed, Apr 6, 2016

UMass Animal Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences Seminar: Professor Kenneth Korach, NIEHS, Reproductive and Developmental Biology. Seminar Title: "Evaluating the Physiological Roles of Era Functional Domains."

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

Professor Korach's Research:  https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/rdbl/pi/receptor/index.cfm and https://www.vasci.umass.edu/graduate/departmental-seminars/spring-2016/evaluating-the-physiological-roles-of-era-functional

Mon, Apr 18, 2016

Biology Seminar with Professor Kenneth Colodner. Mount Holyoke College, Program in Neuroscience and Behavior.

Seminar Title:  "Neuronal-Glial Interactions in a Drosophila Model of Tauopathy" 

Research in the Colodner Lab is directed towards understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of tau toxicity in the context of tauopathies.  Tauopathies, which include Alzheimer's disease, are a class of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the abnormal accumulation of  tau protein in neuronal and glial cells.  Our lab overexpresses the human tau protein in the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to interrogate pathways that promote tau toxicity in a genetically pliable model. This talk will highlight our current studies utilizing genetic, pharmacological and behavioral assays to understand how tau disrupts neuronal-glial cell signaling in the fly brain.