Seminars: Spring 2011


February 7, 2011:  Patricia Brennan, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, UMASS Amherst. “Sexual Conflict and Genital Evolution in Waterfowl.” Dr. Patricia Brennan studies the evolutionary consequences of interactions between behavior, morphology and the environment. She is interested in how sexual reproduction results in the incredible diversity in anatomy, physiology and behavior that we see in nature.  She uses morphological data and comparative methods to answer functional and evolutionary questions. Her research interests include mating system evolution, sexual conflict and sexual selection, evolution of avian genitalia, and the evolution of egg color. (Host: Ethan Clotfelter)

February 21, 2011:  David S. Papermaster, MD/PhD.  John and Florence Solomon Professor Emeritus of Vision Research and Eye Diseases, Program in Neuroscience, Dept. of Pharmacology, University of Connecticut Health Sciences.  “What Green Eyed Frogs Have Taught Us About Blindness.”  During his distinguished career, Dr. Papermaster has held research and teaching positions at the University of Connecticut, Harvard Medical School, University of Texas at San Antonio and Yale Medical School.  He has published over 160 papers and abstracts, primarily on retinal membrane biosynthesis and protein localization at the EM level.  His more recent work focuses on the molecular biology and pathology of retinal degeneration and apoptosis.  (Host: William Zimmerman)

February 28, 2011: David A. Agard, Ph.D. Professor of Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of California at San Francisco.  "The Structure and Mechanism of the Hsp90 Molecular Chaperone: A Ubiquitous Facilitator of Cellular Signaling."  The Agard Lab has pioneered the development of new methods for determining structure at both the cellular and molecular levels including super-resolution light microscopy and EM tomography to analyze the structure of centrosomes and chromosomes. Using alpha lytic protease, Dr. Agard has pursued the mechanisms of enzyme specificity and explored fundamental concepts of protein stability and folding. His most current efforts focus on the mechanisms of microtubule nucleation by the centrosome and the ability of the Hsp90 molecular chaperone to assist protein folding. (Host: Biochemistry and Biophysics Program.)

March 7, 2011: Eric Bittman, Ph.D.  Professor of Biology, UMASS Amherst.   "The Fast Times and High Life of Super Duper Hamsters."   Dr. Bittman studies the molecular and neural basis of endogenous daily (circadian) rhythms in mammals. He focuses specifically on the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (SCN), a master pacemaker critical not only to general activity rhythms but also to the estrous cycle, the rhythmic secretion of many hormones, and seasonal breeding.  He uses, for example, gene expression analysis to determine how the SCN discerns day length, the key means through which reproduction is restricted to a particular time of year.  He also characterizes specific SCN cell types that participate in generation of the circadian oscillation, its synchronization with the outside world, and communication with the rest of the brain and ultimately the entire animal.  (Host: William Zimmerman)

March 21, 2001: David Haig, George Putnam Professor of Biology and Harvard College Professor, Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University.  "Prader-Willi Syndrome and the Evolution of Human Childhood."  (Host: William Zimmerman)

March 28, 2011: Duncan J. Irschick, Ph.D. Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  "Macro- and Microevolutionary Views on How Animal Performance Evolves."  Dr. Irschick’s research explores the evolution of complex function systems in all its facets, addressing the interface among organismal design, function and ecology. His integrative approach incorporates both field-based and laboratory-based methods. His study of arboreal lizards, for example, merges observational data from their native habitat in the Caribbean with laboratory explorations of possible mechanical limits on their locomotion and climbing  performance. Dr. Irschick’s recent work, intensive mark-recapture studies of a variety of Anolis species, seeks to investigate whether species with convergent morphology and behavior encountered similar selection pressures. (Host: Ethan Clotfelter)

April 4, 2001: Adam Williamson, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California Berkeley. “Proteolytic Regulation of Mitotic Progression."

April 11, 2011:  Dominique R. Alfandari, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary and Animal Science & Associate Director, Program in Molecular & Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  “The two faces of ADAM: Extracellular and Intracellular Guides to Cell Movement.”  Abstract: Cranial neural crest cells (CNCs) are cells that originate at the border of the neural plate and the epidermis and migrate from this dorsal position all the way to ventral positions of the embryo where they literally make the face. Taking advantage of the fact that the face is formed from these cells, the Alfandari lab and others have made important contributions to our appreciation of the essential role of ADAM proteases in cell migration.  ADAM proteases reside on cell surfaces and regulate many signaling pathways by cleavage of key signaling molecules such as the epidermal growth factor (EGF) and Notch.  They have made the novel finding that a single ADAM protease can generate extracellular signals that stimulate cell migration and also undergo intracellular cleavage of its cytoplasmic domain to yield a fragment that translocates to the nucleus and activates the expression of several genes.  Already, they have shown that the expression of one of these genes is essential for neural crest cell migration.  (Host: Richard Goldsby)

April 18, 2011: Michele Klingbeil, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Unlocking the Secrets of Mitochondrial DNA Replication in African Trypanosomes."   Dr. Klingbeil’s laboratory studies the basic biology of the protist parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of the disease African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), a fatal disease if left untreated.  There are no vaccines and current therapies rely mostly on drugs developed 50 years ago that are difficult to administer and toxic. T.brucei and related trypanosomatids are early diverging eukaryotes with a number of unusual biological properties, but one of their most distinctive features is their mitochondrial DNA called kinetoplast DNA (kDNA). Unlike any other DNA in nature, kDNA is a network containing thousands of catenated DNA molecules (minicircles and maxicircles). Recent genetic studies in our lab using RNA interference (RNAi) provide strong evidence that kDNA is essential for both procyclic form (PF-insect form) and bloodstream form (BSF-disease causing form) parasites, thus identifying kDNA replication and repair processes as promising drug targets.  (Host: Amy Springer)

Last updated:
24 February 2015 TLR