Eco-Physiologist Alexander Gerson Receives $756,000 NSF Grant to Study How Birds Burn Stored Fat

Migrating birds complete long non-stop flights of many hours for songbirds and days for some shorebirds to reach breeding or wintering grounds. During such flights a bird's metabolic rate is very high, fueled by stored fat, but also by burning the protein in muscles and organs in a process that is not well understood, says eco-physiologist Alexander Gerson at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Now he has received a three-year, $756,000 National Science Foundation grant to thoroughly investigate the consequences and mechanisms of this phenomenon, which sometimes leads to dramatic reductions in migrating birds' muscle mass and organs but may not result in significant loss of function.

His research team will also look at water-loss rates in non-flight conditions, at rest, and look for differences among migrants and non-migrants. Further, Gerson and colleagues will conduct metabolic phenotyping and use transcriptomics to explore molecular mechanisms of protein breakdown and regeneration with UMass Amherst molecular biologists Courtney Babbitt and Larry Schwartz.

Read more in EurekAlert! article

Bartlett Receives $837,000 NSF Grant For Her Research in Unlocking the Genetic Secrets of Flower Diversity


A biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is hoping to unlock the genetic secrets of flowering plants — information that could be used to grow better crops. The researcher, Madelaine Bartlett, will study the development and evolution of grass flowers such as corn and wheat.

Bartlett said the goal of the project is to understand how the genetics of grass flowers influence their growth. “As the climate changes, we can develop more and better crops that can survive in places they wouldn’t have been able to survive before,” she said.

Read more in the Boston Globe article

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Professor Adler Receives a $1 Million Grant to Study Sunflower Pollen

Biology professor Lynn Adler at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an expert in pollination and plant-insect interactions, recently received a three-year, $1 million grant from a special “pollinator health” program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study the role that sunflower pollen may play in improving bee health.

In addition to basic research, the grant emphasizes extension outreach to the public and stakeholders such as amateur beekeepers, commercial bumblebee producers, vegetable and fruit growers, commercial seed producers and others to make the most useful results and new knowledge available to them.

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Research Fellow Position

RESEARCH FELLOW, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

The Fritz-Laylin Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass, Amherst) seeks a Research Fellow. The Fritz-Laylin lab studies cell movement at the interface of evolutionary biology and cell biology (see https://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/about/directories/faculty/lillian-frit... for more information). The initial responsibilities of the Research Fellow will focus on setting up the lab, including ordering supplies, interfacing with venders, and designing lab-wide organization systems. The successful candidate will also work with the PI to establish protocols and cell lines, and collect and analyze data using various cell migration assays and microscopy methods.

This is a non-benefited, full-time position. Initial appointment is for one year; reappointment beyond the first year is contingent upon availability of funding and job performance. Primary responsibilities will include, but are not limited to: Management management of lab inventory, including placing orders, and following up to make sure they are delivered correctly; preparation of solutions, reagents, and media; developing and maintaining database of frozen cell lines and other biological reagents; growing cells, and learning to recognize when they are healthy or sick; acquiring and analyzing microscopy data; writing detailed protocols for newly-learned lab techniques. Active participation in laboratory meetings is required of all lab members.

The successful candidate is required to have a B.S. in biology or a related field. Also required are impeccable record keeping and excellent communication skills (phone, email, in person), excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to work both independently and collaboratively on a team. Preference may be given to candidates with experience in cell culture, molecular biology, microscopy, and/or phylogenetics. Salary commensurate with experience.

Candidates must apply online by submitting a cover letter, CV, and the contact details of three references willing to provide letters of recommendation to:

https://www.interviewexchange.com/jobofferdetails.jsp?JOBID=85495

Review of applications will begin June 28 and continue until the position is filled. Applications received by June 28 will be given priority consideration.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities and encourages applications from these and other protected group members. 

Digital Life Project Uses 3D Technology to Document Endangered Frogs for Future Generations

The Digital Life team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by evolutionary biologist Duncan Irschick today unveiled an online set of 15 three-dimensional (3D) models of live frogs, including several endangered species, to promote conservation, education and science by showcasing their extraordinary beauty and vulnerability to ecological threats.

“Frogs of the World” represents the first-ever use of 3D technology to preserve accurate, high-resolution models of some of the most endangered frog species on the planet, say Irschick and members of the interdisciplinary Digital Life team.

Photo credit Daily Hampshire Gazette

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