Paper Authored by Biology Faculty Defends "Oddball Science"

Biology faculty members Patricia Brennan, Duncan Irschick, Norman Johnson, and Craig Albertson have co-authored an article in Bioscience explaining why it is important to fund basic research in evolutionary biology. The Daily Collegian's report on the article's publication, which includes quotes from the authors, is available here.

Adler and Colleagues Study Disease Transmission at Flowers

Biology professor Lynn Adler and postdoctoral researcher Scott McArt have identified more than 800 studies on plant and animal pathogens in the hopes to learn more about this understudied area. According to Adler and McArt, not much is known about the transmission of these pathogens. Because of this lack of knowledge, the purpose of the paper is to bring attention to this area of research in order to learn how this transmission occurs between these plants and animals.

The UMass news release about the work can be accessed here.

Dumont and Colleagues Use New Tool to Analyze Bat Skull Shapes

Using a new approach that combines evolutionary and engineering analyses to identify the targets of natural selection, Biology professor Elizabeth Dumont and mechanical engineer Ian Grosse studied the evolutionary histories of the adaptive radiation of New World leaf-nosed bats based on their dietary niches. The researchers' new tool opens a way of discovering evidence for selection for biomechanical function in very diverse organisms and of reconstructing skull shapes in long-extinct ancestral species.

The UMass news release about the work can be accessed here.

Yi-Fen Lin Discovery Covered by New York Times

OEB graduate student Yi-Fen Lin has demonstrated that hairy-tailed moles seem to swim through the earth using their shovel-like paws which exert a force up to 40 times their body weight. An article and video about Yi-Fen's work recently appeared on the New York Times web site. Congratulations, Yi-Fen.

The New York Times coverage can be accessed here.

Bezanilla Awarded $600,000 NSF Grant

Plant cell biologist Magdalena Bezanilla has received a four-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further her award-winning research on fundamental processes of plant growth, in particular how molecules secreted by cells help to determine their outer shapes and patterns. Using a moss species that provides a simple, fast-growing model plant for which the whole genome is known, Benzanilla and her research team will manipulate the moss model by systematically altering the plants’ DNA blueprint to make minor changes in protein secretion, then evaluate what happens when proteins are altered one at a time.

The paper can be accessed here.