Seanne Clemente receives 3-year National Science Foundation GRFP and Ford Foundation Fellowships

Biology lab PhD student Seanne Clemente receives 3-year National Science Foundation GRFP and Ford Foundation Fellowships

We are fortunate to have a student who has successfully competed for both these prestigious national fellowships!

Go to this link to read more about the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.


Bac-Be-Gone Wins a 2020 Ginspoon Entrepreneurial Concept Award

Three of Peg Riley's student's won big!

Congratulations to:

Hailey Charest (2021, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology Double Major)

Hadley Beauregard (2022, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and German & Scandinavian Studies double major)

Bryanna Frietas (2020, Chemistry & Psychology double major)

Bac-Be-Gone won a 2020 Ginspoon Entrepreneurial Concept Award in which each member of the team won $150. The team was nominated by a faculty member and were then asked to fill out an application about their venture. Since it is an individual award, each member of the team was awarded!

The team was created by these three undergraduates and targets development of products to eliminate or prevent MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections!


How Plants Maintain a Healthy Sperm-Egg Ratio

Current molecular biochemistry, microscopy and genetic techniques have become so powerful that scientists can now make mechanistic discoveries – supported by multiple lines of evidence – about intimate processes in plant reproduction that once were very difficult to examine, says molecular biologist Alice Cheung at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the senior author of a new paper in Nature describing how she and her team used such tools to solve, in unprecedented detail, the mechanisms of how flowering plants avoid polyspermy. As the name suggests, polyspermy results from multiple sperm entering and fertilizing an egg, a condition harmful to the zygote. In plants, preventing polyspermy also means higher chances for more females to be fertilized and ensures better seed yields, both of which are agriculturally important.

Click HERE to read more!


POSTPONED-- 2020 Kaulenas Lecture: Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner on Prions Causing Neurodegenerative Disease

**** The 13th annual Kaulenas Lecture is postponed until further notice. A new date and time is TBD.****

This year's lecture will be given by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, the 1997 Nobel laureate in Physiology of Medicine.

In recognition of his pioneering work discovering prions, the underlying cause of neurodegenerative diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or Mad Cow), Dr. Prusiner has also received the Wolf Prize, the Lasker Award, the Potamkin Prize, and the National Medal of Science.

He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1992.

Dr. Prusiner will be speaking about recent discoveries in his lab, namely that the same misfolded protein phenomenon that gives rise to prion diseases is now widely recognized to play a role in most neurodegenerative diseases.

This lecture is sponsored by the Initiative on Neurosciences (IONs) at UMass.


Exploring the ‘Dark Matter’ of the Cell

Tom Maresca recently received a four-year, $1.3 million grant renewal from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to use specialized tools to learn more about the less-studied inner universe of the cell.

There is a little-understood realm inside cells that cell biologist Tom Maresca likes to think of as the cell’s dark matter, something like the largely unknown stuff that is so abundant in space.

He explains that a foundational aspect of how scientists think about biology is called the structure-function paradigm, referring to how many proteins adopt specific and highly reproducible folded shapes that allow them to carry out their functions. For these, shape and function are inextricably linked. “These would be analogous to regular matter and they can be studied with conventional biochemical methods and techniques like X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy,” Maresca says.

“But there are also many proteins that are predicted to have no specific structure, and they’re not as easy to study as well-folded proteins. They’re called intrinsically disordered proteins, which means they are unstructured,” he adds.

Sometimes referred to as the Dark Proteome, these shapeless proteins “appear to be very abundant, we just don’t know much about them. There’s been tremendous progress in understanding structure-function; now we hope to make progress in this other important area of how unstructured proteins function.”

For the new grant, Maresca and colleagues will collaborate with biophysicist Nathan Derr at Smith College.

Click HERE to read the full article!