Current News

When biologist Duncan J. Irschick worked with sharks in Florida last spring, he longed for a simple, quick tool for creating 3-dimensional models of them, as well as the geckos he studies. So, he and colleagues developed a multi-armed platform that integrates several cameras plus a computer system to produce 3-D images. They call it the “Beastcam.”

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Jennifer Olins '17 Junior biology major Jennifer Olins has been a research assistant in Associate Professor Samuel Hazen’s regulatory genomics lab since she enrolled at the University in September 2013. She is one of a few talented students admitted into the campus’s competitive First-Year Research Experience program and the Biology Talent Advanced Program (BioTAP). Since joining the Hazen group, Olins has been awarded two competitive Commonwealth College Research Assistant Fellowships and received honorable mention for her application to the American Society of Plant Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program.

During her time in lab, Olins has become an independent scientist executing her own experiments. Highly skilled at the bench, she has mastered a number of scientific techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis, and yeast and bacteria genetic transformation. When Olins expressed a strong desire to learn microscopy, Hazen had her do so by having her conduct an experiment he needed for an article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. “The outcome was excellent,” says Hazen, “and because of her contribution Jenny is now recognized as a co-author on the article.”

Hazen was also impressed with Olins when the student that was performing many of the laboratory managerial duties recently departed for graduate school and Olins stepped in to fill the void. “Jenny is a clear leader within my group and a dedicated and thoughtful scientist,” says Hazen. “Her academic performance is also extraordinary.”

Olins, will be honored for her achievements at a spring luncheon with the Chancellor.

Full Time Faculty Position
Institute of Applied Life Sciences

The Human Magnetic Resonance Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is scheduled to open in April 2016. As part of a $95 million investment in the new Institute of Applied Life Sciences, the Center will house a state-of-the-art Siemens Skyra 3T magnetic resonance system. We invite applications from Ph.D.-level scientists for a tenured position in a department in the College of Natural Sciences at the rank of Associate Professor or Professor to serve as director for this new MR Center. The start date for the position is September 1, 2016.

The new hire will collaborate with IALS faculty and industry scientists, and provide essential training for the next generation of scientists. IALS and UMass Amherst are committed to the development of translational research programs and to fostering interactions with industry. IALS will fill a number of faculty positions at both senior and junior level over the next two years. IALS has recently made major investments in campus infrastructure and core facilities and is also partnering with the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.

Click here for position details.

Applicants should submit a current CV, research statement, and contact information for three references:
https://umass.interviewexchange.com/jobofferdetails.jsp?JOBID=66077

The search committee will begin reviewing applications on January 6, 2016. The search will continue until the position is filled. IALS and UMass Amherst are strongly committed to increasing the diversity of the faculty, student body, and curriculum.

For questions about the position, contact search committee co-chair John McCarthy at jmccarthy@grad.umass.edu

Elena’s research investigates neuromodulatory networks in the brain. She is interested in how activity in locus coeruleus norepinephrine neurons modify neural targets to change behavioral responses to environmental stimuli. Her lab primarily studies the impact of locus coeruleus activity on cognitive control and motor responses. This research increases our understanding of different disorders where locus coeruleus functioning is altered, such as ADHD and anxiety, and cases where locus coeruleus neurons are lost such as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Elena's lab is currently located in Morrill 3 South, room 413A, while her new lab is being renovated.

Alex is an Integrative Ecological-physiologist who studies the physiological
mechanisms and ecological interactions that allow and affect bird migration, as
well as the eco-physiological constraints that affect the ability of different bird
species to survive major environmental challenges associated with climate change.
You can visit Alex’s website here.

Alex’s lab is currently located in Morrill 3 room 409, with his new lab being renovated
in the space formerly occupied by Lynn Margulis (3rd floor of Morrill 3).

Duncan J. Irschick, Biology, Alfred J. Crosby, Polymer Science and Engineering, and doctoral candidate Casey A. Gilman, Biology, have shown that geckos have a spring-like mechanism in their bodies to enhance adhesion as they become larger, as reported in PLOS ONE article. In 2012, four of the authors invented the flexible adhesive Geckskin. BBC article, Science Newsline article. Nature World News article., UMass News & Media Relations article.

Gerald Downes, Biology, with James Chambers, Chemistry, and Amherst College neurobiologist Josef Trapani, have been awarded a three-year $824,025 collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation to study the zebrafish brain to better understand how neurons regulate locomotion. Downes, the lead investigator, says his ultimate research goal is to better understand how different chemical signals, called neurotransmitters, work together at cellular and molecular levels to coordinate normal locomotion such as walking and swimming.

News-medical.net.

Phys.org.

UMass News & Media Relations.

Duncan J. Irschick from the Biology Department and Al Crosby from Polymer Sciences and Engineering are currently starring in two TV shows on Geckskin. These include the episode "Inspiration from Nature" in Stephen Hawking's Brave New World Series, and "Inventors" featured in the show "Worlds Strangest". Both are currently airing in the US.

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.

Lynn Adler, with collaborators from Dartmouth College, the USDA, and Kew Gardens has received new grants from NSF and USDA totaling nearly $1 million to study how floral chemical compounds affect bumble bee disease. Together, this research will address the extent to which bumble bees are exposed to floral chemical defenses in wild and agricultural systems, the impacts of such compounds on bumble bee health, the role of such compounds in disease transmission, and implications for managing bee disease in agricultural settings.