Annual Undergraduate Life Science Research Symposium

Annual Undergraduate Life Science Research Symposium will be held on Monday, April 18th . The Junior Fellows in the Life Sciences are hosting the event, which is sponsored by the College of Natural Sciences.

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor of biology at Baylor University, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium. He will speak at 4:00 p.m. in the Integrated Learning Center (Room S140). The talk is free and open to the public.

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is an internationally-recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development. His efforts promote research on, and access to, medicines for hookworm, schistosomiasis, Chagas, Zika, SARS, and other diseases affecting hundreds of millions worldwide. In addition to producing over 400 research articles, he frequently appears on television, radio, and newspaper interviews, and regularly testifies before Congress on public health issues.

Students interested in presenting their research can submit their abstracts online. The abstract submission deadline is April 11. All undergraduates conducting independent research are encouraged to participate, especially seniors completing capstone experiences.

Researchers Link Fungicides, Bumblebee Decline

Several bumblebee species have seen their ranges contract and some may face extinction due to several combined stressors, say ecologists Lynn Adler, professor of biology, and her former postdoctoral fellow Scott McArt, with others. Their recent analysis, one of the few to explore the relative importance of multiple factors, found unexpectedly that greater use of fungicides was the strongest predictor of range contraction in declining bumblebee species.

Crosby, Irschick Co-Direct New UMass Center for Evolutionary Materials

Polymer scientist Al Crosby and functional biologist Duncan Irschick, the inventors of the gecko-inspired adhesive, Geckskin, are co-directors of a new, system-wide UMass Center for Evolutionary Materials. It is intended to be a home for researchers from many fields who are interested in pursuing bio-inspired technologies to create new designs and products to benefit people and the environment.

Irschick explains that he and Crosby, inspired by the scientific and intellectual richness of their own collaboration and the success of Geckskin, want to see a center that will “engage people on a deep level of bio-inspiration, not as a buzz word but as a kind of intellectual playground for unstructured creativity. Such centers can be useful to foster collaborations.”

Normark comments on new findings on asexual reproduction

Benjamin Normark, Biology, was interviewed by media about a new study on Diploscapter pachys, a tiny roundworm has developed an asexual way to copy its genes that also leads to enough minute mutations to allow it to adapt but not cause crippling defects.

Podos elected President of the Animal Behavior Society

Jeff Podos was elected to serve as 2017-18 President of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), which is the principal scientific society for this discipline in the Western Hemisphere. The Animal Behavior Society, together with its European sister society, the Association for the Study of Behavior, edits and publishes the discipline’s flagship journal, Animal Behaviour. The main duty of the ABS President is to chair the society’s executive committee, which is responsible for arranging the annual ABS conference, running student research and travel award competitions, selecting distinguished researchers for society awards, and supporting society members across the hemisphere in research, education, and outreach.