Biology Class of 2011 Graduation Luncheon

The 2011 graduation luncheon was attended by more than 400 people, and we didn't even run out of food! Congratulations to all graduating Biologists, and to this year's Biology Department Award Winners (download spreadsheet of award winners). Awardee and Family Group photos from our 2011 inaugural Biology Grad Luncheon are available at our Biology Alumni Links Page! Also, take a look at the Graduates Photobooth Slide Show made at the event.

Free T-Shirts! If you were unable to attend the luncheon this year, a limited supply of T-Shirts is still available in the Biology Undergraduate Advising Office. To get a free T-shirt, all we ask is that you upload a picture and comment about yourself as a Biology Graduate.

Clock of Evolution

Dr. Peg Riley and Dr. Sheila Patek taught a class this semester called Quantitative Systems Biology. Their class was comprised of students in their freshman year who were part of a Biology Talent Advancement Program, more commonly known as BioTAP. To add a little fun to the work load, Peg assigned an extra credit assignment, which entailed rewriting the lyrics to a song, recording them, and accompanying them with a video. The winners were rewarded with free Massachusetts Academy of Sciences memberships and some points added to their final grade.

The winning team remixed the song Tik Tok by Kesha, replacing the original lyrics with ones about evolution and other aspects of biology. The winners included Cindy Hession, Ayesha Sundaram, Julie Sun, Bianca Jambahkar, Chris Wu, Abby Needleman, and Deborah Lee. “We finalized the lyrics and then found pictures. Ayesha, Julie and I were the lyrics writers and the rest of the group found pictures and made the video and put in the subtitles for the lyrics,” said Cindy. She continued, “We recorded two versions and put them together using Garage Band with a friend who is a [Computer Science] major. We wanted it to sound like the best product we could come up with.” The group noted that it took them a few weeks to come together and get everything done.

There were no guidelines as to what song they could pick, but Tik Tok was a winning choice for this group. “While we were trying to think of how to rhyme words, Julie thought of Tik Tok because it’s really catchy, and we ended up just banging it out right then and there,” said Ayesha. As for the lyrics, “The course was based on Finch evolution and Sticklebacks, so we used to models we learned about in class and the two essays we each wrote to come up with the lyrics,” Ayesha told us.

It’s not every day that you see a bunch of science majors making and singing a song, but Cindy let us in on the fact that she did choir and chorus in high school so figuring out the tune wasn’t too hard. Cindy added, “It was stuck in my head for a few days after we were done because it was so catchy to sing in my head.” When asked if she liked the assignment, Ayesha exclaimed, “It was so much fun!”

Congratulations to the winners!

John ("Bud") Moner

by Theodore ("Ted") Sargent

I arrived at the University of Massachusetts as an incoming freshman in the fall of 1954. During my sophomore year, after deciding to be a Zoology major, I first met a newly-arrived professor, Dr. John G. Moner, who was enthusiastically introduced to my Introductory Zoology class by Dr. Gilbert Woodside, then head of the Zoology Department. Little did I dream that one day, in the not too distant future, John and I would share in teaching a similar introductory course in this very department.

Bob Wilce is still around and kicking!

by Alan Richmond

Over a decade ago emeritus professor Dr. Robert Wilce was featured in the BioMass No.1 issue. At the time Bob was in his mid-seventies and had recently received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Copenhagen for his decades-long work in the field of phycology. Back then Bob was of an age when most folks would settle comfortably into retirement. Now a decade later Bob is still hard at work.

Irschick Research Attracts Press Attention

Research by Duncan Irschick on the science of human hammering has been highlighted by many media outlets. The outlets featuring the research included,, Science Daily, UPI International, the Globe and Mail, and Scientific American. The research was done in collaboration with Jeff Lockman from Tulane University, and revealed intriguing differences between women and men in how they conduct challenging motor tasks in light-limited versus fully lit environments. This research was funded by a grant from NIH.