Biologist Maresca and Colleagues Find Strong, Steady Forces at Work During Cell Division

Biologists who study the mechanics of cell division have for years disagreed about how much force is at work when the cell’s molecular engines are lining chromosomes up in the cell, preparing to winch copies to opposite poles across a bridge-like structure called the kinetochore to form two new cells. The question is fundamental to understanding how cells divide, says cell biologist Thomas Maresca.

As he says, “We know we can’t fully understand the kinetochore structure until we understand the tension forces and their strength, but the estimates have been all over the map. They differ by orders of magnitude, hundreds of times, and some are off by a thousand-fold. But now, I think we’ve finally got the answer.”

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Biology Major Nick Mucci in Daily Hampshire Gazette

Biology Major Nick Mucci profiled in the Daily Hampshire Gazette:

Though the Institute for Applied Life Sciences “officially” opened Friday with a ribbon-cutting, dozens of research projects have been taking place inside the 275,000-square-foot building on the flagship campus for some time. State and campus leaders say the research is already helping drive the regional economy and promote public health.

Nick Mucci is one of those researchers. The senior biology major at UMass, Mucci is studying how some types of bacteria evolve and possibly jeopardize cardiovascular health.

“If we can stop them at the microscopic levels, we’re hopeful we can make advancements in personalized medicine” to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, Mucci said.

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Campus Leaders Tour Morrill Science Center Renovations

On October 4, 2016, the Chancellor, Provost, and other campus leaders visited the Morrill Science Center to tour newly renovated spaces and see new enhancements in the Departments of Biology, Microbiology, and Geosciences. Renovations included new teachin equipment in the Intro and upper-level teaching laboratories as well as research spaces for faculty.

Katelyn Mullen ‘16 Travels to Italy to Present Research


Katelyn Mullen, a senior Biology major, is the recipient of a Biology Undergraduate Travel Award. She presented her research in a poster titled “New single-copy nuclear loci for scale insect’s systematics” at the International Symposium of Scale Insect Studies in Catania, Sicily this June. Katelyn works in the laboratory of Professor Ben Normark; he and Scott Schneider are coauthors on the abstract. She looks forward to presenting her research in this professional meeting and discussing her work with experts in her field. Congratulations, Katelyn!




Normark Named Fulbright Scholar

Biology professor Benjamin Normark was recently selected as a Fulbright scholar and will spend the fall 2016 semester in Mexico documenting the spread of the insect, cycad aulacaspis scale. It is an invasive species that threatens the country’s cycads, plants sometimes called “living fossils” because they have changed little in the last 280 million years.

Globally, says Normark, “Cycads are under unprecedented assault from armored scale insects and from the global nursery trade that sees cycads as commercially valuable ornamentals.” The plants superficially resemble palms, and are sometimes called ‘sago palms,’ but they constitute their own ancient branch of the plant family tree.

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