H. de la Iglesia, A. Crowe, D. Promislow, K. Torii
Name: Dr. Horacio de la Iglesia
Title: A fear-entrained clock in the mouse
Abstract: Biological rhythms such as the sleep-wake cycle are synchronized with the 24-hour day and are regulated by a master circadian clock in the brain. This master clock needs to be reset by environmental signals that have a 24 periodicity. The most prominent environmental cycle is the light-dark cycle but other cycles can also affect the timing of these rhythms. We have recently found that a cyclic fearful stimulus that occurs during the night, when nocturnal rodents are foraging and feeding, leads to a switch in the timing of these behaviors to the daytime. This switch to daytime behavior in nocturnal rodents is the result of the synchronization of a circadian clock by the cyclic nocturnal stimulus and we are searching for the neural and molecular mechanisms behind this clock.
Title: BioMAPS: A tool to guide the curricular reform
Abstract: There have been several national calls to revise undergraduate biology education to focus primarily on core concepts and skills as opposed to topics. Many departments have been moving toward this goal, but have lacked a means to measure their progress. We have developed, validated and field-tested a programmatic-level assessment called BioMAPS (for Biology-Measuring Achievement and Progress in Science) that is aligned with the core concepts outlined by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) report Vision and Change. The BioMAPS assessment is administered at multiple points in the biology curriculum to monitor student progress and enable targeted curricular reform. We will present results from both local and national piloting of BioMAPS and discuss ways to use the data to guide evidence-based changes in our biology curriculum.
Name: Dr. Daniel Promislow
Title: All's well that ends well: A model of telomere size evolution
Abstract: Among mammal species, almost all life history traits are strongly size dependent. This size dependence even occurs at a molecular level. For example, both telomere length and telomerase expression show a size-dependent threshold. With some exceptions, species smaller than ~2 kg express telomerase, while species larger than that do not. Among species greater than ~5 kg, telomeres tend to be short—less than 25 kb—while among smaller species, some species have short and some have long telomeres. Why do we see this pattern, and why is the cutoff at 2-5kg when mass in terrestrial mammals varies over six orders of magnitude, from a 2 g shrew to 5000 kg elephant? We will present a model to explore the role of body size-dependent trade-offs in shaping this threshold, focusing in particular on the way in which risk of cancer and risk of cell senescence create opposing selective pressure on telomere length.
Title: Manipulating plant growth and development with an artificial hormon-receptor pair
Abstract: Plants form a critical base of our ecosystem. As such, the importance of plants for our life and sustenance of our civilization could never be understated. We strive to unravel the dynamic nature of plant pattern formation, and hope that our research will make innovative new directions in basic plant biology as well as a means for potential translation to agricultural sciences. As a founding member of the World Premier Initiative, Institute of Transformative Biomolecules (WPI-ITbM) in Nagoya, Japan, we are designing and engineering artificial signaling ligands and receptors to probe, hijack, and manipulate plant growth and development. In this short talk, I will introduce one success story emerging from the exciting, cross-disciplinary collaborations between Synthetic Organic Chemists and Plant Biologists.