Department and Alumni News
Texas Woman’s University has been selected to send a team of four pre-service teachers along with a faculty sponsor to the 2018 NASA Minority University Research and Education Project’s (MUREP) Educator Institute at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The five-day on-site experience takes place June 4-8 and will feature student-centered classroom activities that use NASA assets and resources to help educators develop practices that will engage students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
TWU biology faculty receive EPA grant to fund second phase of butterfly garden
Biology faculty members Camelia Maier, Diana Elrod and Claire Sahlin (biology and multicultural women’s and gender studies) have been awarded $75,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency for their project to start phase II of the TWU Butterfly Garden and research the practices that enhance the habitat for wild pollinators and domesticated bees. The gardens will create habitats for pollinators, become educational observatories and research laboratories, and contribute to water conservation and pollution reduction.
PhD candidate receives prestigious ASBMB travel award
TWU Department of Biology Ph.D. candidate Paramita Basu, M.S., was awarded funding for graduate travel by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The award consisted of a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 US for allowable travel expenses and allowed Basu to attend the ASBMB 2018 Annual Meeting to present her research and participate in professional development events. Basu presented her dissertation project titled "Euphorbia bicolor (Euphobiaceae) Latex Extract Induces Antinociception and Analgesia in a Rat Inflammatory Pain Model", which was a collaborative project mentored by Drs. Camelia Maier and Dayna L. Averitt. The meeting was held in conjunction with Experimental Biology on April 21-25 at the San Diego Convention Center.
In addition to her doctoral research and studies, Basu serves as a mentor for TWU's International Mentoring Program as well as a TWU Sigma Xi Chapter membership committee representative.
Project may aid in treating obesity
Assistant professor Christopher Brower and graduate research assistant Yasar Kasu have been awarded $1,500 from the Texas Society for Microscopy for Kasu’s graduate proposal, “Developing High-throughput screen for Modulators of the Arginylation Dependent N-end Rule Pathway.” Brower and Kasu propose the development of a high throughput screen utilizing dual fluorescent reporters to identify small molecule modulators of ATE1 and the N‐end rule pathway. This project involves modern molecular biology techniques including extensive use of fluorescent confocal microscopy. Ultimately, this project may help in designing treatment strategies against obesity.
Assistant professor Catalina Pislariu, PhD, is one of seven scientists collaborating on a project that recently received a four-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Pislariu, along with scientists at the Noble Research Institute, Boyce Thompson Institute, Clemson University, University of Delaware (UD) and University of North Texas (UNT) will identify and study genes that help legumes access nutrients from soil.
Biology doctoral student lands summer internship with Bayer Corporation
Shuvalaxmi Dasgupta, a graduate student in molecular biology, will be completing her summer internship at Bayer Corporation. She will serve as a "Product Supply Biotech, Operational Excellence Summer Intern" in the San Francisco Bay area. Her responsibilities will include assisting the Capacity Expansion Biologics program, building platforms, collaborating with teams and supporting the core processes of the Biologics program of the UC Berkeley manufacturing site.
I am really looking forward to my experience at Bayer. I am confident that the knowledge and skills I have gained from my molecular biology program at TWU will help me throughout my internship and future career.'' Shuvalaxmi Dasgupta
TWU biology alumna appears in Wall Street Journal article
Tamiel Turley, a 2016 graduate of TWU's bachelor of science in biology degree program, was recently featured in a photo accompanying the Wall Street Journal article, "Mayo Clinic’s Unusual Challenge: Overhaul a Business That’s Working". Turley can be seen in the right foreground of the fifth image, where she discusses changes impacting her graduate program at the Mayo Clinic with Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes. Visit the Wall Street Journal website to view images and read the full article.
TWU faculty and students present pollinator garden research at Environmental Protection Agency meeting in Washington, D.C.
Clockwise from top left: Dr. James Johnson, Director of the National Center for Environmental Research; Dr. Bruce Rodan, Associate Director for Science, Office of Research and Development; Camelia Maier, PhD, associate professor of biology, TWU; Chelsea Matewe, undergraduate biology student, TWU; Sarah Pisquiy, undergraduate nursing student, TWU; Caitlyn Floyd, undergraduate biochemistry student, TWU; Charita Thallapareddy, undergraduate biology student, TWU.
As recipients of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 2016 People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant, Texas Woman's University faculty and students presented their research on pollinator gardens as part of the TechConnect World Conference's Innovation Showcase in Washington, D.C. The TWU team included biology undergraduate students Chelsea Matewe and Charita Thallapareddy, biochemistry undergraduate Caitlyn Floyd, nursing undergraduate Sarah Pisquiy, and biology faculty members Camelia Maier, PhD, and Diana Elrod, PhD.
In 2016, TWU was awarded a Phase I grant in the amount of $15,000 for their project, "Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat and Education". The goal of the project was to transform campus lawns into sustainable pollinator gardens, providing "learn by doing" research and educational opportunities. The project, also known as the Dr. Bettye Meyers Butterfly Garden, was approved in Fall 2016. This year's presentation, titled "Developing Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat, Water Conservation and Education," aims to educate students and community members about sustainability by creating sustainable pollinator gardens on campus that can serve as observatories, laboratories and beautiful habitats.
As part of the Innovation Showcase, the TWU team educated more than 100 visitors on sustainable pollinator gardens, and received visits from EPA administrators, including Dr. Bruce Rodan, the Associate Director for Science in the EPA's Office of Research and Development, who was involved in the former President Obama’s butterfly garden at the White House.
PhD candidate Paramita Basu receives Graduate Council Award for Exceptional, Original Scholarship
Paramita Basu, a PhD candidate in the TWU Department of Biology, has received the prestigious Graduate Council Award for Exceptional, Original Scholarship. Basu is working under the mentorship of Camelia Maier, PhD, to investigate the effects of phytochemicals isolated from Euphorbia bicolor (Snow-on-the-prairie), a plant native to Texas, on the proliferation and mode of action in different breast carcinomas and neurobiology of pain.
2017 Chancellor’s Student Research Scholar award winners announced
Congratulations to the following 2017 Chancellor's Student Research Scholar honorees:
Doctoral Biology Students
- Carrie Wilks
- Isha Mehta
- Remya Ammassam Veettil
- Sumod Sebastian
- Sirima Tongkhuya
- Paramita Basu
Undergraduate Biology Students
- Nkemjika Uke
Each student will be honored at the TWU Chancellor's symposium luncheon, and also recognized during convocation and commencement.
Doctoral student Arpita Talaptra wins first place for symposium presentation
Ms. Arpita Talapatra, a TWU doctoral student in molecular biology, presented at the 8th Texas Tech Annual Biological Sciences Symposium 2017. She presented her research, titled “Recognition and Involvement of Conserved BH3 Domain Interacting Members of BCL2 Superfamily of Proteins Involved in Testicular Germ Cell Apoptosis.” Arpita won first place for oral presentation in the Cell & Molecular Biology category. Students from 17 colleges and universities presented and competed for awards at this year's symposium.
Sukhbir Kaur Lulla, a doctoral student in the molecular biology program at Texas Woman’s University, has been awarded the American Pain Society’s Young Investigator Travel Award. Sukhbir Kaur will use the $750 travel grant to attend and present her research at the APS Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held May 17-20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Congratulations to our collaborative team of researchers for winning the TWU HUB Inaugural Ideas Competition awards start-ups on wellness mission!
Two members of the team presented an idea for developing a project that uses nanoGs for treating neurotrauma. NanoGs are polymer encapsulated magnetic nano carriers (PE-MNCs) that can be controlled/tuned externally using a magnetic field for targeted drug release. The team intends to use this system for therapeutic delivery that enhances axon regeneration in case of traumatic spinal cord injury. Team members included presenters Remya A Veettil and Sumod Sebastian, both of whom are Ph.D. candidates working in the laboratory of DiAnna Hynds, Ph.D. The project builds on an ongoing collaboration between Hynds and Santaneel Ghosh, Ph.D., professor, department of physics and engineering physics, Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO).
We also congratulate the following:
- Ph.D candidates Sumod Sebastian and Remya A. Veettil for winning the Howard J. Arnott Student Competition Award at the Spring 2016 Texas Society for Microscopy meeting for their presentation: “Role of dynamin and caveolae in the endocytosis of surface functionalized nanospheres in neurons and neuron like cells.” Sumod Sebastian, Remya A. Veettil, Thomas McAllister, Santaneel Ghosh and DiAnna Hynds.
- Michael Bergel, Ph.D., for his distinction of having the cover of The Journal of Biological Chemistry February 12th, 2016, issue. Sincere gratitude is expressed to Ph.D candidate Sanil Sansar (Hynds Lab) for his expertise in creating the cover art (pictured). The symbolic mitotic spindle fibers, composed of confocal microscopy images, demonstrate the colocalization of HDAC3 and H1.3 proteins to the polar microtubules and to the spindle poles in HeLa cells during various mitotic stages. The antibodies used for the indirect immunofluorescence staining were: anti-HDAC3 (green), anti-histone H1.3 (red), anti-Eg5 (polar microtubules motor protein) (green/red), and the DNA stain—Hoechst (blue).
A peer reviewed work also was published in the same issue: “Mitotic Activation of a Novel Histone Deacetylase 3-Linker Histone H1.3 Protein Complex by Protein Kinase CK2.” Hemangi Patil, Carrie Wilks, Rhiannon Wold Gonzalez, Sudheer Dhanireddy, Heather Conrad-Webb, and Michael Bergel. JBC Papers in Press, DOI 10.1074/jbc.M115.643874.
Research identifying a new protein complex associated with cell division, led by Texas Woman’s University associate biology professor Michael Bergel, is featured on the cover of the Feb. 12 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
2016-2017 Department of Biology Highlights
- The following faculty members took part in the 2016 New Investigator Research Enhancement Program:
- Dayna Averitt, Ph.D., Effects of Estrous Cycle on Trigeminal Pain.
- Christopher Brower, Ph.D., TDP43 Toxicity and Its Degradation by the N-end Rule Pathway to Prevent Neurodegeneration.
- Tina Gumienny, Ph.D., Determining the Roles of Three Cellular Trafficking Regulators in TGF-beta Signal Regulation.
- Sandra Westmoreland, Ph.D., and TWU biology graduate students Kacee Gardner and Jayme Collier attended the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) in San Antonio, Texas on November 11, 2016. They presented an invited one-hour workshop entitled “Using Case Studies to Promote Active Learning in the Biology Classroom” to 100 high school science teachers.
- Dayna Averitt, Ph.D., Chris Brower, Ph.D., and DiAnna Hynds, Ph.D., attended the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego on November 12-16, 2016, with 10 biology graduate students. This meeting is the premier venue for neuroscientists to present emerging science, learn from experts, collaborate with peers, explore new tools and technologies, and advance careers. Each of the graduate students presented a first author poster.