Department and Alumni News
Texas Woman’s University faculty and students will present their research to the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in the Golden Triangle Mall food court. Pioneer Research at the Mall is an annual event designed to engage the Denton community in discussions about current and upcoming research projects taking place at TWU.
Texas Woman’s University will host its eighth annual Ann Stuart and Ray R. Poliakoff Celebration of Science Friday, October 18, on TWU’s Denton campus.
Potential alternative to opioids discovered by TWU Department of Biology researchers
Congratulations to graduate award winners Namrata Raut and Sumod Sebastian
Namrata Raut, PhD candidate in molecular biology, recently received a very prestigious travel award from the International Society for Neurochemistry to support her attendance and presentation of her dissertation research at the joint meeting of the International and American Societies for Neurochemistry to be held in Montreal, Aug. 3-8, 2019. This award is open to trainees at the graduate student or postdoctoral level, so the competition is fierce.
Sumod Sebastian received a highly prestigious Richard W. Woodcock Dissertation Research Award in the amount of $5,000 from the Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice. The award was given in response to a grant proposal that Sumod wrote to finish experiments planned for his doctoral degree. A maximum of three Woodcock Dissertation Awards are awarded each year. The competition is open to any doctoral student in an appropriate field that is studying at a regionally accredited institution. One of the dissertation awards each year is reserved for doctoral students in the APA accredited School Psychology Doctoral Program at TWU. Of the six awards that have been made thus far, only three have been awarded to TWU students, two of which went to molecular biology doctoral students.
The National Science Foundation has awarded Texas Woman’s University a five-year, $999,794 grant to support scholarships and projects aimed at increasing the number of students and graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Associate clinical professor Shazia Ahmed, Ph.D., has been named a Biology Teaching Assistant Project (BioTAP) Scholar for the 2019-2020 academic year. Following a selective application process, she will join a cohort of 16 other scholars from across the US to enact research projects that inform biology graduate teaching assistant teaching professional development.
"By participating in the BioTAP Scholars program, Shazia joins a select group of change agents who we believe will start an important shift in undergraduate biology education," said Elisabeth Schussler, BioTAP Principal Investigator.
“The kids can actually see the actual process, which I think helps them understand what they’re hearing through their teaching. That’s the thing about labs is that it brings to life what you study in books and I think that helps to make it even more interesting for the kiddoes,” Debbie McReynolds said. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas Woman’s University and went to work for the city. Through the city, she was able to go back for a master’s degree in life science from the University of Texas Permian Basin.
TWU Biology at Tech Connect 2019
2019 TWU Honors and Awards
Texas Woman’s University biology professor and herbarium director, Camelia Maier, Ph.D., received the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) Conservation Medal at the 120th Annual State Conference of the Texas Society Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition to the medal, Maier received a certificate from Texas State Regent Susan Tillman at the awards dinner in Houston in March.
Congratulations to the following TWU Department of Biology faculty members, who received three out of eight awards presented at the TWU Faculty Awards dinner.
Distinction in Scholarship: Dayna Averitt, Ph.D.
Humphries Award: Camelia Maier, Ph.D.
Mary Mason Lyon Award: Christopher Brower, Ph.D.
Texas Woman’s University junior Kayla Jones has been awarded two top national study abroad awards totaling $4,375 to study in London this summer.
TWU biology student to present undergraduate research at Capitol
Texas Woman’s University biology senior Hanna McDonald will be among a select group of undergraduate researchers from across the state presenting their work at the Undergraduate Research Day at the Texas Capitol in Austin on April 1.
McDonald’s research examines why pain disorders, such as migraine and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), disproportionately affect women. Her research suggests that rapid changes in the levels of the hormone estrogen in the body can enhance the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin on pain.
McDonald appeared in two televised interviews, on KLTV Tyler and CBS 19, discussing her research.
Biology loves hockey!
TWU Biology students, faculty and staff at the March 23 Dallas Stars game.
Biology students, faculty, and staff enjoyed a night out with the Dallas Stars! It was a fun outing even though the Stars lost to the Penguins 3-2. We had a great view of the action on the ice from the nosebleed seats!
TWU celebrates groundbreaking for new Science and Technology Building
Biology faculty and staff celebrated the groundbreaking for the new science building with Chancellor Feyten, the Board of Regents, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Abigail Tilton. Current graduate student and alumna Daisy Cantu (BS Biology 2018, MS Biology candidate) was a featured speaker at the ceremony. Daisy spoke about the amazing opportunities she has had at TWU and how she overcame the 2% college graduation statistic for foster kids with the support from TWU faculty and staff. She said she looks forward to continuing her research with Dr. Dayna Averitt and completing her Ph.D. in the new, modern facility.
Paramita Basu, a doctoral candidate in molecular biology and an instructor of record in the TWU Department of Biology, was one of five TWU students to receive this year’s Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship. Basu was presented with the scholarship during the annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Awards last week in Dallas.
Congratulations to TWU Biology faculty nominated for the Students for Assignment and Teaching Recognition Symposium
"As an Assistant Professor of Biology at Texas Woman’s University, I teach undergraduate and graduate courses and manage a NIH-funded research program looking at the modulatory effects of hormones on pain and novel approaches to non-opioid analgesia. A large part of my job is mentoring undergraduates and graduate students in honor’s research projects, theses, and dissertations in my lab." -Dayna Averitt, Ph.D.
TWU professor of biology and herbarium director, Camelia Maier, Ph.D., has been awarded the State Conservation Award for Texas by the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Maier was nominated based on her distinguished volunteer conservation record, and she was selected based on her outstanding efforts in the conservation of pollinators in the Dr. Bettye Meyers Butterfly Garden.
Maier is the only Texas recipient to be recognized. She will be presented with the NSDAR Conservation Medal and certificate at the state conference banquet on March 22.
TWU biology faculty members Deepani K. Tennakoon, Ph.D., and Shazia Ahmed, Ph.D., along with doctoral student Namrata G. R. Raut co-authored "Engaging the Entire Learning Cycle to Ignite Enthusiasm and Learning" for Faculty Focus. The team used the Zull’s four pillars of learning, engaging the entire learning cycle into their lesson plan.
Tired of seeing the gruesome images of her country display on the internet and across social media, TWU biology alumna Anna Yeanuea Bendu Sherman-Karto decided to take the matter into her own hands, rebranding the negative image of her country Liberia through a pictorial blog.
Founded in 2016, Liberia Positives or "Libpositive" has grown to become one of Liberia’s biggest platforms, with extensions to Facebook, Twitter, as well as its own website: http://www.LibPositives.com.
TWU students raise money for a cause in experiential learning class
TWU students in Dr. Deepani Tennakoon's pathophysiology class at the Dallas campus researched 10 different diseases, presented their findings, and voted to support the Chromosome 18 Registry and Research Society as part of a Pennies for a Cause project. The first three weeks of student collections raised more than $200, with a total of $1000 raised over the 8-week course of the project. The TWU Office of Experiential Learning then matched $250 of the student collections, raising the total donation to $1,250.
"The goal of this project was to not only provide a learning opportunity, but also to provide an opportunity for students to collaborate, communicate with the public about a disease and inspire them to donate toward a cause. By doing so, they have increased awareness about a rare disorder, made an impact towards it, and had a rewarding experience that involved behavioral, emotional and cognitive dimensions of student engagement," said Tennakoon.
"Students commented that they felt they were a part of something greater than themselves and that they were making a difference by raising funds and spreading awareness. Through the student presentations, they were able to hear about diseases that had actually impacted their peers, which seemed to bring the disorders out of the textbook and into reality."
Tina Gumienny, Ph.D., has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for her project aimed at identifying surface coat lipids of a free‐living roundworm and a pig parasitic roundworm and understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling production of the roundworm’s protective lipid surface barrier layer.
Paramita Basu awarded Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship
Left to right: TWU biology Ph.D. candidate Paramita Basu with Chancellor Feyten, Virginia Chandler Dykes, and professor and chair, Juliet Spencer, Ph.D.
Ph.D. candidate Paramita Basu received the Virginia Chandler Dykes Award for the College of Arts and Sciences. Basu was selected based on her outstanding academic record and scholarship. Paramita is working under the mentorship of Drs. Camelia Maier and Dayna L. Averitt on a project that focuses on the development of non-opioid sources of plant bioactive compounds for pain relief.
The Virginia Chandler Dykes Endowed Scholarship Fund was established to attract the best and brightest graduate students to TWU. The scholarship awards are given annually, and the recipients are selected from four different colleges: College of Health Sciences, College of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Professional Education. The recipients share their research at the annual awards luncheon.
Mandy Biggers featured in 'Crossing over: A look at how local schools integrate STEM into classrooms and clubs'
“It’s not easy to do for teachers,” said Mandy Biggers, a Texas Woman’s University biology professor who specializes in elementary and secondary science. “It’s not something we’re trained on, but it’s something we’re working toward. It makes it more meaningful for students when you make those connections.”
Catalina Pislariu awarded Noble Research Institute subcontract
Assistant professor of biology Catalina Pislariu, Ph.D., has been awarded a $330,000 subcontract from the Noble Research Institute on a grant from the National Science Foundation for her project to establish symbiotic interactions with nitrogen fixing soil bacteria and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Educational and outreach components will benefit society by training the next generation of scientists and informing the general public on the benefits of low‐input agriculture.
TWU to host seventh annual Celebration of Science
TWU Biology professor and chair Juliet Spencer, Ph.D. (center), speaks at the 2018 Celebration of Science panel discussion.
Texas Woman’s University will host its seventh annual Ann Stuart and Ray R. Poliakoff Celebration of Science on Friday, October 19 on TWU’s Denton campus. Featured speakers for the event, which celebrates “Women in Science,” are Ann E. Jerse, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland; Alison Smith, Ph.D., chief engineer of materials analysis at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Indiana; and Juliet V. Spencer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the TWU Department of Biology.
Shazia Ahmed, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor and Laboratory Instructor in Biology, and Lisa Rosen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, published “Graduate Students: Present Instructors and Future Faculty” in Faculty Focus.
"Being a GTA is an incredibly difficult position, often with little support. There is the need to balance research, coursework for the one’s own degree, and courses one is teaching. The growing number of undergraduate courses taught by GTAs makes it imperative that we attend to the need for pedagogical training of GTAs, many of whom will soon be faculty."
TWU Biology Ph.D. students Sukhbir Kaur and Paramita Basu received travel awards from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) to attend 17th World Congress on Pain. The conference will be held from September 12-16, 2018 in Boston, USA. The award consists of a complimentary registration and a financial grant of $750 US, which will allow Kaur and Basu to attend the World Congress on Pain to present their research and participate in professional development events.
Averitt awarded NIH grant for study of trigeminal pain
Dayna Averitt (biology) was awarded a $385,000 National Institutes of Health grant for her project that will evaluate the potential for hormone modulation of serotonin’s ability to turn on pain mechanisms in trigeminal sensory neurons. If so, novel drugs targeting peripheral serotonin receptors may be highly effective at treating trigeminal pain, such as migraine headaches, in women.
Gumienny, Bergel awarded NIH grant
Biology faculty members Tina Gumienny and Michael Bergel have been awarded a $130,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for their project that investigates whether aging affects a DNA defense mechanism against UV radiation. Results may identify potential therapeutic options for cell protection from UV radiation. The grant amount was listed incorrectly in an earlier issue.
TWU Biology at the American Society for Virology meeting
TWU biology student Sushila; Laura Hanson, Ph.D.; and TWU biology student Prapti at the ASV meeting.
Juliet Spencer, Ph.D.; Laura Hanson, Ph.D.; and TWU biology student Prapti at the ASV meeting.
Juliet Spencer, Ph.D.; TWU biology student Sushila; and Laura Hanson, Ph.D., at the ASV meeting.
Denise Johnson, a TWU alumna and biology faculty member at Texarkana College, has received one of two 2018 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Teaching in Excellence Awards. Johnson earned her bachelor of science degree in biology from Texas Woman's University and her master of science degree in biochemistry from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. She has been at TC for 17 years and is the coordinator of anatomy and physiology courses for TC's science, technology, engineering and math division.
"Both recipients exemplify outstanding professionalism and work for the good of the entire college and community," said Dr. Donna McDaniel, vice president of instruction. "Through their guidance and leadership, students thrive and achieve their dreams of earning a college credential despite the barriers they are facing. We are fortunate to have both as members of our TC team."
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.
Throughout this project, she has established interdisciplinary collaborations with Michael Bergel, PhD, (cancer research) and Dayna L. Averitt, PhD, (pain research).
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.
Page last updated 11:00 AM, October 18, 2019