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Biological Sciences News

Biological Diversity Treaty Needs to Protect Diversity of Wild Species

Posted Thu, 12 Mar 2020 15:32:00 -0700

The proposed post-2020 goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity — a treaty signed by 195 countries — do not sufficiently consider genetic diversity, writes evolutionary biologist Paul Hohenlohe and his colleagues in a letter published in Science. The letter states that the goals focus on conserving the genetic diversity of livestock, domestic species and their wild relatives but should extend to all wild species, as the more genetic diversity a species has, the greater chance it has to adapting to changing environments. Read more

U of I Researchers Named as Some of the Most Influential of the Past Decade

Posted Thu, 05 Dec 2019 16:00:00 -0800

Four researchers from the University of Idaho, Jeffrey Hicke, John Abatzoglou, Luke Harmon and Paul Hohenlohe, have been recognized as being among the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade. The list, compiled by Web of Science Group, recognizes the work of influential researchers around the globe who have produced multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year. Read more

Dynamic Virtual Protein Project Wins International Award

Posted Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:20:00 -0800

A University of Idaho team recently presented at the 25th VRST Symposium in Sydney, Australia, and won the Best Demo Award for their project "Dynamic Virtual Proteins: Visualization, Interaction and Collaboration in Virtual Reality." In the world of virtual reality, the Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST) is among the top 10 conferences in the world. The Dynamic Virtual Proteins project team consisted of Jean-Marc Gauthier, Virtual Technology and Design associate professor, Jagdish Suresh Patel, Department of Biological Sciences research assistant professor, and Ian McGrath, 2019 graduate of the College of Art and Architecture. The interdisciplinary research is part of a $6 million EPSCoR Track-2 grant from NSF and supported by the Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation. Read more

Grad Student Develops Program to Increase Accuracy of Community Formation Processes

Posted Wed, 27 Nov 2019 13:29:00 -0800

Doctoral candidates Megan Ruffley, Katie Peterson and Bob Week recently published a paper in Ecology and Evolution titled "Identifying Models of Trait-Mediated Community Assembly Using Random Forests and Approximate Bayesian Computation." This publication is the second chapter of Ruffley's dissertation and the culmination of her lab rotation in Luke Harmon's lab. Ruffley designed a program called Community Assembly Model Inference, or CAMI. It uses a stochastic algorithm to simulate communities assembled under environmental filtering, competitive exclusion and neutral species assembly processes. The paper and the creation of the accompanying CAMI program involved students and faculty with a wide range of research areas and skill sets. Read more

Getting the Timing Right

Posted Fri, 22 Nov 2019 16:00:00 -0800

Undergraduate researcher Courtney Schreiner, from Scott Nuismer's lab, recently had her first paper published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology. Schreiner's paper highlights her research on the timing of vaccinations for wildlife populations. Read more

Jill Johnson, Biological Sciences, Receives NIH Grant

Posted Tue, 29 Oct 2019 13:28:00 -0700

Professor Jill Johnson, in the Department of Biological Sciences and the College of Science, has been awarded a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. These funds will be used to better understand the basic mechanism of how the molecular chaperone Hsp90 interacts with other proteins, called clients, in order to regulate their function. Hsp90 is a global cellular regulator that controls the function of up to 15% of all cellular proteins, including many proteins that drive cancerous cell growth. Drugs that target Hsp90 block the function of cancer-causing proteins and stop tumor growth but are too toxic for general use. This award will allow Johnson and her collaborators at the University of Alberta and the Technical University of Munich to better understand Hsp90 function, paving the way toward development of more selective inhibitors of Hsp90 function that have fewer toxic effects. Read more

Study Provides First Step Toward Developing Inexpensive Diagnostic Tests to Assess Risk for Preterm Birth

Posted Fri, 25 Oct 2019 16:00:00 -0700

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from Cornell University, the University of Sao Paulo, and other Brazilian universities, recently published a paper in the journal mBio which found that measuring levels of D-lactic acid and a protein called TIMP-1 may be a non-invasive, cost-effective way to assess the risk for preterm birth due to a short cervix. The study provides a first step toward the development of an inexpensive point-of-care diagnostic test to assess the presence of known risk factors for preterm birth in resource-poor areas. Read more

Bacteria in the Human Vagina that Produce D-Lactic Acid Promote Resistance to Chlamydial Infections

Posted Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:20:00 -0700

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland, recently published a paper entitled "The Cervicovaginal Microbiota-Host Interaction Modulated Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection" in the journal mBio that detailed their most recent study of the vaginal microbiome. These findings may enable the development of novel microbiome-based therapeutic strategies to protect women from infections and improve vaginal and cervical health. Read more

U of I Study: Thyroid Hormone Can Alter Color Vision in Zebrafish, Potentially in Humans

Posted Mon, 05 Aug 2019 13:43:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — Aug. 5, 2019 — Exposure to thyroid hormone can alter eye function in zebrafish, a result with implications for curing color blindness and retinal degeneration in humans. The University of Idaho study found the dosage of thyroid hormone in zebrafish could switch the type of opsin — proteins that support color vision — produced in individual eye cells called cones, likely influencing the animals’ color vision. Zebrafish and humans have similar genetics when it comes to color vision. Read more

Mellisa Clemons Receives NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship

Posted Fri, 14 Jun 2019 15:26:00 -0700

Congratulations to Mellisa Clemons of the Fuerst lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, who received a $25,000 NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship for “Genetic Characterizations of Retinal Cell Signaling Proteins.” Read more

Which Bacteria are Spreading Antibiotic Resistance in Wastewater?

Posted Fri, 07 Jun 2019 15:45:00 -0700

Eva Top and Thibault Stalder from the Department of Biological Sciences and the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies published in The ISME Journal, the Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology. The study identified bacteria that can carry antibiotic resistance genes through a wastewater treatment plant. These findings may help scientists determine how resistance emerges and disseminates, limit the spread of antibiotic resistance and predict which antibiotic resistance genes will show up in future infectious disease outbreaks. Read more

Jeff A. Johnson Award for Excellence Awarded to U of I Director

Posted Fri, 07 Jun 2019 15:45:00 -0700

Congratulations to Ken Baker, interim director of the University of Idaho Integrated Design Lab at the College of Art and Architecture in Boise, who received the 2019 Jeff A. Johnson Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Building Energy Codes from the U.S Department of Energy. The award recognizes Baker's outstanding accomplishments surrounding building energy codes and his impact, innovation, collaboration and passion. Read more

University of Idaho Research Hits Science Magazine

Posted Thu, 09 May 2019 15:41:00 -0700

The cover of Science Magazine currently features an important discovery made by an international research team: deep-sea fish can see more than just one color. When a Switzerland- and Australia-based research team recently needed to validate their findings regarding what colors of light a deep-sea fish species could see at up to 1500 meters below the surface, they turned to scientists at the University of Idaho. Biological Sciences Research Assistant Professor and CMCI Modeling Fellow Jagdish Patel and Biological Sciences Professors Deborah Stenkamp and Celeste Brown used Patel's newly developed computational molecular simulation based approach to generate a mathematical model to predict color sensitivity. Read more

U of I Researcher Jill Johnson Publishes Paper on Heat Shock Proteins in Nature Communications

Posted Mon, 15 Apr 2019 14:29:00 -0700

Professor Jill Johnson, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Würzburg, recently published a paper in Nature Communications titled, "The Conserved NxNNWHW Motif in Aha1-Type Cochaperones Modulates the Kinetics of Hsp90 ATPase Stimulation and is Essential for In Vivo Function." This research seeks to understand how Hsp90 partners with interacting cochaperones to help 10-15 percent of cellular proteins fold properly. Read more

Biological Sciences Researcher Diana Mitchell Published in Scientific Reports - Nature

Posted Mon, 01 Apr 2019 16:37:00 -0700

Assistant Professor Diana Mitchell, in collaboration with Deb Stenkamp of the Department of Biological Sciences and the IBEST GRC, recently published a paper in the Scientific Reports - Nature Journal titled "Regeneration Associated Transcriptional Signature of Retinal Microglia and Macrophages." Funding for this work was provided by Idaho INBRE through a technology access grant awarded to Mitchell and an National Institutes of Health R21 grant awarded to Stenkamp. Their research seeks to understand the remarkable capacity in which zebrafish can regenerate retinal neurons, in this case with a focus on immune cell populations present during retinal repair. Read more

National Academy of Sciences Member Jim Bull to Join U of I Faculty

Posted Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:01:00 -0800

MOSCOW, Idaho — Feb. 13, 2019 — National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Jim Bull will join the University of Idaho faculty in fall 2019. He will be the first NAS member affiliated with an educational institution in Idaho, according to NAS. The academy is a nonprofit and private society of scholars charged by Congress to provide the nation objective and independent council on scientific and technological matters; Bull was elected to NAS in 2016. Read more

Study Highlights the Beginnings of a Beautiful Bacterial Friendship

Posted Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:38:00 -0700

Department of Biological Sciences' Chris Marx and colleagues representing three other universities published a study this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The laboratory study addressed how two species can evolve a relationship that increases the chance of survival for both despite the energy costs to both. Read more

U of I Faculty Awarded Seed Grant Funding for 19 Projects

Posted Tue, 15 May 2018 11:00:00 -0700

Nineteen faculty members at the University of Idaho were awarded funding for FY2019 through the university’s Seed Grant program. Sponsored by the Office of Research and Economic Development, the Seed Grant program helps early career faculty establish a scholarly program. The program aims to promote research, outreach and creative activities that will improve individual faculty competitiveness for external funding and/or will result in publications, patents, recognition, awards or exhibitions/performances. Seed Grant awards ranged from $8,200 to $12,000. Read more

Two U of I Faculty Members Earn National Recognition for Research

Posted Thu, 10 May 2018 09:38:00 -0700

Two University of Idaho faculty members have received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for early career scholars. Christine Parent, an assistant professor of biological sciences and member of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), and Eric Mittelstaedt, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics, both in the U of I College of Science, earned Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards, along with a combined $1.7 million in research funding. Read more

ORED Announces Equipment and Infrastructure Support (EIS) Award Funding

Posted Thu, 03 May 2018 10:48:00 -0700

Twelve University of Idaho proposals were selected for funding in 2018 through the Office of Research and Economic Development's (ORED) Equipment and Infrastructure Support (EIS) Award program. The program supports equipment purchases, upgrades and repairs to enhance research, scholarship and creative activity at the university.
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