Colloquium Schedule


All colloquia are in Wege Auditorium at 1:10pm on the dates below (except where noted).

Date TBD in early September – Norm Bell, Safety talk for all students working in labs.  This is mandatory!!

September 13, 2019  – “Strategies for designing and delivering a scientific presentation” (by Matt Carter, Associate Professor of Biology)
It takes time, effort and skill to design and deliver an engaging scientific talk that audiences understand and remember.  In this one-hour presentation, we will discuss three aspects of designing an outstanding scientific talk: (1) organizing complex scientific information into a clear narrative; (2) using PowerPoint or Keynote software to visually communicate scientific concepts; and (3) improving verbal and nonverbal delivery during a presentation. This seminar is open to anyone and is especially applicable to senior thesis students.

September 20, 2019 – Amy Rosenzweig (BIMO Class of 1960 Scholar), Northwestern University
Biological methane oxidation”
Methanotrophic bacteria oxidize methane to methanol in the first step of their metabolic pathway. Whereas current catalysts that can selectively activate the 105 kcal mol-1C-H bond in methane require high temperatures and pressures,methanotrophs perform this chemistry under ambient conditions using methane monooxygenase (MMO) enzymes. In most methanotrophs, this chemically challenging reaction is catalyzed by particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), a copper-dependent, integral membrane enzyme. pMMO is composed of three subunits, PmoA, PmoB, and PmoC, arranged in a trimeric complex. Despite extensive research and the availability of multiple crystal structures, the location and nature of the pMMO copper active site remain controversial. Studies are further complicated by issues with retaining enzymatic activity and uncertainties regarding the possible involvement of additional protein components. Progress towards addressing these questions using biochemical, biophysical, and genetic approaches will be discussed.​

September 27, 2019 – Jason Andras, Mt. Holyoke
“Learning the steps of the host-parasite dance: Molecular genetic insights into the ecology & evolution of an invertebrate-bacterial pathosystem”
Reciprocal selection between parasites and their hosts is thought to be one of the strongest, most dynamic, and most pervasive evolutionary forces – putatively responsible for such fundamental features of life as the existence of sex and the ubiquitous occurrence of genetic variation. Models of host-parasite coevolution are typically predicated, either explicitly or implicitly, on specific assumptions regarding the genetic architecture of parasite infectivity and host resistance, yet the genetic basis of interaction is not known for most host-parasite associations. In this talk I will discuss my research groups’ contributions to recent advances in one of the host-parasite systems we understand the best: the waterflea Daphnia magna, and its obligate bacterial parasite Pasteuria ramosa. Specifically, I will discuss our use of population genomics and other tools to identify loci of host-parasite interaction, as well as our efforts to examine patterns of spatial and temporal variation at those loci in natural populations to test key predictions of coevolutionary theory.

October 4, 11, 18, 2019 – Thesis Talks two of these dates, depending on Mountain Day

October 25, 2019 – Sigma Xi Lecture featuring Professor Manuel Morales at 4:15pm

November 1, 2019 – Matt Walsh, University of Texas, Arlington
“Why are organisms (and their offspring) phenotypically plastic in response to environmental change?
It has long been known that changes in environmental conditions can induce phenotypic changes in organisms. Such ‘phenotypic plasticity’ has been documented across a wide array of taxa in response to numerous environmental stressors. Furthermore, it is now well established that environmental signals can induce phenotypic changes that span multiple generations. This ‘transgenerational plasticity’ is equally widespread. This seminar will highlight model predator-prey systems in lakes in Wisconsin and Connecticut and stream communities in Trinidad to address longstanding and contemporary questions regarding how and why plasticity (including transgenerational plasticity) evolves and the role that plasticity plays in the ability of organisms to adapt and persist in changing environments.

November 8, 2019 – Jennifer Raymond (BIOL Class of 1960 Scholar), Stanford University
“Neural Learning Rules in the Cerebellum”
The research in my lab investigates the algorithm the cerebellar circuit uses to learn.  This algorithm is defined by the rules governing the local “decisions” each synapse makes on a moment-by-moment basis about whether to alter its strength, based on its pattern of input.  I will describe recent progress we have made in understanding synaptic learning rules in the cerebellum.  Neuroscientists have generally viewed learning as being implemented by a few, generic synaptic plasticity rules, with the specialization for specific behavioral tasks arising from the circuit architecture. In contrast, we recently discovered that the synaptic plasticity rules themselves can be precisely tuned to functional requirements.

November 15, 2019 – Lisa Leon, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine
“Prior viral illness as a risk factor for heat stroke in mice”
This talk will provide experimental data that confirms recent epidemiological findings that prior illness is a significant risk factor for heat stroke. The experimental data demonstrate that even in the absence of overt clinical symptoms of illness, mice with previous viral illness experience more severe heat stroke compared to naïve animals that never experienced a prior illness. Importantly, heat stroke severity was increased despite no effect on the thermoregulatory response to heat exposure, but was related to dysfunction of inflammatory and coagulation pathways.
Presentation attendees will gain a better understanding of the impact of prior illness on heat stroke susceptibility and how physiological and immunological pathways can interact to mediate the systemic inflammatory response to these stressors.

February 7, 2020 – Scott Kanowski, University of Southern California
“Western diet consumption and memory impairment: what, when, and how?”
Habitual consumption of a “Western diet”, containing higher than recommended levels of simple sugars and saturated fatty acids, is associated with cognitive impairments in humans and in various experimental animal models. Emerging findings reveal that the specific mnemonic processes that are disrupted by Western diet consumption are those that rely on the hippocampus, a brain region classically linked with memory control and more recently with the higher-order control of feeding behaviors. Our laboratory has recently established a rat model in which excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during the juvenile and adolescent periods of development (but not during adulthood) impairs hippocampal-dependent memory function without concomitant increases in total caloric intake, body weight, or adiposity. Thus, consuming individual components of a Western diet in excess (e.g., sugar) early in life has deleterious effects on memory function independent of obesity. Moreover, memory deficits due to early life sugar consumption are long-lasting into adulthood even when sugar access is removed at the end of the adolescent stage. Our ongoing work is investigating neurogenic changes and alterations in the gut microbiota as potential underlying neurobiological mechanisms linking early life sugar consumption to adverse neurocognitive outcomes.

February 21, 2020(BIOL Class of 1960 Scholar Event) Alumni Reunion – The purpose of the reunion is to provide our students a window on the process of finding and gaining admission to graduate Ph.D or MD/Ph.D programs.  The reunion has two parts.  First, a panel discussion will be led by our visiting alumni who are now in Ph.D, MD/Ph.D or post-doctoral programs (in Wege @ 2pm).  Second, the panel will be followed by a poster session where students can talk individually with the panelists about their current research and about other topics related to moving forward towards a career in basic or medical research (in TBL 211 @ 3pm).   This year’s returning alumni will be Achala Chittor ’15, Hector Trujillo ’16, Rachel Essner ’16 and Jonathan MacDougall ’17.

February 28, 2020 – Leah Katzelnick ’10, UC Berkeley

March 6, 2020 – Jessica Malisch, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

March 13, 2020 – Joseph Lachance, Georgia Tech

April 10, 2020 – Alessandro Silvani, University of Bologna, Italy

April 17, 2020 – Stephanie Padilla, UMass, Amherst

April 24, 2020 – Mary Gehring (BIMO Class of 1960 Scholar), Whitehead Institute

May 8, 2020 – Thesis Poster Presentations from 1:00-2:30pm
Thesis students will present a poster on their research project, starting with a short, one-minute presentation about their work to a general audience in Wege Auditorium at 1:00pm.  The purpose of this presentation is to succinctly summarize their thesis projects so that they can be understood by all faculty, students and friends in attendance.  This will be followed immediately by a poster session on the 2nd floor of the south science building students will talk about their research and findings.


Previous Years Schedule