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Department News

The biology department’s research is regularly featured in journals, publications, and news outlets. In addition, our faculty consistently garner awards and recognitions for their work. See our news archive for past stories.

Visit the University of Rochester Newscenter for more biology department news.


Sina Ghaemmaghami Honored with Goergen Award for Teaching Excellence

October 17, 2017

Established in 1997, the award recognizes distinctive teaching accomplishments of faculty in Arts, Science, and Engineering. This year’s ceremony was held at Feldman Ballroom in Douglass Commons.

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Department of Biology Fall Retreat, October 9, 2017

October 9, 2017

On October 9, 2017 the Department of Biology held our annual Fall Retreat at the gorgeous Bristol Harbour Resort in Canandaigua, NY.  Lush foliage, hiking trails, and wineries enchanted our faculty, students, and staff.  Keynote speakers were Dr. J.P. Masley, University of Oklamhoma,"The causes and consequences of rapid morphological evolution" and Dr. Cesar E. Perez-Gonzalez, NIH, “There and Back Again: A Career Journey at the NIH”.  The day concluded with a poster session and prizes.

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John Jaenike's Field Guide to Fruit Flies Documents These Surprisingly Close Human Relatives

October 5, 2017

“Fruit flies can reveal a lot about genetics, disease progression, addiction, crop parasites, you name it,” says John Jaenike, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester. Jaenike, along with Thomas Werner, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, recently coauthored an open-access field guide, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast. The book documents the physical and behavioral characteristics of fruit fly species in the titular regions and is the first comprehensive guide to fruit flies published in nearly a century.

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Amanda Larracuente Mapping 'World’s Second-Most Interesting Genome'

September 21, 2017

Larracuente, who is also the Stephen Biggar ’92 and Elisabeth Asaro ’92 Fellow in Data Science, is a specialist in evolutionary genetics and genomics and has been involved in a project studying Photinus pyralis—or, the Big Dipper firefly. “In order to take pictures of the chromosomes,” she says, “we need wild fireflies.”

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Dragony Fu Identifies Protein in Post-Chemo Cell Death Puzzle

September 13, 2017

Because anticancer drugs are designed to kill growing cells, they also affect normal, fast-growing cells—blood cells forming in the bone marrow, for example, and digestive, reproductive, and hair follicle cells. Chemotherapy may also affect cells in vital organs, such as the heart, kidney, bladder, lungs, and nervous system.

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Remembering Dr. William Muchmore

July 21, 2017

At the height of his career, only a half dozen other researchers in North America shared William Muchmore’s interest in pseudoscorpions – small arachnids with pear-shaped bodies and pincers similar to scorpions, but without the tails. After all, they were not known to have any economic or medical importance. They were also small and “tedious to study,” said the former University of Rochester biology professor, who died in May at the age of 96.

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Jack Werren Talks Moonlighting Genes

July 11, 2017

“I’ve been working on parasitoid wasps for a very long time,” remarked Jack Werren, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester. His fascination with these animals centers on their specialized venoms, which allow the wasps to be masterful physiological puppeteers.

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Werren Lab Uncovers New Gene Process in Wasp Venom

June 21, 2017

Amid the incredible diversity of living things on our planet, there is a common theme. Organisms need to acquire new genes, or change the functions of existing genes, in order to adapt and survive.

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John Jaenike spotlighted by The Scientist for work on e-book

June 19, 2017

On a clear, cool day in mid-September back in 2012,  John Jaenike and Thomas Werner maneuvered their way through the forested Tech Trails in Houghton, Michigan, to the mushroom and tomato fruit fly traps Werner had planted a few days prior. Jaenike, an evolutionary ecologist from the University of Rochester, poised his net over a trap that had enticed several Drosophila specimens—each no more than two to four millimeters long. He bent down to begin collecting. “Oh, cool, Drosophila neotestacea!” Werner recalls Jaenike exclaiming as he spotted the very species he planned to discuss during his seminar at Michigan Tech the next day.

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High schoolers come face-to-face with fruit flies

May 25, 2017

Fifteen ninth graders from Rochester’s East High School experienced science at its most exciting – when something startling happened during a fruit fly experiment in a lab at the University of Rochester’s Department of Biology.

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Thomas Eickbush receives Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

May 21, 2017

eickbush

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Jack Werren, the Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professor of Biology, comments on new research on the genetics of the nematode.

May 15, 2017

A strain of wild Hawaiian worms has helped unmask long-studied genes as just plain selfish. The scammers beat the usual odds of inheritance and spread extra fast by making mother worms poison some of their offspring.

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John Jaenike publishes free e-book "Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast"

May 11, 2017

Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast provides an introduction to the flies of the family Drosophilidae of the Midwest and Northeast of the United States, as well as nearby regions in Canada. The book strives to facilitate identification of most of the drosophilid species in this region and provides remarks on interesting aspects of their biology and suggestions for future research on them. The book is intended for researchers, teachers, and students wishing to discover the diversity of these flies.

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Fruit Flies Offer Gut Check on Bacteria

April 26, 2017

The common fruit fly is widely used in laboratory experiments because it can provide insights into the biological processes of other, more complex organisms, including humans. However, what is seen in fruit flies in the lab may bear little resemblance to what is seen in fruit flies in the wild—especially when it comes to the bacteria found in their intestinal tracts, University researchers find.

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Rochester scientists made two important contributions to DNA damage research

March 3, 2017

In a recent study, Rochester scientists made two important contributions to DNA damage research. First, though scientists could previously point to an association between DNA damage and aging, the Rochester group has demonstrated a causal relationship between reduced DNA damage and extended lifespan. Second, the researchers have identified a cellular factor—an enzyme called topoisomerase 2, or Top2, implicated in DNA damage—that can be targeted to reduce that damage. The findings are published in the journal Aging.

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