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.
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April 19, 2019
The strongest synthetic materials are often those that intentionally mimic nature.
Amanda Larracuente Recipient of National Science Foundation’s Prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
April 11, 2019
Amanda Larracuente, an assistant professor of biology, will investigate the function and evolution of centromeres in fruit flies. Centromeres, which vary in size and complexity across organisms, are regions of the chromosome that are essential in ensuring chromosomes separate properly during cell division. Variations in centromeres can have an impact on genome evolution, speciation, and human disease. Larracuente will study the variation of centromeres within and between species to gain insights into their DNA sequences. She will also examine how a class of selfish genetic elements called retrotransposons shape aspects of centromeres. (Read more here.)
April 8, 2019
Justin Fay has brewed wine and beer from dozens of different types of yeast. But not necessarily for drinking pleasure. It’s all in the name of scientific research.
March 15, 2019
Aging affects every living organism, but the molecular processes that contribute to aging remain a subject of debate. While many things contribute to the aging process, one common theme in animal aging is inflammation—and this may be amplified by a class of selfish genetic elements.
The human genome is littered with selfish genetic elements—repetitive elements that do not seem to benefit their hosts, but instead seek only to propagate themselves by inserting new copies into their host genomes. A class of selfish genetic elements called LINE1 retrotransposons are the most prevalent retrotransposon selfish genetic elements found in humans; approximately 20 percent of both human and mice genomes are composed of LINE1s.
March 12, 2019
A new study led by Justin Fay, an associate professor of biology, indicates that brewer’s yeast is a combination of European grape wine and Asian rice wine strains.
Fay Lab Finds Modern Beer Yeast is a Mixture of Strains Used to Make Grape Wines and Asian Rice Wines
March 8, 2019
A team of researchers led by Justin Fay, an associate professor of biology, have investigated the ancestry of strains of "brewer's yeast", finding that they are derived from a mixture of varieties used to make European grape wines and Asian rice wines.
February 21, 2019
February 7, 2019
Y chromosomes are sex chromosomes in males that are transmitted from father to son; they can be important for male fertility and sex determination in many species. Even though fruit fly and mammalian Y chromosomes have different evolutionary origins, they have parallel genome structures, says Larracuente, who co-authored the paper with her PhD student Ching-Ho Chang. “Drosophila melanogaster is a premier model organism for genetics and genomics, and has perhaps the best genome assembly of any animal. Despite these resources, we know very little about the organization of the Drosophila Y chromosome because most of it is missing from the genome assembly.”
January 7, 2019
Most evolutionary biologists distinguish one species from another based on reproductivity: members of different species either won’t or can’t mate with one another, or, if they do, the resulting offspring are often sterile, unviable, or suffer some other sort of reduced fitness.
Jennifer Brisson and Patrick Oakes Recipients of the National Science Foundation’s Most Prestigious Recognition for Junior Faculty Members: the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
September 4, 2018
Eight University of Rochester researchers are among the latest recipients of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious recognition for junior faculty members: the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.
August 21, 2018
On August 21, 2018 the Department of Biology held our annual Department Retreat at the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY. Renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth State Park is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs--as high as 600 feet in some places--surrounded by lush forests.
August 17, 2018
Bacteria cause many serious illnesses, from food poisoning to pneumonia. The challenge for scientists is that disease-causing bacteria are extraordinarily resilient. For example, when bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli) undergo starvation, they massively reorganize their bacterial DNA, allowing them to survive stressful conditions.
August 14, 2018
Lipid droplets: they were long thought of merely as the formless blobs of fat out of which spare tires and muffin tops were made. But these days, they’re “a really hot area of research,” says Michael Welte, professor and chair of biology at the University of Rochester.
August 3, 2018
Thomas Eickbush is a recipient of the Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professorship, which recognizes excellence in teaching and encourages the development of crossdisciplinary instructional programs. The professorship was established in 1979 to honor Mercer Brugler, former chair emeritus of the board of trustees, with support from Sybron Corp., Brugler, and others.
July 30, 2018
Vera Gorbunova, the Doris Johns Cherry Professor in the Department of Biology and codirector of the Rochester Aging Research Center, talks about her research on cancer prevention and longevity in longer-living rodents.
July 11, 2018
Throughout his years, Ward developed the large collection that made the University of Rochester and Ward himself famous. Following his death, Ward’s collection bounced around many buildings at the University of Rochester, and the specimens were dispersed. Some specimens ended up in storage in Hutchison Hall, where they lay untouched until about five years ago. Since then, Senior Lecturer of Biology Robert Minckley has been researching the documents and specimens with the help of Melissa Mead (the John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections Librarian) and others. This project is known as the Ward Project, a collaboration supported by the Departments of Biology and Earth and Environmental Studies and the River Campus Libraries (RCL) that aims to capture Ward’s enduring legacy and impact.
May 24, 2018
Around the world, there’s a higher proportion of specialist bees in arid environments than in humid ones. But scientists don’t know why. “One interpretation is that to survive in really hot, unpredictable parts of the desert you need to be able to be synchronized with that plant very well,” says Bob Minckley, a professor of biology.
Audrey Goldfarb ’19 a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards given in the sciences
May 7, 2018
Allen Chen ’19 and Audrey Goldfarb ’19 are the University’s 2018 recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards given in the sciences.
April 23, 2018
Genetics is a crapshoot. During sexual reproduction, genes from both the mother and the father mix and mingle to produce a genetic combination unique to each offspring. In most cases, the chromosomes line up properly and crossover. In some unlucky cases, however, “selfish DNA” enters the mix, causing abnormal crossovers with deletions or insertions in chromosomes, which can manifest as birth defects.
April 18, 2018
Jillian Ramos showed exactly how to capture an audience’s attention, and hold it, at the University of Rochester’s third annual Three Minute Thesis Competition finals.
April 13, 2018
The Department of Biology is pleased to congratulate graduate student Jillian Ramos for winning first prize in the Three Minute Thesis competition on April 12, 2018. She was also named the People's Choice winner. Jillian will receive a $750 research travel award for first-prize and a $250 research travel award for the People's Choice.
March 26, 2018
Each year, more of the Department of Biology’s historical collection of specimens, models and casts are being exhibited in Hutchison Hall.
March 9, 2018
Zhao, Gorbunova, and Seluanov find another piece to the puzzle in naked mole rats’ long, cancer-free life
February 7, 2018
With their large buck teeth and wrinkled, hairless bodies, naked mole rats won’t be winning any awards for cutest rodent. But their long life span—they can live up to 30 years, the longest of any rodent—and remarkable resistance to age-related diseases, offer scientists key clues to the mysteries of aging and cancer.