Upcoming Seminar

February 1, 4:10 PM; Biology B-19
Summer Research, Internships & Other Opportunities

All Biology Department Seminars are free and open to the public. Seminars take place Fridays at 4:10 PM in B-19 in the basement of the Biology Building on the Reed College Campus (unless otherwise noted on the schedule). Seminars are immediately preceded by a service of coffee, tea, and other refreshments.

The Reed College campus is located in southeast Portland at 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. (Online maps are available for getting to Reed and for the Campus).

2018-19 Schedule


4:10-5:00 in Biology B-19 (unless otherwise noted).
Directions to Reed.

Aug 31
Location: International Plaza (by the language houses)

Summer Research Poster Session

Join students from Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Psychology as they present the results of their summer research and projects.

Sept 7
Location: Physics Loading Dock
How to Win at Being a Biology Major
Biology Resource Fair and Ice Cream Social

Join the Department in celebrating a new academic year with ice cream and prepare for a successful year. Reed College offers many resources to help students be successful both at Reed and beyond. Come meet some of the people from around campus who can help out and learn about what they can do for you!

Sept 14The Spatial and Temporal Regulation of Non-muscle myosin II Contractility
Derek Applewhite, Reed College

Non-muscle Myosin II (NMII) generated contractility is a fundamental cellular process that occurs during cell migration and division, however it is particularly important to morphogenesis, or the cell shape change that occurs during development. NMII forms bi-polar anti-parallel filaments upon activation, binding to actin filaments to generate force. While many of the kinetic and biophysical properties of NMII are well known, the molecular cues dictating when and where it is activated are far less well understood. What is also lacking is a complete list of the molecules involved in the regulation filament dynamics and contractility. This research aims to dissect the recruitment and activation of NMII through the analysis of a novel, NMII regulatory molecule RN-tre. With RN-tre as an example, we will identify additional regulators of NMII contractility during this critical morphogenic process, apical constriction, using complementary experimental and computational methodologies. Drosophila tissue culture cells have been used in multiple studies that have made significant contributions to our knowledge of the cytoskeleton. Their sensitivity to RNAi, allowing for effective depletion of one or more proteins, and their confined geometry make them ideal for high-resolution imaging techniques such as total internal reflection microscopy (TIRF). Furthermore, this we will take advantage of testing computationally-predicted NMII regulators using a cell-based assay of apical constriction which will allow important questions to be asked about this developmental process, while side-stepping the complications of imaging in an embryo.

Sept 21A Drosophila model for developmental nicotine exposure
Norma Velazquez-Ulloa, Lewis and Clark College

Tobacco addiction affects millions throughout the world, and kills up to 50% of its users according to the World Health Organization. Nicotine is the primary compound in tobacco that has been associated with the addictive properties of this drug. Nicotine is known to adversely affect the offspring of mothers exposed to nicotine during gestation. Although the receptors for nicotine are known, the genetic, cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate nicotine's effects on development are not well understood. Drosophila melanogaster is a great and proven model system to identify genes and novel mechanisms for drugs of abuse. My lab has developed a Drosophila model for the effects of developmental nicotine exposure. Developmental nicotine exposure has specific effects on Drosophila development and behavior that are similar to those reported in mammals, including humans. The conservation in receptors and neurotransmitters that mediate the effects of nicotine make this organism a suitable model system to elucidate novel mechanisms for nicotine’s effects.

Sept 28Going Deeper: Microbial Diversity and Metabolic Potential in the Marine Deep Biosphere
Rosa León Zayas, Willamette University

Deep ocean environments are largely under studied and organisms that thrive in these ecosystems, under such extreme conditions, are not well understood. Research in environmental microbiology in recent years has resulted in a dramatic change in the way we view microbial diversity in these systems. New bacterial and archaeal groups have been identified and studied thanks to advances in molecular biology, sequencing and bioinformatic technologies. For this presentation we will focus on data associated with single cell genomes recovered from the Mariana Trench and metagenomic samples recovered from the Costa Rica margin. Single cell genomes from the Mariana Trench provide a deeper understanding of the candidate phyla Parcubacteria and their potential for expanded metabolic capacity in the deep ocean. Preliminary results on the Costa Rica margin suggest that sub-seafloor microbial communities are dynamic, as their composition and metabolic potential varies with depth. Within this environment, archaea from the newly described ASGAR super phylum are abundant, which provides a unique opportunity to better understand their metabolic potential. Ultimately the goal of this research is to speculate about the biogeography of the microbial community and their adaptive metabolic processes to low temperature, high-pressure, recalcitrant nutrient sources and energy requirements.

Oct 5Material exchange between donor and host photoreceptors: A new way of thinking about retinal cell transplantation
Valerie Wallace, University of Toronto

The prospect of replacing cells of the central nervous system by cell transplantation remains a focal point of vision repair science. Rods and cones, the cells of the retina that mediate light detection, can be enriched and transplanted into wildtype and retinal degeneration mouse models. We and others recently discovered that in contrast to the historical interpretation that transplanted cells migrate into recipient tissue, donor and host cells participate in fluorescent reporter and photoreceptor material exchange. The result of this material exchange is the appearance of donor cell-derived fluorescent reporter (I.e. GFP) in mature cells in the recipient retina. Identifying the mechanism(s) involved in donor/host material exchange will help us to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of cell-based vision rescue, address safety concerns raised by donor/host intercellular communication, and lead to more general insights into the regulation and function of intercellular material exchange.

Oct 12No Seminar Before Fall Break
Oct 19No Seminar, Fall Break
Oct 26Phenotypic and Genomic Consequences of Somatic Mutation Accumulation in Plants
Mitch Cruzan & Jaime Schwoch, Portland State University

Plants do not have a germline that is separate from their soma. Consequently, plants have the potential to generate large numbers of somatic mutations as they grow. However, rates of mutation accumulation in plants are generally similar to animals. We provide evidence that that selection occurring on clonal cell lineages filters mutations and results in an disproportionately high frequency of beneficial mutations being passed on to the next generation. These data are the first to indicate that somatic mutations accumulating during vegetative growth can have substantial phenotypic effects on the fitness of offspring. We develop a model that accounts for the moderate levels of mutation accumulation in plants and the observed phenotypic effects. We test predictions of the model by quantifying somatic variants using methods used to detect mutations in human cancer. The patterns we detect are consistent with the predictions of large numbers of low-frequency mutations, and with the occurrence of beneficial mutations that result in selective sweeps of meristem cell lineage populations.

Nov 2Toward a unified science of ecological change: Advances in metabolic scaling and biodiversity science
Mary O'Connor, University of British Columbia, Department of Zoology

Biodiversity change and ecological responses to climate change are topics of major concern, and we rely on ecological theory to guide how we relate observed or suspected changes to potential consequences for ecosystem functions and services. Our major theories of life emphasize either energy and materials (metabolic theories) or information (biodiversity, evolution). I aim for unification across these conceptual pillars. I will highlight recent advances in detecting biodiversity change across scales in coastal marine systems and potential implications for ecosystem functions and seafood derived nutritional benefits to humans. I will also present recent work that strengthens our understanding of how general temperature dependence of metabolism constrains population-level processes and fitness potential, providing a key link between temperature and ecological and evolutionary outcomes. I am deeply interested in unifying our ecological science across scales, and hope to start a discussion about how we can continue to take steps in that direction.

Nov 9Tumor Evolution: Computational Methods for Analysis of Sequentially and Simultaneously Acquired Mutations
Layla Oesper, Carleton College

The traditional theory of cancer evolution posits that cancer genomes will acquire mutations over a long period of time as the result of an evolutionary process. However, in recent years it has been suggested that some cancer genomes may instead undergo a one-time catastrophic event, such as chromothripsis, where a large number of mutations instead occur simultaneously. A better understanding of how tumors development has important diagnostic and therapeutic implications. In this talk I will describe these different models of tumor evolution and introduce computational techniques for analyzing tumor DNA sequence data according to both of these models. In particular, I will describe a computational method that undergraduates in my lab developed to infer the evolutionary history of a tumor as a type of rooted tree given a set of plausible tumor histories. I will also describe a measure my group developed to help distinguish cancer genomes that acquired mutations simultaneously from those where mutations were acquired sequentially.

Nov 16Cytoskeletal regulation by formins: mechanistic insights and drug targeting
Christina Vizcarra, Barnard College

The Vizcarra group studies molecular mechanisms in the formin family of cytoskeletal regulators using reconstituted systems. The human genome has 15 formin genes, whose encoded proteins play specialized cellular roles. One of the first human genes to be linked to hereditary deafness encodes the formin DIAPH1, mutations in which are associated with autosomal dominant, non-syndromic progressive hearing loss called DFNA1. Like other formins, DIAPH1 interacts directly with the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. Despite the great progress made in understanding the molecular basis of other forms of hereditary deafness, very little is known about the mechanisms underlying DFNA1, and more generally about the role of formins in the inner ear. We take a biochemical approach to testing various hypotheses about the etiology of hearing loss in DFNA1. Other projects in our lab include understanding the basis of small molecule inhibition of formins and studying how metalloproteins of the central nervous system control actin dynamics.


4:10-5:00 in Biology B-19 (unless otherwise noted).
Directions to Reed.

Feb 1Summer Research, Internships & Other Opportunities

Learn about upcoming events in the department as well as opportunities for summer research, internships & fellowships.

Feb 8Biology Alumni Panel
Michelle Nihjuis, Michael Tippie, Monika Wieland & Natalie Morgenstern

Reedies take many paths after they leave Reed. Come meet four alumni who now work in Science Journalism, BioTech Entrepreneurship, Citizen Science Work, & Public Health. Join us for Q&As and stories to hear about the what, how & whys of their work.

Feb 14TBD
Kevan Moffett, Washington State University at Vancouver

How do spatial and temporal variations in water flows relate to the structure, function, and stability of plant communities, aquatic ecosystems, and the human environment?

Feb 22TBD
Veronica Di Stilio, University of Washington

The Di Stilio lab broadly investigates the genetic basis of key transitions during land plant evolution. Through comparative expression and functional analysis of reproductive organ identity genes, and of downstream genes responsible for features of the perianth involved in pollinator attraction, we hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of the genetic basis of flower diversification.

Mar 1TBD
Anne Thompson, Portland State University

Our lab aims to understand the role of marine microorganisms in shaping the Earth System. Particularly, we examine the very tiny cells that carry out photosynthesis in the oceans, the phytoplankton.

Mar 8TBD
Camila Lopez-Anido, Stanford University
Mar 15TBD
Cecilia Toro, Sarah Lawrence

Dopamine in the zebrafish lateral line, voltage-gated calcium channels, and synaptic physiology

Apr 5TBD
Apr 12TBD
Apr 19