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Biology Department News

Biology Alumni News

  • We welcome Benjamin Winslow as a full-time lecturer in the department this year.  Dr. Winslow will teach biology for non-majors and an upper-level course in molecular biology.

  • We welcome several new graduate students to the department this year! 
    New master’s students are:
    • Ami Araujo
    • Teresa Borcuch
    • Sarah Holmes
    • Kendall Murray
    • Anne Marie Poirier
    • Rosemary Scavotto

    New Biology doctoral students in the BME/BT program are:
    • Betsy Cohen
    • Ralph Khoury
    • Abigail Toltin
    • Pragathi Venkata


  • Valeria Senigaglia is spending the year in our department on a Fulbright scholarship.  Valeria, who earned a master’s degree in her native Italy, is studying the social behavior of melon-headed whales in the Philippines with Richard Connor. 

  • Dr. Pia Moisander and graduate student Katyanne Shoemaker participated in 2 research cruises in July and August to the North Atlantic Ocean subtropical waters to study nitrogen fixation by marine micro-organisms.  Dr. Moisander is a Principal Investigator in this NSF-funded project that is done in collaboration with Dr. Mark Altabet of SMAST and personnel at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.

  • Dr. Kathy Kavanagh and co-authors published the paper “Evolutionary trade-offs, Pareto optimality, and the geometry of phenotype space” in the journal Science in June (vol. 336, no. 6085 pp. 1157-1160).

  • Dr. Erin Bromage recently won a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation.  In this 5-year, $880,000 grant he and his lab group will study “Selective sweep of plasma cell specificity following vaccination” in trout.  His Ph.D. student Katherine Rego won an 18-month grant for $58,373 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study “The role of IgD in the rainbow trout adaptive immune response”.

  • Dr. Kathryn Kavanagh has been selected as a 2012-2013 Service-Learning Faculty Fellow by the Center for Civic Engagement.

  • Dr. Tara Rajaniemi and Susan Jennings of the Office of Sustainability Studies obtained a $45,000 grant from the UMass President’s office for “Growing greener and better gardens”.  Working with UMass Amherst, they will support local permaculture educational and demonstration initiatives. 

  • Graduate student Katyanne Shoemaker (advisor Dr. Moisander) was accepted and participated in the competitive 4-week long summer course organized by the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, in Hawaii in June, 2012.

  • Brielle Shea, a junior in the Biology Department, was awarded a summer internship through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge.  Brielle spent this past summer with PharmaHealth Pharmacy in their Compounding lab, where she learned how to “compound” prescribed medications for patients.  Compounding is the creation of a particular pharmaceutical product to fit the unique needs of a patient, like changing the pill form of a drug to a flavored liquid form, or making a personalized drug combination that treats a patient's specific ailments.  Brielle particularly enjoyed learning about all the different medications, and how they affect their targets in the body.

  • Senior Biology majors Felecia Clodius and Rachael Bonoan won competitive awards to spend the summer or 2012 at Tufts University participating in research projects.  Felicia worked at Tufts Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences for Graduate Studies studying genetic polymorphisms between MOLF/EiJ and C57BL/6 Mouse Strains to determine the role of STING, an endoplasmic reticulum trans-membrane protein, in production of interferon.  Rachael was accepted by the Tufts University REU Program to study female nutritional resource allocation and reproductive success in Colias butterflies, a project directed by Dr. Sara Lewis and her Ph.D. candidate, Natasha Tigreros.

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