Biological Sciences

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri interim Chancellor Hank Foley and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz today awarded two of the 2016 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to faculty members in the College of Arts and Science.

Whether you are currently a student, faculty member, or an MU graduate, odds are you can quickly name your favorite professor. That person might be someone who helped you understand a difficult subject, or steered your research in a new direction, or helped you evaluate your career choices.

The College of Arts and Science is proud to be home to some of the world’s best historians, scientists, artists, authors, performers, innovators, and scholars. The A&S Faculty Fellowship program allows the college to recognize outstanding faculty members by providing a one-time award of $5,000. The fellowship may be renewed if the faculty member is selected again.

James A. Birchler, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science, has received a 2016 Fellows Award from the Academy of Science of St. Louis.

Shane Campbell-Staton, Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Illinois–Urbana Department of Animal Biology

This seminar is part of the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Seminar Series, which is co-funded by the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative, the College of Arts and Science, the Division of Biological Sciences, and the Donald M. Nelson Lectureship Fund.

Refreshments are served at 3:45 PM.

Richard Keister, BA ’61 mathematics, and Sharon Austin Keister, BA ’61 zoology, fondly remember their time at MU. They were both first-generation college students and enjoyed great relationships with faculty and staff. “All the people at MU were very friendly, helpful, and available,” says Richard Keister. 

ABS logo

ABS Public Day

Saturday, July 30th | 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Animals Helping in Society
Hosted by the ABS Applied Animal Behavior Committee and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists

The Faculty-Alumni Awards, begun in 1968, recognize the achievements of faculty and alumni. Faculty are considered for their work as teachers, administrators and researchers. Alumni are considered for their professional accomplishments and service to Mizzou.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Arts and Science Distinguished Alumni Awards, established in 1984, allow the college to recognize some of its many outstanding alumni whose professional contributions have enhanced their respective disciplines and the quality of life for humankind, and in doing so have reflected well on the College of Arts and Science.


Major Garrett
BA ’84 political science, BJ ’84

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Water contamination by hormone-disrupting pollutants is threatening water quality around the world. Existing research has determined that harmful concentrations of Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in consumer products such as plastic food storage and beverage containers, have been deposited directly into rivers and streams by municipal or industrial wastewater.

The Division of Biological Sciences, in conjunction with MU’s Computational Neurobiology Center, is offering three training opportunities in computational neuroscience this summer for all levels, from undergraduate to faculty. All three interdisciplinary programs emphasize the use of integrative approaches to understand how the activity of individual neurons within neural circuits give rise to outputs ranging from movement to thought.

Prof. Mathew Stephens, Departments of Human Genetics and Statistics, University of Chicago, will be giving a seminar titled "Testing for eQTLs in Many Tissues: A Multiple Testing Party" as part of the Division of Biological Sciences spring seminar series.

matthew stevens flyer

MU alum Edward S. Buckler has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

While attending Mizzou, Stephanie Schuttler, Ph.D  ’13, helped local school kids set up motion-sensitive cameras to study animals in their environment. The experience helped her land a prestigious postdoctoral position with eMammal at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Amanda Prasuhn, B.S. ’12, has always been passionate about animals.

“If you look up my name in my fifth-grade yearbook, you’ll see I planned on trekking out into the bamboo forests of Asia to protect giant pandas from extinction,” she says.

Now, just months after completing her JD degree from Stanford Law, the MU alum has begun her career fighting for endangered and threatened animals.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, thermal paper store receipts, and dental composites. BPA exhibits hormone-like properties, and exposure of fetuses, infants, children or adults to the chemical has been shown to cause numerous abnormalities, including cancer, as well as reproductive, immune and brain-behavior problems in rodents.

Awarded to a student majoring in biological sciences or a related field in the College of Arts and Science with a cumulative college GPA of at least 3.0 and an expressed desire to pursue a career in life sciences or medicine; recipient will preferably be a graduate of a high school in Boone County and from a family whose earnings are below the median income for Boone Countians. Strong preference given to historically disadvantaged minorities. The scholarship covers tuition and fees.

The Department of Biological Sciences presents, "Blue Light- and Ubiquitin-Dependent Influence on Phototropin 1 Abundance and Movement within the Plasma Membrane," featuring doctoral candidate Scott Askinosie, Liscum Lab, Division of Biological Sciences. This seminar is Scott Askinosie's public defense of his doctoral dissertation.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as food storage products and resins that line plastic food and beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for BPA, and fish and turtle habitats are affected.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, metal food and beverage containers, and thermal paper cash register receipts. Long considered to have health effects on animals and humans, exposure to BPA may lead to reduced quality of embryos during reproduction.

The Department of Biological Sciences presents, "Brain Development and Homeostasis: Insights from Zebrafish Embryos," featuring Rachel Brewster, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m. in Monsanto Auditorium, Bond LSC.

Pamela Brown, an assistant professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, received a three-year $624,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study cell growth in the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

Provides travel assistance awards to graduate students in the Division of Biological Sciences.

Male tree frogs are especially open and transparent on first dates. Their mating calls tell female tree frogs everything they need to know to make a good match. Carl Gerhardt, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences, who is also a Thomas Jefferson Award recipient, has devoted much of his career to listening to these calls.

To support the personal and professional growth (e.g., study abroad or a summer off-campus research opportunity) of one or more undergraduates who have demonstrated academic excellence.

Ruthie Angelovici

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Ruthie Angelovici

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When parts of a plant, such as dead leaves, flowers or ripe fruit detach, the process is called abscission. A new study from the University of Missouri sheds light on the process that governs how and when plants shed their parts.

Beetles. They’re what’s for breakfast—or at least for the red widow spider (Latrodectus bishopi), according to a new study by University of Missouri biologist James Carrel. The study, which appears in the March issue of the Florida Entomologist, provides a first-time glimpse at the diet of this enigmatic spider found only in Florida’s “scrub” habitat.

One or more annual travel award(s) shall be given to a neuroscience graduate student in the Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science (with or without affiliation with the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program). The award will be used for student travel expenses to attend professional meetings and/or conferences.

When Philip Jen joined the faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences in the mid-1970s, he received a mere $2,000 to kick-start his research on bat sonar systems. With those scant funds, he was able to generate the data he needed to land a prestigious five-year career grant from the National Institutes of Health and then even more federal grants.

Columbia, MO—The Chinese Academy of Sciences has named James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, a recipient of an Einstein Professorship.

Emily Puckett, a doctoral candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences, has devoted her research to ecological pressures that influence animal populations. Specifically, she uses molecular genetic tools to study the evolution of populations of American black bears. Her dissertation is titled, “Phylogeography and Population Genetics of the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus).” But black bears aren’t Puckett’s only interest, she also loves to dance.  

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for contaminants, including BPA. Now, University of Missouri researchers and U.S.

Associate Professor Susan Nagel was selected for the Barry Commoner Science in Environmental Service Award by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. Dr. Nagel received the award for identifying the hazards associated with hydraulic fracking. The award is named for Barry Commoner, a former professor of plant physiology and chair of botany at Washington University in St.

Supports undergraduate and graduate student research in the fields of paleontology and systematic botany. This scholarship is alternated annually between the Department of Geological Sciences and the Division of Biological Sciences. Recipients are encouraged to spend some time cataloging or otherwise taking care of the Palmer Collections.

Provides fellowships for elligible graduate students of good moral character who are in need of financial aid. Awarded on the basis of the scientifc merit of the proposed activity and its relevance to the student's program.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – More than 15 million Americans live within a one-mile radius of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations. UOGs combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas from underground rock. Scientific studies, while ongoing, are still inconclusive on the potential long-term effects fracturing has on human development.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Developing drought-tolerant corn varieties that make efficient use of available water is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. For the past several decades, University of Missouri researchers have been working to solve this world hunger problem and have made significant strides.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States and has been identified as a primary cause of cervical cancer in women. Now, an international team of researchers led by the University of Missouri has completed studies on fruit flies with a condition that mimics a form of HPV-induced cancer.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The evolution of language in humans continues to perplex scientists and linguists who study how humans learn to communicate. Considered by some as “operant learning,” this multi-tiered trait involves many genes and modification of an individual’s behavior by trial and error. Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Last year, researchers at the University of Missouri published a study on genetic diversity in American black bears in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma and determined that conservation management is needed to maintain healthy populations in the region. Now, those scientists have expanded the study to include black bears throughout North America. They discovered that black bears in Alaska are more closely related to bears in the eastern regions of the U.S.

University of Missouri biologist Rex Cocroft has spent much of his career listening closely to treehoppers. Discover what he found by clicking the following link:

http://www.npr.org/2015/08/27/432934935/good-vibrations-key-to-insect-communication

 

COLUMBIA, Mo. – According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2015 was the hottest year on record. According to a University of Missouri researcher, increasing temperatures and climate variability might have an effect on the sounds produced by gray treefrogs.

As the cabbage butterfly caterpillar takes one crescent-shaped bite at a time from the edge of a leaf, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

This tiny Arabidopsis mustard plant hears its predator loud and clear as chewing vibrations reverberate through leaves and stems, and it reacts with chemical defenses. Plants have long been known to detect sound, but why they have this ability has remained a mystery.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – More than 15 million Americans live within one mile of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations that combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas from underground rock. Scientific studies still are inconclusive on the potential long-term effects on human development. Now, Susan C. Nagel and Christopher D.

James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences, was recently selected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for his distinguished contributions to the field of cytogenetics, a branch of science that examines the structure and function of cells, especially chromosomes.

Given annually to one or more undergraduates who have demonstrated academic excellence and who plan to use the award to support their professional growth (e.g., to study abroad or to accept an off-campus summer research opportunity or internship).

The University of Missouri Board of Curators recently appointed John C. Walker, director of the Division of Biological Sciences, as a Curators’ Professor. The appointment is awarded to faculty in recognition of exceptional research accomplishments and service to the university.

Awarded annually to one or more outstanding seniors recognized for their academic achievements, the quality of their independent research projects, and their extracurricular contributions to the division and to the university.

Awarded to an undergraduate student in biological sciences to support off-campus research activities. Award is based on the scientific merit of the proposed activity and relevance to the student's undergraduate program.

Professor Kathleen Newton has been awarded the distinction of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her “distinguished contributions to the fields of plant biology and genetics, particularly for investigations of mitochondria and chloroplasts in plant growth and development.”

This award supports graduate student research in the area of ecological and evolutionary biology.

Awarded annually to one or more outstanding seniors recognized for their academic achievements, the quality of their independent research projects, and their extracurricular contributions to the division and to the university.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Spring is here and ectotherms, or animals dependent on external sources to raise their body temperature, are becoming more active. Recent studies have shown that as the average global temperature increases, some lizards may spend more time in the shade and less time eating and reproducing, which could endanger many species.

See and be seen. In the elaborate game of seeking and attracting a mate, male anole lizards have a special trick—they grab attention by perching on a tree limb, bobbing their heads up and down, and extending a colorful throat fan, called a dewlap.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted by Congress in 1973 to protect species threatened with extinction. To receive protection, a species must first be listed as endangered or threatened in a process that is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A two-year timeline for the multi-stage process, which starts with submission of a petition and ends with a final rule in the Federal Register, was established in 1982 by a Congressional amendment to the ESA.

Supports off-campus research activities of graduate students. Generally limited to support of travel expenses or subsistence expenses, althought tuition costs for extended short courses will be considered. Awarded on the basis of the scientific merit of the proposed activity and its relevance to the student's program.

The severe drought of 2012 afflicted Missouri communities, limiting plant productivity and, subsequently, the broader society. 2013 brought higher-than-average precipitation, which resulted in flooding for many areas, and climate change will cause more extreme patterns of hot and cold, wet and dry in the future.

Many human health problems are thought to result from our modern diet, especially in industrialized countries. Foremost among these is a growing epidemic of obesity and obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes.

Dawn Cornelison, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, has been named as a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— More than 100 inventors from the University of Missouri were honored Thursday, April 30, at the 2015 Innovation & Entrepreneurial Recognition event.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials from the University of Missouri Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative have awarded two MU students, one faculty member, one staff member and a program with the 2015 Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Award.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Boron deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of reduced crop yield. Missouri and the eastern half of the United States are plagued by boron deficient soil and, often, corn and soybean farmers are required to supplement their soil with boron; however, little is known about the ways in which corn plants utilize the essential nutrient.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Coding genes contain DNA sequences that are used to assign functions required for development and maintenance within a cell. These coding genes articulate how a fingernail grows, help develop nerve cells responsible for chewing, and are vital in helping the spinal cord facilitate movement in arms or legs.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Conservation of a protected or endangered species requires frequent monitoring and the dynamic techniques biologists utilize to ensure the survival of threatened animals. Often, scientists study biodiversity at all levels—from genes to entire ecosystems.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Cytogenetics is a branch of science that studies the structure and function of cells with a focus on the chromosomes found within the cell. Often, plant cell researchers can be limited in their experiments due to the lack of methods available to study these complex structures.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Between 1880 and 1920, the Central Interior Highlands (CIH), consisting of Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, saw the height of deforestation that also decreased the habitat for black bears and other forest species. To combat the decline of black bears and repopulate the mountainous region, more than 250 bears from Minnesota and Manitoba were relocated to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s.

Two students at the University of Missouri have been selected to participate in an 11-week summer internship at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. Students Ryan Calcutt, a junior in biological sciences, and Will McHargue, a senior in biological engineering, will arrive at the Danforth Center at the end of May and spend the summer with assigned mentors in their labs.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – More than 87,000 chemicals are available commercially in the U.S., including analogues of bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that is used in consumer products. Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri endocrinologist and researcher, has studied BPA and other chemicals and their effects on humans and animals for more than 20 years.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Neurons are electrically charged cells, located in the nervous system, that interpret and transmit information using electrical and chemical signals. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that individual neurons can react differently to electrical signals at the molecular level and in different ways—even among neurons of the same type.

Bacteria come in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes—from spherical to star shaped. The evolutionary mechanisms that give rise to the morphological diversity of bacteria are the focus of a new study co-authored by MU biologist Pamela Brown and published in Nature.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas and oil from underground rock. Recent studies have centered on potential water pollution from this process that may increase endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in surface and ground water and whether populations living near these operations have an increased risk of disease.

The Department of Biological Sciences presents, "Physiological Genomics of Cortical Circuits in Health and Disease," by professor of biology

The Department of Biological Sciences presents, "Physiological Mechanisms Underlying Behavioral Convergence in Caribbean Lizards," featuring Associate Prof. Michele Johnson, Department of Biology, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX. The seminar will be held Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 3:30 p.m. in

Candace Galen was selected to receive the 2016 Excellence in Education Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

The award, which was initiated in 1988, recognizes outstanding teaching, mentoring, and/or educational outreach in plant biology.

David Setzer, a professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts & Science, was named the Advisors Forum Advising Shout Out Award winner for February. The Shout Out Award is awarded twice a semester and recognizes undergraduate advisers for the impact they make on students’ lives.

Columbia Public Schools has named Professor Candi Galen a “Science Hero.”

The award recognizes Galen’s role in establishing and serving as faculty director of MU’s Show-Me Nature GK-12 program. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program enhances science learning in elementary schools by partnering graduate students in the sciences with fourth and fifth grade teachers and students.

The University of Missouri has named Ricardo Holdo, assistant professor of biological sciences, as recipient of the 2014 Provost Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award.

The annual award is presented to a junior faculty member on campus who demonstrates superior research and creative activity.

Awarded annually to one or more graduating seniors with outstanding records who plan academic careers in research and teaching, and who have been accepted into PhD programs in genetics or molecular biology, preferably at universities outside the University of Missouri system. Recipients are nominated by faculty and selected by the scholarship committee.

The University of Missouri has named Tom Phillips, professor of biological sciences, as the recipient of the 2014 Maxine Christopher Shutz Award and Lecture for Distinguished Teaching.

It may sound a bit exotic to a layperson, but researchers at the Cancer Research Center (CRC) in Columbia have discovered they can use a genetically modified strain of Salmonella bacteria to target cancer cells.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Woodland salamanders are small, lungless amphibians that live in moist, forest habitats throughout the U.S. and the world. Salamanders often serve as vital links in forest food chains; their population size and recovery from major disturbances can help predict the health of forest ecosystems.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – In the 1970s, ecologists published results from one of the first whole-forest ecosystem studies ever conducted in Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. In the paper, scientists reported that salamanders represent one of the largest sources of biomass, or food, of all vertebrates in the forest landscape.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the U.S. covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Technology rapidly is advancing the study of genetics and the search for causes of major diseases. Analysis of genomic sequences that once took days or months now can be performed in a matter of hours. Yet, for most genetic scientists, the lack of access to computer servers and programs capable of quickly handling vast amounts of data can hinder genetic advancements.

Brassica plants have been bred for centuries and result in produce and products diverse enough to show up in supermarkets all over the world. Brassica napus, more commonly known as rapeseed or canola, can be used to make one of the most common vegetable oils. Until now, very little has been known about the origin of this kitchen staple.

The Campus Writing Program has awarded Gerald Summers, associate professor and associate director of biological sciences, the 2016 Win Horner Award for Innovative Writing Intensive Teaching.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, and also is used in thermal paper cash register receipts. Now, research conducted at the University of Missouri is providing the first data that BPA from thermal paper used in cash register receipts accounts for high levels of BPA in humans.

Thomas E. Phillips has been appointed a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor. The position is one of the most prestigious titles granted by the University of Missouri System and is awarded by the UM Board of Curators.

A new study shows that two alpine bumblebee species have responded to a decline in flowering due to warming temperatures by evolving shorter tongues. The results suggest that some bumblebee species may be able to adapt to environmental challenges caused by climate change.

Salamanders spend the vast majority of their lives below ground and surface only for short periods of time and usually only on wet nights. When they do emerge, salamanders can be spotted not only on forest floors but also up in trees and on other vegetation, oftentimes climbing as high as 8 feet up. Given their infrequent appearances aboveground, it has never been clear to biologists why salamanders take time to climb vegetation.

Professor Scott M. Herron
Department of Biology, Ferris State University

This seminar is part of the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Seminar Series, which is co-funded by the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative, the College of Arts and Science, the Division of Biological Sciences, and the Donald M. Nelson Lectureship Fund.

Refreshments are served at 3:45 PM.

Supports off-campus research activities of graduate students. Generally limited to support of travel expenses or subsistence expenses, althought tuition costs for extended short courses will be considered. Awarded on the basis of the scientific merit of the proposed activity and its relevance to the student's program. Preference will be given to applicants proposing summer attendance at a marine biological station.

A new technology is heating up the neuroscience world.

Thermogenetics — the combination of regulated temperature and genetics — uses genetic engineering to deliver special temperature-activated proteins to specific neurons in brains of experimental animals. Then, researchers can apply a specific temperature to control these neurons, basically turning them on or off at will.

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