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Biological Sciences News

Zebrafish May Hold Clues for Retinal Regeneration in Humans

Posted Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:17:00 -0800

What can zebrafish do that humans can’t? They can regenerate damaged neurons in their retina for starters. Assistant Professor Diana Mitchell in the Department of Biological Sciences recently received $1.25 million of direct funding from the National Institutes of Health to study specialized immune cells called microglia and macrophages to determine if the function of these cells could help explain why zebrafish have this ability and humans don’t. Mitchell’s grant proposal was submitted through the Institute of Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies. Read more

WWAMI Faculty Awarded $99,000 NIH Grant to Research Underlying Causes of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

Posted Thu, 05 Nov 2020 15:00:00 -0800

Onesmo Balemba (PI, Department of Biological Sciences and dual appointment with WWAMI), Chantal Vella (Co-PI, Department of Movement Sciences and dual appointment with WWAMI) and Rayme Geidl (Co-PI, WWAMI, associate director of Clinical Education) were awarded a one-year, $99,000 National Institute of Health (NIH) grant through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Diabetes Complications Consortium to explore novel causes of diabetes neuropathy (nerve dysfunction) and dysmotility (digestive system muscle dysfunction). The study will help improve understanding of the interaction between diet, the gut’s microbiome and the host. Read more

Diana Mitchell to Present at NIH Virtual IDeA PI Meeting

Posted Wed, 16 Sep 2020 15:10:00 -0700

Diana Mitchell, assistant professor, Biological Sciences, was selected to present her abstract entitled “Retinal Development and Regeneration from a Microglial Perspective” at the NIH virtual IDeA PI meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22. She was one of the few selected from 175 submissions to present. Read more

Diana Mitchell Receives NIH Grant

Posted Wed, 09 Sep 2020 14:59:00 -0700

Diana Mitchell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was awarded a $1.25 million R01 grant award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research will span five years and seeks to determine the function of immune cell populations in the regeneration of the zebrafish retina. The work will reveal key roles of certain immune cell types in shaping the outcome of retinal regeneration to gain insight into why retinal regeneration happens naturally in the zebrafish, but not in other animals such as humans. Read more

U of I Students Receive National Science Foundation Research Fellowships

Posted Tue, 05 May 2020 13:35:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — May 5, 2020 — Four University of Idaho student-researchers have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellowships for 2020. Read more

U of I Announces Awards for Excellence to Faculty, Staff

Posted Fri, 24 Apr 2020 11:30:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — April 24, 2020 — The University of Idaho is pleased to announce the University Awards for Excellence for 2019-20 to faculty and staff Read more

University of Idaho Faculty and Staff Works to Develop Cure for COVID-19

Posted Mon, 20 Apr 2020 12:07:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — April 20, 2020 — The University of Idaho is working to identify a cure for coronaviruses, including COVID-19. Read more

U of I, Regional Universities Model Intervention Strategies for Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted Wed, 15 Apr 2020 17:04:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — April 15, 2020 — University of Idaho faculty are partnering with Boise State University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College and Washington State University to model intervention strategies across Idaho during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Faculty Named Best Educators in General Education Areas

Posted Fri, 10 Apr 2020 16:58:00 -0700

Last May, the university was asked to name faculty to represent the best educators in the six general education areas referred to as “The Ways of Knowing” for the Idaho State Board of Education General Education Teaching Awards. The following were U of I’s nominees: Barbara Kirchmeier, English – written communication; Diane Carter, communication – oral communication; Kirk Trigsted, math – mathematical ways of knowing; Lisa Harmon, biology – scientific ways of knowing; Deborah Thorne, sociology – social and behavioral ways of knowing; and Javier Rodriguez, music – humanistic and artistic ways of knowing. Kirchmeier and Carter were recognized as statewide finalists for their work at the annual General Education Summit in Boise in October. Read more

Two U of I Students Named 2020 Goldwater Scholars

Posted Thu, 09 Apr 2020 13:44:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — April 9, 2020 — University of Idaho juniors Beth Hoots and Isabell Strawn have been named 2020 Goldwater Scholars. Read more

Biological Diversity Treaty Needs to Protect Diversity of Wild Species

Posted Thu, 12 Mar 2020 15:32:00 -0700

The proposed post-2020 goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity — a treaty signed by 195 countries — do not sufficiently consider genetic diversity, writes evolutionary biologist Paul Hohenlohe and his colleagues in a letter published in Science. The letter states that the goals focus on conserving the genetic diversity of livestock, domestic species and their wild relatives but should extend to all wild species, as the more genetic diversity a species has, the greater chance it has to adapting to changing environments. Read more

U of I Researchers Named as Some of the Most Influential of the Past Decade

Posted Thu, 05 Dec 2019 16:00:00 -0800

Four researchers from the University of Idaho, Jeffrey Hicke, John Abatzoglou, Luke Harmon and Paul Hohenlohe, have been recognized as being among the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade. The list, compiled by Web of Science Group, recognizes the work of influential researchers around the globe who have produced multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year. Read more

Dynamic Virtual Protein Project Wins International Award

Posted Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:20:00 -0800

A University of Idaho team recently presented at the 25th VRST Symposium in Sydney, Australia, and won the Best Demo Award for their project "Dynamic Virtual Proteins: Visualization, Interaction and Collaboration in Virtual Reality." In the world of virtual reality, the Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST) is among the top 10 conferences in the world. The Dynamic Virtual Proteins project team consisted of Jean-Marc Gauthier, Virtual Technology and Design associate professor, Jagdish Suresh Patel, Department of Biological Sciences research assistant professor, and Ian McGrath, 2019 graduate of the College of Art and Architecture. The interdisciplinary research is part of a $6 million EPSCoR Track-2 grant from NSF and supported by the Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation. Read more

Grad Student Develops Program to Increase Accuracy of Community Formation Processes

Posted Wed, 27 Nov 2019 13:29:00 -0800

Doctoral candidates Megan Ruffley, Katie Peterson and Bob Week recently published a paper in Ecology and Evolution titled "Identifying Models of Trait-Mediated Community Assembly Using Random Forests and Approximate Bayesian Computation." This publication is the second chapter of Ruffley's dissertation and the culmination of her lab rotation in Luke Harmon's lab. Ruffley designed a program called Community Assembly Model Inference, or CAMI. It uses a stochastic algorithm to simulate communities assembled under environmental filtering, competitive exclusion and neutral species assembly processes. The paper and the creation of the accompanying CAMI program involved students and faculty with a wide range of research areas and skill sets. Read more

Getting the Timing Right

Posted Fri, 22 Nov 2019 16:00:00 -0800

Undergraduate researcher Courtney Schreiner, from Scott Nuismer's lab, recently had her first paper published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology. Schreiner's paper highlights her research on the timing of vaccinations for wildlife populations. Read more

Jill Johnson, Biological Sciences, Receives NIH Grant

Posted Tue, 29 Oct 2019 13:28:00 -0700

Professor Jill Johnson, in the Department of Biological Sciences and the College of Science, has been awarded a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. These funds will be used to better understand the basic mechanism of how the molecular chaperone Hsp90 interacts with other proteins, called clients, in order to regulate their function. Hsp90 is a global cellular regulator that controls the function of up to 15% of all cellular proteins, including many proteins that drive cancerous cell growth. Drugs that target Hsp90 block the function of cancer-causing proteins and stop tumor growth but are too toxic for general use. This award will allow Johnson and her collaborators at the University of Alberta and the Technical University of Munich to better understand Hsp90 function, paving the way toward development of more selective inhibitors of Hsp90 function that have fewer toxic effects. Read more

Study Provides First Step Toward Developing Inexpensive Diagnostic Tests to Assess Risk for Preterm Birth

Posted Fri, 25 Oct 2019 16:00:00 -0700

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from Cornell University, the University of Sao Paulo, and other Brazilian universities, recently published a paper in the journal mBio which found that measuring levels of D-lactic acid and a protein called TIMP-1 may be a non-invasive, cost-effective way to assess the risk for preterm birth due to a short cervix. The study provides a first step toward the development of an inexpensive point-of-care diagnostic test to assess the presence of known risk factors for preterm birth in resource-poor areas. Read more

Bacteria in the Human Vagina that Produce D-Lactic Acid Promote Resistance to Chlamydial Infections

Posted Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:20:00 -0700

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland, recently published a paper entitled "The Cervicovaginal Microbiota-Host Interaction Modulated Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection" in the journal mBio that detailed their most recent study of the vaginal microbiome. These findings may enable the development of novel microbiome-based therapeutic strategies to protect women from infections and improve vaginal and cervical health. Read more

U of I Study: Thyroid Hormone Can Alter Color Vision in Zebrafish, Potentially in Humans

Posted Mon, 05 Aug 2019 13:43:00 -0700

MOSCOW, Idaho — Aug. 5, 2019 — Exposure to thyroid hormone can alter eye function in zebrafish, a result with implications for curing color blindness and retinal degeneration in humans. The University of Idaho study found the dosage of thyroid hormone in zebrafish could switch the type of opsin — proteins that support color vision — produced in individual eye cells called cones, likely influencing the animals’ color vision. Zebrafish and humans have similar genetics when it comes to color vision. Read more

Mellisa Clemons Receives NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship

Posted Fri, 14 Jun 2019 15:26:00 -0700

Congratulations to Mellisa Clemons of the Fuerst lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, who received a $25,000 NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship for “Genetic Characterizations of Retinal Cell Signaling Proteins.” Read more


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