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Paris Grey

Empty Bench Syndrome

Published: Jul 6th, 2015

Paris Grey’s article, Empty Bench Syndrome, beautifully captures the bittersweet nature of academia: that our goal as educators is to make our students leave us. Her article made the front page of ASBMBToday (or, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for the non-cognoscenti), which has a readership of approximately 32,000. Paris also runs a wonderful website and blog for undergraduate researchers and those of us lucky enough to mentor them: http://undergradinthelab.com. Paris’s student, Madi Turcotte, is also celebrated in our upcoming issue of Symbiosis. Thank you Paris for your excellent writing and mentoring!

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Are humans causing a sixth mass extinction?

Published: Jun 22nd, 2015

UF Biologist says yes, but it’s not too late to reverse the trend— yet. Read more here: original paper, Washington Post

 

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Congratulations to the winning team! Assistant Professor Emily Sessa and co-PIs awarded NSF Grant.

Published: Jun 16th, 2015

Dr. Emily Sessa and co-PIs Dr. Gordon Burleigh, Dr. Stuart McDaniel, and Dr. Christine Davis have received notice that a proposal titled “Collaborative Research: Building a Comprehensive Evolutionary History of Flagellate Plants” ($2,321,452) has been recommended for funding through NSF’s Genealogy of Life (GoLife) program.

Project abstract:

For the first ~300 million years of plant life on land, Earth’s flora consisted entirely of flagellate plants, which today include approximately 30,000 species of bryophytes, lycophytes, ferns, and gymnosperms. Numerous major innovations, including stomata, vascular tissue, roots and leaves, woody stems, and seeds, evolved first in flagellate plant ancestors. The flagellate plants not only provide a window to the early evolution of these critical features, but are represented today by vibrant and diverse lineages that contribute substantially to global ecology, particularly via contributions to global carbon and nitrogen cycles.

This project will improve our understanding of the history and relationships of the flagellate plants by using new sequencing technologies to produce a species-level phylogeny for these taxa that is linked to an immense and varied amount of data on fossils, phenomic characters, and geospatial distributions. Education experts will develop an online educational tool for training the next generation of biodiversity scientists by providing an accessible framework for using the project data in university classrooms while promoting evidence-based teaching practices. A MicroPlants citizen science project will promote scientific literacy and plant awareness in the general public, through museums and schools.


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Associate Professor Sixue Chen named Colonel Allan R. and Margaret G. Crow Term Professor

Published: Jun 3rd, 2015

Associate Professor Sixue Chen who his being named a Colonel Allan R. and Margaret G. Crow Term Professor!  Dr. Sixue Chen, have received CLAS term professorship for 2015-2016.  Congratulations Sixue!  Well Done!

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Jack Ewel, Emeritus Faculty, elected as Honorary Fellow of the Association for Tropical Biology & Conservation

Published: May 29th, 2015

Joining the ranks of Theodosius Dobzhansky, George Gaylord Simpson, et alia, Jack Ewel has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of ATBC! This is the highest honor conveyed by the society, and recognizes long, sustained service to tropical biology. Jack served as Director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, but has also worked in tropical forests in Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. He is an expert in ecological succession in the tropics, including restoration ecology and effects of invasive species. Jack is both a UF Botany graduate alumnus (MS) and emeritus faculty member! Please join me in congratulating Jack on this well-deserved recognition. Jack, you lend us grace.

Evolution Sci

Creating Scientific Knowledge

Published: May 26th, 2015

In this invited “Soapbox Essay”, Eminent Scholar Robert D. Holt explains how we arrive at explanations for scientific phenomenon using climate change as an example. He uses a metaphor of “collecting colored eggs” to make his point about synthesizing strains of evidence. The journal liked the metaphor so much they called for a cover photograph— taken by staff members Vitrell Sherif and Andy Kratter, using the bird egg collection from the Florida Museum of Natural History! Read Bob’s essay here:

Congratulations to Keith Choe, recipient of an NSF CAREER Award

Published: May 12th, 2015

Keith Choe, Assistant Professor of Department of Biology has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his project entitled “Using C. elegans to Understand how a Fundamental Cellular Stress Response is Integrated into a Tissue System at the Interface with the Environment and to Improve Education”. IOS (Division of integrative organismal systems), 15 May 2015-30 April 2020.

UF researchers analyzed potential designs for the Sierra Leone Trial

Published: Apr 20th, 2015

Development of a safe, effective Ebola vaccine is an important goal for bringing the current epidemic under control and minimizing future outbreaks. Before a vaccine can be given to at-risk populations, however, it must be tested to determine whether it is safe and assess the level of protection it provides. Ebola vaccine trials are currently underway in Guinea and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries in the ongoing Ebola epidemic, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon be starting a vaccine trial in Sierra Leone. The Ebola epidemic has been declining in Sierra Leone and the rate of decline varies in different regions. A team of researchers led by Steve Bellan at The University of Texas at Austin, and including University of Florida researchers Juliet Pulliam and Carl Pearson, has analyzed potential designs for the Sierra Leone trial, taking into account recent trends in Ebola case numbers. They have found that the trial CDC had originally planned in Sierra Leone – a so-called ‘stepped-wedge’ design – would be unlikely to be informative, with a 6 months study leaving researchers uncertain as to whether the vaccine was effective. In contrast, a trial similar to the design that CDC announced on April 15 is much more likely to be able to detect an effective vaccine. This work also emphasizes that any trial implemented in Sierra Leone needs to begin as soon as possible, as the informative power of any trial is decreasing substantially as the epidemic continues to decline.  See the article here.

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Systematic Reviews of Forestry & Landscapes Management Workshop

Published: Apr 13th, 2015

Biology’s Jack Putz and Claudia Romero organized a Systematic Reviews of Forestry & Landscapes Management Workshop in collaboration with the Florida Climate Institute and the REDD+ Forest Policy & Economics Working Group. The workshop’s goals were to use a hands-on approach, participants will be guided through the stages of preparing a systematic review to support policy questions for which evidence is required. Twenty people from ten different countries participated, with a spread of disciplinary and research interests. The keynote speaker was Gillian Petrokofsky from Oxford University’s Biodiversity Institute. Thank you, Jack and Claudia, for providing this wonderfully international workshop!

 

Congratulations to Robert Johnson and Bonnie Kircher!

Published: Apr 1st, 2015

Delighted to report that Robert Johnson of the Bjorndal lab, and Bonnie Kircher of the Marty Cohn’s lab for winning the NSF GRFP Award.

Great job, Robert and Bonnie!