Department of Biology

The Department of Biology offers exceptional opportunities to learn, work, and collaborate across levels of biological organization and styles of research. Faculty research interests span the complete spectrum of biological phenomena and disciplines, from biochemistry to global environmental change. This breadth of research interests has led to development of three focused, yet overlapping, graduate training programs: Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology (MCEB), Ecology Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB), and Microbial Biology.

News

U Biology professor receives major grant

Apr 4, 2014 - Çağan Şekercioğlu receives one of four inaugural Fondation Sekercioglu camera trap wolfSegré-Whitley Fund partnership grants for his research on Landscape Conservation of Large Carnivores in Turkey.  North East Turkey is a biodiversity hot spot but despite its importance receives little conservation attention. Sekercioglu's 3-year project will expand carnivore monitoring to assess their population size and track movements using video/radio collars and camera traps, use research findings to influence on-going political decisions regarding Turkey’s wildlife and advocate for the expansion of protected areas, train grassroots conservation leaders and communicate with local villagers and officials. See Full Story...

U Biologist first recipient of Lillie Award

Mar 17, 2014 - The University of Chicago and the Marine Biological Laboratory Dr. Erik Jorgensen(MBL) announced today the first two recipients of the Frank R. Lillie Research Innovation Awards. The awards will provide funding for scientists to develop novel, collaborative projects based at the MBL that will lead to transformative biological discoveries. One grant was awarded to University of Utah neuroscientist Erik M. Jorgensen and his colleagues, who will address the fundamental question of how high-level brain processes such as memory are related to changes in the structure and function of neural connections. See UChicago Story... See MLB Story...

Birds of a Different Color

Feb. 6, 2014 – Scientists at the University of Utah identified mutations in three key genes that determine feather color in domestic rock pigeons. The same genes control pigmentation of human skin. “Mutations in these genes can be responsible for skin diseases and conditions such as melanoma and albinism,” says Michael Shapiro, associate professor of biology and senior author of the study published online Feb. 6 in the journal Current Biology. “In humans, mutations of these genes often are considered ‘bad’ because they can cause albinism or make cells more susceptible to UV (ultraviolet sunlight) damage and melanoma because the protective pigment is absent or low,” says Eric Domyan, a biology postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study. “In pigeons, mutations of these same genes cause different feather colors, and to pigeon hobbyists that is a very good thing.” See Full Story... See SL Trib Story...

Aaron Miller Wins NSF Bread Challenge

Jan 9, 2014 - Aaron Miller, a Post Doc in the Dearing lab in the Biology Department has won a $10,000 prize awarded to only 13 people on a 100 word idea statement. Smallholder farmers who feed their livestock on forage plants risk exposing those animals to potentially lethal levels of toxic plant secondary compounds (PSCs). However, many PSCs can be degraded by gut bacteria from mammalian herbivores. Challenge: Identify novel functions offered by gut biota that could be transplanted into smallholder farmers' domesticated livestock, reintroducing toxin tolerance and improving animal health and grazing options. See NSF Announcement...

On Tropical Forests and Their Pests

Jan 2, 2014 - Phyllis D. Coley, Thomas A. Kursar have published an article in Coley KursarScience Magazine. "Biologists have long been intrigued by the diversity of tropical forests, where 1 hectare may hold more than 650 tree species—more than in all of Canada and the continental United States. Ecological theory suggests that if species are too similar in their resource use, one will out-compete the others; hence, neighboring species must exploit different niches if they are to coexist. However, given that plants in one hectare of rainforest experience very similar physical environments, ecologists have struggled to demonstrate sufficient niche differentiation to support such high diversity". See Science story... See NY Times story...

Sekercioglu meets with Turkey's President

Dec. 3, 2013 - Çağan Şekercioğlu was invited to an hour-long private meeting Sekercioglu and Turkish President Abdullah Gulwith Turkey's President Abdullah Gul to discuss his conservation and ecological research efforts in Turkey. President Gul was especially interested in birds. Sekercioglu gave him more than 13,000 signatures and comments of the SaveAras campaign Sekercioglu initiated to save the globally important Aras River wetlands he discovered in 2005 and where he documented 252 bird species.

After the meeting, President Gul tweeted the following in Turkish along with a photo of the meeting:

I met separately with Prof. Sekercioglu, an ornithologist from the University of Utah who attended the award ceremony. Prof. Sekercioglu is a world-famous, extraordinary researcher with an impressive education. He told me about his conservation activities in eastern Turkey National Geographic will broadcast a documentary on his research. See Story in Turkish...

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