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.

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News

Nurturing nature’s habitat on campus

Feb. 9, 2016 - We may have forgotten that the University of Utah campus is an ecosystem, an environment for student learning to take place and a habitat for other species to live and thrive. A small group of students are paying attention to the latter issue by working to increase the kestrel populations on campus and learn more about the species’ natural history. Colter Dye, a biology student at the U, is at the forefront of this initiative. He says the idea hatched after taking a biology class last spring. “I hope that the University of Utah will serve as a model for other colleges, on how to integrate campus wildlife research and habitat preservation into grounds activities,” says Amy Sibul of the Biology Department's Community Engaged Learning. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Sibul or attend the next Wildlife Society meeting. The Wildlife Society meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 3:30 in ASB 304 and is open to students, staff, and faculty from all departments. See Full Story...

U Biologist wins Eppendorf Prize

Feb. 5, 2016 - Dr. Shigeki Watanabe of the Jorgensen lab has been awarded the 2015 Eppendorf and Science Grand Prize for Neurobiology. This prize acknowledges the increasingly active and important role of neurobiology in advancing our understanding of the functioning of the brain and the nervous system -- a quest that seems destined for dramatic expansion in the coming decades. This international prize, established in 2002, encourages the work of promising young neurobiologists by providing support in the early stages of their careers. It is awarded annually for the most outstanding neurobiological research based on methods of molecular and cell biology by a young scientist. See Science Story... See Science Video...

Dead or Alive-infrared cameras and beehives

Feb. 3, 2016 - The U of U Dept. of Biology, headed by Amy Sibul, using a grant from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, has loaned the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food an infrared camera that allows inspectors to “see” into hives without opening the hives, which may expose living bees to freezing temperatures. The FLIR camera detects heat signatures in the hive. If the hive has a strong heat signature they will leave it alone. The infrared camera winter beehive health inspection program is among the first of its kind nationally and one of many free services available to registered beekeepers to help them better manage their colonies. "Some people imagine either that (bees) freeze and then thaw out in the winter or that they hibernate, but the bees are actually awake and alive through the winter and they stay in a cluster," said bee inspector Stephen Stanko in a Utah Agriculture video See KSL Story... See Demonstration Flyer...

What a moth's nose knows

Jan. 27, 2016 - Moths sniff out others of their own species using specific pheromone blends. So if you transplant an antenna – the nose, essentially – from one species to another, which blend of pheromones does the moth respond to? The donor species’, or the recipients’? The answer is neither. Moths with transplanted antennae responded instead to a similar yet novel pheromone blend not naturally produced by either species, according to University of Utah research published online Jan. 27 in PLOS ONE. The result, says biology professor Neil Vickers, reveals how the brain depends on the senses to construct an impression of reality, and how changing the sensory hardware can cause the moths’ brains to be fooled. See Full Story...

Biology Professor wins Distinguished Teaching Award

Jan. 21, 2016 - Dr. Leslie Sieburth has received the UofU Distinguished Teaching Award for 2016. The University Distinguished Teaching Award honors significant contributions to the teaching mission of the University of Utah. The awardee has maintained a consistent record of outstanding teaching performance and has implemented effective and innovative teaching methods which demonstrate exceptional abilities to motivate student learning and shows a concern for students and their wider education as well as their career preparation and also contributes to the educational process outside of the classroom. 

Poison Warmed over

Jan. 21, 2016 - UofU Dearing Lab experiments found that when temperatures get warmer, woodrats suffer a reduced ability to live on their normal diet of toxic creosote – suggesting that global warming may hurt plant-eating animals.  “This study adds to our understanding of how climate change may affect mammals, in that their ability to consume dietary toxins is impaired by warmer temperatures,” says biologist Denise Dearing , senior author of the research published online Jan. 13 in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  “This phenomenon will result in animals changing their diets and reducing the amount of plant material they eat, relocating to cooler habitats or going extinct in local areas,” says Dearing, a distinguished professor and chair of biology at the University of Utah, and Patrice Kurnath, a doctoral student in biology.  See PRS-B Article... See Full Story...

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