Department of Biology

UMatter-Earn $25,000 for Biology

Attention Friends of Biology

break1The University of Utah Graduate School is offering a 2:1 match on private donations targeted for graduate stipends. The cap on this offer is $15,000 for our department with a deadline of December 31, 2014. Any funds raised in excess of the $15,000 can be used towards next year’s matching program. Donations are tax deductible and can be made one of two ways, online or by check. PDF Instructions

This is a unique and powerful opportunity to increase the impact of your gift. Your generosity will help ensure that our graduate students and faculty are receiving the support and funding they need to succeed. Thank you!


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.


Inmates as conservationists

Dec 11, 2014 - A University of Utah biology professor hopes to help prisoners Nadkarniconnect with nature. Nalini Nadkarni wants the group to help her study how desert brush and weather affect sage grouse populations. Nadkarni has had success with a similar program in Washington state, where she and other biologists in recent years enlisted inmates to study Oregon spotted frogs and moss varieties. On Tuesday night, the men in white corrections gear and green sweatshirts watched National Geographic footage of Nadkarni scaling Costa Rican rain forest tree canopies. , See SL Trib story...

AAAS Names Three U Faculty as Fellows

Nov. 24, 2014 – Three University of Utah faculty members were honored today Dr. Jon Seger-AAAS Fellowfor distinguished efforts to promote the uses of science by being elevated to the rank of fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general-science society and publisher of the journal Science. The three are among 401 AAAS members elevated to the rank of fellow for 2014. Jon Seger, professor of biology, was honored “for distinguished contributions to the understanding of the genetic dynamics of social and life-history trait evolution in various contexts.” See full story...

Biology Professor in Time's 25 Best

Nov. 21, 2014 - For 23 hours a day, the 200 inmates in solitary confinement at Oregon’s largest prison see nothing but a tiny, white-walled cell—an experience some research suggests can heighten mental illness and make prisoners prone to suicide attempts and violence. Last year, officials began letting some of them spend their free hour in a first-of-its-kind “blue room,” an exercise space where a projector plays video of open deserts, streaming waterfalls and other outdoor scenes. That imagery, says creator Nalini Nadkarni, who studies how nature affects behavior, is designed to calm prisoners, “much in the way we walk through a park” to relax. Inmates have responded so well that guards now use blue-room time as a way to pre-empt bad behavior. See full story... (Scroll down) PDF

Viruses Impaired by Diverse Genes

Nov. 18, 2014 – When a viral infection spread through five genetically identical Wayne Pottsmice in a row, the virus replicated faster and became more virulent or severe. But when the infection spread one-by-one through five genetically diverse mice, the virus had trouble adapting and became less virulent. By showing this long-suspected mechanism holds true within a single species of vertebrate animal, namely, mice, the University of Utah study suggests that increased genetic diversity should be promoted in livestock and in captive-bred endangered species so as to limit their risk of getting deadly infections. “This study showed a surprising rapid and large effect of genetic diversity in mice that dramatically reduced the replication of virus infecting the mice and the severity of disease caused by the virus,” says biology professor Wayne Potts. He is senior author of the study published online this month in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “There’s a reason we are not clones of our mom and dad,” says the study’s first author, Jason Kubinak, a postdoctoral fellow in biology. See full story... See Science 360 story...

Tree diseases can help forests

Nov. 11, 2014 - In Panama's forest, death is a beautiful thing. It kills ultimately Erin Spear of the Coley Kursar Labfor a good reason, so that trees in a wetter part of the forest can grow big and strong. according to a new study published in the Journal of Ecology. "That’s exactly right," said Erin R. Spear, lead author of the research and a doctoral candidate in biology at the University of Utah in the Coley/Kursar Lab. "We have this negative perspective on pathogens and disease. We think of pathogens as being destroyers, and in this case they are constructors." See Washington Post article...


Did you earn a B+ or better in Cell Biology or Genetics? Be a Biology tutor!
(a terrific leadership opportunity and preparation for the MCAT, GRE, and other biology classes). Email application to Lucas M Horner
See PDF announcement...

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