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New Gene-editing Tools Detailed in Cover Article

The expanding CRISPER-Cas universe continues to provide new tools for manipulating genomes in animals. James “Jamie” Gagnon who currently holds the Mario Capecchi Endowed Chair at the School of Biological Sciences understands that embryonic cells “talk” to each other to coordinate the construction process. “Cells are master linguists – they use dozens of different languages, […]

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Ferocious fungus

In new paper, co-authored by SBS Professor, engineers discover what makes a tree-killing fungus so hard to put down. By Vince Horiuchi | public relations associate, College of Engineering University of Utah It’s called Armillaria ostoyae, and it’s a gnarly parasitic fungus with long black tentacles that spread out and attack vegetation with the ferocity […]

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Remembering Naomi Franklin, 1929-2021

SBS Professor EmeritaNaomi Franklin passed away on December 24, 2021 in Salt Lake City. She was 92. Colleague Larry Okun, also emeritus, described Franklin as “[a] complex character, stubborn and sometimes irascible on the one hand and extraordinarily caring and generous on the other.” He recalled how she frequently entertained at her home Biology newcomers, […]

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The Science of Biological Data: Fred Adler

In an age when cross-disciplinary collaboration has become essential, especially in academia, Fred Adler puts his mathematical models where his mouth is. Multi-disciplinary work—in which academic silos are breached in the search for truth—is the hallmark of what Adler, who has a joint appointment in mathematics and biology, does. His is the kind of work […]

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2007 Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi on this year’s award

Each year thousands of professors, members of national committees, Nobel laureates, and parliamentary assemblies lobby their candidates to the Nobel committee for the Nobel Prize. The results of this year’s selection were announced on Oct. 8 by The Norwegian Nobel Committee for research that the committee describes as “having conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” […]

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Bill Gray Awarded Ty Harrison Service Award 2021

Three years ago after Ty Harrison passed away, the board of directors of the Utah Native Plant Society (UNPS) established the Ty Harrison Service Award to honor his memory of outstanding service to the organization. This year we are pleased to announce William R. Gray as the recipient of the Ty Harrison Service Award for […]

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Woodrat microbiomes: It’s who you are that matters most

More than diet or geography, evolutionary history has the strongest influence on bacterial gut communities in both wild and captive woodrats. Every mammal hosts a hidden community of other organisms—the microbiome. Their intestines teem with complex microbial populations that are critical for nutrition, fighting disease and degrading harmful toxins. Throughout their lives, mammals are exposed […]

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Nalini Nadkarni: A tree goes around the world 7 times a year

In October 2021, SBS’s Nalini Nadkarni, Professor Emerita, came to Barcelona to collect the NAT prize, which is awarded by the Museum of Natural Sciences to personalities who have excelled in disseminating scientific knowledge. By Bernat Puigtobella 10/29/2021 Top photo credit: Nalini Nadkarni © Marina Miguel/ Núvol   Known as the “Queen of the Forest […]

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The science of the sandworms of ‘Dune’

The giant creatures in Frank Herbert’s novel have an Earthly counterpart in the numerous nematodes. By Michael S. Werner | Special to The Tribune | Oct. 29, 2021 Top photo: (Chia Bella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP) This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from […]

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Can Fungi Save the World?

Just below the surface of our world lies the vast, unexplored world of fungi. There are an estimated 5.1 million species of fungi weaved into the soil, water and other living organisms that inhabit our planet. Of those five million species, we’ve identified just over 70,000. Despite being just beneath (and sometimes on) our fingertips, the fungal […]

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Inflight Blood Meals on a Starry Night 

SBS’s Neil Vickers could tell you a great deal about turbulence–in his lab and in the broader world of a busy School of Biological Sciences. As Co-Director of the School, he juggles the administration of U Biology with his colleague Leslie Sieburth. This while keeping his lab in the Aline Skaggs Biology Building up and […]

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Darwin’s short-beak enigma solved

Mutation in the ROR2 gene is linked to beak length in domestic pigeons, has a surprising connection with a human congenital disorder. Charles Darwin was obsessed with domestic pigeons. He thought they held the secrets of selection in their beaks. Free from the bonds of natural selection, the 350-plus breeds of domestic pigeons have beaks […]

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Mario Capecchi

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We’re sure you’ve heard of Mario Capecchi Drive on campus, but do you know why that main road was given its name? Dr. Capecchi, who has joint appoints in the Department of Human Genetics and in the School of Biological Sciences, the latter of which where he got his start at the U, was born […]

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This Scientist Discovered an Ant Species in His Own Backyard

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Biologist Jack Longino has spent most of his career hunting for ants in the rainforests of Central America. But this serendipitous discovery happened much closer to home. By Wilson Chapman Jun 18, 2021 1:00 PM The work of finding and classifying new species — taxonomy — shows a strong regional bias. As Jack Longino, a biologist […]

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Birds at risk of extinction

The lush forests and more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines hold a rich diversity of life, with 258 bird species who live nowhere but the Philippine archipelago. A new study from University of Utah researchers suggests that, due to deforestation and habitat degradation, more bird species may be endangered that previously thought – including […]

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Scientific Discovery Illustrated

Biology Under Cover is a permanent exhibit in the lobby of the Aline W. Skaggs Biology Building. The evolving display showcases faculty research spanning decades featured on selected journal covers.   As of July 1, 2021, the exhibit features 60 book and journal covers ranging from the Journal of Cell Science to Nature, and from […]

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Bucking Groove Formation

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Nalini Nadkarni Retires Dr. Nalini Nadkarni has a busy brain. I should know; I’ve been married to her for nearly forty years. She can be described as (in no particular order): a taxi driver, surveyor, hitch hiker, pioneering canopy researcher, forest ecologist, mother, TED talk giver, science and art mixer, teacher, science-to-incarcerated promoter, solo hiker, […]

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Pan-Amphibian Viral Vectors

Ayako Yamaguchi and a team of amphibian neuroscientists have been awarded a one-million-dollar prestigious National Science Foundation EDGE grant to develop pan-amphibian viral vectors for spatio-temporal control of gene expression. The goal of the Yamaguchi lab is to understand how behavior of animals are produced by the nervous system. To this end, they use the […]

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Mary Beckerle Elected to NAS

April 21, 2021—Mary C. Beckerle, chief executive officer and director, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HC); and distinguished professor of biology and associate vice president for cancer affairs, University of Utah was elected to the National Academy of Science. She spends her days working to save lives and as CEO of HCI  models the company’s core values […]

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Nitin Phadnis, Fly Genetics

One of 3 for ’20. February 19, 2021 – Nitin Phadnis, SBS Associate Professor, and his colleagues won an Editors’ Choice Award for an outstanding Population and Evolutionary Genetics article published in GENETICS. Titled “Extensive Recombination Suppression and Epistatic Selection Causes Chromosome-Wide Differentiation of a Selfish Sex Chromosome in Drosophila pseudoobscura“, the article was one of only three selected for […]

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Fast Track Designation for Denali Diagnostics

March 22, 2021 – When Ryan Watts, BS’00, steps into the classroom at the University of Utah to discuss with students the opportunities they have in bio-tech, the founder/CEO of San Francisco-based Denali Therapeutics speaks from deep experience. His knowledge of the subject is unfolding in real-time, including earlier this month when Denali announced that […]

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Jim Ehleringer, Academy of Sciences

Distinguished professor of biology James R. Ehleringer, who has pioneered applications of stable isotopes, was elected in May 2016 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. James “Jim” Ehleringer is among 84 U.S. scientist-scholars and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries elected at the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. He joins more than […]

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Going with the Flow

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Retiring botanist studied how plant’s xylem tissue carries phenomenal amounts of water to tree leaves where it evaporates and influences regional weather patterns. John Sperry grew up in Normal, Illinois, but his interest in plants–eventually their vascular function–would propel him into work that was far from standard in botany via Duke University and, eventually Harvard […]

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Leslie Sieburth: Associate Dean

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The College of Science is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Leslie Sieburth from the School of Biological Sciences as the new Associate Dean of Research in the College of Science, effective July 1, 2019. Leslie earned her PhD in Botany from the University of Georgia, completed a postdoctoral appointment at the California Institute of […]

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Associate V.P. for Research

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The College of Science is pleased to announce the appointment of Diane Pataki, Ph.D., as the Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Utah, effective April 1st, 2019. She will continue to serve as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science through July 1st, 2019. Dr. Pataki is a Professor […]

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TreeTop Barbie

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When Nalini Nadkarni was a young scientist in the 1980s, she wanted to study the canopy – the part of the trees just above the forest floor to the very top branches. But back then, people hadn’t figured out a good way to easily reach the canopy so it was difficult to conduct research in […]

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Running with Scissors

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One could argue that the age of genomes is divided between before CRISPR-Cas9 and after CRISPR-Cas9 (commonly referred to as just “CRISPR”). As a Harvard post-doc studying the genes involved in embryo development, James (Jamie) Gagnon remembers in 2012 that “pivotal moment” when these “really nice pair of scissors now easy to make” came on […]

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Courtship Condos

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Playing to the ethic of pursuing pure science, new faculty member Dean Castillo is driven by research questions not necessarily the research organism. While working on his bachelor’s and even before that while growing up in rural northern California, he worked with “tons of different organisms,” he says, including fungi. So it wasn’t difficult for him […]

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Karl Gordon Lark

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Karl Gordon Lark, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Utah, passed away on April 10, 2020, after a seven-year battle with cancer. A renowned geneticist, Lark uncovered fundamental aspects of DNA replication and genetics across many systems, from bacteria to soybeans to dogs. He came to the U in 1970 as the biology department’s […]

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Biological Invaders

Science Research Initiative Fox Squirrel Biology Research STREAM Denise Dearing, PhD, Distinguished Professor, School of Biological Sciences Tess Stapleton, PhD Candidate, School of Biological Sciences Biological invaders are one of the key drivers of ecosystem change. Invasion can result in loss of native species, reduction of ecosystem diversity, and even loss of ecosystem services such […]

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Forest Futures

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Forest Futures Know the risks of investing in forests. Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments are counting on planted forests as offsets for greenhouse gas emissions—a sort of climate investment. But as with any investment, it’s important to understand the risks. If a forest goes bust, […]

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Ryan Watts, BS’00

Ryan Watts Distinguished Alumnus   Dr. Ryan Watts, BS’00 in Biology, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Denali Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on finding treatments and cures for neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Watts and his colleagues at Denali are passionate about discovering drug therapies to help over 22 million people […]

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2020 UofU Distinguished Research Award, David Bowling

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April 24, 2020 – SBS’s Dave Bowling has been awarded a University of Utah 2020 Distinguished Research Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievements in research by University of Utah tenured faculty. Up to three awards for outstanding achievements in research are awarded to University of Utah tenured faculty each year. This prestigious research award provides […]

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