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Major Alex Horn, PhD’21 | USAF C-17 Pilot

By Alex Horn I joined the Air Force as an 18-year-old cadet. I came to the U as part of a program that would allow me to later return to the Air Force Academy to teach. In my doctoral studies, I wanted to understand the relationships between our evolved propensity to form intense fraternal bonds […]

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OUR DNA, Spring 2022 Issue

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THE SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES MAGAZINE OUR DNA magazine is a dynamic 360-degree snapshot of both the depth and breadth of the people, the research and the outreach that make up one of the University of Utah’s most celebrated academic units, The School of Biological Sciences.   READ THE ENTIRE MAGAZINE HERE Subscribe to this […]

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Juneteenth Day of Freedom Summit

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Juneteenth is a nationally recognized holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S. Today, it is celebrated to recognize Black excellence, achievement, education, and freedom. June 15 is Juneteenth Day of Freedom Summit at the U. The School of Medicine Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OHEDI), in collaboration with the University […]

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Tiffany Do, Undergraduate Research Scholar

“My hero is my brother,” says Tiffany Do of her brother Anthony. “He’s the first in my family to graduate from the University of Utah. I look up to him because he’s gone through the trials in being a first-generation student and has helped me overcome some of those obstacles.” Those obstacles can be daunting. […]

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College Merger

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College of Mines and Earth Sciences to merge with College of Science. The University of Utah College of Mines and Earth Sciences will merge with the College of Science beginning July 1, 2022, a move that will unite well-funded programs, build synergy and cooperation between faculty and create a much stronger base for science and […]

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Metabarcoding for characterizing wild animal diets

DNA metabarcoding is the large-scale taxonomic identification of complex environmental samples via analysis of DNA sequences for short regions of one or a few genes. The technique is widely used to determine wild animal diets, but whether this technique provides accurate, quantitative measurements is still under debate. A team of SBS researchers set out to test […]

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What gives mammals a tolerance to poisonous compounds?

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In a new study, a SBS research team has learned that direct ecological exposure to the specialized chemistry of particular plant species is not a prerequisite for tolerance to toxic compounds. These findings lay the groundwork for additional studies to investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying toxin tolerance and to identify how these mechanisms are maintained […]

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Toto Gets Stamped!

Distinguished Professor Baldomero Olivera is featured in the Filipino Postal Office’s “Living Legends” commemorative stamp series. Affectionately referred to as “Toto,” Olivera has pioneered research on marine cone snails, demonstrating the therapeutic potential of their venom, already resulting in an FDA-approved drug. The University of Utah’s biochemistry and pharmacy departments (UofU Health) are currently expanding […]

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Wildfire, Drought & Insects

Threats impacting forests are increasing nationwide. by Paul Gabrielsen Planting a tree seems like a generally good thing to do for the environment. Trees, after all, take in carbon dioxide, offsetting some of the emissions that contribute to climate change. But all of that carbon in trees and forests worldwide could be thrown back into […]

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What We’re Still Learning About How Trees Grow

FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT WHAT FACTORS LIMIT TREE GROWTH. A NEW SBS STUDY MAY HOLD ANSWERS.  TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Antoine Cabon A conifer forest in Northern California. by Paul Gabrielsen science writer, University Marketing & Communications What will happen to the world’s forests in a warming world? Will increased atmospheric carbon dioxide help trees grow? […]

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2022 Rosenblatt Prize: Thure Cerling

Thure E. Cerling, Distinguished Professor of Biology, is the 2022 recipient of the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. by Paul Gabrielsen science writer, University Marketing & Communications Cerling is also department chair of the Department of Geology & Geophysics, Francis H. Brown Presidential Chair, and Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics. The Rosenblatt Prize is the […]

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That’s a Wrap. Footnotes from a Young Scientist

Letters from the Galápagos Islands Our South American correspondent Sonora “Nora” Clayton happily embarked on an excursion of a lifetime in February of this year: the Galapagos Islands off the coast of mainland Ecuador. The middle-schooler was embedded in the Clayton/Bush lab (Dale Clayton and Sarah Bush also happen to be her parents.) It was a first-hand […]

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Erik Jorgensen elected to the NAS

When explaining his work, Erik Jorgensen, a geneticist who studies the synapse, can transport you to an almost galactic place–the observable universe of the brain. “Synapses are contacts between nerve cells in your brain,” says the School of Biological Sciences’ distinguished professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator who May 3, 2022 was elected to […]

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Outstanding Post-Doc Award

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Julie Jung has received an Outstanding Post-Doctoral Fellow Award from the College of Science. Julie Jung spent much of her time in high school roaming greenhouses working for a wheat lab at the USDA. Since then, she has pivoted her research to ecology, having worked first with owls, songbirds, chipmunks and pollinators within New England’s […]

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Social Distancing in Urban Wildlife

When visiting cities, coyotes seem to prefer the nightlife while deer and squirrels would rather be home before dark. That’s the finding of new research from scientists at the University of Utah who found that mammals in urban environments shifted the timing of their daily activities, likely to avoid encountering humans. Austin Green, PhD candidate […]

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SBS Ranked #13 in the Nation

COLLEGE RANKINGS   U.S. News & World Report has released their 2022-2022National University Rankings. The University of Utah is now ranked No. 1 in Utah and No. 42nationally among public universities. The College of Science fared even better. National rankings for public universities put Biology at No. 13, Chemistry at No. 20, Mathematics at No. […]

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Patrick Newman

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As a boy in growing up in Bountiful, Patrick Newman, BA’03, took a bite of a plant he would never forget. It tasted just like black licorice, which he loved. “I remember being struck at that moment as an 8-year-old boy thinking, ‘Plants can taste like things — what else can plants do?’” says Newman […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #10

To whom it may concern, I don’t want to leave the Galápagos yet. March 18, 2022, Week 09 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador above photo: Mom and the pigeons in the Plaza in Quito March 18 We finished packing for Quito this morning. I took a final exam for science, so I’m almost done […]

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Johanna Varner’s 3D-Print Double

Some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in history—including the research that led to mRNA vaccines—were pioneered by women. While history has shown that women are integral to scientific advancement, the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) landscape is still highly inequitable. In honor of Women’s History Month, consider the story of SBS alumna, PhD’15, […]

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The Leonardo Award to Nalini Nadkarni

The Leonardo Museum of Creativity & Innovation awards the innovation and dedication of a distinguished American ecologist March 22, 2022—Each year, The Leonardo presents the Leonardo Award to an individual who has demonstrated a lifelong sense of curiosity and learning, and whose work inspires the creative potential in others. The award reflects the museum’s dedication […]

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2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards

One of the largest academic units on campus, SBS is fortunate to have an alumni family of increasing accomplishment in academia, health care, private industry and elsewhere. Each year a committee selects alumni for the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards, which includes the Distinguished Lab Alumni Award.  An event to celebrate will occur April 27th in-person […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #9

To whom It may concern, It’s becoming evident to me that despite the length of days near the equator, time in the tropics seems to pass very quickly. March 14, 2022, Week 09 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador   As the end of our expedition gets closer and closer, we’re doing more homework every […]

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Effective 3/14, Masking Suspended at U

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As we enter the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, we are optimistic about the state of COVID-19 on our campus and in the community around us. We are in a very different place than we were just two months ago. Infections and hospitalizations have declined since their peak in January; the vast majority of […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #8

To whom It may concern, It’s a small world after all. March 7, 2022, Week 08 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador Amongst huge frigate birds and giant tortoises, smaller organisms are often forgotten or considered less interesting than some wildlife. Every day, walking around town, to the beach, the station, or on our patio outside, […]

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Audrey Brown

“One of the biggest things that helped me was connecting with my loved ones.” When the pandemic first emerged in early 2020 Audrey Brown, HBS’21, found that online classes were novel at first, “but I quickly found myself losing motivation and becoming depressed/anxious due to the day-to-day Zoom monotony and the never-ending doomsday news on […]

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April Christofferson

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“I love the process of writing,” April Christofferson, BS’73, says in a 2007 U profile, “but I write because I’m trying to make a difference.” The difference this Illinois native is talking about includes many of the most complex and conflicted issues of her adopted home in the American West, including wildlife and public lands […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #7

To whom It may concern, Philornis downsi may as well be from Mars. February 28, 2022, Week 07 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador During the past few weeks, we’ve been looking for new mockingbird nests in which we can study Philornis. Now that we’ve found and mapped nests from different sites, we’re beginning to […]

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Charles Sorenson

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“My best trait is the ability to hang out with people who are far more capable than I am,” says Charles Sorenson, MD, FACS, in a 2020 interview. “I am not intimidated by working with people who are smarter than I am.” The former president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit […]

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Sarmishta Kannan

For Sarmishta Diraviam Kannan, HBS’17, the journey to her “dream school” – the University’s School of Medicine – spanned about 25 years and some 8,780 miles. Sarmishta was born in Tamil Nadu, India, which is located on the southern tip of the Indian sub-continent. In addition to the long history of the Tamil people, Tamil […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #6

To whom It may concern, This week, I thought I’d change things up a little and submit a letter that is really photo-journalism. If it’s true that a picture paints a thousand words, you will have several thousand to read today! February 21, 2022, Week 06 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador The banner photo […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #5

To whom It may concern, Readers should note that biologists, grad students, and intrigued 13-year-olds may stop frequently to observe things. February 14, 2022, Week 05 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador This week our day off was spent in the “highlands,” although at 2,800 feet above sea level, the highlands aren’t especially towering. This […]

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Decline of vultures and rise of dogs carries disease risks

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In the yards behind the slaughterhouses—also called abattoirs—of Ethiopia, an ecological shift is unfolding that has echoes of similar crises all over the world. by Paul Gabrielsen Science writer, University Marketing & Communications Species with a clear and effective ecological role are in serious decline, and the less-specialized but more aggressive species that have moved […]

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