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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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Ed Esplin

“I anticipate the vaccine strategy for COVID-19, supported by the tremendous advances in vaccine technology and development made in the past 3 years, transitioning to something akin to what is done for influenza A/B, with annual development of a vaccine tailored to the strain(s) of COVID-19 predicted to predominate in a particular ‘COVID season.’” Banner […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #4

To whom It may concern, “Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance [of the Galápagos Islands].” ~Charles Darwin February 7, 2022, Week 03 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador As surprising as this quote is, I have to agree to some extent with Darwin’s first assessment of the Galápagos Islands. Upon landing off […]

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Forests on Forests, Nadkarni on Radiolab

For much of history, tree canopies were pretty much completely ignored by science. It was as if researchers said collectively, “It’s just going to be empty up there, and we’ve got our hands full studying the trees down here! So why bother?!” Listen to the podcast here: But then, around the mid-1980s, a few ecologists […]

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Two New Plant Biologists Arrive at SBS

SBS and the University of Utah welcome SBS’s newest faculty, Assistant Professors Chan Yul Yoo and Heejin Yoo. Their research is in the areas of plant biology and Ecology/Evolution and both are positioned in the Molecular, Cellular & Evolutionary Biology Program (MCEB) The Yoos come to us from Oklahoma State University. They earned their PhDs at Purdue University. Chan […]

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George Seifert

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The Winningest Coach in San Francisco 49ers History George Seifert, BS’63, began his professional coaching career in 1977 as a defensive assistant to head coach Bill Walsh. After nine years and three Super Bowl championships with Walsh, Seifert was appointed Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 They were big shoes to fill […]

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Debriefing of UofU’s MLK Week

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Becoming the Beloved Community. The University of Utah celebrated its 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week (MLK Week) Jan. 15-21 with events that encouraged everyone to embrace King’s message of love and justice and seek a better way forward. As the nation grapples with ongoing division, this year’s MLK Week explored the theme “Becoming […]

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Letters from Galápagos Islands #3

To whom It may concern, No, avian vampire flies do not parasitize vampires. January 31, 2022, Week 02 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador Philornis downsi is a fly that I’ve mentioned in my past couple letters, but I haven’t talked much about its importance, or our project for that matter.  Originally, it was suggested […]

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Robert Berman

It was an auspicious time to graduate with a diploma in microbiology at the University of Utah in 1970. K. Gordon Lark was a new arrival as chair of the new biology department and was busy expanding the department with a multitude of cell and microbiologists. This included neurobiologist and distinguished professor Baldomero Olivera who […]

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2021 AAAS Fellows Announced

Four University of Utah scientists have been selected as 2021 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The awardees are materials science professor Ling Zang of the College of Engineering, and three faculty from the School of Biological Sciences: Distinguished Professor M. Denise Dearing and Professors Dale Clayton and Kelly Hughes. […]

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Letters from Galápagos #2

To whom it may concern, I think the only person who is happy at 5:00 in the morning, is a field biologist, in the rain. January 24, 2022, Week 01 – Isla De Santa Cruz, Ecuador   This week was the first couple of days that we spent in the field. The first day we […]

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Letters from Galápagos #1

To whom it may concern, Packing is an adventure. January 17, 2022, Week 00 – Salt Lake City, UT Getting ready to depart on a field expedition is always an adventure in and of itself. Amongst packing, COVID testing, homework, buying supplies, planning travel, and coordinating a study, we are all tired, and very ready […]

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Action against racism on campus

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January 14, 2022–From U of U Leadership: Dear campus community, We have an urgent vision for the U. Our collective vision calls for us to come together and say we will not tolerate what has long been intolerable. We remind our campus family that harm and fear continue to ripple through our community, especially our […]

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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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California mice eat monarch butterflies

This newly discovered mouse-butterfly interaction suggests that western monarch decline could disrupt ecosystems in unanticipated ways By Lisa Potter | Research Communications University of Utah Marketing & Communications Monarch butterflies possess a potent chemical armor. As caterpillars, they eat plants filled with toxic cardenolides that build up in their bodies and make them unpalatable to […]

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Beans-to-Genes Microbiology in the time of Covid

Last semester, Professor Colin Dale’s Biol 5275, Microbial Diversity, Genomics and Evolution (MDGE) lab/class was faced with an especially ambitious task. Students were challenged to isolate culture caffeine-degrading bacteria from environmental samples, perform molecular identification, sequence their genomes and identify the genes responsible for degradation of caffeine. They explored a diverse and interesting range of […]

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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 Emerita Naomi 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 […]

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Desert shrubs cranked up water use efficiency to survive a megadrought

It may not be enough. Shrubs in the desert Southwest have increased their water use efficiency at some of the highest rates ever observed to cope with a decades-long megadrought. That’s the finding of a new study from University of Utah researchers, who found that although the shrubs’ efficiency increases are unprecedented and heroic, they […]

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2021 Year-End Message from the Co-Directors

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Moving Ahead with Biological Sciences Research programs carried out by Biology faculty have always been characterized by deep curiosity and scientific rigor; however, the locations where this work has taken place have been surprisingly variable. One of the first departments at the U, Biology and its faculty have traditionally occupied buildings close to Presidents Circle. […]

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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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“The 28 Day Cycle” Art Installation

“I made an impractical decision that I do not regret,” says Danielle Okelberry who goes by “Dani.” The UofU senior who is finishing up her art degree, slowed her graduation considerably by declaring herself a pre-med undergraduate. Truthfully, there are very few pre-med students at the U who are art majors. All the more unusual, […]

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#GivingTuesday

Today, November 30, 2021, is the national day of giving in the United States. Across the country #GivingTuesday is the hashtag folks are using to get the word out that, whatever you choose to donate to, today’s the day. The School of Biological Sciences (SBS) is no exception. SBS and the College of Science launched […]

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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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Early Riser: George Riser, Distinguished Alumnus

In 2017 George R. Riser, BS’47, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Biological Sciences. It is an auspicious award for a truly auspicious man in part because of Mr. Riser’s sustained funding of the Riser Endowed Scholarship Fund which has provided annual scholarships to thousands of graduate and undergraduate students in biology […]

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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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Cottam’s Gulch

One of the most tranquil spots at the University is Cottam’s Gulch, the small gully that runs behind the Crocker Science Center to University Street. The grassy, tree-lined area, with its meandering stone pathway and lone bench, is a perfect place to read, meditate, picnic, or enjoy exuberant birdsong. It’s a place rich in history, […]

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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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Rivers become bird corridors

In a dry year in the West, when the world turns crispy and cracked, rivers and streams with their green, lush banks become a lifesaving yet limited resource. New research from the University of Utah and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) finds that in dry years, birds funnel into the relative greenness of […]

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