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A Serendipitous Path to Pharmacology

A RETROSPECTIVE VIEW by Baldomero Olivera I have no formal academic training in pharmacology. It’s no surprise, therefore, that my path to a research career in this field has been idiosyncratic. Ultimately, my increasing involvement with pharmacological science came about because it was the indispensable scientific discipline required. At critical moments in my scientific life, […]

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Haylee Mathews

“Many people who [do] not have previous experience with plant biology,” says Haylee Mathews, “don’t realize that plants have hormones and utilize hormone signaling to communicate environmental conditions to the different structures of the plant. They need a way to regulate growth in response to the environmental conditions they’re experiencing.” The Illinois native, now a […]

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Mario Capecchi Endowed Chair: Ofer Rog

The School of Biological Sciences has appointed Ofer Rog, assistant professor of biology, as the Mario Capecchi Endowed Chair. The prestigious three-year faculty appointment will allow Rog to continue his work researching chromosomes, the entities that hold genetic information.  The University of Utah established the chair to honor Utah’s first Nobel laureate, Mario Capecchi, through […]

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A Tale of “Terroir”: Porcini Mushrooms Evolved

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The Dentinger Lab at the Natural History Museum of Utah has published a provocative new paper in the journal New Phytologist that describes their work with the much beloved mushroom, Boletus edulis, better known by gastronomers worldwide as the porcini. By Michael Mozdy In the paper, SBS’s Keaton Tremble and Bryn Dentinger, PhD, both present a first-of-its-kind genetic […]

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Stolen Ivory

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Isotope data strengthens suspicions of ivory stockpile theft | Science shows the ivory dates to the 1980s, similar in age to ivory in Burundi’s national stockpile. by Paul Gabrielsen |  SCIENCE WRITER, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH COMMUNICATIONS Image credit: John Brown In January 2019, a seizure of 3.3 tons of ivory in Uganda turned up something […]

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A best case scenario that wasn’t planned

A cracker jack team of U of U undergrads works with principal investigator Ben Myers to break open a decades-old biological mystery. Corvin Arveseth, BS’21, can’t remember when he wasn’t fascinated by science and biology. So, when he came to the University of Utah and declared his majors in biology and biochemistry, he knew he […]

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Golden Goose Award: Olivera lab

These scientific breakthroughs led to the development of a bladeless LASIK procedure, paper microscopes, and the discovery of a non-opioid pain reliever hidden in the venom of cone snails WASHINGTON, D.C. – On September 14, 2022, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, hosted the 11th annual […]

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Global analysis identifies at-risk forests

Forests are engaged in a delicate, deadly dance with climate change, hosting abundant biodiversity and sucking carbon dioxide out of the air with billions of leafy straws. They can be a part of the climate solution as long as global warming, with its droughts, wildfires and ecosystem shifts, doesn’t kill them first. Top Photo: William […]

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Synthetic insect-bacterial symbiosis

A new paper in Current Biology authored by Crystal Su (Dale lab) and other collaborators in SBS describes the development of a novel, synthetic insect-bacterial symbiosis that is sustained through many insect generations by transovarial bacterial transmission. ^ Banner photo: Crystal Su in the lab The symbiotic bacteria express a red fluorescent protein that is […]

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Denise Dearing, New Division Head, NSF

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The National Science Foundation has announced a 2-to-4-year appointment of the University of Utah’s M. Denise Dearing as Division Director for the NSF’s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, effective August 15. The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) is one of four divisions within the Directorate of Biological Sciences at the NSF. The Division Director […]

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Seeing the world through ants

Ants are among the most numerous insects in the world, numbering from 10-100,000 trillion individuals globally with more than 10,000 species. But you don’t have to tell that to John “Jack” Longino, professor of biology. Known affectionately as “Ant Man” in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah and beyond, Longino is […]

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Structural Signatures in E. Coli

Motile bacteria are capable of swimming efficiently toward favorable chemical environments and away from inhospitable ones. This behavior–called “chemotaxis”–is frequently used by unicellular organisms for finding food. Not surprisingly, such behaviors play important roles in establishing beneficial host symbioses and pathogenic infections. The value of understanding in detail this mechanism of directed cell migration in response […]

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Payton Utzman

Most people wouldn’t see a direct line between working on tractors in rural Washington State and working on a DNA repair enzyme that functions to prevent cancer in humans. But that’s the unlikely trajectory of Payton Utzman BS’22 who after graduating from the School of Biological Sciences headed off to join Nabla Bio  at a […]

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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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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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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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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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#UGivingDay, Mar. 1-2

In celebration of the University of Utah’s birthday in 1850, you have 1850 minutes (March 1-2, 2022) to give to the Science Research Initiative (SRI) for undergraduates. Our goal is participation, not amount. Even a $1 gift make it possible for us to have 100% participation from everyone in the SBS community and beyond. Your […]

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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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