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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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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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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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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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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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#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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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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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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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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