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Letters from Galápagos #1

January 17, 2022 To whom it may concern,   Packing is an adventure. 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 to be on our way. Consistent […]

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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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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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Nerd with a passion for the outdoors

Growing up on a hobby farm in the Pacific Northwest, Shelley Reich developed a keen interest in biology, especially genetics and animal behavior. She fondly recalls the imprinted ducklings that followed her around the farm, litters of Australian shepherd puppies her family raised, and the acrobatics of newborn calves not even 24-hours old. In addition […]

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SBS opens search for 2 new faculty members in plant bio

Assistant Professor – School of Biological Sciences University of Utah [pictured above, Talia Karasov, SBS Assistant Professor, studies how bacterial pathogens evolve and spread in plant host populations, and how hosts in turn evolve resistance.] We’re hiring. The School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah invites applications for two tenure-track faculty positions at […]

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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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Austin Green

I began my research career in 2013 as an undergraduate in the Şekercioğlu Lab at the School of Biological Sciences. At the time, my research interests were very broad. All I knew for certain was that I wanted to do lots of fieldwork, so I started a small-scale project in Red Butte Canyon using camera […]

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Kathleen Treseder

For Kathleen Treseder, HBS’94, the launching pad for her career in science and research was Borneo, the giant, rugged island in Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago. A Salt Lake City native and a first-generation college graduate, she didn’t know that Universities did research. When it came time to apply for a president’s scholarship at the University […]

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The Concrete Jungle’s impact on mammal biodiversity

City dwellers seldom experience the near-reverence of watching deer walk through their yards, both for a lack of deer and, often, a lack of a yard. In cities, not everyone has the same experiences with nature. That means that the positive effects of those experiences—such as mental health benefits—and the negative effects—such as vehicle strikes—are […]

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Elmera Azadpour

Following graduation with honors in 2019 from the SBS, Elmera Azadpour, accepted the Arnhold Environmental Graduate Fellowship that runs in coordination with the Environmental Market Solutions Lab (emLab) at University of California, Santa Barbara and Conservation International (CI). “As we know,” says Azadpour, “climate-driven shifts in both species ranges and in the spatial configuration of […]

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Food claiming to have ‘wild mushrooms’ rarely does

DNA barcoding revealed products mostly contain cultivated fungi, and a few poisonous mushrooms Harvesting wild mushrooms requires an expert eye to distinguish between the delicious and the inedible. Misidentification can have a range of consequences, from a disgusting taste and mild illness to organ failure and even death. Culinary wild mushrooms staples, such as truffles […]

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David Almanzar

David Almanzar came to the University of Utah in 2016 to pursue his PhD following his undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts. There he conducted research as an undergrad in Rolf Karlstrom’s lab, imaging neurons in the brains of fish. Today, working in the lab of Dr. Ofer Rog, Almanzar works on understanding how […]

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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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Caralyn Flack

For some, doing scientific research is the be-all and end-all. To be “at the bench” is to enter a daily portal into an expansive world where everything seems possible, as if stepping through the back panel of C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe into the new world of a Narnia. That isn’t to say that looking empirically at […]

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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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Kyle Kittelberger

For graduate students, getting research published in a peer-reviewed journal is arguably the gold standard and the kind of academic cachet that can help propel a budding academic and researcher into the stratosphere. Even one publication is impressive. For Kyle Kittelberger, “pubs” are turning into a regular affair. In this year alone (2021) he’s seen […]

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Rachel Jones

While Rachel Jones has wanted to do medical research since 3rd grade, it wasn’t until high school during her advanced placement class that she fell in love with the cell. “Cells are magnificent machines crafted by evolution, which is pretty cool considering evolution is progress derived [from] random events.” In particular, she remembers being completely fascinated […]

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COVID-19: Just a Seasonal Nuisance?

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University of Utah scientists model possible COVID-19 futures. March 20, 2021 – Within the next decade, the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 could become little more than a nuisance, causing no more than common cold-like coughs and sniffles. That possible future is predicted by mathematical models that incorporate lessons learned from the current pandemic on […]

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Alli Hoffman

For a scientist it might seem counter-intuitive to value the notion that there is never a correct or final answer to a question. But for Alessandrina (“Alli”) Hoffman, an undergraduate researcher in the Brazelton Lab, this is exactly what she loves most about her work which stems from the Lost City Hydrothermal Field on the […]

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Sahar Kanishka, Undergrad Research Award

Sahar Kanishka, recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, remembers daily where her family came from, where they are now, and what opportunity there is for her at the School of Biological Science (SBS). 

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor ever since I was younger,” she recently explained in a video interview. “Because […]

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T. Mitchell Aide, PhD’89

Distinguished Alumnus   Following his graduation with a bachelor’s from University of Texas – San Antonio, California native T. Mitchell (Mitch) Aide ended up in Utah … but via Panama. It was in Central America where he first met School of Biological Sciences (SBS) professors Lissy Coley and Tom Kursar doing tropical forest research. Aide […]

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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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