Professor Jerry Chen Awarded Whitehall Foundation Grant

By Jennifer ScottMay 16th, 2017in Faculty News, News

BU Biology Assistant Professor Jerry Chen has been awarded the Whitehall Foundation Grant. The Whitehall Foundation, through its program of grants and grants-in-aid, assists scholarly research in the life sciences. The Foundation is currently interested in basic research in neurobiology, defined as follows: Invertebrate and vertebrate (excluding clinical) neurobiology, specifically investigations of neural mechanisms involved in sensory, motor, and other complex functions of the whole organism as these relate to behavior. The overall goal should be to better understand behavioral output or brain mechanisms of behavior. For Professor Chen’s award, he will be investigating the role of inter-areal cortical dynamics during sensory perception.

First Annual Outstanding Learning Assistant Awards

Phoebe Asante, Xing Bing Cai, and George Tarantino Receive the Outstanding Learning Assistant Award

This is the first year the Biology Department recognized the wonderful efforts of all of our Learning Assistants (LAs) by presenting “The Outstanding Learning Assistant Award” to the group of LAs who presented a poster that was judged by the Biology Honors Committee to best outline procedures that will improve teaching in our undergraduate laboratories. Financial support for this award was made possible by Professor Emerita Elizabeth Godrick.

Top award:
Phoebe Asante, Xing Bing Cai, and George Tarantino, for their poster titled Strengthening Fundamental Laboratory Skills of Students in BI108. The poster outlined procedures that will improve pipetting techniques and a second exercise that will improve the students’ ability to properly use a microscope. Each exercise was accompanied by an instructional video made by the students and a guide to performing each technique.

Second Place tie:
Hannah Carroll, Christopher Petty, Ella van Deventer: Improving Student Preparation and Engagement via Interactive Pre-Lab Activity

Anoush Calikyan, Andrew Faria, Kevin Kuang, and Steven Nunez: Incorporation of Clinical Applications of Lab Concepts to Stimulate Interest and Understanding in Modules

Stephen Decina Receives the Thomas H. Kunz Award


Stephen Decina of the Templer Lab was the recent recipient of the Thomas H. Kunz Award for 2017. Steve studies cycles of urban nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus, exploring the ways that urban form and human decision making influence these cycles with the goal to inform policies that will lead to more sustainable cities and resilient socio-ecological communities.

This award provides support for Ecology, Behavior & Evolution (EBE) Ph.D. candidates who have completed the qualifying exam, with a preference for those conducting field research in the award year. The award was established in 2015 in recognition and appreciation of Professor Thomas H. Kunz’s mentorship. His current and former graduate students established this award to serve as a lasting legacy of Tom’s contributions at BU and beyond. Learn more about Dr. Kunz and how you can support this award.

Johnny Elguero Receives the Brenton R. Lutz Award


Johnny Elguero of the McCall Lab was the recent recipient of the Brenton R. Lutz Award for 2017. Johnny’s research uses the Drosophila melanogaster brain to try to understand how certain genes contribute to neurodegeneration. They look at genes that are important for removing dead cells and cellular debris from the brain, and how mutations in these genes can lead to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This award provides support for Ph.D. candidates conducting research in neurobiology or neuroscience and have made significant contributions to their field. Brenton R. Lutz was the person to receive an M.D./Ph.D. at Boston University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1916. He later became a Professor and Chairman of BU’s Department of Biology. Dr. Lutz also gave the first University Lecture at BU on December 11, 1950 “The Living Blood Vessels.”

Liz Burmester Receives the Marion R. Kramer Award


Elizabeth Burmester of the Finnerty Lab was the recent recipient of the Marion R. Kramer Award for 2017. Liz’s research focuses on the influence of the coral-algal symbiosis and environmental stress on coral recovery using the facultatively symbiotic, temperate coral Astrangia poculata as a model.

The Marion R. Kramer Award provides support for high-achieving female students majoring in Biology. The award was established in 2001 in honor of Dr. Marion Kramer who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Boston University in 1963 and went on to a long and satisfying career in biology and medicine.

Elizabeth McCarthy Receives Outstanding Teaching Fellow Award for Biology, 2016/2017

Elizabeth McCarthy with Michael J. Baum, Professor of Biology
Elizabeth McCarthy with Michael J. Baum, Professor of Biology

Elizabeth McCarthy with W. Jeffrey Hughes, Associate Dean of the Graduate School
Elizabeth McCarthy with W. Jeffrey Hughes, Associate Dean of the Graduate School

Elizabeth McCarthy of the Baum lab was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Fellow of the Year for Biology, academic year 2016/2017. Liz has served as a Teaching fellow for Systems Physiology or Human Physiology for almost every semester since 2009. Liz has also had the distinction of being the first coordinator of the Biology Inquiry and Outreach with Boston University Graduate Students (BIOBUGS) program, that pairs graduate students with a diverse student population from local Boston Public Schools.  Liz has published in education journals, attended an Annual Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) meeting, and co-authored the revised physiology lab manual published in 2015.  Accolades from her students include quotes such as: “Greatest lab TA ever”,“Liz is the most helpful TA I’ve had at BU”, “Liz knows how to teach.  She keeps students interested, she knows her information, and is amazingly helpful”, “Always available for help and always being patient with students”, “Liz is the absolute best!”

Professor Tim Gardner Recruited by Neuralink

By Jennifer ScottApril 21st, 2017in Faculty News, News

BU Biology’s Tim Gardner has been recruited as part of the pioneering team to work on Elon Musk’s new venture, Neuralink. As Neuralink’s website states, “Neuralink is developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” TechCrunch offers a brief overview of Musk’s plan, and Wait But Why gives a very in-depth explanation of the fundamental science behind this project as well as the implications for humanity and society. We are very proud to have Professor Gardner involved in this project, and we are excited to see where this leads!

Tom Gilmore Gives Plenary Lecture at BCI Symposium

By Jennifer ScottApril 12th, 2017in Faculty News, News

Tom Gilmore, Professor and Associate Chair of Biology, gave a plenary lecture at the 19th Annual
Biomedical & Comparative Immunology Symposium in Miami, FL, on March 31, 2017. His talk, “A Billion Years of NF-kappaB,” described his lab’s work on a key protein involved in immune diseases from marine invertebrates to humans.

Jesse Delia Research Covered in Journal of Evolutionary Biology and New York Times

Delia Glassfrog Cover
Biology PhD candidate Jesse Delia’s first paper from his dissertation was published on Friday as the cover story in the most recent Journal of Evolutionary Biology, and is getting some media attention, including in BU Research, the cover of BU Today, and the New York Times.

This paper reports a combination of intensive nocturnal field observations of parental care behavior in 40 species of glassfrogs, field experiments testing the functions of and parental commitment to care, and phylogenetic analyses to elucidate evolutionary patterns. It fundamentally changes our understanding of parental behavior and sex role evolution in this group of frogs, and shows how field research is still crucial for understanding the diversity of life, even in this age of genomics.

Delia is a member of the Warkentin Lab, as well as a two-time winner of the Kunz Fund in Biology Award.