Davies Lab Attends Society for Women in Marine Science Spring Symposium

On March 24th, the Davies Lab attended its first research symposium! A total of 9 lab members made their way to the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett for the Society for Women in Marine Science Spring Symposium. Seven BU Undergraduates participated in this event, and the lab presented 6 research posters as well. More details and photos can be found on the Davies Lab website.

Ashley Comer Receives the Brenton R. Lutz Award


GPN PhD candidate, Ashley Comer, of the Cruz-Martin Lab was the recent recipient of the Brenton R. Lutz Award for 2018. Ashley studies genes that regulate the development and plasticity of neural circuits and how circuit development is perturbed in diseased states. Specifically, she studies the development of the prefrontal cortex in mice by assaying neuronal connectivity, network activity, and behavior after manipulating genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.

This award provides support for PhD 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.”

Ashley Penvose Receives the Marion R. Kramer Award



PhD candidate, Ashley Penvose, of the Siggers Lab was the recent recipient of the Marion R. Kramer Award for 2018. Ashley’s research focuses on understanding how the type II nuclear receptors regulate gene expression, with a focus on DNA sequence specifity and allosteric mechanisms of regulation.

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.

Rebecca Branconi Receives the Thomas H. Kunz Award


PhD candidate, Rebecca Branconi, of the Buston Lab was the recent recipient of the Thomas H. Kunz Award for 2018. Rebecca’s research focuses on reassessing a classic question in evolutionary biology – why has sociality evolved? Her research combines descriptive and experimental work to test how different factors, ecological and social constraints specifically, influence intra-group structures using two different tractable study systems, the humbug damselfish Dascyllus aruanus and the clown anemonefish Amphiprion percula.

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.

Professor Primack Work on Borneo Forests Published in Nature Communications

For the past 38 years, Professor Primack, his students and colleagues have been studying long-term research plots in species rich rain forests on the tropical island of Borneo. In a recent article in Nature Communications, Primack and numerous colleagues show that these forests are increasing over time in tree biomass, and are therefor absorbing some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. However, when forests are damaged by human activity, then the forests decline in biomass. These forests will continue to increase in scientific value in coming decades as the intensity of human impact on the environment increases. This article has also been featured in a Nature Communications online collection titled Forests in the Anthropocene.

Graduate Students Awarded Warren-Mcleod Fellowships

Congratulations to the 2018 winners of the Warren-McLeod Graduate Fellowships!

Recipient of the full year Warren-McLeod Fellowship:

  • Tina Barbasch – Biology PhD candidate in the Buston lab | Negotiations Over Offspring Care: A Test of Alternative Hypothesis Using the Clown Anemonefish

Recipients of the summer Warren-McLeod Fellowships:

  • Emily Chua – Earth & Environment PhD student in the Fulweiler lab | Investigation of Biogeochemical Cycling in Permeable Marine Sediments Using a Novel Porewater Sampling Underwater Mass Spectrometer
  • Karina Scavo – Biology PhD candidate in the Kaufman/Finnerty labs
  • Nicholas Ray – Biology PhD student in the Fulweiler lab | Quantifying the Fate of Nitrogen in Oyster Habitats

The Warren-McLeod Graduate Fellowship in Marine Science was established by Patricia Warren (the granddaughter of BU’s 1st President, William Fairfield Warren) in 1990 to support graduate students in the BU Marine Program (BUMP). Guy McLeod was Patricia’s brother-in-law and the long-time director of research at the New England Aquarium. He was a marine biologist, whose scholarship focused on the role of iron, vanadium, and other metal ions on the physiological ecology of marine animals. 

Gilmore Lab PhD Students Publish a Trio of Papers on the Origins of Immunity and Disease in Marine Invertebrates

video courtesy of Carl Facer

In research supported by the National Science Foundation, Tom Gilmore’s lab recently published three papers that address the origins of immunity, as well as its possible role in disease in threatened marine invertebrates. In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, PhD student Joe Brennan led a study that characterized a conserved pathogen response molecule, a Toll-like receptor, in a sea anemone model. In a paper in Scientific Reports led by PhD student Kate Mansfield, and with collaborators from the labs of Trevor Siggers and John Finnerty (at BU) and Virginia Weis (Oregon State University), they investigated the role of immune transcription factor NF-κB in loss of symbiosis in an anemone model for coral bleaching. Finally, NSF graduate fellow Leah Williams, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas Arlington, showed that an endangered Caribbean coral, Orbicella faveolata, encodes a complete Toll-like receptor to NF-κB immune pathway with extensive similarity to human immune pathways. This last paper was published in Developmental and Comparative Immunology, and included 40 undergraduate co-authors from BB522, a molecular biology project laboratory in which early studies for this research were carried out.

Biology PhD Candidate Jesse Delia to Present Research at International Workshop

Biology PhD candidate Jesse Delia was selected to present his research at a specialized international workshop on the “Interplay Between Parental Care And Sexual Selection” in Fiskebäckskil, Sweden, 26 Feb – 3 Mar, 2018. Jesse’s talk, entitled “Family dynamics influence parent and embryo co-evolution in Neotropical glassfrogs,” describes research conducted in Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador, supervised by Prof. Karen Warkentin.

Professor Sorenson and Alumna Dr. Katie Stryjewski Featured in BU Research

Boston University’s Research has published an article featuring BU Biology’s Professor Sorenson and former Sorenson Lab member Dr. Katie Stryjewski. The article details Sorenson and Stryjewski’s work on estrildid finches of New Guinea and what these birds can teach biologists about evolution. The article can be read on BU Research.