Dr. McCall was selected as the GWISE 2020 Mentor of the Year

We are excited to announce that Dr. Kim McCall, Biology Chair, was recently selected as the Graduate Women in Science & Engineering (GWISE) 2020 Mentor of the Year. 

In presenting the award, GWISE’s President Abigail Rendos stated that Dr. McCall “…is more than deserving of this award for her leadership, mentorship, and incredible work as an advisor and the chair of the biology department.” In nominating Dr. McCall, her students note her endless availability, countless hours working with them on their science, and most importantly Dr. McCall being a great mentor, leader, and female role model for the department and beyond.

More info on the award can be found here along with a list of former winners including Biology Professor Karen Warkentin.

Congratulations Dr. McCall!

Clarissa Santoso publishes paper in Nucleic Acids Research

By Christina HoneycuttNovember 20th, 2020in Grad Student News, News
MCBB PhD student (and Biology MA alum) Clarissa Santoso, of the Fuxman Bass lab, and colleagues recently published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research. Their article, “Comprehensive mapping of the human cytokine gene regulatory network”, presents a large-scale resource of protein-DNA interactions between transcription factors and cytokine gene promoters. In particular, Clarissa and her team identified an enrichment of nuclear receptors which can be targeted with small molecules to modulate cytokine expression in the context of disease. This resource can also be leveraged to identify novel TF-cytokine regulatory axes in immune diseases and immune cell lineage development, as nicely illustrated in their paper. Read the paper hereCongratulations, Clarissa!

Shaikhah Alshuaib Receives Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences Grant

By Jen CorreiaSeptember 21st, 2020in Grad Student News

PhD student Shaikhah Alshuaib of the Lin Lab recently received a Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) PhD Supplementary Grant. The grant supports highly motivated researchers from Kuwait who are obtaining their PhD, and provides funds for research projects that are STEM-related.

Shaikhah plans to use the funds from the grant to better characterize the effects of ultrasounds on neuronal synapses. The Lin Lab has previously shown that ultrasounds can modulate membrane potential in crayfish motor axons. However, a question remains whether these effects are due to modulating biochemical processes involved in vesicle recycling and endocytosis. Shaikhah plans to further investigate this hypothesis using FM dyes and imaging techniques along with electrophysiological methods. This grant will enable her to employ new technology to better characterize this mechanism.

Congratulations, Shaikhah!

Leah Williams Publishes Review in Molecular and Cellular Biology

By Jen CorreiaSeptember 18th, 2020in Grad Student News

PhD student Leah Williams of the Gilmore Lab recently published a review article in Molecular and Cellular Biology. The article, "Looking Down on NF-kB", critically discusses research related to Leah's thesis research on the role of transcription factor NF-kB in the control of biological processes, including especially immunity, in invertebrate systems. This research has relevance to pathogen defenses in simple marine organisms, climate change-induced effects on coral health, and the evolutionary origins of immune processes in humans. Leah has been supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and this research has been supported by NSF research grants to the Gilmore Lab. Read the review here.

Congratulations, Leah!

Michael Zulch Accepted into Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology (SB2) Predoctoral Training Program

By Jen CorreiaAugust 5th, 2020in Grad Student News

MCBB PhD student Michael Zulch of the Larkin Lab was recently accepted into the 2020 Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology (SB2) Predoctoral Training Program cohort. The goals of the SB2 Program are to provide a unique, field-defining, and interdisciplinary training environment in synthetic biology. Participating graduate programs include: Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics, and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology & Biochemistry.

Michael is interested in understanding the spatial organization of prokaryotic cells and their phenotypes in multicellular systems, and how this organization leads to emergent behaviors. He plans on investigating this using a multifaceted approach which includes next-generation single-cell sequencing, fluorescence microscopy, as well as bioengineering and synthetic biology.

Congratulations, Michael!

Statement of Unity for Racial Justice

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty of Biology,

How can we make society better for everyone? That’s a fundamental question we all face.

The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have, yet again, thrown the problem of unequal justice into sharp relief. The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effects on economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color have highlighted gross inequities in healthcare and other systems across the nation. These events expose the persistent, systemic racism that blights our country.

We still have much work to do to make our departments, programs, university, and city more diverse and inclusive. We remain committed to achieving these goals. In our departments and programs, we will increase our efforts to ensure equal opportunities, welcome and train students from groups who are traditionally underrepresented, adopt inclusive pedagogical techniques, and conduct impactful research that benefits society at large. We recognize that these efforts alone will not be enough to address the challenges we face.

We welcome suggestions on how to make our community more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming, and how to ensure our efforts are more effective. We are eager to hear your ideas about how to build a better tomorrow, and we look forward to continuing this work together.


Pete Buston, Director of BU Marine Program
Wally Fulweiler, Former Director of BU Marine Program
Pam Templer, Director of the PhD Program in Biogeoscience
Guido Salvucci, Chair of the Department of Earth & Environment
Kim McCall, Chair of the Department of Biology
Nathan Phillips, Faculty Director of the Earth House Living and Learning Community

For members of our community in need further support, below are some additional BU resources that are free and available remotely:

Behavioral Medicine
24/7 Phone: 617-353-3569
Fax: 617-353-3557

Dean of Students Office

Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground

Marsh Chapel, Boston University

Professor Traniello Receives NSF & GSI Grants

Professor James Traniello and Dr. Mario Muscedere, Senior Lecturer in Biology and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of social complexity on brain size, structure, and metabolism in ants. The project will examine how the energetic cost of the brain scales with worker body size, colony size and level of social organization. Computational neuroimaging methods will be applied to quantify brain size and structure, and a highly sensitive technique will enable the ex vivo measurement of the metabolic rates of intact brains and brain cells. This study is complemented by the research of Frank Azorsa, a doctoral student in the Traniello Lab, who received a grant from the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico, Tecnológico y de Innovación Tecnológica (Peru) to study the evolutionary neurobiology of predatory ants, and how diet and sociality have influenced brain evolution. Collateral to these research awards, a grant from the Genome Sciences Institute to Professors Sean Mullen and James Traniello is funding a genomic analysis of brain evolution using single-cell RNA sequencing to understand molecular underpinnings of differentiation in brain structure associated with social roles. This study will profile gene expression in the mushroom bodies, brain centers for sensory integration, learning, and memory that are deeply homologous to the vertebrate cortex. The fungus-growing ant Atta cephalotes, which has evolved morphologically- and behaviorally-specialized workers that have significant differences in the mushroom bodies, is the model system.

John Okechi One of Ten Pardee Center 2020 Graduate Summer Fellows

By Jen CorreiaApril 30th, 2020in Grad Student News

John Okechi of the Kaufman Lab was recently named one of ten Pardee Center 2020 Graduate Summer Fellows. During the ten-week fellowship, he will analyze the impacts of cage aquaculture in Lake Victoria on the environment and on food security in surrounding communities.

The Pardee Center Graduate Summer Fellows Program offers graduate students from across Boston University an opportunity for intensive interdisciplinary research and writing on topics aligned with the future-focused research interests of BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Read the full announcement about the Pardee Center 2020 Graduate Summer Fellows here.

Congratulations, John!

Biology Graduate Students and Alumni Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Zoey Werbin, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Zoey Werbin, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Caroline Fleming, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Caroline Fleming, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Marisol Dothard, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Marisol Dothard, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Chris Petty, National Science Foundation GRFP Honorable Mention
Chris Petty, National Science Foundation GRFP Honorable Mention

The awardees and honorable mentions for the 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition were recently posted and several Biology & MCBB students were recognized. MCBB Ph.D. student Marisol Dothard, Biology Ph.D. student Zoey Werbin in the Bhatnagar lab, and M.S. Biology student Caroline Fleming in the Rotjan lab were all awarded with a 3-year graduate research fellowship as well as incoming Ph.D. student Corinne Vietorisz joining the Bhatnagar lab in Fall 2020. Jonathan Gewirtzman, the Lab Manager & Senior Research Technician for the Templer lab was also awarded the NSF GRFP.

Several students also received honorable mention: MCBB Ph.D student Abigail Descoteaux in the Bradham lab, Biology Ph.D. student Melissa Inge (also an alum of the Biology Department, CMG, '19) and incoming Biology Ph.D. students Jacob Jaskiel joining the Rotjan lab and Maria Ingersoll.

The NSF GRFP was also awarded to undergraduate Biology and BMB alumni currently pursuing their graduate degrees. The awardees were Billie Goolsby (BMB, ’19) now at Stanford University, Amber Wendler (Biology, ‘18) now at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Caylon Yates (BMB ‘15) now at Pennsylvania State University. There were several alumni that received honorable mentions as well, including Melissa Inge (CMG, ’19) noted above, Halina Malinowski (ECB, ‘16), Chris Petty (BA in BMB and MA in Biotechnology, ’19) now studying at Harvard University, and Rieka Yu (SBB, ’18) now studying at University of Missouri.

Congratulations to the awardees and honorable mentions on your hard work and this well-deserved honor.