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The Northern Biologist 17th Annual Newsletter • Department of Biological Sciences • Northern Illinois University • Fall 2013

Letter from the Chair | Professor Barrie Bode The 2013-2014 academic year is upon us and it brings the start of a new era to NIU. Our former president John Peters retired and Doug Baker begins his tenure as NIU’s leader. Dr. Baker arrived this summer and has set specific goals for our institution; among these are growth of research and “experiential learning” for our students, and an enhanced role for alumni in engaging our students (www. President Baker’s stated priorities are well aligned with those already in place in our department, and with an increased focus on student training in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines both at NIU and nationally, I believe that we are well positioned to sustain and enhance our program even in the face of economic uncertainty and look forward to training the next generation of biological scientists. The Department of Biological Sciences has experienced considerable change in the four years that I have been chair. Seven faculty have retired (Ron Toth, Neil Polans, Peter Meserve, David Lotshaw, Rick Hahin, Mike Hudspeth and Chris Hubbard), and sadly, two have passed away (Sonya Conway and Barbara Johnson-Wint). We have likewise recruited six excellent faculty members with high caliber research programs in the last two years (Sherine Elsawa, Nick Barber, Holly Jones, Wes Swingley, Yanbin Yin and Karen Samonds) as well as hired an institutional veterinarian (Corinna Kashuba) to support our research efforts. Our new faculty members bring with them a palpable energy that serves as a magnet for students. You can read about some of their research in their first year at NIU in this newsletter, including Karen Samonds’ vertebrate evolution research in Madagascar that was covered by the Discovery Channel this summer. The new faculty members also bring with them new ideas and perspectives in teaching and student engagement that will continue to shape our programs for years to come. I can already sense the change in energy and verve since they have arrived and look forward to the next few years. Our students and faculty continue to engage in cutting-edge research, present and publish their work – much of which you can read about in the pages of this newsletter. Funding for research

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

and meeting presentations is provided by grants that our faculty members continue to acquire during these lean times, but much of the student opportunities to carry out and present their work is supported by donations from our generous alumni, and for that we are very grateful. The National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences and National Science Foundation all agree – the only way that students can truly learn science is by doing science outside of the classroom in a laboratory or in the field. Our department continues to lead in this endeavor now called “engaged learning” by institutions, but otherwise historically known as undergraduate research here in the department. The 19th annual Biological Sciences Phi Sigma Undergraduate Research Symposium was held in April, and our students and faculty participated in programs such as Research Rookies, Summer Research Opportunities Program and Undergraduate Research Assistantships sponsored by NIU’s Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL). Many of our students also made research presentations regionally and nationally, including a “Research Roundtable” session on Capitol Hill that you can read about in this newsletter. Of course, our graduate students have made remarkable research achievements as well, many of which are chronicled in this newsletter. In summary, the research environment is vibrant and growing in biological sciences due to the hard work and commitment of our faculty members and the generosity of our alumni. Growth of research in key areas such as biology is a priority of our new president, so I feel confident in the direction we are headed and mission we serve in biological science education and training. Speaking of alumni, two from the department are being honored this fall at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni and Faculty Awards: Elwood Briles will receive the Distinguished Faculty Award, and Thomas Schall (BS, 1983) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. An article in this newsletter highlights their outstanding accomplishments. One of President Baker’s other priorities is to increase engagement with our alumni. I share this goal, and would love to hear from you as engaged partners in our program. Always feel free to contact me any time with thoughts, ideas or comments. The department is grateful for your support and we wish you all the best as we look forward to the 2013-2014 academic year. ♦


Distinguished Awards Distinguished Faculty Award - by Linda Yates Professor W.E. Briles was selected as one of the recipients of the 2013 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award. The formal dinner ceremony will be held on Friday, October 11 in Altgeld Hall. He will accept this prestigious award surrounded by friends and family. Dr. Briles began his remarkable professional career over 65 years ago. He is internationally recognized for his research in the identification of avian alloantigen systems (blood groups) with emphasis on their physiological effects. Worthie Elwood Briles was born on January 31, 1918 in Italy, Texas. He completed his B.A. degree in 1941 from the University of Texas and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1948. He married Clara Ruth Wilson on June 6, 1941 and they worked alongside each other for over 50 years. Mrs. Briles passed away in May, 2011, just one month short of their 70th wedding anniversary. Professor Briles joined the Department of Biological Sciences at NIU in 1970 after leaving the position as head of immunogenetic research at the DeKalb Agricultural Association. Since his supposed retirement in 1987, Professor Briles said he was really able to “get down to work.” While at NIU, his research received extensive funding from the National Cancer Institute, The National Science Foundation and USDA that totaled over 2.5 million dollars. Professor Briles’ first major research contribution described the chicken B blood group system which was later determined to be the avian major histocompatibilty complex (Mhc). This discovery initiated extensive research in multiple labs investigating the genetic control of responses to avian pathogens. Early collaborative research with Hy-Line Poultry Farms demonstrated the effect of the Mhc and alloantigen systems on traits that are of interest to poultry breeders, such as livability, egg weight and egg production. Prof. Briles showed that resistance to Marek’s disease, a herpes virus that causes cancer in chickens, was controlled by the Mhc (Briles et al, Science 1977). This was the first demonstration of genetic control of any cancer. Another major research discovery by Professor Briles and

a longtime collaborator and friend, Dr. Marcia Miller at City of Hope, revealed that two independent linkage groups contained chicken Mhc genes. Professor Briles has received numerous awards, notably he holds an honorary membership in the International Society for Animal Blood Group Research, an award bestowed on only five individuals worldwide. In 2001, Professor Briles was inducted into the Poultry Science Hall of Fame. As evidence of Professor Briles’ productive career, one can look at his CV which lists his involvement in many professional organizations and as an author or co-author of over 120 scientific papers, 7 book chapters and 90 abstracts. Professor Briles’ commitment to research excellence has earned him an international reputation as an authority in the poultry science field. He remains devoted to his research, collaborations and maintenance of the valuable genetic poultry stocks. Distinguished Alumni Award Thomas J. Schall – B.S., Biology, 1983 Schall is founder, president, CEO, and chairman of ChemoCentryx, Inc., which focuses on ethical drug development. The company makes new and effective medicines as widely available as possible, particularly for those with autoimmune diseases, such as MS, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular immunology from Stanford and worked at the biotech firm Genentech, and then at the DNAX Research Institute, before founding his own company in 1997. Cited as one of the primary discoverers of chemokine (key-mō-kīne) biology, Schall has made significant contributions to the understanding of chemokines and their role as receptors in human disease. In recognition of his contributions to the field, he was elected by his peers to chair the prestigious Gorden Conference on Chemotactic Cytokines. Schall and his company are on track to have 7 different drugs in clinical trials by the end of 2013 – an unusually high rate of research productivity for a small company. ♦

Kirthi Kutumbaka | ‘GEN 10’ Award From NIU Today, April 29, 2013 Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News has named NIU’s Kirthi Kutumbaka), a Ph.D. student in biological sciences (R. Meganathan lab), as one of its “GEN 10” award winners, recognizing excellence in scientific research.

John Sterling, editor in chief of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. “The 10 winners represent the crème de la crème of the abstracts we received.”

During a recent ceremony at the BIO Conference in Chicago, the awards were presented to 10 graduate students and postdocs who were among dozens and dozens of young investigators to send in abstracts describing their research projects.

“Kirthi is an excellent student, and he has won a number of other awards for his research as well,” Meganathan said. “He has a very bright future.”

Kutumbaka’s abstract is titled, “Identification of a new gene required for coenzyme Q biosynthesis in E. coli.” “Virtually all the abstracts emailed to us reflected in-depth scientific knowledge and a true enthusiasm for basic and applied research,” said


NIU Biological Sciences professor R. Meganathan, who serves as Kutumbaka’s adviser, wasn’t surprised to see his student do well in the competition.

Other “Gen 10” winners included students from such institutions as the University of Chicago, Northwestern and the Illinois Institute of Technology. In addition to the Gen 10 Award, Kirthi was also awarded the Sidney Mitler Award for Outstanding Student in Genetics, as well as Phi Sigma Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Poster this year. ♦

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

From the Blackstone Lab

Research Roundtable | Washington D.C

Members of the Blackstone lab: (front row: Emily Somova, Larissa Root, Austin Parrin, Katie Hermata; backrow: Kate McGrew, Professor Neil Blackstone, Mark Yaeger, Jaime Lopez)

NIU hosted an event introducing our new president, top NIU leaders, as well as faculty and student research to Illinois legislators in the nation’s most influential city, Washington D.C. Another student researcher, Gabriela Arriaga, and I were thrilled to be representing NIU and seeing the capital for the first time. Over two balmy summer days, NIU made a name for itself as determined to promote research, improve science education in the region, give students skills to be placed in jobs after graduation, and enhance surrounding communities. It was great for me to see all these heads of decision making at my university sitting at the same table and agreeing how to put NIU in the lead for students. There was much excitement in the room about the development of research projects at NIU. A presentation given by Northern professors detailed their studies about incoming freshmen academic adjustment and gender gaps in science education areas. Part of their research involved interviewing science majors about why they had chosen their major or succeeded through classes. When shown the interviews, instructors were struck by how much influence specific teachers or an encouraging parent had on a student’s academic progress. President Baker and NIU leaders such as deans or board members were very receptive to suggestions and passionate about student development and goal reaching. Many who attended were seasoned researchers and made me proud to be a Huskie; they definitely set the bar high for themselves and give students something to strive for. The Research Roundtable effectively showed how NIU has greatly impacted the northern Illinois region. ♦

by Larissa Root If you are curious about some of the latest coral reef research developments, you may find some answers just down the hall! We knew when the results from our lab’s recent breakthrough paper, “WithinColony Migration of Symbionts During Bleaching of Octocorals,” were published last year (2012) that we had to push on and answer more questions (Parrin, et al). The key questions centered on what role migrating symbionts played in [a coral host] bleaching phenomena and also the precise photosynthetic mechanism damaged during a stress event. Continuing work on my Research Rookies’ project from last year, “Photosystem Redox State of Individual Symbiodinium Symbionts During Coral Bleaching,” I followed it up over summer with an REU on the same topic, “Using Modern Microscopy to Illuminate Coral Bleaching.” A new approach to measuring photosynthetic activity after bleaching was applied, namely, imaging the corals in vivo to measure the fluorescence of their symbionts. Using set wavelength filters, we can now excite the symbionts with light and observe the amount of emission specifically from photosystem II’s emission wavelength. This pinpoints an area in the photosynthesis pathway that can unlock some answers as to where damage occurs based on redox state which is tied with amount of fluorescence- typically thought at the D1 protein of photosystem II or during RuBisCO carbon fixation in the dark cycle. Needless to say, taking cell biology (Spring 13) with Professor Fox helped me to greatly understand more about cell metabolism. I plan to finish my chemistry minor with biochemistry (Fall 13). I enjoy researching corals because I can combine my interests of biology with environmental conservation since coral reef destruction is a major issue in marine biology. ♦

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences


A Buckthorny Issue | New studies reveal invasive European buckthorn shrub is contributing to

amphibian decline, altering distribution of mammals in the Midwest NIU Today, May 2013 Researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo and Northern Illinois University have discovered a new culprit contributing to amphibian decline and altered mammal distribution throughout the Midwest region – the invasive plant European buckthorn. This non-native shrub, which has invaded two-thirds of the United States, has long been known to negatively impact plant community composition and forest structure. Two new studies slated to publish in upcoming editions of the Journal of Herpetology and Natural Areas Journal demonstrate how this shrub negatively impacts native amphibians and affects habitat use by mammals, thus increasing the prevalence of coyotes and other carnivores. Amphibians are facing an extinction crisis worldwide, with 165 species likely having gone extinct in recent years, according to the Amphibian Ark, a coalition of conservationists devoted to seeking solutions to the decline. Lincoln Park Zoo Reintroduction Biologist Allison Sacerdote-Velat, an NIU alumna, and Richard King, an NIU professor of Biological Sciences, have identified European buckthorn as a contributor to amphibian decline in the Chicagoland area. At various times of year, the plant releases the chemical compound emodin (produced in the leaves, fruit, bark and roots of the plant) into the amphibian breeding-pond environment. The research of Sacerdote-Velat and King has found that emodin is toxic to amphibian embryos, disrupting their development and preventing hatching. “Levels of emodin in the environment are greatest at leaf out, which is occurring right now in early spring. This coincides with breeding activity of several earlybreeding Midwestern amphibian species, including western chorus frogs and bluespotted salamanders,” Sacerdote-Velat said. “Several amphibian species exhibit low hatching rates in sites that are heavily infested with European buckthorn.” The Chicago Wilderness 2004 Woodland Audit found that in the Chicagoland area alone, more than 26 million stems of European buckthorn exist with a density of 558 stems per acre. While this study specifically found emodin to detrimentally impact development of two species of frogs, Western chorus frogs and African clawed frogs (a common test species for environmental toxicity studies), Sacerdote-Velat and King hypothesize that emodin may impact the reproductive success of other frog species in regions where buckthorn is not native.


“Western chorus frogs are quite common in the Midwest, and people in Illinois who have never seen them have probably heard them in the springtime,” said King, who has continued to conduct research with Sacerdote-Velat after having served as her Ph.D. adviser at NIU. “The new study demonstrates how a shrub that is viewed by many as a decorative plant can become invasive and have unexpected and damaging effects on natural ecosystems.” Additionally, new research from the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute reveals how the presence of the invasive shrub in forest preserves and natural areas correlates to increased prevalence of carnivores. Previous research by Ken Schmidt of Texas Tech University and Chris Whelan of Illinois Natural History Survey documented that these carnivores can prey more easily on native bird eggs and nestlings such as robins when nests are built in buckthorn and honeysuckle compared to nests built in native shrubs or trees. “The relationship between invasive plants and wildlife is complex. This is the first study of its kind to investigate the association between buckthorn and habitat use by mammal species,” said Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute. “We know based on prior research that birds which build nests in buckthorn are more susceptible to predation. Our study found that the presence of buckthorn alters wildlife distribution and attracts some carnivore species. We now know that there are significantly more coyotes, raccoons and opossums in buckthorn invaded areas, and significantly fewer white-tailed deer.” Magle hypothesizes that the carnivores could be drawn to buckthorn areas because birds and their nests are easier to prey upon. He suggests that deer may be avoiding these areas because buckthorn is an undesirable food source, and also due to the increased prevalence of coyotes. Research shows that deer fawns are a relatively common food item for Chicago-area coyotes. Both Magle and Sacerdote-Velat agree that these findings are significant. The studies demonstrate how the high-density prevalence of this non-native plant is shifting population dynamics and negatively impacting a variety of native animal populations. They suggest land owners and managers should consider invasive species management and habitat restoration. In some areas, such as the Lake County Forest Preserve District where Sacerdote-Velat works regularly, ecologists and land managers have been committed to removing buckthorn from the area. “I hope that this new research will encourage other regions and land managers to take swift and decisive action to work to remove this invasive plant,” she said. ♦ Note: King and Sacerdote’s research on the effects of invasive buckthorn on amphibian development was mentioned in The Economist, Science News, BBC News, Baltimore Sun, and WBEZ Websites.

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

Recognition in the Field | Karen Samonds Professor Karen Samonds participated in teaching the 2013 NIU / UMASS / SADABE Study Abroad Madagascar program entitled “Madagascar, Past and Present: Biodiversity, Extinction & Conservation.” Co-led by Professor Mitchell Irwin (Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University) and Professor Laurie Godfrey University of Massachusetts), 17 students saw first-hand the world’s leading collection of subfossil lemurs at the University of Antananarivo, saw rare and threatened Malagasy lemurs in the wild, conducted original research in primatology and paleontology, and worked with local Malagasy community members, learning about the unique challenges they face in basic subsistence, health, and education. At the end of the course, Professor Samonds took the students for a rare visit to a subfossil site she recently discovered in the Sambaina Basin, north of Antsirabe. Students had the opportunity to see elephant bird and pygmy hippopotamus fossils, and to try their luck finding fossils themselves. ♦ In June, Professor Karen Samonds was filmed for a documentary series entitled Voyage of the Continents depicting “how, over many millennia, geology and evolution have interacted to forge life as we know it on Earth” (La compagnie des Taxi Brousse, Idéacom International, ARTE France). Featuring her research and paleontology team, the crew visited two of her fossil sites, and filmed for five days in northwestern, Madagascar. The program will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel in Europe and Canada early next year, and in the United States later next year. ♦

Professor Samonds was also recently recognized by National Geographic in a feature done to celebrate International Women’s Day, which tells about how she conducts paleontological and ecological fieldwork in Madagascar, and chooses to balance family and career by working there with her husband and two children. She was in good company with primateologist Jane Goodall, girls education advocate Kakenya Ntalya and explorer Kelsey Wilson. See: ♦

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences


Current Faculty | 2013 n Nicholas A. Barber Community ecology.

n Kenneth W. Gasser Cell physiology. kgasser@

n Neil W. Blackstone Evolution of development and complexity. neilb@

n Stuart A. Hill Pathogenic microbiology.

n Barrie P. Bode Cancer biology and molecular physiology. n Jozef J. Bujarski Plant molecular biology; molecular virology. n Ana M. Calvo Microbiology; molecular biology; fungal genetics. n Melvin R. Duvall Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. n Sherine Elsawa Immunology

n Gabriel P. Holbrook Plant physiology; plant biochemistry. n Mitrick A. Johns Plant and animal molecular genetics; bioinformatics. n Holly Jones Conservation biology; restoration ecology n Corinna Kashuba Veterinarian n Bethia H. King Behavioral ecology; eolution; entomology.

n Richard B. King Evolutionary ecology; herpetology.

n Joel P. Stafstrom Developmental botany; cellular/molecular biology.

n R. Meganathan Microbiology; microbial physiology; biochemistry; genetics and molecular biology.

n Wesley Swingley Microbial ecology

n Jon S. Miller Cellular physiology; invertebrate immunology. n Virginia L. Naples Anatomy; functional morphology; mammalogy; forensic anatomy; vertebrate paleontology. n Karen E. Samonds Anatomy; paleontology. n Thomas L. Sims Self-incompatibility in petunia; molecular biology.

n Carl N. von Ende Population and community ecology; aquatic ecology; plant ecology. n Linda S. Yasui Radiation biology; DNA damage and repair in chromatin. n Yanbin Yin Bioinformatics and evolutionary genomics n Shengde Zhou Microbiology.

Retired Faculty n Jack Bennett Genetics; population and behavior genetics. n W. Elwood Briles Avian immunogenetics. n Richard Hahin Nerve/muscle physiology; n Arnold Hampel Molecular and cellular biology; biochemistry.

n Christopher J. Hubbard Comp. analysis of structure & function in felids. n Michael Hudspeth Molecular biology; n David Lotshaw Cell physiology n Darryl Lynch Microbiology.

n Laszlo Hanzely Developmental biology.

n Peter Meserve Population ecology;

n Kenneth Harmet Plant physiology.

n John L.A. Mitchell Cell physiology;


n Lowell Nicolaus Ethology. n K.V. Prahlad Developmental biology. n Robert W. Pearson Environmental biology; general biology. n Neil Polans Genetics; mapping & evolution of complex traits; plant systematics. n Paul Sørensen Plant taxonomy; systematics; ecology; conservation.

n Marvin J. Starzyk Aquatic/pathogenic microbiology; microbial ecology. n Ronald Toth General botany; creation/evolution debate. n Patricia Vary Microbial genetics; n Jerrold Zar Physiological ecology; biostatistics; environmental biology

NIU â—† Department of Biological Sciences

Grants Awarded | 2012-2013 PI Last Name

Sponsor Name

Project Title

Award Amount

Barber, Nicholas NIU Research and Artistry Grant

Changes in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Community Function Following Tallgrass Prairie Restoration

Calvo National Institute of Health

Role of the VeA-Dependent genes and proteins in Mycotoxin Production and Development. $ 354,735.00

Calvo, Ana Department of Agriculture

Identification of Regulatory Genes in A. Flavus and A. Nidulans that $8,200 are Involved in Mycotoxin Production, Morphogenesis, and Virulence

Calvo, Ana Department of Agriculture

Identification of Regulatory Genes in A. Flavus and A. Nidulans that $2,097 are Involved in Mycotoxin Production, Morphogenesis, and Virulence

Jones, Holly American Philosophical Society

Using a Multi-Trophic Approach to Evaluate Ecosystem Response to Prairie Restoration


Assessing Management Needs to Enhance the Recovery for the Eastern Massasauga


$ 354,735

King, Richard B

U.S. Fish & WildlifeService/ Department of the Interior

King, Richard B

Chicago Field Office/U.S. Fish & Continued Assessment of Managemant Needs to Enhance the Wildlife Service/Dept. of the Interior Recovery for theh Eastern Massasauga

King, Richard B

U.S. Fish & WildlifeService/ Department of the Interior

Miller, Jon S Illinois State Board of Education



Annual Census of Lake Erie Watersnakes


Integrating Math and Science with Content, Pedagogy, and Technology $140,000

Swingley, Wesley University of Nevada, Las Vegas Exploration of “Biological Dark Matter” in Geothermal Springs National aeronautics & Space Admin. Zhou, Shengde

Iowa State University Iowa Energy Center


Hybrid Procesing for Robust Production of Biorenewable Fuels and Chemicals


Total for Department of Biological Sciences


Graduate Students involved in Course Transformation Project (CTP) Philip Persino and Grace Hongsermeier, graduate students in the department, participated in a CTP fellowship through the NIU Provost’s office, designing pedagogical applications of teaching Human Biology (BIOS 109) this summer under the direction of Professor Sheela Vemu. The goal of the project is to transform big lecture classes into something much more interactive for the students, making the class feel more like a small group experience than a large group lecture. The project is part of the Discipline-Based Approach to Designing Biology Curricula, as stated in the Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education called for by the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) with support from National Science Foundation (NSF). “Rather than teaching each level of biological organization separately­—from molecules to cells to organs, etc., … a New Biology curriculum would emphasize the interconnections among those levels to understantd system-level phenomena…students and teachers alike will recognize that memorization of observations and facts do not allow one to understand or predict how complicated biological systems behave—and without that ability one will not be able to solve problems.” (A New Biology for the 21st Century, National Research Council). DISCPLINARY PRACTICE IN BIOLOGY











NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences



Publications | 2012-2013 Barber Barber, N. A., E. T. Kiers, R. V. Hazzard, and L. S. Adler. 2013. Context-dependency of arbuscular mycorrhial fungi on plant-insect interactions in an agroecosystem. Frontiers in Plant Science. In press. Barber, N. A., N. Theis, E. T. Kiers, R. V. Hazzard, and L. S. Adler. 2013. Linking agricultural practices, mycorrhizal fungi, and traits mediating plant-insect interactions. Ecological Applications. In press. Barber, N. A. 2012. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are necessary for the induced response to herbivores by Cucumis sativus. Journal of Plant Ecology 6:171-176. Barber, N. A. and J. Wouk. 2012. Winter predation by insectivorous birds and consequences for arthropods and plants in summer. Oecologia. doi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2367-z Barber, N. A., L. S. Adler, N. Theis, E. T. Kiers, and R. V. Hazzard. 2012. Herbivory reduces plant interactions with above- and belowground antagonists and mutualists. Ecology 93:1560-1570. doi: 10.1890/11-1691.1 Barber, N. A. 2012. Clay caterpillars: a tool for ecology and evolution laboratories. American Biology Teacher 74:513-517. doi: 10.1525/ abt.2012.74.7.15

Blackstone Blackstone NW. 2012. Crustacea (Crustaceans). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001606.pub3 Blackstone NW. 2012. Arthropoda (Arthropods). In: eLS.John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001603.pub3 Parrin AP, Harmata KL, Netherton SE, Yaeger MA, Bross LS, Blackstone NW. 2012. Within-colony migration of symbionts during bleaching of octocorals. Biol Bull 223:245-256. Blackstone NW. 2013. Why did eukaryotes evolve only once? Genetic and energetic aspects of conflict and conflict mediation. Phil Trans Roy Soc B 368:20120266. Harmata KL, Parrin AP, Morrison P, Bross LS, Blackstone NW. 2013. Quantitative measures of gastrovascular flow in octocorals and hydroids: towards a comparative biology of transport systems in cnidarians. Invert Biol (in press). Blackstone NW. 2013. Evolution and Cell Physiology. 2. The evolution of cell signaling: from mitochondria to Metazoa. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol (in press).

Briles Banat GR, Tkalcic S, Dzielawa JA, Jackwood MW, Saggese MD, Yates L, Kopulos R, Briles WE, Collisson EW. 2013. Association of the chicken MHC B haplotypes with resistance to avian coronavirus. Developmental and Comparative Immunology. Apr;39(4):430-7. Bauer MM, Miller MM, Briles WE, Reed KM. 2013. Genetic variation at the MHC in a population of introduced wild turkeys. Animal Biotechnology. 24(3):210-28. Bujarski Bujarski JJ. (2013). Genetic recombination in plant-infecting messenger-sense RNA viruses: overview and research perspectives. Front Plant Sci. 4:68. Epub 2013 Mar 26. Dzianott, A., Sztuba-Solinska, J., and Jozef J. Bujarski. 2012. Mutations in the antiviral RNAi defense pathway modify Brome Mosaic Bromovirus RNA Recombinant Profiles. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 25(1):97-106.


Olszewska M, Bujarski JJ, Kurpisz M. 2012. P-bodies and their functions during mRNA cell cycle: mini-review. Cell Biochem Funct. 30(3):177-82. Poudel B, Sabanadzovic S, Bujarski J, Tzanetakis IE. 2012. Population structure of Blackberry yellow vein associated virus, an emerging crinivirus. Virus Res. 2012 Oct;169(1):272-5. Sztuba-Solinska J, Fanning SW, Horn JR, and Bujarski JJ. 2012. Mutations in the coat protein-binding cis-acting RNA motifs debilitate RNA recombination of Brome mosaic virus. Virus Res. 170(1-2):138-49.

Calvo Ramamoorthy V, Shantappa S, Dhingra S, Calvo AM. 2012. veAdependent RNA-pol II transcription elongation factor-like protein, RtfA, is associated with secondary metabolism and morphological development in Aspergillus nidulans. Mol Microbiol. 85:795-814. Cary JW, Harris-Coward PY, Ehrlich KC, Mack BM, Kale SP, Larey C, Calvo AM. 2012 NsdC and NsdD Affect Aspergillus flavus Morphogenesis and Aflatoxin Production. Eukaryot Cell. 11:1104-11 Chettri P, Calvo AM, Cary JW, Dhingra S, Guo Y, McDougal RL, Bradshaw RE. 2012. The veA gene of the pine needle pathogen Dothistroma septosporum regulates sporulation and secondary metabolism. Fungal Genetic Biol. 49:141-51 Padamsee M, Arun Kumar TK, Riley R, Binder M, Boyd A, Calvo AM, 2012 Furukawa K, Hesse C, Hohmann S, James TY, Labutti K, Lapidus A, Lindquist E, Lucas S, Miller K, Shantappa S, Grigoriev IV, Hibbett DS, McLaughlin DJ, Spatafora JW, Catherine Aime M. 1. The genome of the xerotolerant mold Wallemia sebi reveals adaptations to osmotic stress and suggests cryptic sexual reproduction. 2012. Fungal Genet Biol. 49:217-26 Laskowski-Peak MC, Calvo AM, Rohrssen J, Smulian GA. 2012 VEA1 is required for cleistothecial formation and virulence in Histoplasma capsulatum. Fungal Genet.Biol. [Epub ahead of print] Si H, Rittenour WR, Xu K, Nicksarlian M, Calvo AM, Harris SD. 2012. Morphogenetic and developmental functions of the Aspergillus nidulans homologues of the yeast bud site selection proteins Bud4 and Axl2. Mol Microbiol. 85:252-70. Myung, K., N. C. Zitomer, M. Duvall, A. E. Glenn, R. T. Riley and A. M. Calvo. 2012. The conserved global regulator VeA is necessary for symptom production and mycotoxin synthesis in maize seedlings by Fusarium verticillioides. Plant Pathology. 61:152-160 Duvall Davis, J. I., McNeal, J. R., Barrett, C. F., Chase, M. W., Cohen, J. I., Duvall, M., Givnish, T. J., Graham, S. W., Petersen, G., Pires, J. C., Seberg, O., Stevenson, D. W., Leebens-Mack, J. (2013). Pp. 315 - 349 In: Wilkin, Paul and Mayo, Simon (Ed.), Contrasting patterns of support among plastid genes and genomes for major clades of the Monocotyledons (Early events in monocot evolution.). Cambridge University Press: Proceedings of the Linnean Society. Ray, J. W., King, R. B., Duvall, M., Jaeger, C. P., Dreslik, M. J., Swanson, B. J., Mulkerin, D. (2013). Genetic analysis and captive breeding program design for the eastern massasauga, Sistrurus catenatus catenatus. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 4:104 – 113. http:// Burke, S. V., Grennan, C. P., Duvall, M. (2012). Plastome sequences of two New World bamboos–Arundinaria gigantea and Cryptochloa strictiflora (Poaceae)–extend phylogenomic understanding of Bambusoideae. American Journal of Botany 99, 1951-1961. Myung, K., Zitomer, N. C., Duvall, M., Glenn, A. E., Riley, R. T., Calvo, A. (2012). The conserved global regulator VeA is necessary for

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

symptom production and mycotoxin synthesis in maize seedlings by Fusarium verticillioides. Plant Pathology, 61, 152-160. Aliscioni, S., Bell, H. L., Besnard, G., Christin, P.-A., Columbus, J. T., Duvall, M., Edwards, E. J., Guissani, L., Hasenstab-Lehman, K., Hilu, K. W., Hodkinson, T. R., Ingram, A. L., Kellogg, E. A., Mashayekhi, S., Morrone, O., Osborne, C. P., Salamin, N., Schaefer, H., Spriggs, E., Smith, S. A., Zuloaga, F. (2012). New grass phylogeny resolves deep evolutionary relationships and discovers C4 origins. New Phytologist, 193, 304-312.

Elsawa Amarsaikhan, N and Elsawa, SF (2013). GLI2 (GLI family zinc finger 2). Atlas Genet Cytogenet Oncol Haematol. 2013;17(8). (DOI: 10.4267/2042/51137) Boi S.K, Elsawa S.F. 2013. Epigenetic Regulation of Toll-Like Receptor Signaling: Implications for Cancer Development. Medical Epigenetics 1:19-30 Grayburn Grayburn, W.S., Tatara, R.A., Rosentrater, K.A., Holbrook, G.P. (2013). Harvesting, oil extraction, and conversion of local filamentous algae growing in wastewater into biodiesel. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT 4: (2), 185-190 Palmer JM, Theisen JM, Duran RM, Grayburn WS, Calvo AM, et al. (2013) Secondary Metabolism and Development Is Mediated by LlmF Control of VeA Subcellular Localization in Aspergillus nidulans. PLoS Genet 9(1): e1003193. Manow, R, Wang, J, Wang, Y., Zhao, J., Garza, E., Iverson, A., Finan, C., Scott Grayburn, S. Zhou, S. (2012). “Partial deletion of rng (RNase G)-enhanced homoethanol fermentation of xylose by the non-transgenic Escherichia coli RM10 “ J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 39 (7) 977-985. Holbrook Grayburn, S., Tatara, R., Rosentrater, K., Holbrook, G.P. (2013). Harvesting, oil extraction, and conversion of local filamentous algae growing in wastewater into biodiesel. International Journal of Energy and Environment, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2013 pp.185-190 B. King King, B. H., Kolyott, K. L., Chesney, A. R. 2013. Livestock bedding effects on two species of parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) of filth flies. Journal of Insect Science. Cooper, J. Burgess IV, E. R. and King, B. H. 2013. Courtship behavior and detection of female receptivity in the parasitoid wasp Urolepis rufipes. Journal of Insect Behavior. Moran RL, vonEnde CN, King BH. 2013. Mate choice copying in two species of darters (Percidae: Etheostoma). Behaviour. R. King Sacerdote, A.B., and R.B. King. 2013. Direct effects of an invasive European buckthorn metabolite on embryo survival and development in Xenopus laevis and Pseudacris triseriata. Journal of Herpetology 47:. King, R.B., and R. Bowden. 2013. Seasonal, condition-dependent, and individual variation in testosterone in a natricine snake. Journal of Herpetology 47:179-183. Ray, J.W., R.B. King, M.R. Duvall, J.W. Robinson*, C.P. Jaeger*, M.J. Dreslik, B.J. Swanson, D. Mulkerin. 2013. Genetic analysis and captive breeding program design for the Eastern Massasauga Sistrurus catenatus catenatus. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 4:104-113. Jones, P.C., R.B. King, R.L. Bailey, N.D. Bieser, K. Bissell, H. Campa, III, T. Crabill, M.D. Cross, B.A. DeGregrio, M.J. Dreslik, F.E. Durbian, D.S. Harvey, S.E. Heckt, B.C. Jellen, G. Johnson, B.A. Kingsbury, M.J. Kowalski, J. Lee, J.V. Manning, J.A. Moore, J. Oakes, C.A. Phillips,

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

K.A. Prior, J.M. Refsnider, J.D. Rouse, J.R. Sager, R.A. Seigel, D.B. Shepard, C.S. Smith, T.J.VanDeWalle, P.J. Weatherhead, A. Yagi. 2012. Range-wide analysis of Eastern Massasauga survivorship. Journal of Wildlife Management 76:1576-1586. King, R.B. 2013. Illinois conservation assessment for the Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii). Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board. 91 pp.

Miller Miller, J.S. and Windelborn, A.F. (2013) Investigating Diffusion with Technology. Physics Education 48: 459-464. Marcus, L., Plumeri, J., Baker, G.M. and Miller, J.S. (2013) A Teacher-developed Inquiry Model to Teach the Molecular Basis of Hyperbolic Kinetics in Biological Membrane Transport. Advances in Physiology Education 37:165-175. Samonds Samonds KE, Godfrey LR, Ali JR, Goodman SM, Vences M, Sutherland MR, Irwin MT, and Krause DW (2013). Imperfect isolation: factors and filters shaping Madagascar’s extant vertebrate fauna. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62086. info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0062086 Crowley BE and Samonds KE (2013). Stable carbon isotope values confirm a recent increase in grasslands in Northwestern Madagascar. The Holocene. doi: 10.1177/0959683613484675. Godfrey LR, Schwartz GT, Jungers WL, Catlett KK, Samonds KE, King SJ, Muldoon KM, Irwin MT, Burney DA (2013) Anthropoid analogues? Life history variation in Madagascar’s giant extinct lemurs. J. Masters, M. Gamba, and F. Genin (eds.), Leaping Ahead: Advances in Prosimian Biology, Springer. Pp. 51-60. Samonds KE,Godfrey LR, Ali JR, Goodman SM, Vences M, Sutherland MR, Irwin MT, Krause DW (2012). Spatial and temporal arrival patterns of Madagascar’s vertebrate fauna explained by distance, ocean currents, and ancestor type. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 109:5352-5357.

Swingley Dodsworth, J.A., Blainey, P.C., Murugapiran, S.K., Swingley, W.D., Ross, C.A., Tringe, S.G., Chain, P.S.G., Scholz, M.B., Lo, C.-C., Raymond, J., Quake, S.R., and Hedlund, B.P. (2013) Single-cell and metagenomic analyses indicate a fermentative and saccharolytic lifestyle for members of the OP9 lineage. Nat Commun. 4, 1854. Sattley, W.M. and Swingley, W.D. (2013) “Properties and Evolutionary Implications of the Heliobacterial Genome,” In Genome Evolution of Photosynthetic Bacteria. ed Beatty, J.T. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. pp 67-98. von Ende Moran, R., C.N. von Ende, and B.H. King. (2013). Mate choice copying in two species of darters (Percidae: Etheostoma). Behavior ,DOI: 10.1163/1568539X-00003092. Moran, R., C.N. von Ende, and B.H. King. Seasonal colour and antipredator behaviour (Percidae: Etheostoma). Journal of Fish Biology, In press.

Yasui LS Yasui. Imaging cytometry of radiation-induced HMGB1 translocation. Mircoscopy and Microanalysis. accepted. LS Yasui, ML Foster. Radiation-induced cell death by cisplatin combined with g or fast neutron irradiation in glioblastoma multiforme cells. International Journal of Radiation Biology. Submitted


Phi Sigma | 19th Annual Research Symposium by Professor Kenneth Gasser The Phi Sigma Biological Honor Society held its 19th annual student Research Symposium on Saturday April 13th, 2013. Twenty-four graduate and 27 undergraduate students participated in the symposium by preparing posters and presenting the results of their research projects to faculty and guests. Twenty-one different labs in the department were represented and projects included: coral bleaching, biofuels, bioinformatics, plant evolution and climate change, chloroplast gene sequencing, cytokines and tumors, genetic regulators in the fungus Aspergillus, mycotoxin production, amino acid transporters and cancer, metabolic engineering of bacteria, DNA recombination in Brome mosaic virus, endangered turtles, multiple paternity in snakes, regulation of apoptosis, role of fungi in plant defenses, mate choice in fish, predation by dragonfly larva, Coenzyme–Q biosynthesis, tumor microenvironments, mating behavior in parasitoid wasps, studies of gametophytic self-incompatibility in petunia, regulation of the pilE gene in N. gonorrheae, and many others. Attending the event were over 100 students, friends, faculty and staff. The Phi Sigma student membership makes annual awards to outstanding graduate and undergraduate research students based in part on the work presented at this symposium. This year the graduate award was given to Kirthi Kutumbaka, a member of Professor Meganathan’s lab, for his work entitled “The RNA esre is Not Essential For the Survival of Escherichia coli”, and the undergraduate award was given to Justin Durancik, a member of Professor Calvo’s lab for his project entitled “Using Chemical Genomics to Inhibit the Production of Aflatoxin”. As always, the Department of Biological Sciences is indebted to the student members of Phi Sigma for highlighting and promoting student research in the department and for their hard work and sponsorship of this important and educational yearly event. Special thanks go to Phi Sigma members Scott Smith, John Price, and Andrew Schuck for their work in helping to organize the research symposium. ♦

2013 Honors Convocation ◆ Department Honors - Justin Durancik, Immanuel Jackson, Matt Marcec, Whitney Miter, Taylor Nicholas, Daneel Patoli, John Price, Andrew Schuck, Scott Smith, Amber Stedman, Jared Trout. ◆ Charles E. Montgomery Award - Lisa Esunis ◆ David Layman Scholarship - Megan Earnest, Lisa Esunis, Rebecca Gant, Kenneth McCarty, Donna Prain ◆ Phi Sigma Graduate Research Award Kirthi Kutumbaka ◆ Phi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award Justin Durancik ◆ Undergraduate Research Grants (USOAR) Taylor Nicholas, Scott Smith, Evan Wittke ◆ George L. Terwilliger Award - Sourabh Dhingra ◆ Sidney Mittler Award - Kirthi Kutumbaka, Rob Srygler ◆ Dissertation Completion Award - Collin Jaeger ◆ Dean’s Award - John Price ◆ Norbert & Esther Mangold Scholarship Elyse Heimann ◆ Harvey A. Feyerherm Award - Immanuel Jackson ◆ David & Karen Nargis Scholarship - Amanda Cox ◆ Patricia Vary Scholarship - Anna Roman-Pleschko ◆ Dennis Larsen Memorial Scholarship in Biology Tanya O’Brien ◆ Alumni Award - Justin Durancik, Scott Smith ◆ NIU at Oxford 2012 Biological Sciences Scholarship Yesenia Carabez, Katrina Carpenter ◆ Jerrold H. Zar Scholarship Award - Sarah Stuebing ◆ Sonya Conway Memorial Scholarship - Kelsie Allen ◆ August M. Gorenz Award - Taylor Nicholas, LeRoy Reinke


NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

Degrees Earned |

Undergraduate Degrees August 2012 Travis Bond Aristide Cioe Peter Collins James Dewey Julianne Dombrowski Justin Evans Frederick Gunther Heather Host Rachel Huskey Leah Ko Thomas Koppean Samuel MacMillan Hannah Matzke Robert Meyers Vicky Molino Jeffrey Osborne Kelly Ostrom Arpita Patel Anthony Romeo Nadia Saleh Katie Seelinger December 2012 Giovanni Ferraro James Fourney Andrew Fournier Jeffrey Gelband Alfonso Gomez Thomas Hajek James Harris Lisa Hege Olga Helinski Hannah Hildebrand Rebecca Irwin Elizabeth Justus Stephanie Kacz

August 2012­- May 2013

Kenneth Kazun Michael Kuhr Jessica Lohmar Allison Makulec Fayrouz Malkosh Vanessa Mejia Mischelle Nelson Swati Patel Daneel Patoli Shinu Philipose Troyah Reddick Jessica Sefton Alexandra Thompson Thomas Voogti May 2013 Khadija Abdulhusein Loraine Agcaolii Edyta Aleksiejczyk Kelsie Allen Tamara Bertalot Morgan Bittner William Boyce Laura Busija Karley Chantos Michael Clark Eric Dammann Alan Daniels Matthew Darnell Jacklyn Detig Amanda Doruff Francisco Duarte Hanna Dunlap Megan Earnest Lisa Esunis Trevor Feeney Daniel Fincher Neal Frazer

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

Jeremy Gapsevich Jeffrey Germano Sarie Haddad Saba Hamid Stephanie Howard Immanuel Jackson Achal Jain Marla Jennings Lyndsey Jones Thurston Kallas Samantha Kampas Brian Keefe Brent Lamaide Anthony Lozano Matthew Marcec Kenneth McCarty Alonzo McCaskill-Thornton Thomas McLoughlin Travis Miller Margaux Moyer Aamenah Mubasheer Reagan Mukazi Yania Neals Rhett Paladino David Parlberg Yamini Patel Daniel Perez Matthew Peterson Mary Pfister Amanda Phrachansiri Akhil Pillai Gregory Pipis Jay Porter John Price Ana Recendiz Katherine Rendleman Dhara Rokadia Matthew Rosinsky Stuart Ruffin Timothy Satterlee Andrew Schuck Steven Seydell Hooman Shams Scott Smith Michael Soldmann Amber Stedman Ashley Strong Anzak Tahir

James Thomsen Jared Trout Vincent Vacco Ian Walberg Richard Weitzel Brett Wheeler Angela Wieszchowski Travis Wright Mark Yaeger Graduate Degrees August 2012 Paige Bothwell - MS Rosalba Flores - MS Peter Jones – Ph.D. Sarah Netherton - MS Sourabha Shantappa – MS** December 2012 Angela Buesse – MS Jaganadharao Gundu – MS Clare Kron – MS Carrie Needham – MS* Robert Srygler – MS May 2013 Sean Burke – MS Bradley Czerniak – MS Sourabh Dhingra – Ph.D. Kelly Fallon – MS*** Grace Hongsermeier – MS*** Barbie Klein – MS*** Rachel Moran – MS James Salvatore – MS*** Kurt Spearing – Ph.D. * specialization in biology teaching ** specialization in bioinformatics *** speicalization in human anatomical sciences


Undergraduate Research Opportunities at NIU by Larissa Root (with contributions by Nick Barber, Linda Yasui, Wes Swingley and Bailey Rhoads) If you feel you missed the memo on research program names, it is because many have been recently started here at NIU.

REU, or Research Experience for Undergrads: Three labs in the department welcomed participants in NIU’s Operation ETank summer program. Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates programs, students from NIU and other colleges around the country spent the summer in DeKalb, where they designed, carried out, and presented the results of independent research projects. REU asked that students be at least of junior standing in credit, gather two recommendations, and required residence in one of our fine dorms, Stevenson. Students receive competitive stipends, and in most cases, housing and dining were covered. They were expected to work on technical skills as well as personal and professional skills: completing assignments, workshops, and a final presentation at program’s end. OSEEL, Lisa Freeman, and Dave Chagnon, applied for a grant to bring the REU program to NIU and were granted approval for three years, this being the second. They hit the ground running, organizing the programs and have been successful thus far. Professor Nick Barber lab:

Marie Kroeger (Northeastern Illinois University), Lori Lovell (Indiana University), and Kathryn Olson (Northern Illinois University) worked collaboratively to understand the range of microbial diversity and how it affects or is affected by the toxic alkaline, heavy metal-rich conditions at the Calumet Wetlands on the south side of Chicago. Research efforts at Calumet, led by Professors Wesley Swingley and Melissa Lenczewski, are vital for understanding the impact of decades of steel waste dumping at Calumet and similar sites around the globe. The REU students’ work in analyzing microbial cultures, sequence data, and geochemical parameters from these extreme Calumet sites represents a huge leap forward in our understanding of alkaline environments. Professor Neil Blackstone lab:

Profressor Blackstone hosted three students, Larissa Root, Kate McGrew and Jaime Lopez. Continuing work on her Research Rookies’ project from last year, “Photosystem Redox State of Individual Symbiodinium Symbionts During Coral Bleaching,” Larissa Root followed it up over summer with an REU on the same topic, “Using Modern Microscopy to Illuminate Coral Bleaching” (see “From the Blackstone lab,” page 3 for more about their project).

Research Rookies

Eduardo Robleto (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) and Taylor Skokan (Columbia College, starting at Stanford University this fall) investigated the diverse community of ground beetles at Nachusa Grasslands with Nick Barber. Their projects were part of a larger effort by NIU scientists to understand how the tallgrass prairie ecosystem at Nachusa recovers following restoration efforts. Skokan studied how the diversity of beetles changes following the reestablishment of native habitat, and Robleto examined the impact of these insects as predators of plant seeds. Professor Wesley Swingley lab:

Student research projects focused on the theme of sustainability through four areas ­— environment, ethics, economics, and energy. Students have close interaction with their professors and apply skills learned in the classroom, or even a preview of future coursework. Baily Rhoads, Research Rookie (Elsawa lab) The overall objective of the Elsawa lab is to investigate the molecular mechanisms mediating inflammatory cytokine signaling in the tumor microenvironment and its role in cancer development and progression. If we can understand the molecular mechanisms that mediate inflammation, we will be able to better understand how cancer develops/progresses. This knowledge can lead to therapies


NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

targeting cancer cells and inflammation in the environment that surrounds the cells. My project will address the role of pattern recognition receptors such as toll-like receptors in mediating inflammatory cytokines in the tumor microenvironment. Larissa Root, Research Rookie, honors student, Phi Sigma Biological Honor Society member (Blackstone lab) The Blackstone lab has expanded its scope in the study of metabolic and evolutionary development of colonial hydroids by doing research on the understudied Octocorals in recent years. The unusual ability to grow these ancient marine organisms in the lab has been an asset. Sarah Netherton, Austin Parrin, and Katie Harmata have published and are continuously working on symbiont migration and physiological correlates such as ciliary vs. muscle use, ROS and RNS levels, mitochondria activity, and effects on recovery. As like many biology projects, they can be seen as complex puzzles. Our hope is that by incorporating Larissa’s in vivo fluorescence measurements, we will have another piece to be able to describe and generalize phenomena we observe in these Octocoral species, which represent a great portion of Cnidarian diversity. Larissa would like to thank her professor for his dedication to these time intensive projects and his research guidance in the lab. Hannah Savage, Research Rookie, Huskie athlete, scholar (Yasui lab) On May 2, 2013, Hannah Savage was honored as one of four Huskie athletes at the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day for their achievements in research. Maintaining high academic

standards an outstanding level of athletic performance in cross country in the fall semester, and track and field in the spring semester, Hannah also contributed to a research project on metabolic stress by studying a process called autophagy or cell “self-eating” in malignant human brain cancer cells in Dr. Yasui’s lab. The research is aimed towards developing improved therapeutic approaches in the treatment of the deadly brain cancer. Zachary Howard (Bode lab), Usman Beg (Meganathan lab), and Evan Wittke (Bode lab) participated in Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP). In its inaugural year, SROP consisted of ten students representing three colleges and eight majors. All SROP participants presented their research on August 8, at the Research Symposium in Altgeld Hall.

See for more information on all of the undergraduate research opportunities at NIU. ♦

From the Yasui Lab by LInda Yasui Development of novel therapeutic options for the treatment of malignant human brain cancer Improvements in therapeutic approaches for the management of malignant brain cancer are desperately needed. Radiation therapy is currently the optimal treatment option, but it only extends life expectancy a few months. In order to improve the therapeutic outcome from radiation therapy, several modifications in currently used radiotherapy protocols are under investigation in the Yasui lab. All of our investigations are motivated by the hypothesis that the mode of cell death (apoptosis, autophagy or necrosis) induced by the treatment are not equally beneficial.

Modulation of the cell stress response via autophagy (or cell “selfeating”) induced by radiation offers another avenue to improve radiation therapy. The newest addition to the arsenal of investigative tools in the Yasui lab is a means to stably express a tandem protein sequence that will literally illuminate the development of autophagosomes within treated cells. In this way, the progression of autophagy can be directly visualized. By enabling investigations on autophagy, we will be able to assess how the various radiation modalities or chemotherapeutic agents cause the cells to immediately respond. With this knowledge in hand, our hope is to detour molecular pathways towards more beneficial modes of cell death. ♦

Switching from a less effective to more effective radiation modality, fast neutron irradiation is widely known to kill more tumor cells. Unfortunately, this therapeutic approach has historically produced unacceptable side effects that preclude its prescription. The combination of fast neutron irradiation with the chemotherapeutic agent, cisplatin, has the promise of abating the harmful side effects of fast neutron irradiation. Current work to illuminate different modes of cell death induced by the drug treatment and irradiation are ongoing to determine if cisplatin treatment subdues necrosis, a mode of cell death linked to harmful side effects of radiation.

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences


Departmental News Faculty From the Samonds lab: Presentations • ESE Environment Studies, Faculty Associate Seminar (with Mitchell Irwin), DeKalb, IL (Nov 30, 2012). • University of Chicago, Evolutionary Morphology Seminar Series, Chicago, IL (Nov 29, 2012). • Sigma Xi, Brown Bag Seminar Series, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL (Nov 28, 2012). Graduates in B. King lab: • Scott Broski (M.S. 2013, B. King lab): will begin working on a DVM at the University of Minnesota this fall • William (Billy) Nichols, Jr (M.S. 2009, B. King lab) is now an instructional support technician in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University at Buffalo • Mary Crowe (PhD 1994, B. King lab) is now Associate Provost for Experiential Education at Florida Southern College From the Holbrook lab: 1) Members of theHolbrook lab and Scott Grayburn attended and made the following presentation at the American Society for Plant Biology meeting (Midwest Section), Chicago State University, March 23rd, 24th 2013: Zachary Davidson, Brian Keefe, William Izor, Amir Toghraee, Scott Grayburn, Gabriel Holbrook (2013). “Growth of Monoraphidium microalgae in wastewater as a feedstock for biodiesel production.” 2) Brian Keefe, a senior undergraduate, won second prize in the NIU Undergraduate Research day (STEM section) for his presentation. “Microalgae Grown in Wastewater as a Feedstock for Biodiesel.” This is a university wide, multi-discipline poster day. 3) Professor Holbrook was also awarded a USOAR grant to support Brian’s biofuel research using algae in the lab. From the Jones lab: Seabird restoration database - Professor Holly Jones published a study in 2012 on the world’s seabird restoration projects. This was a significant amassing of data on seabird restoration project outcomes and details. Together with NIU computer science graduate student Praveena Arrabeli, Professor Jones added a searchable database of seabird restoration projects from that publication onto her NIU faculty website. The database can be accessed at jones/lab/search.asp National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Summer Institute (nceasSI) - Professor Jones was one of 22 early-career researchers selected out of over 400 applicants to attend the first and pilot version of nceasSI. The institute taught researchers extensive collaboration, communication, meta-data, data-wrangling, data-analysis, R, and computer coding skills during the three-week intensive seminar held in Santa Barbara, California. The sessions focused mostly on dealing with “big data” - or large datasets taken from various already-published sources - and how best to synthesize it to look for broad patterns. Mornings were spent with lectures from preeminent


scientists and data gurus such as Ben Bolker, Stephanie Hampton, Nancy Baron, and Matt Jones. Afternoons were spent working on project collaborations with fellow attendees. Professor Jones’ group is pursuing a project that looks at urban biodiversity and seeks to identify which city policies or land uses encourage or deter particular bird, pollinator, and mammal species in urban settings. From the R. King lab: Presentations: • O’Brien, T.K., and R.B. King. Impacts of microclimate on neonatal growth trajectories in grassland snakes. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 2013. • Sacerdote, A.B., and R.B. King. An invasive plant secondary metabolite disrupts embryo development in Xenopus laevis and a native amphibian, Pseudacris triseriata. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 2013. From the Meganathan lab Awards: Kirthi Kutumbaka 1. GEN TEN Award for Outstanding Research from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News for his presentation entitled “Identification of a New Gene Required for coenzyme Q Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli. 2013 Bio International Convention, Chicago, IL. 2. Sidney Mitler award for Outstanding Student in Genetics. 3. Phi Sigma Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Poster from Phi Sigma Scientific Society. Presentations: K. Kutumbaka, W. S. Grayburn, R. Meganathan (2013). The RNA Esre Is Not Essential For The Survival of Escherichia coli. American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, Denver, Colorado. Reseach from Meganathan’s laboratory by Janaka Edrisinghe was featured in page 40 of the NIU President’s report for the year 2013. News about a former student: Former student C. Palani Palaniappan has been appointed as Senior Vice President, Innovation & Development (I&D) at the International Biotechnology company, Terumo BCT. According to the company announcement “he has global responsibility for the strategic direction and execution of Product Development and Engineering; Scientific and Clinical Affairs; Regulatory Affairs; and I&D Project Management Office teams. Before joining Terumo BCT, Palani was the Vice President of Research and Development at Life Technologies, where he led the Cellular Analysis Division. He also previously held leadership positions at GE Healthcare, Amersham Pharmacia Biotech and the University of Rochester. Palani has contributed to 25 scientific journals and publications throughout his career. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, India, and his doctorate degree in biological sciences from Northern Illinois University. His post-doctoral research was completed at the University of Rochester, and was focused on the mechanism of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication and reverse transcriptasemediated drug resistance in HIV”.

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

From the Elsawa lab • Matthew Neil placed 1st in the spring STEM Conference. • Matthew Neil won the Jeffrey Lunsford Underrepresented Fellowship for support from 2013-2014. • Matthew Neil won “Best Biomedical Poster Award” at the 18th Annual Research Day at University of Illinois, Rockford School of Medicine. • Shannon Boi won “Innovation in Basic Science Research Award” at the 18th Annual Research Day at University of Illinois, Rockford School of Medicine From the Duvall lab • Taylor Nicholas (undergrad) will study transposable elements as evolutionary markers in her USOAR and NSF, REU-supported project. Taylor received an honorable mention for her URAD poster: “Evolution of cereals to predict responses to climate change.” • Tina Stanelle (undergrad) had her choice of URAP projects this year. She decided to delve more deeply into understanding an invasive honeysuckle to assist Shannon McCarragher (Ph.D. candidate, geography). • Joe Cotton (M.S. candidate) is completing his first chloroplast genome sequence, from a Japanese plant species, which is the focus of his thesis research. He prepares to T.A. Biology of Land Plants for the first time this fall. • When Collin Jaeger (Ph.D. candidate) isn’t leading summer field excursions (see Montgomery monitors) he is putting the finishing touches on his latest manuscript. Collin will shift his attention from snakes to flowering plants this fall when he is the T.A. for Plant Systematics. • Anni Moore (Ph.D. candidate), who is ABD, is writing, writing, writing… • Shane Theado (M.S. candidate) is swapping DNA libraries and DNA sequence data with Australian researcher, Dr. Matt Barrett in their study of Australian grasses. Shane has also been working on updating ID labels on our greenhouse plants. • Bill Wysocki (Ph.D. candidate), who is a largely self-taught programmer and bioinformaticist, wrote a paper (in review at Taxon) describing some of his scripts. He has already had requests from prospective users. As the lab R.A., Bill keeps our lab running smoothly. • Lauren Hellmuth, a new M.S. student in the lab, used her Iowa State connections to obtain seeds of wild teosintes from their plant introduction station. She is developing a thesis project on the genomics of these plants. Meeting Presentation: At the New York Botanic Garden fifth meeting of the Comparative Biology of the Monocots: Phylogenomics of Crown Poaceae. From the Calvo Lab - Sourabh Dhingra “The upper valley” as it is called by New Hampshire locals, is where I am settling into my new life as a post doc at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Research is hard work and sacrifice but it was definitely worth it to be hooded as a Ph.D. graduate at the spring commencement ceremony in May 2013. In retrospect, when

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

I came to NIU I just knew one thing, I had some experience working with Aspergillus and I was going to an Aspergillus lab. As a graduate student, I found out that I had a lot to learn – and I did. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Ana M. Calvo, who served as a great mentor, aiding me towards authorship on numerous publications. The foundation of my professional career was laid at NIU. I am grateful to the entire faculty and my fellow graduate students who helped me achieve my goals. From the von Ende lab • ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) and Ecosystem Services Markets 2012. Payment for agricultural ecosystem services in northern Illinois. Carl von Ende and Sarah Nelson, December 10-14, Ft. Lauderdale, FL From the von Ende and B. King labs • Rachel Moran (M.S., 2013, von Ende and B. King labs) was President of NIU Graduate Student Research Association for 2012’13, and organizer of the association’s 2013 Research& Artistry Conference, at which she hosted the keynote speaker, Ira Flatow (host of NPR’s Science Friday) • In fall 2013, Rachel will enter the Ph.D. program in ecology, evolution and conservation biology at University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign, where she was awarded a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Fellowship, Vertically Integrated Training in Genomics for 2013-’15, which includes a fellowship to go to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama in spring 2014. From the Barrie Bode Lab • Claire Kron (M.S., 2013, Bode lab) continues to work in the lab as a Ph.D. candidate profiling amino acid transporter expression via RT-qPCR and immunofluorescence in liver tumors and liver cancer cells • Bradley Czerniak (M.S., 2013, Bode lab) is teaching at College of DuPage, and was recently married; his thesis work focused on mTOR signaling in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells • Paige Bothwell (M.S., 2012, Bode lab) continues to work in the lab as a Ph.D. candidate working on amino acid transporter silencing as a potential therapy for liver cancer. • Gunisha Arora (Ph.D., candidate) works on a transgenic mouse model of a protein implicated in human liver cancer. • Evan Wittke (undergraduate) works on several aspects of amino acid transporter expression in human liver cancer cells. He was the recipient of two USOAR grants and a Forward-TogetherForward Scholarship. All of these students have presented their work at local, regional and national venues, including the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting and are currently preparing three manuscripts for submission to journals in physiology and cancer research.


Trends in Science Education and Teacher Preparation by Jon Miller Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has recently gained much attention in the news. In addition, an increase in the number of jobs within fields requiring STEM knowledge increases the importance of STEM education in contemporary America and the world. Furthermore, the need for skilled, qualified teachers in the STEM areas is more significant than ever before. As a result, the preparation of elementary, middle, and secondary students in mathematics and science has become a national priority. STEM education goes beyond the basic core subjects to include such areas as agriculture, environment, economics, education and medicine (Zollman, 2011). The US Government’s agenda for STEM education is to address three primary needs: (1) societal needs for new technological and scientific advances, (2) economic needs for national security, and (3) personal needs to become a literate and productive citizen (Zollman, 2012). The importance of STEM literacy for teachers parallels the important of STEM literacy for K-12 students. The content preparation of new teachers continues to be an active area of research for teacher education. In many cases, the lack of a strong math and science curriculum for teacher preparation programs focused in the STEM areas has brought criticism to such programs. Furthermore, to some degree, an analysis of recent research related to STEM teaching has brought forth the notion that there is a strong relationship between teacher content knowledge and student achievement. In addition, one needs to ask, what are the specific knowledge requirements that are most conducive to effective teaching? The importance of content preparation lies in a shift in the philosophy of education from teacher preparation that focuses on what do teachers need to know and moving towards an orientation of what do they need to do. This entails identifying the core practices, unpacking them, and creating settings in which new teachers would learn to foster the STEM pedagogical content knowledge and master related teaching practices as well. However, you can’t teach what you don’t know. The reality is that to be an effective math or science teacher, you need to know your subject and know it well. In my opinion, this is true with respect all subject areas as well. Recently, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted new academic standards for K-12 education to better prepare Illinois students for success in college and the workforce in a competitive global economy. These benchmarks are known as the Common Core State Standards. The State’s previous standards were adopted in 1997. The Common Core State Standards aim to provide clear, consistent academic benchmarks with “fewer, clearer and higher” academic standards. Illinois developed these standards in cooperation with 47 other states. The Common Core State Standards were developed through a process led by U.S. States to craft academic standards that establish clear and consistent benchmarks for essential learning and skills. Since 2009, administrators, teachers and education experts


have provided important feedback towards the development of these standards. The first Common Core State Standards were developed for the K-12 areas of mathematics and English-language arts. Math and English standards were developed first because they teach skills upon which students build skill sets in other areas of learning. Subsequent standards for science are known as the Next Generation Science Standards. The Next Generation Science Standards not only feature the integration of science and mathematics, they are also coupled to principles of engineering and engineering design. Another feature of the Next Generation Science Standards is the incorporation of “cross cutting concepts” whereby students explore how the various concepts are applied to other fields of study. For example, the concept of diffusion is presented to students as it applies to biology, chemistry and medicine, to name a few. These standards define the level of knowledge and skills that students should possess from their K-12 education. The premise is that by achieving these standards, students will be prepared to enter college and training programs and be well prepared to join the workforce.

The standards are designed to allow teachers to be prepared to teach to clear, learning goals for students. However, they do not dictate how a teacher should teach to meet the goals. Local teachers and administrators will continue to develop education plans to help their students achieve the goals identified for their school districts. A clear set of standards will allow school officials to design curricula to meet these expectations and in years to come, research will demonstrate what works best. Many expect these new standards to have a positive impact on quality and cost effectiveness as well as the ability to make fair comparisons of student achievement from state to state. With clear academic benchmarks, higher education programs and professional development opportunities can better prepare teachers in how to best achieve success for their students. References:

Zollman, A. (2011). Is STEM misspelled? School Science and Mathematics. 111 (5), 197-198. Zollman, A. (2012). An overview of STEM education projects in the United States: characteristics and concerns. In Reeder, S. L., (Ed.) Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Research Council on Mathematics Learning. (pp. 116-120). Charlotte, NC: The Council.

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences


Central States Universities, Incorportated • Research Conference - November 2, 2013 Institutions Represented by CSIU: Argonne National Laboratory

Joint CSUI Research Conference & 23rd Annual Argonne Symposium for Undergraduates in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

Andrew Skipor

Ball State University

Jeff Grigsby

Bradley University

Michelle Fry

Illinois State University

Richard Martin

Indiana State University

Richard Fitch

Loyola University, Chicago

Asim Gangopadhyaya

Registration and abstract deadline: Oct. 11th, 2013

Northern Illinois University

Barrie Bode

The Central States Universities, Incorporated ( CSUI ) is a consortium of Argonne National Laboratory and ten universities dedicated to improving instructional and research programs in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering for faculty members and students. Collectively, the member institutions serve over 291,000 students and have over 2700 science faculty in the midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa. The academic programs of the consortium range from a complete array of undergraduate programs through a broad range of doctoral programs as well as professional schools, including architecture, business, education, engineering, law and medicine.

Northern Michigan University University of Northern Iowa

David Donovan Andrew Stollenwerk

Western Illinois University Western Michigan University

Mark Boley Alan Wousmaa

For more information about CSUI or the Research Conference, see

The programs of CSUI are designed to foster cooperative research among CSUI institutions. It is thus helpful for faculty and graduate students of member instituions to be aware of current work within CSUI. The conference thus serves two purposes: 1. raise awarenes of faculty and studentas of ongoing research, and 2. share educational successes. With that in mind we invite faculty and graduate students to present a progress report on their ongoing work. Again, we will follow the format of last year of imbedding CSUI presentations in relvant Argonne sessions. Where appropriate we will use faculty presentations as session keynote introduction presentations. Visit our Website:

Barbara Johnson-Wint | July 16, 1947-April 3, 2013 Barbara Johnson-Wint was born on July 16, 1947 and passed away on April 3, 2013. She was a resident of Cortland, Illinois with her husband, David Johnson-Wint. She was an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences from 1984 until her death in 2013. She earned her Ph. D. at Michigan State University in 1976, and was a post doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School from 19761984, where she was also an instructor. Her fields of interest were developmental biology; matrix modelling and remodelling; gravitational biology. Her research was in two areas of morphogenesis:

NIU â—† Department of Biological Sciences

1. the nature and role of cell-cell interactions regulating collagen degradation in vertebrate connective tissue formation, maintenance, repair and pathology, with special interest in cornea and skin, and 2. force effects including gravity on physical manipulation of collagen fibrils by tendon fibroblasts and osteoblasts to determine tissue shape and strength. She mentored a number of graduates students in her lab over the years. She had a keen interest in the U.S. Space Program, and travelled often to see rocket launches.


Summer Research in the Field Students experienced both chilly temperatures as well as sweltering heat and humidity this summer as they went out to work in the fields doing hands-on research this summer.

Turtle Search, Boone County Illinois

Collecting population data for Massassauga in Cassopolis, Michigan


REU students in Professor Barber’s lab processing beetle species collected at Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois

NIU â—† Department of Biological Sciences

Students in Professor Jone’s lab sampling for small mammals at Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois

NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

REU student in Professor Swingley’s lab working at the high pH Calumet Wetlands in south Chicago


Human Anatomical Sciences ­– Graduation/Retirement Party Human anatomical sciences also celebrated the retirement of Professor Chris Hubbard. Chris retired following the Spring, 2013 semester. He came to NIU in 1985 from the University of South Dakota Medical School. From the moment of his arrival on campus, Chris made an impact. He was a driving force in numerous upgrades to the anatomy laboratory in Anderson Hall, he created and developed the human anatomical sciences graduate program, and he developed and organized our human anatomical sciences outreach program for area high school students. by Daniel R. Olson In May, Barbie Klein, Grace Hongsermeier, Kelly Fallon, and James Salvatore graduated with their M.S. degrees. Barbie has begun a Ph.D. program in human anatomical sciences education at the University of Indiana Medical School in Bloomington, Indiana. Grace is a certified nursing assistant at Rockford Memorial Hospital, and she is in the process of applying for open teaching positions in anatomy and physiology. Kelly is employed full-time teaching anatomy and physiology at McHenry Community College, and James is employed part-time teaching anatomy and physiology at Joliet Junior College. James is also applying for other teaching opportunities in anatomical sciences. Each graduate received a small gift from the anatomical sciences faculty. We are very proud of our graduates and all that they have accomplished during their time at NIU, and we wish all of them the best in their future endeavors.

Chris has established a legacy of excellence and accountability in all that he has done throughout his tenure at NIU, and we hope to continue his legacy in the future. Professors Samonds, Jenkins, Olson, and Katie Heffernan will continue to develop and administer the Human Anatomical Sciences graduate program, and Professor Olson is now coordinating the high school outreach program. As many of us know, Chris has eclectic interests, ranging from beekeeping to blacksmithing to teaching himself Mandarin Chinese. In fact, Chris has been invited to teach anatomy this fall at the University of Jiaxing Medical School in China. It is a fitting tribute to his excellence and dedication that he continue his anatomical teaching outside the United States. Human anatomical sciences would like to thank Chris for a job well done. We know Chris will not be bored in retirement, and we wish him good health and happiness throughout his retirement years. ♦

Gifts Please use my gift of $ _______________ (checks payable to the NIU Foundation) for: n Department of Biological Sciences Endowed Scholarships: n n n n n n n n n n n

Alumni Scholarship in Biological Sciences Harvey A. Feyerherm Award August M. Gorenz Scholarship David R. Layman Scholarship Fund Sonya Conway Memorial Scholarship in Biology Sidney Mittler Award Charles E. Montgomery Award George L. Terwilliger Memorial Scholarship Fund Jerrold H. Zar Endowed Scholarship in Biology Jerrold H. Zar Endowed Scholarship in Science Ed. Patricia Vary Scholarship

Name (as you wish it to appear) NIU Degree (if any) and Year Address City


Zip Code

Will your employer match?  n Yes  n No  n Don’t know Mail to: NIU Foundation Department of Biological Sciences Northern Illinois University 1425 W. Lincoln Hwy. DeKalb , IL 60115-2828

For more information see:


NIU ◆ Department of Biological Sciences

Northern biologist 2013  
Northern biologist 2013  

Northern Illinois University Department of Biological Sciences annual newsletter - Fall 2013