Department News

UB Biological Science in the News.

Recent News Highlights

Highlights: UB Biological Sciences In-the-News

  • 11/18/20
    “Saliva is important for tasting, for digesting, for swallowing, for defending us from the pathogens that we are constantly inhaling and consuming,” says Omer Gokcumen, associate professor of biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences. “The proteins in our mouth form an army, if you will, that’s working constantly to protect us. Before this, scientists had an idea of the proteins that are found in the mouth, but we didn’t have a complete picture of where they were coming from. We’re addressing this gap.” Read the news article by Charlotte Hsu.
  • 10/21/20
    The Department of Biological Sciences has bolstered its remote learning materials to supplement — or in some cases replace — in-person education normally conducted in labs. For example, the Genetics Laboratory, which has nearly 170 enrolled students, moved all quizzes, assessments and lab reports online. We have reformatted courses to support remote learning with new videos on lab procedures. We are refining the process to submit homework online and improving techniques for vurtual interaction. Nearly 1,300 biology students have the option to learn in-person or fully complete the lab online.  “It was clear early on that we had to be prepared for what would happen if someone got COVID or the campus shut down for two weeks or longer,” says Jessica Poulin, clinical associate professor of biological sciences. “We worked really hard on the online plan knowing we would likely have to convert to fully online at any time. We knew we needed to be flexible for students who could not come back to campus.” Read more from UBNow.
  • 8/24/20
    A study co-authored by Kathryn Medler, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, was published on Aug. 13, 2020, in the journal PLOS Genetics. The groundbreaking findings highlight how much scientists still have to learn about taste, including how taste buds work and send information to the brain. The study was performed by Debarghya Dutta Banik, a former PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, along with co-authors Eric D. Benfey, Amy R. Nelson, Zachary C. Ahart, Barrett T. Kemp and Bailey R. Kemp in Kathryn Medler’s lab in the UB Department of Biological Sciences; and Laura E. Martin and Kristen E. Kay  working in the labs of Gregory C. Loney and Ann-Marie Torregrossa in the UB Department of Psychology. The research received support from the UB North Campus Imaging Facility, which is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.  See news report by Charlotte Hsu.
  • 7/17/20
    “When it comes to finding therapies for neurological diseases, a lot of the research focuses on the pathology and aggregation of proteins, but that may not be the actual cause,” says Shermali Gunawardena, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. “We want to try to figure out what might be going on earlier. We want to come in from a different angle and say, ‘OK, are huntingtin and Rab4 normally present together in healthy neurons? And then, what are they doing in the context of a disease state?’ ”  Read the news article by Charlotte Hsu
  • 7/13/20
    Why do scientists use baker’s yeast in the lab? Researchers harness baker’s yeast to study a variety of biological processes. Laura Rusche’s lab uses S. cerevisiae to learn more about how certain genes get switched on or off in response to stress. Sarah Walker’s team uses the organism to probe the intricacies of mRNA translation, which causes cells to produce proteins. Paul Cullen's lab explores cellular mechanisms that cause certain changes in yeast growth patterns. Read the news article by Charlotte Hsu
  • 6/26/20
    “The important principle is that plants can reinvent things. They can duplicate some parts of their genetic toolkit and twiddle the functions a little.” Victor Albert, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences. Read the news article by Charlotte Hsu
  • 6/1/20
    If you’re looking for some good news, here’s a tiny something to “bee” happy about. The UB Bees program, which launched last summer, reports that all six of its honeybee colonies survived their very first winter. This sweet success is meaningful because nationally, hives have been perishing at rates of about 30% over winter in recent years, says David Hoekstra, clinical assistant professor of biological sciences, who runs the UB Bees research and outreach initiative. Story by Charlotte Hsu
  • 5/18/20
    The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that Nicole Wong has won the University at Buffalo Graduate School's 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants. Wong is currently a PhD candidate based in the lab of Dr. Matthew Xu-Friedman, who serves as her mentor. Wong was sponsored for the award by Dr. Lara D. Hutson, Clinical Associate Professor Director of Undergraduate Studies.

2019 Department News


Grand Opening.

Gerald Koudelka (left), professor and former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, cuts the ribbon at a ceremony, December 3, 2019, celebrating renovations that were completed in the department, located in the Cooke-Hochstetter complex on the North Campus. Looking on are College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robin Schulze and Joe Helfer, senior assistant to the chair. The rehab, part of UB’s physical plan, was designed to foster research and facilitate collaboration among faculty, staff and students.  Photo: Jackie Hausler. See the related item: New Space for New Ideas.

  • 1/5/21
    Think of nutrition as “what” and ingestive behavior as “why.” Given that diet-induced obesity inhibits taste responses, Kathryn Medler and Marie Torregrossa, UB Department of Psychology, are working to identify how excess weight and diet each individually affect the properties of taste cells. The work has won a pilot grant, one of the first to be funded by UB’s Center for Ingestive Behavior Research (CIBR). 
  • 1/5/21
    James Berry and Omer Gokcumen were selected to receive awards at UB's Fall 2019 Celebration of Faculty and Staff Academic Excellence. The university-wide event was held on October 31, 2019, in Slee Hall. A large crowd was in attendance.
  • Kathleen Ohman wins ASA Award for Undergraduate Student Research in Acoustics

    The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has named Kathleen Ohman the winner of the Robert W. Young Award for Undergraduate Research in Acoustics. The ASA is the premiere international scientific society in acoustics, dedicated to increasing and diffusing the knowledge of acoustics and promoting its practical application. Ohman, a Biological Sciences Undergraduate Honors student, studies the effects of blast-induced traumatic brain injury on mouse vocalizations.

  • 10/31/19

    "Investigating TRAP-mediated attenuation of the trp operon with cotranscriptional SHAPE-Seq"
    Authors: Kiel Kreuzer, Molly Evans, Julius Lucks, Paul Gollnick.

    Dr. Keil Kreuzer has won "Most Outstanding Talk" at 2019 RustBelt RNA meeting, with an estimated 400 scientists in attendance. Kreuzer is a post-doctoral fellow in the Gollnick Lab. “This work is a collaboration between my lab at UB and that of Dr. Julius Lucks at Northwestern University to use a novel method to examine RNA structure during transcription,” states Dr. Gollnick, “Our work is changing the "textbook" view of how transcription is regulated in Bacillus subtilis.”

    The mission of the RRM is to provide unique opportunities for junior scientists. The regional meeting encourages the sharing of ideas and the development of new collaborations. Support is provided by the National Science Foundation along with corporate and academic sponsors. 

  • 10/18/17
    Omer Gokcumen is co-author of Human and Non-Human Primate Lineage-Specific Footprints in the Salivary Proteome in the Oxford Journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution. The study’s findings provide a necessary basis for future studies to assess whether the differences in human salivary proteins were caused by natural selection. The challenge will be to decipher the genetic underpinnings of these changes, and understand the evolutionary mechanisms that caused them. 
  • 10/4/19

    Imagine a UB hall of honor for students who show an undeniable track record of determination and success, perseverance and leadership. Imagine an online presentation — a UB Won’t-Give-Up Wikipedia page, if you will — for students who embody those qualities. Without a doubt, senior biological sciences major Aliaya Williams’ image and resume would be front and center. And now, thanks to the SUNY Educational Opportunity Program, that distinction is official. Read more.

  • 4/12/21
    Excerpt from national news report:  "Can science save the avocado? Like many commonly cultivated fruits and vegetables, avocados are under threat from climate change. One recent report predicts that by 2050, high temperatures and reduced precipitation in California will dramatically slash yields of the popular fruit, which thrives in moderate temperatures and humidity." Read more.

Fall 2019: Welcome New Faculty

  • Jae W. Lee, PhD

    Fall 2019: The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to welcome a new member of our faculty. Jae W. Lee studies gene regulation that directs cell fate specification during development of neurons in the hypothalamus arcuate nucleus, which controls growth, metabolism and reproduction. Lee also studies a neurodevelopmental disorder named FoxG1 syndrome, which is characterized by severe congenital brain anomalies, in close collaboration with Soo-Kyung Lee’s group. Experimentally, Lee mainly utilizes mouse genetics and genome-wide approaches such as single cell RNA-seq and ChIP-seq. Lee’s lab is recruiting at all levels and anyone interested in his lab should contact Professor Lee directly. See faculty profile.

  • Soo-Kyung Lee, PhD

    Fall 2019: The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to welcome a new member of our faculty. Soo-Kyung Lee is engaged in studying gene regulation that directs cell fate determination during development of the central nervous system. Lee's major research models are developing spinal cord and cortex. In collaboration with Jae Lee’s group, she recently initiated a new venture with a neurodevelopmental disorder named FoxG1 syndrome, which is characterized by severe congenital brain anomalies. Lee's major experimental approach involves mouse genetics and genome-wide studies such as single cell RNA-seq and ChIP-seq. The Lee lab is recruiting at all levels and anyone interested in her lab should contact Professor Lee directly. See faculty profile.

Related Links

  • 10/22/18 Dittmar joins researchers at the National Science Foundation