Featured senior project: Abby Soussan

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a deadly pathogen of many species of amphibians. One of the most promising ways to combat its spread is to expose Bd zoospores to a purple pigment, violacein, which can kill Bd. Working with Professor Brooke Jude, Abby Soussan is determining whether Bd zoospores can sense and move away from the pigment, which would seriously inhibit the effectiveness of this potential treatment.

Faculty Research: Tadpole Model of Autism

In this paper a team of neuroscientists from Brown University and Bard College show that Xenopus tadpoles can be used as an experimental model to study molecular mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We used a chemical called valproic acid that is known to increase the incidence of ASD in humans, and studied its action on tadpoles. It turned out that tadpoles exposed to valproic acid developed abnormalities that are surprisingly reminiscent of that in ASD-affected humans. It suggests that tadpoles can indeed be used to study the original molecular reasons that make “autistic brains” develop differently than “normal brains”.

Citation: James EJ, Gu J, Ramirez-Vizcarrondo CM, Hasan M, Truszkowski TL, Tan Y, Oupravanh PM, Khakhalin AS, Aizenman CD. (2015). Valproate-Induced Neurodevelopmental Deficits in Xenopus laevis Tadpoles. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(7), 3218-3229.

Free text at PubMed Central.

Press-release from Brown University.

Bard Science Outreach Days

It’s that time of year when we welcome 8th graders from Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook to spend a day at Bard taking science courses. Kids go through a sequence of 40-minute classes in computer science, math, chemistry, physics, and biology.

Bard biology students led an activity with microbial fuel cell batteries developed by Professor Brooke Jude. In the photo: Alessia Zabrano and Annie Kissel help to troubleshoot the wiring for the batteries.

Tenure-Track Position In Biology Available!

Tenure-Track Position In Biology

The Biology Program at Bard College is seeking an accomplished individual at the Assistant Professor level for a tenure-track position in biology. The ideal candidate would contribute to the diversity of our offerings, complementing our strengths in microbiology, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, and neuroscience. A particular area of interest is the biology of organisms, including, but not limited to, individuals with topical interests in evolution, development, or physiology, and whose research involves fungi, plants, or invertebrates. The successful applicant would teach a combination of introductory and advanced courses for undergraduates and maintain an active and ambitious research program while involving students in research both inside and outside the classroom.

Applicants should have a PhD in Biology and preferably post-doctoral experience.

Applications will be reviewed beginning September 2015.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, statement of research and teaching interests, and the names and contact information for three references through Interfolio at: http://apply.interfolio.com/30850

Bard College is an equal opportunity employer and we welcome applications from those who contribute to our diversity.

Screening of “The Fly Room” by Alexis Gambis ’03

This Tuesday, November 3, Alexis Gambis ’03 will be on campus to show his film, The Fly Room.

In May 2013 Alexis came to the Bard campus to film The Fly Room with the help of Bard students, alumnae, faculty, and staff. He is delighted to return to share the film with the Bard Community. Please come out to support this very Bardian film.

Alexis is a French-Venezuelan scientist, filmmaker, and founder of Imagine Science Films, a nonprofit focused on scientific storytelling through film. The Fly Room, his first feature film, is a sweeping yet intimate portrait of the complicated relationship between Calvin Bridges, father of modern genetics, and his wide-eyed, ten-year-old daughter Betsey. The story helps bring to life one of the most important scientific laboratories of the 20th century, taking place predominantly in one location: the original Fly Room laboratory at Columbia University.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015. 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
Running time: 75 minutes. Q&A to follow. Refreshments.
Bertelsmann Campus Center, Weis Cinema

Featured project: Yuan Gao

For her senior project, Yuanyuan Gao is asking whether infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, affects the behavior of white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus, which are common hosts for the bacterium. In the lab at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, Yuanyuan is comparing the activity levels of wild mice that have been vaccinated against B. burdorgeri to the activity levels of mice that have not.

Faculty Research: Is biodiversity good for your health?

In this short article for Science, Felicia Keesing and her colleague Rick Ostfeld synthesize recent research that shows how and why areas with high diversity frequently have lower rates of transmission of infectious diseases of wildlife, humans, and plants. This is particularly compelling because it aligns environmental conservation with public health.

Citation: Keesing, F., & Ostfeld, R. S. (2015). Is biodiversity good for your health?.Science, 349(6245), 235-236.

Full version of the paper can be found at Researchgate.

Student Profiles: Sam Israel, ’10

Sam Israel began his Biology work at Bard in Eukaryotic Genetics (BIO202, currently known as “Genetics and Evolution”) with Mike Tibbetts. During his time at Bard, Sam took an ambitious load of courses, including Evolution, Molecular Evolution, Biostatistics, Introduction to Physiology, Biochemistry, Protein Structure & Function, Molecular Biology, an Advanced Seminar in Ecology, Microbiology, Cancer Biology, and a Cell Biology Tutorial. He was also a member of the Bard Music Conservatory and graduated with degrees in both music and biology. His coursework was complemented by 3 (!) summer research experiences, including a semester and summer at the Bard-Rockefeller Semester in Science Program. Sam completed his senior project in the lab of Mike Tibbetts.

As of Fall 2015, Sam is close to the completion of his PhD in the lab of John Ngai at UC Berkeley, where he studies how smell drives fear behaviors in larval Zebrafish. He also works as a science educator and is one of the leaders of the finance team for “Beyond Academia”: a series of highly successful student-run conferences educating students and researchers about non-academic jobs.

Sam’s Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/samuel-israel/48/5b7/1b3
Sam talking about his graduate program: https://vimeo.com/79831189
Beyond Academia: http://www.beyondacademia.org/

Below is a sample of Sam’s current work: a double-stained confocal microscopy prep of the olfactory bulb in a 5-days old larval Zebrafish. Here, magenta displays the various glomeruli in the olfactory bulb, while green shows a particular subtype of olfactory sensory neurons that project from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb. The cell bodies of these neurons, that look like flask-shaped bright glowing blobs in this picture, contain olfactory receptors that allow the fish to sense (smell) chemicals in the water. The scale bar represents 20um.

zebrafish OE sensory cells

Student Profiles: Alexis Gambis ’03

Alexis came to Bard with equal passions for both science and the arts. He graduated from the Biology program in 2003, with his senior project dedicated to the reconstruction of microbial genome rearrangements in Chlamydia. After Bard, Alexis got a Masters degree in Bioinformatics from the University of Marne la Vallée, and then a PhD from the Rockefeller University, where he studied apoptosis in fruit flies.

During his graduate career, Alexis founded the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, which celebrates films that feature science. The mission of the festival is “to bridge the gap between art and science through film, thereby transforming the way science is communicated to the public and encouraging collaboration across disciplines”.

In 2014 Alexis completed his first feature film, The Fly Room, parts of which were shot at Bard College.