Parris Humphrey ’06

Parris Humphrey ’06 transferred to Bard. In his junior year, he traveled to Kenya with Dr. Felicia Keesing to study why the sandflies that transmit leishmaniasis, a tropical disease, are more abundant in areas without large herbivores like giraffes, zebras, and elephants. For his senior project, he figured out that deer can clear blacklegged ticks of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. After graduation, he worked as a research assistant studying the molecular ecology of disease at the U. of Pennsylvania with Professor Dustin Brisson. As of early 2016 Parris is about to get a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, where he studies disease ecology and evolution.

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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.