College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Archived News

Tue, Dec 28, 2010

Blood Buddies: Jerry Wilkinson Interviewed on Radiolab on Vampire Bat Research

How can goodness and self-sacrifice thrive in a world that Darwin tells us ought to favor selfishness? In a Radiolab segment, Jerry Wilkinson, professor and chair of biology, shares what he discovered in his work with vampire bats. The research originated decades ago after he attended a course as a graduate student with Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS): he applied for and received one of their post-course student grants to get this research started. UMD is a member of the OTS consortium, sending students on their courses for 25+ years.
Fri, Nov 12, 2010

NSF funds UMD Program to Advance Women Faculty in Science and Engineering

A new five-year, $3.2 million University of Maryland program funded by the National Science Foundation seeks to increase the representation of women faculty members in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at the university. The ADVANCE Program for Inclusive Excellence will build on the university's achievements in inclusiveness and equity, and implement interconnected strategies designed to transform academic environments and promote the professional growth of women faculty in STEM. Avis Cohen, Professor of Biology and Institute for Systems Research, will direct the project.
Thu, Nov 11, 2010

ADVANCE website

ADVANCE program web address
Mon, Nov 8, 2010

Research Partnership Awarded $9.9M from NSF to Develop “Super Rice,” UMD Biologist Carlos A. Machado is co-PI

Evolutionary biologist Carlos Machado will contribute his expertise to help understand the evolution of wild rice species and how this can be applied to maximize the genes that enable the grain to best survive extreme environments.A multi-institutional research consortium, that includes the University of Maryland, has been awarded $9.9 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a deeper understanding of the wild relatives of cultivated rice with the ultimate goal of creating next-generation varieties that are better capable of withstanding drought and poorer soils and produce higher yields than current forms of domesticated rice. University of Maryland evolutionary biologist Carlos A. Machado studies the processes and mechanisms of species divergence and will contribute his expertise to help understand the evolution of wild rice species and varieties and how this can be applied to maximize the genes that enable the grain to best survive extreme environments.
Mon, Oct 18, 2010

Computational model of swimming fish could inspire design of robots or medical prosthetics

Two silver lampreys, Ichthyomyzon unicuspis, some of the most primitive existing vertebrates. The lamprey nervous system is being used as a model to develop prosthetic devices for people with spinal cord injuries.  Scientists at the University of Maryland and Tulane University have developed a computational model of a swimming fish that is the first to address the interaction of both internal and external forces on locomotion. The interdisciplinary research team simulated how the fish's flexible body bends, depending on both the forces from the fluid moving around it as well as the muscles inside. Understanding these interactions, even in fish, will help design medical prosthetics for humans that work with the body's natural mechanics, rather than against them. This research is published in the October 18, 2010 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wed, Oct 13, 2010

UMD neuroscientists discover nicotine could play role in Alzheimer's disease therapy

Molecular model of the alpha7 nicotinic receptor.A team of neuroscientists has discovered important new information in the search for an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, the debilitating neurological disorder that afflicts more than 5.3 million Americans and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Hey-Kyoung Lee, associate professor in the University of Maryland Department of Biology, and her research team have shown that they may be able to eliminate debilitating side effects caused by a promising Alzheimer’s drug by stimulating the brain’s nicotine receptors.
Tue, Sep 14, 2010

Adapting to Darkness: How Behavioral and Genetic Changes Helped Mexican Blind Cavefish to Survive an Extreme Environment

A surface-dwelling Astyanax mexicanus and a cave-dwelling formUniversity of Maryland biologists have identified how changes in both behavior and genetics led to the evolution of the Mexican blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) from its sighted, surface-dwelling ancestor. In research published in the August 12, 2010 online edition of the journal Current Biology, Professor William R. Jeffery, together with postdoctoral associates Masato Yoshizawa, and Špela Gorički, and Assistant Professor Daphne Soares in the Department of Biology, provide new information that shows how behavioral and genetic traits coevolved to compensate for the loss of vision in cavefish and to help them find food in darkness. This is the first time that a clear link has been identified between behavior, genetics, and evolution in Mexican blind cavefish, which are considered an excellent model for studying evolution.
Mon, Aug 30, 2010

William Jeffery and colleagues publish new research on the role of behavior and genetics in the evolution of blind cavefish

eyed and eyeless forms of A. mexicanusIn recent research published in Current Biology, Professor William Jeffery , together with postdoctoral associates Masato Yoshizawa, and Špela Gorički, and Assistant Professor Daphne Soares in the Department of Biology, provide new information that demonstrates how changes in both behavior and genetics led to the evolution of the Mexican blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) from its sighted, surface-dwelling ancestor. They identified a behavioral shift that was advantageous for feeding success in the dark (called “vibration attraction behavior” or VAB), and linked it to its genetic basis in the mechanosensory function of the lateral line. Fish who exhibited the adaptive behavior had more and larger superficial neuromast (SN) cells. The research team concluded that the VAB and SN enhancement coevolved to compensate for loss of vision and to help blind cavefish find food in darkness.
Wed, Aug 25, 2010

Alumni Participate in Scientific Response to BP Gulf Oil Spill

Map of the Gulf of Mexico and site of the Deepwater Horizon wellheadSeveral alumni of the College of Chemical and Life Sciences with expertise in marine ecology have played a role in the scientific response to the BP Gulf oil spill disaster. Their involvement in data collection immediately following the collapse of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and in the months that followed is part of a massive effort to gather much-needed fundamental information on the spill and its impacts, and should contribute to understanding how to respond to such incidents in the future. Read about the work of Judith Connor (B.S., ’71 Botany and Biochemistry, M.S., ’79 Botany) who works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Teresa McTigue (B.S. Zoology, 1984) and Andrew Mason (M.S.,’08, MEES), who both work for NOAA.
Mon, Aug 23, 2010

Laura Craig (BEES PhD, 2009) becomes Associate Director of American Rivers River Restoration Program

Laura Craig (BEES PhD, 2009, advised by Margaret Palmer) has accepted a position as Associate Director of the River Restoration Program at American Rivers, a conservation organization in Washington, D.C.  In this position, Laura facilitates and manages river restoration activities across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Laura is also involved in establishing collaborative partnerships with academic institutions and local watershed groups to improve restoration monitoring and increase communication between researchers and restoration practitioners. After completing her PhD, Laura worked as a post-doctoral research assistant and volunteer/outreach coordinator at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland. Laura is an aquatic biogeochemist who is broadly interested in how restoration practices influence stream ecosystem function.