Hot Student Papers

Spatial structure in invasive Alliaria petiolata reflects restricted seed dispersal

28 Sep 2015 - 9:34am
garlic mustard flower

The aliens are invading, run for your lives! Truth be told, the aliens have already invaded, repeatedly and from zebra mussels to emerald ash borer, they can be a huge problem. Former PhD student Dr. Shekhar Biswas (Wagner Lab) tackled a piece of this problem in his recent paper “Spatial structure in invasive Alliaria petiolata reflects restricted seed dispersal” published in Biological Invasions. Garlic mustard is a notorious invasive species in North America and it often occurs in discrete patches. The processes shaping density and spatial distributions of this species are still poorly understood. Shekhar used data from a seed dispersal experiment and a three-year field survey to show propagule pressure is the most important process shaping plant density.

Clinical trial success rates of anti-obesity agents: the importance of combination therapies

16 Sep 2015 - 9:56am
Hadia Hussain

Obesity is a growing problem in the developed world and it is associated with numerous health problems. Can drug therapy address this problem? Former ROP student Hadia Hussain tackled this question while working with MBioTech’s Jayson Parker. Hadia’s paper “Clinical trial success rates of anti-obesity agents: the importance of combination therapies” was recently published in Obesity Reviews.  This paper quantified the risk of drug failure during clinical trial for new drugs given on their own vs combinations of drug. She found that a new drug to treat obesity had a failure probability of 92% and that success could be increased 10 fold if a combination of medicines was tested instead of individual agents.

GRK2 Fine-Tunes Circadian Clock Speed and Entrainment via Transcriptional and Posttranslational Control of PERIOD Proteins

1 Sep 2015 - 8:14am
GRK2 functionally interacting with the molecular clock at transcriptional and post-translational levels

Hickory, dickory, dock, the mouse went up the circadian clock, the clock struck 12, the mouse got a GRK2 knock-out, and the clock no longer goes hickory, dickory, dock. Explosive new results published in Cell Reports from the Cheng lab are changing our understanding of the genetic mechanisms of circadian rhythms. A team of students --Neel Mehta (MSc grad), Arthur Cheng (MSc candidate), Lucia Mendoza-Viveros (PhD candidate), Harrod Ling (MSc grad) and Abhilasha Patel (former BIO481 student)—collaborated to investigate the role of the G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) in the mammalian circadian clock. Using GRK2 knockout mice, they found that this gene is important for regulating the pace of the circadian clock and its ability to synchronize to the day-night cycle.

Developmental and evolutionary novelty in the serrated teeth of theropod dinosaurs

10 Aug 2015 - 9:17am
a serrated tooth from a theropod dinosaur

What is in a bite? For theropod dinosaurs the answer may be the secret to their success, according to recent research by recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink and PhD candidate Aaron LeBlanc (Reisz and Evans Labs). With dino fanfare and an abundance of media coverage they just published “Developmental and evolutionary novelty in the serrated teeth of theropod dinosaurs” in Scientific Reports. By examining the internal structure of serrated teeth from several distantly related animals, they show that theropods have a completely unique arrangement of dental tissues within their teeth not seen in other animals. These structures develop to lengthen the serration from within the tooth, and strengthen the tooth, preventing the serrations from wearing away quickly while eating.

The importance of plant genotype and contemporary evolution for terrestrial ecosystem processes

4 Aug 2015 - 1:56pm
Common evening primrose

Metabolic rate, muscle mass, personality, skin tone, hair curliness … everything about us and every living organism is a product of our genes and the environment in which we live. But how far is the reach of the gene? Can genetic differences influence the abundance and diversity of parasites in your gut? Can it shape entire ecosystems? And can evolution cause changes in the environment in which we live? A recent paper by PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) gives the answer - “yes”. Connor published “The importance of plant genotype and contemporary evolution for terrestrial ecosystem processes” in Ecology.

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