Hot Student Papers

Zeaxanthin-independent energy quenching and alternative electron sinks cause a decoupling of the relationship between the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) and photosynthesis in an evergreen conifer during spring

2 Nov 2015 - 12:41pm

Shhhh! There are spies among us and they are watching ... the secret lives of conifers. A new blockbuster paper by Emmanuelle Fréchette, Chris Wong, Laura Junker and Christine Chang (Ensminger Lab) was just published in Journal of Experimental Botany.  In this paper they examine the invisible lives of the mighty white pine. Unlike deciduous trees, the phenology of photosynthesis in evergreen conifers is invisible to the naked eye, which complicates understanding the effects of global change on the phenology of coniferous forests.

Isolation and characterization of a virus infecting the freshwater algae Chrysochromulina parva

19 Oct 2015 - 8:26am
Chrysochromulina parva infected by a virus

How well do we know the microbial communities around us? Apparently not that well considering that aquatic virologists are still discovering what is out there. This was demonstrated in the most recent publication by former undergrad Samia Mirz and current PhD student Mike Staniewski (Short Lab) in their paper “Isolation and characterization of a virus infecting the freshwater algae Chrysochromulina parva” published in Virology. In their article they describe the isolation and characterization of newly discovered virus from Lake Ontario.

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.