Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Biological Sciences Academic Forums

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The Biological Sciences Department’s mission is to prepare biology majors for the next step in their careers; to educate and train the next generation of biological scientists; to provide all students at CSU, Chico with an opportunity to learn how science is done and to learn about important, significant, and relevant biological knowledge needed by citizens; to contribute to the expansion of our knowledge about biology; and, to serve as a resource of biological expertise for the campus and surrounding community.

Biological Sciences Seminars

Gliding Motility in Filamentous Cyanobacteria

Dr. Doug Risser

Faculty, University of the Pacific

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Cyanobacteria are a phylum of bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis. They are very versatile organisms. Dr. Risser’s talk is about one aspect of their versatility – their ability to move. Cyanobacteria take the shape of filaments that look like tiny worms under a microscope. Dr. Risser explains that they have developed their ability to move in order to look for light. These bacteria form structures of various shapes and sizes, which have been found is fossilized form. Dr. Risser states that by studying the structures, including how and why they form, potentially can provide information about life forms in the distant past.

Presentation Time: 51 minutes

Sterol Biosynthesis in the Bacterial Domain

Dr. Paula Welander

Faculty, Earth System Science, Stanford University

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Dr. Paula Welander is a microbiologist who also teaches earth sciences. Not surprisingly, she starts with the question, “How is it that a microbiologist is working in the earth sciences?” Dr. Welander’s field is geobiology which, as its name implies, looks at the interface between geology and biology. She notes that microbial life has dominated Earth for billions of years. Her presentation goes on to discuss her research in trying to determine how microbial life survived billions of years ago, during an era when there was a very different environment that, for example, contained very little oxygen.

Presentation Time: 47 minutes

 

Antioxidant Supplementation, Muscle Damage, Oxidative Stress, and Leukocyte Apoptosis

Dr. Feng He

Faculty, Kinesiology Department, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Feng He is working toward a better understanding of exercise-induced muscle damage and DOS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). The focus of this presentation is the muscle soreness that begins approximately two days after exercise, especially after a person suddenly engages in more strenuous exercise than he or she is used to doing. Dr. He discusses the roles of oxidants and antioxidants in exercise and of apoptosis (the death of cells that occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development). She also shares her conclusions and suggests possible areas for future research.

Presentation Time: 46 minutes

Chemical Characterization of California Chardonnary Grapes for Estimation of Quality; Internship Opportunities

Dr. Michael Cleary

Chemist, E & J Gallo Wineries

Brian Menconi & Genessee Carini

CSU, Chico chemistry graduates, E & J Gallo Wineries, Healdsburg, CA

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A lot of chemistry goes into winemaking. In fact, every year Dr. Michael Cleary of Gallo Wineries meets with CSU, Chico chemistry students to talk about the science of winemaking. He also lets them know that there are careers in the wine industry that make use of their scientific knowledge. Dr. Cleary explains that winery scientists are involved in experimental research, maturity monitoring, and harvest benchmarking. Metrics used to determine quality include taste, aroma, mouthfeel, and phenolics (the depths of light to which grapes have been exposed). The chemistry of these attributes reveal regional trends and assist with decisions such as what dates to harvest.

Brian Menconi and Genessee Carini are both CSU, Chico chemistry grads employed by Gallo. They present an overview of internship opportunities at 12 Gallo wineries in California and Washington State. Depending on the winery, interns engage in multiple aspects of the wine business – lab analysis, tasting, cellar work management, inventory control, and more.

Presentation Time: 53 minutes

The Value of Natural Reserves in Field-Based Research

Dr. Don Miller

Faculty, Biological Sciences Department, CSU, Chico

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Biological Sciences students and faculty at CSU, Chico, are fortunate to have an incredible natural laboratory in their own back yard – the 3,950-acre Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve. Chico State Professor Don Miller shares photos from the reserve to illustrate the research work he and others are doing there. He explores the value of conducting field research in the life sciences at this and other reserves. In addition to the Big Chico Creek reserve, he notes that the Eagle Lake Field Station in Lassen County also has been associated with CSU, Chico; the field station was established by Chico State faculty in 1964. He finishes his presentation by telling students about how they can volunteer for the Outdoor Education programs held at the Big Chico Creek Reserve for students in grades K-12.

Presentation Time: 51 minutes

Factors Affecting Honeybee Queen Mating & Reproduction

Dr. Elina Lastro Nino

Assistant Specialist in CE, Department of Entomology & Nematology, UC Davis

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Dr. Elina Lastro Nino directs the E.L. Nino Bee Lab at the UC Davis Honey Bee Research Facility. In addition to research, the lab offers workshops and classes, and is developing a pollinator education program for children (grades 3-5) and a master beekeeping program. In this presentation, Dr. Nino focuses on the lab’s research on the queen bee, which is the only reproductive female in a colony, and the loss of colonies due to failure of the queen’s reproductive ability. Because the bee’s role as pollinator is crucial to plant food production, Dr. Nino and her colleagues hope that a better understanding of what regulates bee reproduction can help improve queen health and the development of quality breeding programs.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 1 minute

Developmental Exposure to DDT Impairs the Molecular & Physiological Control of Brown Adipose Energy Expenditure Leading to Insulin Resistance

Michele La Merrill, PhD, MPH

Department of Environmental Toxicology, UC Davis

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Dr. Michele La Merrill has been studying the question: Could chemicals in the environment cause metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is a very widespread, growing public health problem which may be present when a human or animal has three or more of these symptoms: obesity, elevated fasting glucose, elevated cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and hypertension. She notes that while average body weight and obesity has been rising in humans, it has also been rising in animals. Dr. La Merrill’s research is focused on one toxic pollutant – the pesticide DDT. Although DDT has been banned in many places, it was widely used when much of today’s human adult population were children. She explains DDT’s possible effects on developing organisms.

Presentation Time: 42 minutes

Fecal Matter Transplant as a Means of Restoring a Healthy Gut Flora

Peter Bangsund, MD

Department of Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Enloe Medical Center, Chico, CA

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Transcript

Dr. Bangsund explains that clostidium difficile (aka C.diff) bacteria infections, which cause serious problems in the intestinal tract, are becoming increasingly prevalent and more resistant to antibiotics. To underscore the seriousness of these infections, he point outs that in 2011 alone, this common pathogen caused 500,000 infections and 29,000 deaths. What was considered an unconventional method of treatment is becoming more and more widely used: the introduction of fecal matter from a healthy donor into the patient to promote the growth of normal colonic flora, or a “healthy bacteria population.” Patients have been helped by this procedure; as a result, states Dr. Bangsund, it is becoming a standard of care for treatment of antibiotic-resistant C.diff infections.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 1 minute

Activation of a Rice Immune Receptor by a Bacterial Peptide

Dr. Rory Pruitt

Post-Doc Fellow, Ronald Lab, UC Davis

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Rice is an important source of food for half of the world’s population. In this presentation, Dr. Rory Pruitt explains that two of the major factors that have dramatically improved rice production in the past 50 years are the introduction of new, high-yielding varieties of rice and the adoption of nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Ironically, these advances have also come with unexpected consequences. One of those consequences is the widespread rise of Bacterial Blight, as some of the new rice varieties were susceptible to it, while the nitrogen fertilizers promoted its growth. The Ronald Lab, where Dr. Pruitt works, has devoted research time to find ways to control rice infections, starting in the 1990s with discovering what genes are responsible for resistance to the bacteria. Dr. Pruitt then presents more recent findings.

Presentation Time: 46 minutes

Chemical Contaminants & Health of Fishes in Urban Coastal Regions

Dr. Kevin Kelley

Interim Associate Vice President, Research and Sponsored Programs, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Kevin Kelley begins his presentation by stating that the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southern California coast are “among the world’s most highly intensive interfaces between large human populations and marine-estuarine environments.” He then cites some eye-opening numbers – for example, 20 million-plus people live in the area from Los Angeles to San Diego, with three of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the world sending one billion gallons a day into the Pacific Ocean. Human activity produces numerous contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, detergents, herbicides, pesticides, flame-retardant chemicals, and more. Dr. Kelly is researching which of these environmental contaminants have a negative effect on wildlife even after going through the treatment process, by studying endocrine and tissue responses. An example is the effect of environmental estrogens on male fish.

Presentation Time: 53 minutes

The Quest for Fulfillment: Drosophila Nervous System Development

Dr. Steven Robinow

Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Steven Robinow researches the genetic principles of neural development by studying the brain development of drosophila (a genus of small flies, belonging to the family Drosophilidae, often called “fruit flies”). Among other things, in this presentation he explains the role of nuclear receptors in the activation of gene reception and looks into mutant phenotypes. A major purpose of Dr. Robinow’s research is to provide insights into the transcriptional networks regulating interneuron development.

Presentation Time: 54 minutes

A Natural Approach to Human Pathogen Suppression - Can Biodiversity Fill the Gaps?

Matthew S. Jones

PhD Candidate, Washington State University

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Matthew Jones presents alternatives to one-crop agricultural practices. He starts by explaining that research has shown that when there is a lack of diversity caused by human cultivation, there are more pathogens, including insect outbreaks. Jones then lists the different types of diversity that some farmers are using and their benefits. He discusses and shares photographs of techniques that are starting to be used, including intercropping, companion planting, hedgerows, agroforestry, riparian habitat restoration, animal/plant interactions, and others. Not only are these techniques more environmentally sound, Jones says, but they can help farmers gain more ecological and economic stability.

Presentation Time: 56 minutes

The Human Microbiome: Effects of Epinephrine on Microbiome and Biofilm

Dr. Robert Crawford

CSU, Sacramento 

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Dr. Robert Crawford and his student lab assistants at CSU, Sacramento study microbiomes and how they affect wound healing, with an emphasis on diabetic foot ulcers that can be extremely difficult to treat. More specifically, they are looking closely at the effects of the hormone Epinephrin on increased bacterial grown and enhanced biofilm formation in such infected wounds. Dr. Crawford states that he hopes more knowledge about this area will help to develop new therapies to aid wound healing.

Presentation Time: 59 minutes

Incorporating Rapid Evolutionary Change Into Management Decision-Making: The Role of Connectivity

Dr. Marissa Baskett 

Department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis

Incorporating Rapid Evolutionary Change

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Humans play a major role in every ecological system on Earth. Sometimes one can see the human domination very easily and in other cases not so easily. If humans are the dominant ecological force, then humans are the world’s greatest evolutionary force. Dr. Baskett explores whether rapid evolution should be considered in management schemes known as “Evolutionarily Enlightened Management.” This brings up the question: When and how should evolution affect management decisions?

Presentation Time: 60  minutes

Applied Evolutionary Biology to Address Global Challenges

Dr. Scott Carroll

Institute for Contemporary Evolution, Davis and Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

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This is a time of rapid global change, which means current biological science students will see great changes in their lifetimes. Dr. Scott Carroll illustrates this by sharing general information about changes in land use and human population over the past 300 years. He uses the word “Anthropocene” to describe these changes – Anthropocene is a new geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. Then, Dr. Carroll uses the example of the Soapberry Bug and its responses to change to provide insight into how rapid contemporary evolution could occur. This insect species is able to quickly adapt to a changing environment by utilizing new plant species as food sources.

Presentation Time: 56 Minutes

Selectivity of Membrane Proteins Towards Individual Phospholipids

Dr. Arthur Laganowsky

Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University

Selectivity of Membrane Proteins Towards Individual Phospholipids

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Lipids are a large and diverse group of naturally occurring organic molecules that include: fats; waxes; sterols; mono-, di-, and tri-glycerides; fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K); and others. Dr. Laganowsky, a former CSU, Chico Biological Sciences major, discusses his revolutionary research methods for determining interaction at the atomic level between membrane proteins and the lipids called phospholipids. A variety of techniques, including x-ray crystallography, are required to observe the tiny interactions that take place. These techniques have developed a new approach to understanding the effects of lipid binding on membrane proteins.

Presentation Time: 53 Minutes

Merging Systemics and Ecology to Study Soil Specialization in California Jewelflowers

Dr. N. Ivalu Cacho

Faculty, UC Davis

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How are certain plants supported only by certain soils? Are plants that are soil-specialized poorer competitors – or are they better defended? Dr. N. Ivalu Cacho studies California Jewelflowers to search for the answers to these and related questions. The jewelflowers tend to grow in bare environments with thin layers of soil. Dr. Cacho and her researchers field-collect raw soils from sites where the species grow, and from sites where the plants do and do not have native grass neighbors of different species. Underlying her work is Dr. Cacho’s interest in exploring the Earth’s extensive biological diversity.

Presentation Time:  37 minutes

Divergent Antiherbivore Syndromes in the Tarweeds

Dr. Billy A Krimmel

PERT Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Entomology, University of Arizona

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Dr. Billy Krimmel studies how plants maximize their fitness using resistance techniques by focusing on a common California weed. The tarweed is native to California; it historically played a part in the survival of indigenous people, as the seeds were used by the Pomo Indians as a source of food. Today, hikers know it as an annoying plant that sticks to their pants and socks. The tarweed is part of a group of species known as “Sticky Plants.” As Dr. Krimmel explains, the tarweed is covered with hairs, which have microscopic bubbles at their ends. When something, such as a predatory insect, touches the bubble, it pops and a sticky liquid is excreted, along with a strong odor. This makes the plant surface inaccessible, and dead insects sometimes can be seen stuck to the surface of tarweeds.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 1 minute

Chikungunya Virus: global spread, mechanisms of emergence, and predicting epidemic variants

Dr. Lark L. Coffey

Faculty, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

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When humans are infected with the Chikungunya virus, which has no vaccine, they suffer from fever, muscle pain, arthritis-like joint pain, and rash. Dr. Lark Coffey’s interest in vector-borne diseases, especially newly emerging viruses, led her to study Chikungunya. She explains that this virus is an arbovirus, meaning it has an arthropod vector and vertebrate reservoir. In Africa and Asia, where major outbreaks have originated, mosquitos spread the virus primarily through non-human primates and rodents. In conclusion, Dr. Coffey notes how scientists can use the tools at their disposal to study virus mutations and predict their epidemic variants.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 5 minutes

Pathogenesis of RNA Viruses in High Risk Populations - Influenza

Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry

Member, Department of Infectious Diseases and Deputy Director, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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Dr. Schultz-Cherry starts her presentation by explaining the science of what happens when a human is infected with influenza. From there, she presents a fast-paced overview of the flu, including interspecies contagion (such as Avian Flu, and the recent discovery that cats can get the flu from their owners), history (including the pandemic of 1918), the role of vaccines, and how the disease is tracked, both within the U.S. by the Center for Disease Control and globally by the World Health Organization. She then focuses in on her recent research that shows links between obesity and increased severity of symptoms from influenza viruses.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 5 minutes

Biological Sciences Career Day

Applied and Lab Sciences Panel

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Four professionals talk about the varied careers they have pursued after earning degrees in the biological sciences.  They each give presentations about their work and answer questions from the student audience. Nicole Crouse is a microbiologist who has worked at New Clairveaux Winery, using her microbiology background to properly ferment and age the wine. Christine Stahl is director of the clinical lab at Oroville Hospital. Dr. Colleen Milligan is a forensic anthropologist who is associated with the CSU, Chico Forensic Anthropology program. Dr. Linda Lewis is an infectious diseases epidemiologist with Butte County Public Health.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 7 minutes

Biological Sciences Career Day

Pre-Professional Panel

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The members of the panel in this presentation include: Dr. Jennifer Parrish, physician at Mission Ranch Primary Care, Chico; Steve Edgar, pharmacist from Apothecary Options compounding pharmacy, Chico; Dr. Dorian Dodds, dentist, Chico; and Dr. Tori Letner, veterinarian, Valley Oak Veterinary Center. Each panelist gives a 10-minute presentation about his or her work and then answers questions from the audience. At the end of the recording, all four panelists engage in a group discussion with each other and with the audience.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 18 minutes

Bioremediation of Environmental Pollutants - Three Case Studies

Dr. Larry Hanne & Dr. Larry Kirk

Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Chico

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Two CSU, Chico Biological Sciences faculty members use three case studies to explore biological methods to lessen the effects of various pollutants. The first case involves the chemical methyl parathion, which is used to control insects in a wide range of crops.  The second case study looks at ways to remediate jet fuel contamination at Beale Air Force Base.  In the last study, possible biological methods to enhance the degradation of bioplastics are presented.

Presentation Time:  55 minutes

One Health: Understanding and Addressing Emerging Infectious Diseases

Linda S. Lewis, DVMMPVM

Epidemiologist, Butte County Public Health Department

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Ms. Lewis begins by explaining the “One Health” concept. This approach to public health recognizes that human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are all linked. The goal is to improve the health and well-being of all species by collaboration among physicians, veterinarians, and other scientific health and environmental professionals. In this context, Ms. Lewis presents some of the origins of emerging infectious diseases, including species jumping, genetic shifting, infections related to mass food production, environmental changes, and technology. She then points out that at least 61%t of all human pathogens are zoonotic – that is, they are naturally transmissible between vertebrate animals and humans. Further, 75% of all emerging pathogens in the past decade are zoonotic. This includes the Ebola virus.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 1 minute

The Role of Homer Scaffolding to Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 in Mouse Models of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Dr. Katie Collins

Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Chico

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By studying behavior in mice, Dr. Katie Collins hopes to learn more about Fragile X syndrome in humans. Fragile X is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability in humans, affecting one out of every 4,000 males. It is a leading genetic cause of autism; those with the disease also have lower cognitive abilities (IQs of 40-70), sensory hypersensitivity, and epilepsy (about 20% of individuals). Dr. Collins’ research has focused on “mGluR5- homer,” which is the binding protein that acts as a scaffold and signaling molecule. She and other researchers hypothesize that disruptions to this scaffolding protein contribute to Fragile X syndrome.

Presentation Time:  48 minutes

The Special Biology of Rats

Debbie “The Rat Lady” Ducommun

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Debbie Ducommun is a CSU, Chico alumna who became known as “The Rat Lady” when she worked for 10 years in the Psychology Department lab, taking care of the rats. She maintains a Facebook page, “Rat Fan Club,” that has 10,000 members, as well as a non-profit organization (RATS-Rat Assistance and Teaching Society) that educates pet stores and people in the pet care industry about better treatment of rats. Ms. Ducommun has written three books about rat care, has appeared on “The Tonight Show,” and was a consultant for the movie “Ratatouille.” In this presentation, she shares information about rat anatomy and behavior, with a focus on the Norway rat.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 5 minutes

The Hybrid Lifestyle of an Uncultured Chemolithotrophic Bacterium

Dr. Emily Fleming Nuester

Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Chico

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A chemolithotrophic bacterium is iron oxidizing and produces rust. The fresh water variety is found in streams and ditches, while the salt water variety is found on marine sea mounts in every ocean in the world. These bacteria can have significant economic impacts, particularly in their ability to build up iron deposits in piping and to break down certain metals. Dr. Fleming Nuester’s presentation focuses on one of the fresh water organisms, Leptothrix ochracea, which has been studied by scientists for 120 years and yet has never been cultured – that is, it cannot be grown and studied in a petri dish.

Presentation Time:  30 minutes

Utilizing Zebrafish to Understand the Molecular Control of Blood Development

Dr. David Stachura

Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Chico

Utilizing Zebrafish to Understand the Molecular Control of Blood DevelopmentUtilizing Zebrafish to Understand the Molecular Control of Blood Development

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Dr. Stachura discusses his research studying the vertebrate hematopoietic system with the genetically amenable zebrafish.  In this talk, he presents the assays that he developed to study how mature blood cells are generated from hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.  He also discusses the utility and future promise of using zebrafish to study, prevent, and treat human blood diseases such as anemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukemia.

Presentation Time: 31 minutes

Microtubules in Plant Growth and Morphogenesis

Dr. Jessica Lucas

Plant Biologist, Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University

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One of the main differences between plant and animal cells lies with tiny structures within cells that are made of protein and called microtubules. As Dr. Lucas explains, one of the major differences between plant and animal cells is that the microtubules are organized in completely different ways. She notes their importance to both growth (an organism getting bigger, increasing in cell number and size) and morphogenesis (the creation of an organism’s shape, including the organization and the shaping of cells). After explaining what microtubules are and illustrating their arrays with colorful slides, Dr. Lucas talks about some of the larger questions driving her research, such as, “How do microtubules control morphogenesis?”

Presentation Time:  47 minutes

Digestive Physiology of the Phasmatodeal

Matan Shelomi, PhD Candidate

Department of Entomology, UC Davis

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Matan Shelomi provides insight into the remarkably complex digestive system of the phasmatodea, an insect also known as the “walking stick.” He has produced an award-winning two-minute film, “Mystery tubes in the stick bug’s gut,” that has circulated widely online. Shelomi explains that this insect eats a diet of leaves, a diet that presents many digestive problems. He has studied how the insect’s physiology has developed to process the leaves, some of which even contain poisons. He has concluded that the walking stick has a digestive system completely unlike that of other insects.

Presentation Time: 54 minutes

Effects of a Responsive Surrogate on Nursery-Reared Rhesus Macaques

Dr. Rebecca Brunelli

Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Rebecca Brunelli developed an interest in animal welfare, particularly the welfare of animals in captivity, while doing research at the Primate Research Center at UC Davis. The center includes a research and breeding colony of over 5,000 monkeys. Most of the infants stay with their mothers after birth, but some are separated due to rejection by their mothers or use in the studies of infants. Dr. Brunelli was concerned with signs of distress of the baby monkeys who had been separated from their mothers. She worked on developing surrogates, usually furry objects, with some looking like a stuffed toy animal. Through the surrogates, the young monkeys displayed more positive traits, including playfulness, curiosity, and confidence.

Presentation Time:  1 hour

Feeding in Flow: The Impact of Waves on Predator-Prey Interactions in the Rocky Intertidal

Dr. Eve Robinson

UC Berkeley

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A common sight for visitors to the rocky beaches on the Pacific Coast is the large colonies of sea anemones clinging to the rocks. How do these creatures, which look like plants but are really animals, manage to catch the zooplankton that swim by – the prey that the anemone, as predator, must catch in order to survive? In this presentation, Dr. Eve Robinson, currently a California State Sea Grant Fellow, shares the results of her research in both British Columbia, Canada, and in Sonoma County, California. She explains that many factors impact the capture of prey by anemones, including the type of site, neighboring predators, and the wave/flow environment, including the changing tides.

Presentation Time:  55 minutes

The Role of MUTYH in Cancer Progression

Dr. Alan Raetz

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Dr. Raetz, a graduate of the CSU, Chico biological sciences master’s degree program, discusses how DNA damage and repair relates to cancer. His primary PhD research at UC Davis was to study these effects in the cells of mammals. Dr. Raetz explains that DNA is constantly being damaged (mutated) and constantly being repaired. The vast majority of the repairs are effective; but improper DNA repair leads to such conditions as cancer and aging.  MutY and MUTYH are enzymes that repair cells.  The loss of MUTHY has been linked to the early stages of a specific form of colorectal cancer.  This approach to cancer research is called the Ocogene Theory of Cancer.

Presentation Time:  50 minutes

Next Generation Sequencing for Solving Biological Problems

Dr. Elena Harris

Department of Computer Science, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Harris discusses the increasing collaboration of the fields of computer science and biology to unlock the genetic mysteries of DNA. She begins by showing a short video, “Life Inside a Cell,” which features colorful and dramatic animated images of the interior of a cell and the processes occurring inside of it. She then explains how new generation sequencing technology allows fast and inexpensive DNA sequencing, including the sequencing of DNA fragments,  the mapping of reads back to a reference genome, and analysis of the data (both methylation and nucleosome analysis). Dr. Harris also gives an example of the practical use of this technology – the study of the mechanism controlling gene expression to develop drugs to treat malaria.

Presentation Time:  42 minutes

 

Restoring a Diverse Forest Understory Plant Community with Variable-density thinning

Dr. Eric Knapp

United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Pacific Southwest Research Station

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Dr. Knapp explains the importance of the forest understory – that is, the plants on the forest floor. He explains that the forest overstory and understory are substantially altered from their historic old-growth condition. Much of the change can be attributed to the absence of fire – humans put out fires that used to burn uncontrolled. Dr. Knapp presents two methods of forest thinning; methods which pushed forest stands closer to their historic state. However, long-term effects are still being studied.

Presentation Time:  51 minutes

Alpine Plants: Their Adaptations & Use as Biological Indicators of Climate Change

Dr. Jim Bishop

California and Nevada Region of the GLORIA project

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Transcript with PowerPoint

 

 

Since 2004, Dr. Bishop has been an active participant in a project called GLORIA (Global Observation Research In Alpine Environments). The program is run completely by volunteers, who monitor plant growth at alpine zones around the world. Alpine zones are defined as areas in high elevations above the upper limit of tree growth, or the tree line. The monitoring is done with two goals: 1) to learn how plants adapt in order to survive in a harsh environment; and 2) to see how plants respond to climate change in that environment. Dr. Bishop examines the factors that limit growth above the tree line, and postulates that if the climate warms, the higher elevations will become more favorable environments and gradually inhabitable by a wider variety of plants.

Presentation Time:  54 minutes

A special message from Dr. Bishop: “Volunteers do much of the field work and are always appreciated.  GLORIA data may be of some use to students and faculty.  For more information please contact Adelia Barber at the address given on our GLORIA California website http://www.gloriacalifornia.org/.”

The Genomics of Physiological Resilience in Killifish

Dr. Andrew Whitehead

Department of Environmental Toxicology, UC Davis

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Dr. Whitehead studies the resistance and resilience of species to environmental stress exposure; he uses the killifish as his primary lab species. He explains that individuals, populations, and species vary in their sensitivity to stressors. Dr. Whitehead presents as an example dioxin tolerance variations among a variety of fish species.  A key question in his research is “What are the genomic variants that enable resistance and resilience?” In searching for the answer to this question, he explores the consequences of chemical exposure and shrinking habitat on resident species.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 3 minutes

Bring Back the Pollinators

Jessa Guisse, MS, CSU, Chico

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Pollinators thumbnail

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Transcript with PowerPoint

The importance of conserving pollinators is underscored by the fact that the value of pollinator-dependent crops in California is $11.7 billion. Most of these crops are pollinated by a single species, the European honey bee. Ms. Guisse points out that the numbers of honey bees have declined precipitously, making conservation and restoration vital to the State’s economy as well as to the environment. She notes that honey bee decline has been caused by disease, pests, pesticides, honey prices, and Colony Collapse disorder. She is working with the Xerces Society to restore natural habitat. Ms. Guisse also outlines other conservation practices that support pollinators, including how to reduce bee poisoning from pesticides.

Presentation Time:  58 minutes

SIV Delta-vif Proviral DNA vaccine with IL-15 adjuvants

Dr. Robert Dubie

Faculty, Biological Sciences Department, CSU, Chico

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Dr. Dubie presents the finding of two vaccine projects conducted through the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis.  The experiments were conducted on female rhesus macaque monkeys using an SIV virus.  SIV is an HIV model virus that develops more quickly than HIV, which makes it easier to study.  After administering various vaccines to the monkeys, researchers tested for antibody responses, viral loads, and T-cell responses, with the goal of increased protection against the virus.

Presentation Time:  35 minutes

I Got Your Back: My movies and research on the evolution of defense and locomotion of slug and nettle caterpillar moths

Dr. Marc Epstein

Senior Insect Biosystematist, California Department of Food & Agriculture; Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution

I Got Your Back play button

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Dr. Epstein’s job with the State of California is to identify Lepidoptera (moths) in California that threaten the state’s economy, mainly as threats to agriculture. He is on the watch for invasive pests from all over the world as well as domestic species. These invasive moths are often brought into California on trucks, on boats, and on the bottom of bee hive boxes. Scattered through his presentation are some surprising facts about moths; for example, there are 200,000 species of moths and, in the pre-adult stage, they must shed their skin 10 to 12 times in order to grow. He shows brief movies to demonstrate the locomotion of various species and some of the mechanisms they have developed to defend themselves.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 1 minute

PREDICT: Identifying the potential for emergence and mitigating the threat of pandemic diseases

Dr. Tracey Goldstein

One Health Institute, UC Davis

Predict play button

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PREDICT is a project of the USAID  (United States Agency for International Development). Dr. Goldstein is one of the coordinators for this project, the goal of which is to help governments predict where new, emerging pandemic infections might crop up. The project came out of research regarding humans and avian influenza, when it was recognized that no one was doing research regarding wildlife. Dr. Goldstein is a molecular wildlife biologist and works with a collaboration of non-profit organizations and universities to pre-empt or combat at their source the first stages of the emergence of zoonotic diseases that post a significant threat to public health. Zoonotic diseases are those diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

Presentation Time:  57 minutes

The Fountain of Youth: Can calories and dietary fat change the rate of aging?

Dr. Jon Ramsey

Faculty, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis

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Dr. Ramsey has been exploring mechanisms that contribute to aging. In this presentation, he shares the results of his work regarding these issues. He explains that, overall, his research indicates that the first part of the question – can calories change the rate of aging – may, indeed be true.  As for dietary fat, the verdict is out. Regarding humans, Dr. Ramsey notes that increased lifespan over the centuries is not from lessening the basic effects of aging specifically, but rather is mostly due to improvements in hygiene and improvements in the treatment of infectious diseases.  It is his hope that a deeper understanding of aging processes will help with medical treatment of the elderly.

Presentation Time:  59 minutes

What Biological Measures Can Tell Us About Psychological Constructs

Dr. Michael Ennis

Faculty, Psychology Department, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Ennis, who has a PhD in Psychobiology, is interested in building bridges between the two disciplines.  He begins by discussing the difficulty of accurately measuring such psychological phenomena as intelligence and anxiety, and then explains how the use of biological measures can increase measurement validity and provide information about unconscious processes.  The three measurement tools Dr. Ennis presents are endocrine and immune measures, psychophysiology measures, and facial electromyography.

Presentation Time:  57 minutes

The California Phenology Project

Dr. Liz Matthews

Post-Doctoral Scientist, UC Santa Barbara

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The subtitle of this presentation is “Linking plant phenology to climate change through Citizen Science.” Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle stages and how these are influenced by seasonal and by longer-term variations in climate.  The California Phenology Project began in 2010 and is focused on plants in seven California National Parks. Volunteers help identify and monitor species. Phenology is an indicator of environmental change – for example, over time, for some plant species, the date of the first leaf and/or the date of the first flower is earlier in the spring than 10 or 20 years ago. Dr. Matthews shows how such changes can affect an entire ecosystem.

Presentation Time:  54 minutes

Agriculture 2050: Can the world's farmers feed a growing population without damaging the environment?

Dr. Bruce Hicks

Faculty, Department of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, Butte College

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Dr.Hicks looks at where agriculture is today and where it is likely to be in 2050, given population growth, income growth, bio-fuels, climate change, and water constraints. For example, the food consumption per capita is going up due to economic growth, which also results in more meat consumption.  Dr. Hicks outlines some potential solutions to the problems that will need to be overcome to feed the estimated world population in 2050 of nine billion people.

Presentation Time:  46 minutes

Taking Water Microbiology to the Community Level in Developing Countries

Dr. Robert Metcalf

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Sacramento

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Dr. Metcalf discusses his efforts to bring healthy water systems to some of the poorest places in the world, where many people are still suffering from water-borne diseases. He reports that 800 million people in the world do not have access to clean water.  Dr. Metcalf has put together, and put into use, “The Portable Microbiology Lab,” in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethopia, Rowanda, and other countries.  This “lab” provides a process to test for E.coli in three easy steps; it all fits into a one-gallon zip-lock bag.  Dr. Metcalf has taught people how to use this kit to test their own water and also how to make contaminated water safe to drink.

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 1 minute

Chemical Aggressive Mimicry in Solitary Bee Nest Parasites: Host Range in the Southwestern U.S.

Leslie Saul-Gershenz, PhD Candidate

Department of Entomology, UC, Davis

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Ms. Saul-Gershenz opens her talk with the assertion that scientists should use less jargon and make their work more presentable by “spicing it up a little.”  In this spirit, she has given her presentation an alternate title: “Fatal Attraction: Cross-dressing hitchhiker gang trick lover, rob single mom’s home, steal baby’s food.”  She focuses her research on the parasite-host relationship between ceptoparasites and bees, which turns out to be very much like her humorous title. This research is especially relevant to recent concerns, especially in the agricultural and horticultural communities, about the sharp decline of bee populations in some areas.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

E.Coli, the Uninvited Dinner Guest 

Dr. Susanne Lindgren

Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences, CSU, Sacramento

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Dr. Lindgren talks about E.coli, the bacteria responsible for many cases of food poisoning, which often causes severe symptoms and, in some cases, even death.  She explains how this pathogen causes disease. Dr. Lindgren also shares her research results in recording the prevalence of E.coli in ground beef in the Sacramento area, free range-grazing cattle, clinical stool specimens, and horses in Northern California.  Among the surprising aspects of her presentation are the revelations that there is such a thing as “good” E.coli and that E.coli is the number one cause of bladder infections.

Presentation time: 55 minutes

The Wonderful World of Lauxanioid Flies and the Solution to a 100-Year-Old Mystery

Dr. Steve Gaimari

Plant Pest Diagnostics Center, California Department of Food & Agriculture

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Steve Gaimari is very enthusiastic about his specialty – the study of flies – and has a sense of humor about it, too.  He starts his presentation by stating, “Flies don’t have the best image in the court of public opinion.” He then goes on to describe the diverse and ever-changing world of flies, noting that 160,000 species have been described and named, new species are being discovered all the time, and that it is estimated that one out of 10 species on earth are flies.  Dr. Gaimari concludes his talk with the story of the Eurychoromyia mallea fly and a 100-year-old mystery.

Presentation time: 58 minutes

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus Infections in Humans

Dr. Eric Bortz

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York Medicine, New York

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Dr. Bortz provides a general introduction to influenza and then shares recent research in avian influenza.  His area of research is how avian influenza viruses (sometimes referred to as “bird flu”) can infect humans. Dr Bortz notes that all influenza viruses are thought to have originated in avian species.  He also explains the composition and life cycles of influenza viruses. His talk is designed to reach a wide audience, as well as those interested in the molecular details of his research.

Please note all figures and images are for research, educational, or reference purposes only. For inquiries, please contact: eric.bortz@mssm.edu.  

Presentation time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Undersea Living, Saturation Diving, and Discovering Roman and Greek Shipwrecks

Dr. Ian Koblick

Alumnus, CSU, Chico

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Ian Koblick’s presentation focuses on his fascinating career as an undersea resident, aquanaut, explorer, author, marine consultant, and technical advisor. He has pioneered programs in undersea living and explored oceans in a quest to preserve their environments and search for the lost remains of our maritime past. Koblick is a CSU, Chico graduate. If you ever wanted to live underwater or explore ancient shipwrecks, you won’t want to miss this presentation.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 11 minutes

Diet-Genome Interactions: An Example of Multi-Scale Biology and Cross-Kingdom Regulation

Dr. Raymond L. Rodriguez

Professor, UC, Davis

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The focus of Dr. Rodriguez’ presentation is the interaction between human genes and our dietary environment. He asserts that this interaction is more complex than we think.  Because this is a complex system, Dr. Rodriguez and other scientists in his field of nutritional genomics are looking at the key bioactive components in food. He hopes that eventually the treatment of disease will not lean so heavily on medications, but will focus more on disease-preventing and health-promoting foods that are tailored to match individual lifestyles, culture, and genetics. In addition to his position as a professor at UC Davis, Dr. Rodriguez serves as director of that university’s Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Life Without Light: Chemoautotrophically Based Cave Biology

Dr. Serban M. Sarbu

Professor, University of Cincinnati

Life Without Light

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Born in Romania, Dr. Sarbu developed his interest in caves and cave biology partly because Romania is a country containing many caves. He shares photographs and other information from his life-long exploration of caves, including photos of life forms, such as certain insects, that are able to exist in that light-free environment. He explains chemoautotrophical ecosystems - the biology explaining how these various life forms have adapted to living in caves. Dr. Sarbu then describes ongoing research projects that are exploring such cave-related subjects as the geographic extent of the thermal aquifer and origins of subterranean fauna.

Presentation time: 45 minutes