Teaching fellowship for Masters starting 2019

Are you interested in becoming a high school teacher in science, math, and/or technology? The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship can help! This program gives substantial financial, mentoring, and peer support through the process of getting a degree, followed by a three-year commitment to teach in a high-need urban or rural school.

Check out the link above; application deadlines are in October, November, and January.

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Biology Faculty BLITZ Lackawanna State Park

Pictured L to R: Drs Marc Seid, Anne Royer, Chris Howey, and Vince Marshall

Six members of the Biology Department took part in a BioBlitz (an event celebrating biodiversity by identifying as many living things as possible in a delimited space and time) at Lackawanna State Park on August 23-24. Professional and amature naturalists united in teams specializing in different groups of organisms, with members of the public invited to come along and learn.

Dr. Howey with his favorite find, an Eastern Milk Snake.

The U was represented by professors Rob Smith (birds), Chris Howey and Vince Marshall (reptiles and amphibians), Marc Seid (insects), Gary Kwiecinski (bats), and Anne Royer (plants).

Check out media coverage of the event here, view photos of many of the species observed here, and see more photos of the BioBlitz (including our Dr. Smith interacting with visitors) at Lackawanna State Park’s page here.

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Introducing the Royal Scholars program

Last spring, a group headed by Biology faculty member Dr. Janice Voltzow was awarded a $645,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s program for Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) to provide support to local students with demonstrated financial need and academic promise to succeed in STEM disciplines at The University of Scranton. The project will fund 25 scholarships over 5 years for students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the STEM disciplines of biology, chemistry, computing science, mathematics, and physics/electrical engineering. Students will share array of experiences together: seminar courses for Royal Scholars to help them develop an identity as a member of the STEM community, outreach activities with local schools, and independent research experiences supervised by faculty trained in mentoring. The structure of support and sense of belonging within a cohort of STEM scholars should enhance students’ potential to graduate and continue on to a STEM career or graduate studies.

The project represents a team effort that includes Dr. Janice Voltzow, Professor of Biology and Principle Investigator (PI); and co-PIs Dr. Brian Conniff (Dean of CAS), Dr. Christie Karpiak (Psychology), Dr. Stacey Muir (Mathematics), and Dr. Declan Mulhall (Physics/Electrical Engineering), as well as staff from admissions, financial aid, and the CAS Advising Center. Please contact Dr. Voltzow (janice.voltzow@scranton.edu) for more information about the program.

Posted in Biology in the Classroom, Faculty Grants | Leave a comment

Characterizing Cilia Development

Cilia are microscopic tube-like structures that protrude from cell walls.  These finger like projections can assist in the movement of cells throughout their environment, and in some instances assist with the movement of fluids around the cells themselves (this is how mucus moves up and out of your trachea).  Insights into cilium development can assist in treating various human disorders, but little is known about this process.  Fortunately, a recent graduate of the University of Scranton, Matthew Reynolds, was interested in characterizing just this!

Figure from Reynolds et al. (2018) showing the development of motile cilia. Images were taken using scanning electron microscopy.

Matt worked in the Gomez lab at the University of Scranton ever since his Freshman year in 2015. During Matt’s summers, he worked with the Wadsworth Center at the NY State Department of Health.  Together with Dr. Gomez and his colleagues at the Wadsworth Center, Matt began to investigate the development of motile cilia in the summer following his Sophomore year (2016).  Over the next couple years, Matt and his colleagues conducted an extensive examination of the motile cilia formation using electron microscopy and complex image analyses.  Matt’s research supports previous findings on cilia development, but expands upon our knowledge of maturation times for developing cilia.  Whereas it was previously thought that cilia structures matured once the cilia reached their full length, it is now known that structures continue to change and mature well after the cilium itself has reached its full length.  For more information on this study you can read the entire article which was published May 2018 in Scientific Reports – Matt was first author of this article!

Matt presenting some of his earlier research that was conducted in the Gomez Lab.

This past spring, Matt graduated from the University of Scranton. While attending the University, Matt received the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship in 2017 and the Hyland Award for outstanding graduate in the Biology Department.  Matt is know continuing his adventures in academia as a PhD student at Rockefeller University

Posted in Alumni Spotlight, Student Publications, Student Research | Leave a comment

Summer Research in the Biology Department

In June, the rhythms of daily life at the Loyola Science Center shift. The building gets quieter, fewer classes are taught… but there is still a lot happening here. Much of the action moves into the labs, where faculty and students are busy carrying out cutting-edge research.

2018 summer research students lunching in the Forum

Every Tuesday, the students and faculty doing active research in the natural sciences on campus gather for lunch and discussion. It’s an opportunity to network, learn what other labs are doing, and practice communicating about science. (And it’s excellent free food!)

These students are investigating a wide range of questions, with research experiences ranging from a few hours a week to full time. Some are volunteers, but many are fully funded positions. Faculty can fund students using internal or external grants, including money from the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (Stay tuned for a future post on Dr. Marc Seid’s current NSF-funded project). The Biology Department also has an excellent record of obtaining University of Scranton Presidential Fellowships, with several students currently supported by this prestigious internal grant.

Want to get involved? Check out posts under “Research Opportunities,” or approach a faculty member to ask about projects in their lab.

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Effects of Fire on Reptiles and Amphibians

A new paper just came out from Dr. Chris Howey‘s lab. The work focuses on how prescribed fires (in many cases, necessary to maintain healthy ecosystems) affect the reptiles and amphibians living within those landscapes. Prescribed fires are man-made burns that are used as a tool to manage forests. These burns can negatively and positively impact animals living within the environment. The authors found that fire has more predictable effects on reptiles. Reptile abundance post-fire reflected habitat requirements by different species, and how those respective habitats were made more/less available. Amphibians, with their more aquatic lifestyles, may be more strongly affected by annual weather patterns. Read the entire paper, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, here.

Green Treefrog sitting on a scorched log following a prescribed fire.


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