OU Biology News


News Archive for 2008                                                            return to current news


October 2008

  • The Oklahoma BioBlitz! will be at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge & Great Salt Plains State Park, October 10-11. Scientists, educators, volunteers, and dedicated enthusiasts from all across Oklahoma and the surrounding states will be identifying and counting as many species as possible in 24 hours. For more information, visit: http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/bioblitz/BioBlitzabout.html.

August 2008

  • This year will mark the second joint meeting of GPLC and OTARG at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station. The meeting in 2002 was a tremendous success with students and academic and professional researchers from over 20 educational, state, and federal institutions. The 2005 meeting, held in conjunction with the Texas River and Reservoir Management Society, was even more successful. This year’s meeting promises to be an even greater gathering of regional aquatic scientists and students, with plans for great plenary and technical sessions covering a variety of topics in ecology and evolutionary biology relevant to aquatic systems in the Great Plains. For more information, read here (pdf) or email Dave Hambright ()

July 2008

  • A recent publication (entitled " Male Fish Deceive Competitors about Mating Preferences") by Martin Plath, Stephanie Richter, and Ralph Tiedemann, at the University of Potsdam, and Department of Biology Associate Professor Ingo Schlupp was published in Current Biology (published online ahead of print). See the press release from Cell Press. This article was also featured in a news story on August 5th in the Science section of the New York Times.
  • Bing Zhang, Assistant Professor of Biology, received a three-year $540,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. This project (entitled “Genetic and proteomic analysis of protein sorting and retrieval during synaptic vesicle endocytosis”) investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which synaptic vesicle proteins are recycled after exocytosis. This study will be carried out in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemistry, proteomics, and electrophysiology.
  • A recent publication by Dr. Bing Zhang and his collaborators Dr. Nancy Bonini and her students at U. Penn. (entitled "A Drosophila model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis reveals motor neuron damage by human SOD1") has been selected as a Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Paper of the Week (published online ahead of print). JBC Papers of the Week highlight those that the Associate Editors and Editorial Board Members believe "represent the top 1% of papers reviewed in terms of significant and overall importance. The papers are accompanied by a brief summary that explains the findings of the paper and why it was chosen for this honor."

June 2008

  • Randy Hewes, Associate Professor of Biology, received a 4 year, $189K grant (OU portion) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH NINDS), “Calcium, Channels, and Peptide Secretion,” as part of a three-lab collaboration with Dr. Edwin Levitan (University of Pittsburgh) and Dr. David Deitcher (Cornell University). The goal of this work is to understand mechanisms controlling neuropeptide secretory granule movements in insulin-producing neurons and other neuroendocrine cells. The project involves live-cell imaging of the movements of individual secretory granules during axonal trafficking and during secretion in Drosophila cells in vivo.

May 2008

  • Ting Ting Gu has been accepted into the 2008 Neurobiology of Drosophila course at Cold Spring Harbor, NY. The three-week course, which begins in late June, is intended for researchers at all levels from beginning graduate students through established primary investigators who want to use Drosophila as an experimental system for nrevous system investigations.
  • Gary Wellborn, Associate Professor of Biology and OU Biological Station, recieved a three year $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study, "Mechanisms of constraint in the evolutionary radiation of a crustacean species complex." This project explores the processes that give structure to evolutionary radiations, and contributes to our understanding of mechanisms that underlie development and maintenance of biological diversity.
  • Associate Professor Mike Kaspari was named a President’s Associates Presidential Professor.
  • At the Tribute to the Faculty!, the following Biology faculty were recognized for their years of service at OU: 30 years, Penny Hopkins and Doug Mock; 25 years, Bill Shelton; 21 years, Rich Cifelli; 20 years, Dave Durica.

April 2008

  • Mike Kaspari, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the EEB Graduate Program, received a one year $22,000 grant from the National Geographic Society to study "The Biogeography of Salt."  NaCl is both an essential compound for life and has a geography, generally declining in availability as one moves inland. This project will explore how salt in the forests of the Peruvian Amazon and coastal Panama shapes the activity and life history of the microbes and invertebrates of the brown food web.
  • Phil Gibson, Associate Professor of Biology and Associate Professor of Botany and Microbiology, received a one year $6,600 grant from The Nature Conservancy to study population genetic diversity of the federally endangered western prairie fringed orchid. His research will help identify the best populations to be used as seed sources for reintroduction of the species back into Oklahoma.
  • Gary Schnell, Professor of Biology and Curator of Birds at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, has received $9,510 in funding (“Georeferencing Bird Records”) from the National Science Foundation through the University of Kansas to become an ORNIS (ORNithological Information System) work center for georeferencing localities of specimens in North American museum collections.  Assigning standard geographic coordinates will facilitate open access to combined specimen data (over 5 million specimens) and enhance the value of specimen collections.  Initial responsibility will be for georeferencing all Oklahoma specimens in collections, after which other areas will be worked on as assigned. 
  • Congratulations to Nancy Blass, who will receive a Distinguished Performance Award in the Staff Senate Awards Ceremony on April 22.
  • The Department of Biology is again the largest major in the College of Arts and Sciences, with 951 majors (as announced by Dean Bell in the CAS Spring Faculty Meeting).
  • Ingo Schlupp received a $27,667 National Science Foundation SEGR grant to study "Effects of an extreme flood event on fish populations in Tabasco, Mexico." Extreme natural events, like major floods, are relatively rare and difficult to document because they are unpredictable. It is clear, however, that they must have profound effects on many facets of geology, flora and fauna.

February 2008

  • Randy Hewes, Associate Professor of Biology, received a 3 year $402,993 grant from the National Science Foundation, to study "Molecular Mechanisms of Steroid Regulation in an Insect Endocrine System."  This study will examine how co-factors for a steroid receptor can mediate cell-type specific expression of steroid hormone-responsive genes.  Through genetic experiments in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as well as molecular and biochemical assays, this work will define the mechanisms by which a steroid receptor and associated transcriptional cofactors control the expression of peptide hormone gene expression in endocrine cells. 
  • Don Wilson, Professor and Assistant Chair of Biology received a 5-year, $1,554,349 grant from the National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders to continue his research on neural mechanisms of odor perception. The work focuses on the role that neural ensembles play in discriminating between complex and overlapping odor mixtures, similar to those animals must deal with in finding food, mates and avoiding predators.



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