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Author Archives: Helen Kull

Biology Major Receives Top Honors at Regional Symposium


Nick Blount

Congratulations to Junior Biology major Nicholas Blount on his selection as First Place Winner for his poster presentation within the Ecology and Evolution subdivision at the 14th Annual Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium at William Paterson University of New Jersey, conducted online this year on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Nick is a research student of Dr. Melkamu Woldemariam, and participated with Woldemariam lab student Harish Rajagopal in the symposium, which attracted students representing more than a score of institutions, located primarily in the Northeast. The symposium highlights undergraduate work in the research areas of Physiology, Behavior, Cell and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Ecology and Evolution, and Environmental Science.

“It was great to be able to represent my colleagues and the TCNJ Biology Department in this regional event,” stated Nick. “I’m looking forward to continuing my research to gain a better understanding of the maize herbivore defense pathway.”

That research involves a maize (Zea mays) gene believed to have a novel function in the orchestration of plant defense responses. The Woldemariam Lab has generated maize plants in which this gene has been compromised by a transposon insertion, and compared the defense responses of these mutant plants with normal plants that have an intact gene.

In experiments which have included comparison of the global defense metabolome of these plants, assessing hormone-level differences, and testing the performance of specialist caterpillars (Spodoptera exigua) on the mutant plants, Nick found that mutations in this gene affect a significant portion of the plant’s chemical profile before and after feeding by caterpillars. Currently, he is conducting follow-up experiments to clone the gene and test the biological activity of the protein that it codes in vitro. Determining the function of this gene will allow us in understanding how maize plants regulate their defense responses against caterpillars, and its contributions to the effort of protecting maize plants against caterpillars.



Bio Alum Aaron Lee Receives Award

Recent biology major Aaron Lee, a December 2019 magna cum laude graduate, has been named a recipient of the Young Botanist Award from the Botanical Society of America. He joins another dozen or so students from around the country receiving this award, the purpose of which is to “offer individual recognition to outstanding graduating seniors in… Continue Reading

Deep Sea Seminar

Deep Sea Seminar

“The Ecology of the Deep Sea: What we have learned from exploration and exploitation” is the subject of the next Biology Seminar, this Friday, April 22. Dr. Erik Cordes of the Department of Biology at Temple University will speak on this topic from 12:30 to 1:30 pm in Room P101 of the Science Complex. Dr.… Continue Reading

“Excellence in Biology” Awards Announced

The Biology Department has announced the recipients of this year’s “Awards for Excellence in Biology.” The following ten seniors have been selected to receive one of three awards, based on the overall criteria of academic excellence, dedication, and involvement in the college community: Susan Uyhazi Award for Excellence in Biology: Recipients – Amanda Soler and Letitia… Continue Reading

Four Biology Majors Strike Gold(water)!

Four Biology majors have been honored by the 2014 Goldwater Scholars Awards Committee.  Biology majors Syndi Barish and Andrew Goldfarb have been selected as Goldwater Scholars for 2014, and Biology majors Daniel Chawla and Dylan McClung were selected for honorable mention in this year’s national competition. This may be the first time that TCNJ has had four students… Continue Reading

Biology Colloquia

Speakers for the Spring 2014 semester’s Biology Colloquium Series have been announced. They are: Dr. Robert Pringle, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, speaking on “Complex species interactions in savannas and on small islands” (Thursday, 2/13 at 11:30 in P-101); Dr. Roger Hangarter, of the Department of Biology at Indiana University, speaking… Continue Reading

“How to Get Involved in Research” Info Session

If you are interested in learning more about what scientific research is all about (“Why should I do it? What does it involve?”), then come to an Information Session hosted by Tri-Beta and the GradS Club on Wednesday, Nov 20, from 2 – 3 pm in SCP 101. TCNJ faculty and students who have carried… Continue Reading

Rutgers Opportunities Info Session

Rutgers dean Dr. Evelyn Erenrich will be here on Wednesday, Nov 20 at 3 pm in SCP 101 to talk about summer research programs and graduate study opportunities at Rutgers. Also present will be TCNJ alumna and current Rutgers grad student Michelle Sempkowski, and TCNJ participants from the summer RiSE (Research in Science and Engeineering) program… Continue Reading

Erickson lab students take top honors at research symposium

Five independent research students in biology accompanied their mentor Dr. Jeffery Erickson to the 16th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Saturday October 26. Four of them presented their research posters, and three were recognized at the awards ceremony at the end of… Continue Reading