Faculty Highlights 2016-2017

Dr. Ben Wolfe was selected to be the Bernstein Faculty Fellow for 2016-2017!
This is an award given to a junior faculty member who is a few years into his research moves on to a new project. As a Fellow, Ben becomes the recipient of a prestigious faculty development program sponsored by prominent members of the Tufts community to foster the work of outstanding faculty members.

Rachel Bonoan, PhD Student looks for clues into honey bee colony declines using hives on the Grafton Campus.

Well done to Gina Mantica, a PhD Student who recently had an article published in the Boston Globe. The article is a result of a science communication workshop that she attended this summer.

Congratulations to Prof. Elizabeth Crone, who has recently been invited to become an external member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She was invited to accept the nomination as an external member in recognition of her outstanding academic merits.

New Weapon to Fight Dangerous Infections
Tufts researchers find drugs already approved for other uses in people help frogs survive deadly E. coli by changing their cells' electrical charge. This paper was written by Jean-Francois Pare, Ph.D., and Dr. Michael Levin joined by Christopher J. Martyniuk of the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology and Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Florida Genetics Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Congratulations to Fallon Durant and Dr. Michael Levin, whose research has just come out in New Scientist. Fallon's paper also got the cover of the issue, featuring a homage to M. C. Escher's art. Also key contributors from our department were Junji Morokuma, Kate Williams, and Dany Adams.

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Tytell, whose NSF Career award "BIOMAPS: Comparative analysis of locomotor biomechanics and control in fishes" got funded in the amount of $910K for the next five years. This prestigious award is a testament of Eric's recognition by the scientific community.

Congratulations to Dr. Ben Wolfe, whose research proposal for NSF MCB Systems and Synthetic Biology was approved for funding.

Prof. Ben Wolfe received a grant from National Institute of Food and Agriculture/USDA totaling $387,783 to study "Linking patterns with processes in phyllosphere microbiome assembly".

Prof. Mimi Kao together with Prof. Ani Patel from Department of Psychology were selected to receive a Tufts collaborates grant.

Congratulations to graduate student Kaylinnette Pinet who presented her research at a conference sponsored by the Society for Developmental Biology (Woods Hole, MA). Her poster was awarded first prize in the graduate poster award competition.

New research led by Tufts University shows that the invasive European paper wasp, Polistes dominulus, plays a role in facilitating sour rot disease in the absence of other insects.
Wasps and wine: paper wasps found to contribute to sour rot grape disease, a scourge of wine industry

Congratulations to Simran Kausha, who has been selected to receive 2017 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education Award.

Congratulations to Mitch McVey, who has been selected to receive 2017 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Faculty Mentoring Award.

Dr. Levin and Allen Discovery Center at Tufts use artificial intelligence to gain insight into the biophysics of cancer
Artificial intelligence uncovers new insight into biophysics of cancer. Read the article in Tufts Now.

Professors Levin and Adams publish new book
Professors Levin and Adams have published a new book titled 'Ahead of the Curve: Hidden breakthroughs in the biosciences'. Michael Levin is the Vannevar Bush Professor, Department of Biology, and the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, Tufts University. Dany Spencer Adams is a research associate professor, Department of Biology, and Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology affiliate, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, Tufts University.

2016 List of 10 Top Science Books
Congratulations to Sara Lewis, whose book Silent Sparks made it onto the 2016 list of 10 Top Science Books @ Science News.

Tufts researchers uncover possible source of genetic error behind a dozen debilitating diseases
Tufts University researchers have discovered a possible explanation for the occurrence of a genetic error that causes over a dozen neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease, myotonic dystrophy and forms of spinocerebellar ataxia. Jane Kim, Ph.D., who was a research assistant professor in Professor Mirkin's lab when the research was conducted and who is the paper's first author, said the model suggests answers to two questions that have puzzled researchers. The findings are published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Read more about the research on this genetic error.

Groundbreaking Research
Prof. Ben Wolfe
has been highlighted in Nature. Congratulations to Ben with this exceptional distinction.

The Tufts IGERT program in Soft Material Robots (led by PI and Director, Barry Trimmer) was the largest team contingent in the first International Grand Challenge in Soft Robotics (#softroboticsweek2016) that took place in Livorno, Italy in April. Ten students travelled to the week-long workshops and presentations then showed off their latest deformable robots in both manipulation and terrestrial trials. The Trimmer lab received a three year $610,000 grant from the NSF to study the "Neuromechanics of soft-bodied locomotion" and (with co-PI David Kaplan) another three year $616,724 NSF grant to develop "Biocomponent devices: developing actuators from insect muscles". During the summer the Trimmer lab (with Eric Tytell and co-PIs at Johns Hopkins and Cornell) began a five year $1,800,185 research project, funded by the Army Research Office to investigate "Dynamic tuning of instabilities for high power movements in deformable structures".

Dr. Trimmer also participated in the following international conferences:

  • Keynote Talk "Animal Model Systems for Soft Robots" at the Intelligent Autonomous Systems conference at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China. 3-7 July 2016.
  • Plenary Talk "Non-Pneumatic Soft Robots: Design through Biomimetics" at the conference Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS-16) at the University of Sheffield, UK. 28-30 June 2016.
  • Invited talk at the European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology (ECMTB 2016), University of Nottingham, UK. 11-15 July 2016. On "Biology and the Control of Soft Robots"
  • Invited talk "Real BioRobotics: Using Biology in Robots" at the UK-Japan Workshop on Bio-inspired Soft Robotics. Sydney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, UK. 14-15 July 2016.
  • In addition, it was announced in June that Soft Robots, a journal published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc., with Barry Trimmer as Editor-in-Chief was recognized as having the highest impact factor of all robotics journals.

Dr. Sara Lewis' opinion piece, "Are fireflies flickering out?" featured by CNN.

Michael Reed's groundbreaking studies featured
Michael Reed's groundbreaking studies on the role of climate change in shrinking of coastal birds populations was featured in National Geographic and Audubon.

Two McLaughlin Lab research assistants won first prize and Graduate student gives talk
Two undergraduate research assistants in the McLaughlin lab, Justine Epiney (Summer Scholars Award 2016) and Hannah Harris (Russell L. Carpenter Summer Internship 2016) presented their research at a conference co-sponsored by the Society for Developmental Biology & International Society for Development (Aug. 4-7th; hosted in Boston, MA). Their poster won first prize for the Undergraduate Best Poster competition! At this same meeting - PhD candidate, Kyle Jewhurst, was the only graduate student selected to give a talk in a special Regeneration/Repair session of this meeting.

Two Lily Glidden Award Recipients Named
The Department of Biology congratulates Katherine Kurth and Xinruo (Amy) Guo for being selected recipients of the Lily Glidden Award. Katherine Kurth, a masters student in the Conservation Medicine program, will be using her award to travel to Botswana to participate in an EcoTraining camp, and Xinruo Guo, an undergraduate student, will be traveling to Tokyo, Japan to participate join an ongoing research program.

The Lily Glidden Award
Lily Glidden ended her last adventure in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand, January, 2014 at the age of 24. She was traveling and observing the wildlife in southeast Asia after completing an internship in southern China. Lily planned to pursue a life as a biologist or a veterinarian, but after graduation from the Washington Wilderness School in 2008 and from Tufts University in 2012, she pursued other dreams for the next two years, taking internships and positions that brought her closer to the wildlife she loved. She spent time in the western U.S. working with coyotes, wolves, and other mammals, and in southern China collecting and tagging bamboo pit vipers for relocation. Between jobs, Lily explored the natural world on her own terms, often backpacking alone into the farthest wilderness she could find. She loved to laugh and her infectious personality inspired others. Learn more about the Lily Glidden award.

The Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology
Please enjoy this recently created document about The Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology at Tufts University. It was established in 1983 by Dr. Cynthia McFadden and Dr. Russell F. Carpenter in honor of their father, distinguished Tufts alumnus and Professor of Zoology, Russell LeGrand "Bud" Carpenter, A24, H77. Learn more about The Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology.

The Department of Biology published the first edition of its Newsletter
These Newsletters are for Biology alumni and are distributed via email. We hope to include news from past undergraduates and graduate students in future issues.