Link: University of Iowa

Archive for April, 2014

Miller and Spracklen Win Outstanding TA Awards

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Mark Miller (Biochemistry graduate student) and Andrew Spracklen (MCB Graduate Student) have won 2014 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards from the University of Iowa Council on Teaching.

Mark MillerMark, who was nominated for his work in Biophysical Chemistry 1 in the fall of 2013, was lauded by students for his “welcoming nature,” “concern for his students,” and “sense of duty.” Dr. Pufall commended his teaching ability, writing, “Mark is gifted in the way he explains complex material, and in his patient, but unyielding instruction.”

About his classroom approach, Mark says, “My main focus in teaching was to view knowledge not as coming from me, but to empower students to solve problems on their own.”

Andrew was nominated for his work in Biochemistry II in the spring of 2013. He earned the admiration of both students and faculty for his ability to step in as a replacement TA several weeks into the semester. One of his students from that semester wrote, “He embodies all things educators and students at our university should strive to attain: intelligence, kindness, willingness to help, and excellent communication skills.”andrewspracklen

According to Andrew, “I find that if students are able to connect the course material to their own interests, they not only recall the information better, but also are more capable of integrating the core course concepts into their daily life.”

Congratulations to both TAs for their excellent work!

Geyer Lab Wins Research Week Cover Art Contest

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Congratulations to the Geyer lab, whose cover art was selected as the first place winner for the Carver College of Medicine Health Sciences Research Week cover art contest!

Xin Xu receives CLAS Velma E. Stuit Scholarship for Women in Sciences

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Xin Xu, an undergraduate in the Brenner laboratory, has been awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Velma E. Stuit Scholarship for Women in Sciences. Ms. Xu is a pre-pharmacy student who is conducting basic research on a post-translational modification that regulates a variety of functions in animals as our diets fluctuate from calorie restriction to energy balance to over-nutrition. She stays busy as a University of Iowa student, as a researcher, as a volunteer for the Palliative Care Unit at UIHC, and she recently completed a trip to India, where she provided service to the largest Indian non-profit devoted to palliative care. Congratulations, Xin!

Tenth Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Symposium

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Twelve students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This year marks the tenth year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2014 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done:

Full Group Pic

  • Gabriel  Baccam
    Mentor: Lori Wallrath
    Modeling Skin Blistering Disease in Drosophila
  • Reid Brown
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Investigation of Nucleoside Nucleoside Interactions Using Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Zac Builta
    Mentor: Dan Weeks
    Purification and assay of enzymatic activity of phage ΦC31 integrase protein using a protein splicing system: Isolation of an enzyme to make transgenic frogs
  • Sophia Chen
    Mentor: Kris DeMali
    Vinculin-actin interactions in cell migration
  • Lisa Golden
    Mentor: Ernie Fuentes
    Exploring the Specificities, Thermodynamics, and Structures of Tiam2 PDZ Mutants
  • Frances Hindt
    Mentor: Ernie Fuentes
    Characterizing the Tiam1-Talin Complex
  • Kyle Klingbeil
    Mentor: Charles Brenner
    Use of nicotinamide riboside to oppose the development of alcoholic fatty liver in the mouse
  • Dagan Marx
    Mentor: Madeline Shea
    Recognition of Human Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels by Calmodulin
  • Ebosetale Okoruwa
    Mentor: Marc Wold
    High Throughput Assay for RPA-Protein Interactions
  • Oluwatoni Olayiwola
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Molecular Dynamics Simulations of the Conformational Behavior of Tripeptides in Aqueous Solution
  • Michael Schrodt
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Conformational Flexibility of Short Single-Stranded DNA and RNA Systems Using Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Dylan Thiemann
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    GPU accelerated computing and its role in Brownian Dynamic simulations

The symposium also included the presentation of two undergraduate awards, made possible by a gift from Alap Subramanian. The H.G. Wittmann Scholar Award was presented to Kyle Klingbeil (Brenner lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Lisa Golden (Fuentes lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2014 graduates!

10th Annual Spring Undergraduate Research Festival Awards

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Two Biochemistry undergraduate researchers won awards at The 10th Annual Spring Undergraduate Research Festival that took place at the University Capitol Centre on April 9, 2014.  Winners included Gabriel Baccam (Wallrath laboratory) for her poster titled “Modeling Skin Blistering in Drosophila” and Kyle Strouse (Weeks laboratory) for his poster titled “Characterization of the fibroblast growth factor 10 alleles in Xenopus laevis.”  Both researchers are using model organisms to understand biological pathways altered in human disease. Congratulations to Gabriel and Kyle!

Dr. Maria Spies Featured in The Scientist

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Dr. Maria Spies was featured in an article in The Scientist as a Scientist to Watch. Written by Abby Olena and titled, “Maria Spies: Molecular Machinist,” the article highlights her career, including a difficult decision she made to focus on chemistry and theoretical physics exams as an undergraduate at Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in Russia instead of fighting for a spot on a synchronized swimming team. The article also outlined the timeline of her career before she was recruited to the University of Iowa, including her work in a lab at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, her doctorate work at Osaka University in Japan, and her work investigating DNA repair at the University of California, Davis, where she made a breakthrough discovery on double-stranded DNA repair in E. coli. In the article, Dr. Brenner noted that she is “a very creative, high-energy scientist” whose interdisciplinary approach has fostered collaborative efforts both within and outside of the biochemistry department.

Kyle Klingbeil Awarded Stevens Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Kyle Klingbeil, a Human Physiology and Biochemistry major in the Brenner laboratory, was awarded the 2013-14 Stevens Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded each year to a junior in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences who has at least two semesters of work remaining for a bachelor’s degree in natural science.  Congratulations, Kyle!

Francis Castellino receives CCOM Distinguished Alumnus Award for Achievement

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Biochemistry alumus Dr. Francis Castellino has been selected recipient of the 2014 University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award for Achievement. Dr. Castellino received his MS and PhD degrees in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa in 1966 and 1968, respectively, working under the direction of Professor Robert Barker. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University under the legendary Dr. Robert Hill, he accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemistry at University of Notre Dame, where he launched his independent research program focused on the fundamental mechanisms of homeostasis – how coordinated biological processes in the body maintain internal conditions.

For the past four decades, Professor Castellino has successfully climbed the ladder of academic leadership at the University of Notre Dame, while simultaneously performing groundbreaking foundational research in medicine. Dr. Castellino is the Kleiderer/Pezold Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, Director of the W.M. Keck Center for Transgene Research, and Dean emeritus of the College of Natural Science. His success in both research and administration stems from his passion for understanding fundamental biochemical processes in human beings. He has amplified his own accomplishments and those of others with his strong dedication to making the University of Notre Dame a rich academic environment.

Dr. Castellino will be honored by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine at the Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony held on Friday, June 6, 2014 at the Levitt Center for University Advancement. Following this ceremony, Dr. Castellino will present a special seminar to the Department of Biochemistry on “Subversion of Host Innate Immune Defense Systems by Virulence Factors of Streptococcus pyogenes” at 9:00am in 2189 MERF with a reception immediately following in the MERF Atruim.

Congratulations to Dr. Castellino on this well deserved honor.



Dr. Shea receives Distinguished Mentor Award

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Dr. Madeline Shea was awarded a Distinguished Mentor Award for University of Iowa faculty or professional and scientific staff who have mentored undergraduates as they complete research and creative projects. Dr. Shea was nominated by her current students Liam Hovey and Dagan Marx.  According to her nominators, she “encourages the integration of independent thought and collaborative effort.” Her students go on to say that Shea “demonstrates unlimited patience and pedagogical care of every one of her researchers and students,” and note, “We could not have asked for a better mentor to help us begin our careers.” Dr. Shea was recognized at the University of Iowa Discovery and Innovations Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, at Hotel Vetro on April 3, 2014. Congratulations, Dr. Shea!

Geyer Lab finalist in the Image Award Competition at the 55th Annual Drosophila Research Conference

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Dr. Pamela Geyer’s laboratory was recognized as a finalist in the Image Award Competition at the 55th Annual Drosophila Research Conference for an image generated by graduate student, Lacy Barton.  The award is given to the most striking image that clearly conveys a point of important biological information.  The image submitted captures the developmental defects in female germline stem cells resulting from loss of the nuclear lamina protein Otefin. This figure was published in the the Barton et al., Developmental Cell in 2013. The winning image and other finalists images can be viewed at Barton Image