Link: University of Iowa

Archive for April, 2011

Ashley Angell receives Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Ashley Angell, a junior biochemistry undergraduate major working in the DeMali laboratory, has recently be awarded the 2011-12 Stevens Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded each year to a junior in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences pursuing a bachelor’s degree in natural science who exhibits a high standard of academic excellence and personal integrity as well as professional promise and passion for scientific research. The scholarship is equal to two semesters of resident undergraduate tuition. Congratulations to Ms. Angell!

Dr. Elke Nelson

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Congratulations to Elke Nelson for successful completion of her PhD. A student of Kris DeMali, Dr. Nelson defended her thesis in Molecular and Cellular Biology, entitled “Activators of Vinculin Enhance Cell Adhesion and Sensitize Melanomas to Chemosensitivity.”

After graduation, Elke plans to move to Los Angeles to do a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA with Dr. Aaron Blaisdell, studying the effect of nutrition on brain function. She also plans to launch a scientific journal on ancestral health and work a series of ventures related to paleo nutrition and fitness. You can follow Dr. Nelson’s journey at her blog, Paleoscape.

Dr. Xiao Peng

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Congratulations are due to the newest PhD in Biochemistry, Xiao Peng. A student of Kris DeMali, Dr. Peng successfully defended her thesis, entitled “The Function and Regulation of Vinculin in Cell-Cell Adhesion.” After graduation, Xiao will pursue post-doctoral studies at the University of California San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. Keith Mostov. There she will be studying how epithelial cells establish cell polarity morphogenesis with hopes of pursuing a future career in academia.

Dr. Peng earned numerous awards in her tenure at Iowa, including an American Heart Predoctoral Fellowship to study the role of vinculin in adherens junctions. With this support, she uncovered the first role for vinculin in cell-cell junctions and identified novel mechanisms for the activation and recruitment of vinculin to sites of intercellular adhesion. We look forward to following the successful career of Dr. Peng.

Department mourns passing of William I. Rogers

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

We have received the sad news that William I. Rogers, a 1956 Biochemistry PhD, passed away on February 14th, 2011 at his home in New Hampshire after a long battle with cancer.

Dr. Rogers studied at Dartmouth, Adelphi and Vermont before matriculating to the University of Iowa and earning his PhD with George Kalnitsky.  He was recalled by Clarence Berg as a witness to the great fire of 1953.

After Iowa, Dr. Rogers was the head of the biochemical pharmacology laboratory at Arthur D. Little, Inc. in Chicago and Cambridge. After leaving Arthur D. Little, he founded his own consulting company, Chadwick Rogers Incorporated, where he worked until retirement. Dr. Rogers is also remembered as a talented photographer who loved to spend time with his family and friends.

Dr. Rogers is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ruthanne (Chadwick) Rogers; two brothers, Raymond and Thomas Rogers; 3 children, Geoffrey, Gerry and Christopher Rogers; and 3 grandchildren. Dr. Rogers obituary has been published in The Boston Globe .

Biochem Honors students present at Lata Symposium

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Five Biochemistry Honors students presented their research this afternoon at the 7th Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. The Symposium was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Lata and his first two graduate students, Drs. John Franz and Arthur Fishkin, who passed away in the last year.

Please join Undergraduate and Honors Advisor, Professor Marc Wold, in congratulating these 2011 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

  • Drew Jones
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Molecular Dynamics Simulations of the DnaK Chaperone
  • Aditi Khanna
    Mentor: Bryce Plapp
    Characterization of an Alcohol Dehydrogenase from a “Fitter” Yeast
  • Peter Kim
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Molecular Modeling of the Yeast Mitochondrial Matrix
  • Melissa Palma
    Mentor: Kris DeMali
    Examining the Effects of Vinculin Activating Peptide
  • Michael Zhang
    Mentor: Martha Monick (Internal Medicine)
    Influenza A Induces the ER Stress Response

Additional thanks go to Dr. Caitrin W. McDonough, who came back to give a talk at the Lata Symposium on The Genetics of Type 2 Diabetic End-Stage Renal Disease in Africans. Caitrin, a former student of Lori Wallrath, graduated with Honors in  Biochemistry in 2005. Having finished her PhD in Molecular Medicine and Translational Science, she is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Florida.

Department mourns passing of John M. Franz

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

We have received the sad news that John M. Franz, a 1955 PhD with Gene Lata, passed away on March 8, 2011 in Columbia, MO. He was 83.

Dr. Franz served in the US Army in Italy after World War II.  He graduated in 1950 from the University of Illinois, where his TA was Dr. Gene Lata. He then came to the University of Iowa with Dr. Lata to do his graduate work. Dr. Franz was Lata’s first PhD student.

Dr. Franz was a close friend of Dr. Arthur Fishkin, Dr. Lata’s second PhD student, who passed away last May. They last saw each other at Dr. Lata’s retirement party.

After completing his thesis on the effect of hormones on stress on certain coenzyme dependent reactions, Dr. Franz joined the Biochemistry Department faculty at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, where he conducted research on the hormonal control of metabolism. In addition, teaching was his passion. He remained on the faculty there his entire career, retiring in 1993.

Dr. Franz is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Janice Howard; one sister, Mary Lotts; children Kristine Dashiell, Jack Franz, Kathleen Quinn and Janice Rike; and six grandchildren. Dr. Franz’s obituary has been published in the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The 7th Annual Gene F. Lata Biochemistry Undergraduate Honors Symposium will be held tomorrow, April 20, in memory of Dr. Lata and his first two PhD students, Drs. Arthur Fishkin and John Franz.

Todd Washington and Pamela Geyer join Molecular Genetics Study Sections

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The Department has recently been notified by Dr. Toni Scarpa, Director of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, that Drs. Todd Washington and Pamela Geyer have accepted invitations to serve as a standing members Molecular Genetics A and B, respectively, at NIH. Study section membership is a high honor conferred to investigators because these panels are the foundation of the research and training grant peer review system. The majority of Biochemistry Department faculty members are NIH peer reviewers, either as ad hoc or standing study section members. Drs. Washington and Geyer join Dr. Madeline Shea and Dr. Charles Brenner as current standing study section members.

52nd Annual Drosophila Research Conference

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The Department of Biochemistry was well represented at the 52nd Annual Drosophila Research Conference held in San Diego from March 30 to April 3, 2011. Lori Wallrath moderated the “Chromatin and Epigenetics” platform session while Pamela Geyer moderated “Regulation of Gene Expression.” Research posters were presented by Michael Vitalini and Diane Cryderman in the Wallrath laboratory and by Alexey Soshnev and Ryan Baxley in the Geyer laboratory.

Dr. Sarah Bergeron

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Congratulations are due to our newest PhD, Sarah Bergeron. A student of Peter Rubenstein, Dr. Bergeron defended her thesis in Molecular and Cellular Biology on “Biochemical Effects of Pathogenic Actin Mutations on Actin Function.”  After graduation, Sarah will do a short post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Heather Bartlett.

Dr. Bergeron’s major contribution has been in molecular characterization of actin allels mutated in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection. Prior to setting out for points unknown, Dr. Bergeron will continue to characterize mutant forms of alpha smooth muscle actin as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Bartlett.

Ashley Angell receives Honorable Mention for Goldwater Scholarship

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Congratulations to Ashley Angell, a junior biochemistry major, working in Dr. Kris DeMali’s lab who received an honorable mention citation for a Goldwater Scholarship. The University’s press release is here.