2012 News Archives

East-West Collaboration Program 2012

Biology PhD Alum featured on BBC News for Millipede study



 ECU Celebrates Inauguration of Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Initiative

 Boat4-Biology-news-Reduced  Bio Living-Learning Community travels to Washington, NC

On Aug. 17, 2012, the 30 freshmen in the newly formed BioLL traveled to Washington, NC by bus with Drs. Mary Farwell, Enrique Reyes and Lee Sutton. The group was split into two and they each had a tour of the Estuarium and Goose Creek State Park, lunch on the waterfront, and a sailing excursion aboard the Jeannie B sailboat. Students learned about the ecology of coastal NC and the basics of sailing. More importantly, they got to know each other and the BioLL advisors. The trip was sponsored by the BioExcellence grant program and the Department of Biology.

The trip was the highlight of the fall orientation events for the BioLL, who are living in Garrett Residence Hall and are enrolled in some courses together as they begin their ECU experience.

 thompson-pic100_2  Zhang2

ECU Celebrates Inauguration of Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Initiative


John Stiller Elected President of Phycological (Algae) Society of America 

Jennifer Cudney-Burch (Rulifson lab) wins NOAA/Jones Award


McRae Lab Research in the News 


Biology graduate students present at NC Capitol building 

Biology Homecoming Tailgate
DATE: Saturday, October 13, 2012
START TIME: 1:00 pm (Game at 4:30 pm)
WE PROVIDE: Bratwurst, Veggie Burgers, & Drinks
YOU PROVIDE: Good Cheer and antacids!
LOCATION: Belk Building parking lot, ECU.
Look for a red van with a Biology Department Banner parked as close as possible to one of the transit shelters, south side of Belk: Check here for updates.
EVENT RSVP: By Wednesday, Oct. 10th – number of people attending
CONTACT: Jone Letsinger / 252-328-6204 / letsingerj@ecu.edu


Biology graduate students 
Scott Jones, Lauren McCarthy, Sam Mears, Evan Twomey and Lenny Yong 
awarded competitive research grants 


Biology faculty members 
Christensen, Farwell, Hager, McKinnon and West 
honored at ECU awards day.


Drew Cathey of the Kimmel lab won best oral presentation at
the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society meeting. 

Andrew M. Cathey was awarded Best Student Oral Presentation at the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society meeting in Beaufort, NC during 11-13 April, 2012. Drew received the award for his paper entitled, "Shell Microchemistry of Juvenile Hard Clam Mercenaria mercenaria: Spatiotemporal Patterns and Implications for Tracking Larval Dispersal," co-authored with Nathan R. Miller (University of Texas-Austin) and David G. Kimmel (East Carolina University). The work is part of Drew's Ph.D. research into shell microchemistry of hard clams.


Lindsay D. Leverett has received the prestigious ASB Student Research Award 

Lindsay D. Leverett has received the prestigious ASB Student Research Award ($1000), at the 73rd annual meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, Athens, GA, given for an especially meritorious manuscript presented by the author(s) at the annual meeting.

Lindsay, also an ECU Graduate Scholar, received the award for her paper, entitled, “Defining cryptic seed heteromorphism in Packera tomentosa (Asteraceae) using seed mass characteristics and germination.” The work is part of Lindsay’s M.S in Biology thesis, recently approved by the ECU Graduate School and in review for publication in Annals of Botany.

Lindsay is a frequent presenter at ASB, having begun as an undergraduate, mentored by Dr. Michael Woods of Troy University, AL, working on systematics and ecology of the legume genera, Indigofera and Crotolaria. This fall, Lindsay begins a doctoral program at Duke University, in Dr. Kathleen Donohue’s lab. Claudia Jolls is her delighted (but unsurprised) proud mentor and flattered co-author.

The BioLL-Bio Living-Learning Community—New in 2012!
Announcing Biology Living Learning Community (BioLL) and BioExcellence Scholarship program for incoming intended Biology and Biochemistry majors. Scholarship recipients will be chosen from the BioLL application pool.
For information about the BioLL community and scholarship application, click here.

 Schrenk-Field-Work_1 ECU Biology Professor, Matt Schrenk, Ph.D.,
awarded $1.5 Million Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant 


NC Biodiversity Center Earth Day Events April 19, 21; click for details.

Congratulations to Jon Davenport who has been selected as this year's first-place winner of the ECU 2nd Annual Dissertation Award. He was recognized at the Research Week Recognition Luncheon on Friday, March 30 in the Mendenhall Great Room.

Grant to benefit ECU biology, biochemistry majors
GREENVILLE (02/21/2012) — A national grant totaling more than $500,000 will fund scholarships for 24 high achieving, financially needy students to study biochemistry and science at East Carolina University.
The National Science Foundation provided $599,945, guaranteeing three years of funding for students admitted to the new BioExcellence Scholarship Program. Six freshmen will be awarded renewable scholarships at the $10,000, $7,500 or $5,000 level this year. Another nine freshmen will join BioExcellence in 2013 and nine more in 2014. To qualify, students must be admitted to ECU with an intended major of biology or biochemistry, demonstrate financial need and have at least a 3.0 high school GPA. That GPA must be maintained during their time at ECU. Dr. Mary Farwell, BioExcellence administrator and director of Undergraduate Studies, said they also hope to attract students from areas with limited academic resources and students whose parents did not attend college.
Required coursework will be accompanied by support programs including peer tutoring, career counseling and block scheduling during their first two years, followed by undergraduate research mentoring and internship opportunities prior to graduation. Each recipient will also be required to spend two years residing in the on-campus Bio Living-Learning Community. No site has been identified to house the community at this time.
The goal is for recipients to complete their bachelor's degrees in four years, leading to a career in biosciences. "We really think this is going to be a way to say to the best students in the east that this is a good place for you to go to school and get these opportunities," Farwell said.
This grant is the latest in a series of efforts to bring students interested in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – to ECU. Other examples include:
* Expanding Engineering in Eastern North Carolina offers scholarships to income-eligible and in-state freshmen accepted to the ECU Department of Engineering
* Physics is Essential trains teachers from Wayne, Craven and Beaufort county schools how best to teach physics to grades K-8.
For more information, view the award abstract from the National Science Foundation at

Biodiversity: Species choked and blended
Jeffrey S. McKinnon & Eric B. Taylor
A http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7385/full/482313a.html
A short review publication in Nature about new research on
speciation in fish by a research group in Switzerland.
Podcast Interview with the author Jeff S. McKinnon: http://www.nature.com.jproxy.lib.ecu.edu/nature/podcast/index-2012-02-16.html

ECU biology professor selected as Sloan Research Fellow
GREENVILLE (02/17/2012) — An East Carolina University faculty member was honored this week with a Sloan Research Fellowship and $50,000 to further his research in ocean sciences. (http://www.sloan.org/fellowships/page/21)
Dr. Matt Schrenk, an assistant professor of biology, was selected alongside 125 other researchers from the U.S. and Canada. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.
"Today's Sloan Research Fellows are tomorrow's Nobel Prize winners," said Dr. Paul L. Joskow, president of the Sloan Foundation. "These outstanding men and women are responsible for some of the most exciting science being done today. The Foundation is proud to support them during this pivotal stage of their careers."
Awards historically focused within seven scientific fields: Chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience and physics. This year, the foundation added ocean science. Schrenk, whose research focuses on the subseafloor microbial biosphere, is one of first eight individuals to be honored in that category.
"We're really at the frontier of studying marine life and a lot of oceanography," Schrenk said Thursday. "(This award) means my community appreciates my work…and believes in my potential. It's sort of a gold star for the work you've done. A pat on the back."
To qualify, candidates are first nominated by their peers and subsequently selected by an independent panel of senior scholars. Other 2012 recipients hail from institutions including Yale, Stanford and MIT. Only three are based at North Carolina universities – Schrenk and two faculty members at Duke University.
"Matt is working at the very edges of our knowledge and of our biosphere to better understand the true distribution of life on earth and to characterize biodiversity in extreme environments," said Dr. Jeffrey McKinnon, chair of ECU's Biology Department. "His work is fundamental, important, and of lasting value and I could not be more proud to have him on our faculty."
Schrenk was recently in the spotlight after the Sloan Foundation tapped him to lead a $1.5 million grant to study microbes living under the earth's oceans and continents. Read more about his team's work at http://www.ecu.edu/news/schrenk.cfm.

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