Each year at graduation the Biology Department awards prizes to several outstanding majors. This year’s recipients were Susan Levin and Terri O’Brien, who received the Benedict Prize in Biology, Sierra Colavito, the Conant-Harrington Prize for exemplary performance in the biology major, and Steve Biller, the Grant Prize for the student demonstrating excellence in a broad range of areas in biology. Twelve seniors were nominated for induction into Sigma Xi, the national scientific research society. Terri O’Brien is completing the second summer of her Beckman Foundation Scholarship. Elizabeth Hambleton and Emily Ludwig were chosen to work at the Whitehead Institute this summer as Whitehead Scholars.
The Biology Department continued to participate in the Biology Class of 1960 Scholars Program and the BIMO Class of 1960 Scholars Program. Several distinguished scientists were invited to meet with students and faculty. Among those invited were Dr. Andrew Bass, Cornell University; Dr. John Dowling from Harvard; Dr. Robert Sauer from MIT; and Dr. JoAnn Burkholder from North Carolina State University. Seventeen students were selected to be Class of 1960 Scholars for spring/fall 2002.

Class of 1960 Scholars in Biology
Abby Davidson
Erica Dwyer
Laurel Hensley
Kevin Hsueh
Katherine McGrath
Jessie O’Brien
Emily Siegel
Caty Sumner
Jessica Tierney
Brigitte Teissedre
Ken-ichi Ueda
David Arnolds
Daniel Calnan
Shauna Dineen
Lindsay Ewan
Jacqueline Hom
Michelle Kron

This past year Professor Adler, assisted by Yang Wang ’01 and Caitlin Stashwick ’02, continued her research on long term regulation of molecules important to synaptic transmission and neuronal communication, using PC12 cells, a secondary cell line that's a model for sympathetic neurons, as an experimental system.
Yang Wang worked in the Adler lab over the summer on a research project concerning the role of neuronal activity, and the subsequent influx of calcium into the neuron, on regulation of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. He investigated the effects of calcium influx through different classes of channels on overall cellular activity and release of acetylcholinesterase, determined spectrophotometrically. Caitlin Stashwick continued the project during the fall semester, looking at the effects of calcium entry through different classes of channels on subcellular localization of the enzyme, determined histochemically with TEM. Yang and Caitlin were both coauthors on a poster presented at the November 2001 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, together with Sara Grote ’01, Becky Semble ’01, Paul Schwartz, Kevin Stevens ’00, and Leah Sharpe ’02. Adler also reviewed a neuroscience textbook for Quarterly Review of Biology.
Professor Hank Art spent this past year on a sabbatical leave, staying in town to write and conduct a multi-media project on the disappearance of farms in Williamstown through a grant from the Williams College Center for Technology in the Arts and Humanities (CeTAH). This project has involved conducting oral history interviews of farmers and agriculturists (past and present) to determine the causes for the dramatic disappearance of farms in the region. As part of the CeTAH project Art taught a Winter Study course called Drawing to a Close in conjunction with Mary Natalizia, a local artist and art teacher.


BIOL 202 Genetics Lab

During the summer of 2001, Art taught a weeklong module as the field ecology portion of the Summer High School Program funded through the Hughes Medical Research Institute grant to Williams. He also collaborated with Dave Richardson in supervising Joel Schmid ’03 in his summer field and lab research on the allelopathic effects of hay-scented fern.
Visiting Associate Professor Lois Banta continued her research on the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which is best known for its unique ability to deliver DNA to host plant cells, thus stably altering the genetic makeup of the plant. The work in the Banta lab focuses on the assembly and functioning of the multi-protein complex responsible for the DNA delivery. Because this transport complex also has homologs in a variety of other bacteria including those that cause whooping cough, Legionnaire's disease, and chronic stomach inflammation, Banta's research has relevance to mammalian pathogenesis as well. Independent study student Danielle Torin ’02 and honors thesis students Maywa Montenegro ’02, Susan Levin ’02, and Jessica Bauman ’02 participated in this project. They were joined over Winter Study by Aidan Finley ’04. Both Aidan Finley and Maywa Montenegro spent the summer of 2001 in the lab. Post-doctoral fellow Bronwyn Butcher arrived in September 2001 from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she had pursued her Ph.D. in microbiology. Banta's research is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
One new project in the Banta lab this year involved the characterization of a putative promoter sequence embedded within the DNA encoding the DNA transport apparatus. The existence of such an internal promoter is highly unusual, although not unheard of. Susan Levin ’02 successfully demonstrated that the sequence in question does indeed function as a promoter - a sequence of DNA that signals the bacterial cell's transcriptional machinery to produce mRNA, and hence protein. Using site-directed mutagenesis, she confirmed that the particular sequence of this stretch of DNA is critical to its promoter function. Susan's generation and characterization of additional mutants led her to hypothesize that a repressor also binds at this promoter sequence and regulates the level of transcription. Her data provided important insights into the identity of this repressor. Since the promoter was originally identified by virtue of its homology to other promoters that are active under specific conditions in other bacterial species, Susan was able to formulate a series of hypotheses about the conditions that would activate transcription from this promoter, and she performed experiments to test several of these hypotheses. Jessica Bauman’s thesis work, part of an ongoing project characterizing the interactions among components of the DNA transport apparatus, contributed to two manuscripts now in revision. In her work, she tested several previously isolated mutants to determine whether the failure to deliver DNA was attributable to aberrant interactions among constituents of the transport machinery. Maywa Montenegro's thesis work paved the way for a new study on the protein VirD4, which is believed to mediate interactions between the transport apparatus and the DNA substrates that pass through the pore.
In November, the entire Banta lab attended the 22nd Annual Crown Gall Conference in Atlanta, GA. Aidan Finley ’02 and Bronwyn Butcher presented a poster entitled “Effect of plasmid RSF1010 on transcription from the vir promoter,” which was also co-authored by recent graduate Aimee Vasse ’01. Banta gave a talk at the Atlanta conference and also presented a poster at the European Research Conference on Biology of Type IV Secretion Processes in Pisa, Italy in September. Coauthors included Erin Troy ’01 and collaborators Tonny Regensburg-Tuink and Paul Hooykaas from the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
This year, Banta taught BIOL 306, Advanced Molecular Genetics in the fall and Microbiology: BIOL 315, Diversity, Cellular Physiology, and Interactions in the spring. The lab portion of the latter course included a collaborative project, on microbial communities in pond sludge, with the 5th grade class at Pine Cobble School. During this academic year, Banta served as an external reviewer for the National Science Foundation, the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology, and the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. She also reviewed the textbook Genomes for the Wiley-Liss publishing company and several on-line microbiology tutorials for Sinauer Publishers.
On campus, Banta organized a Gaudino Forum on "Providing Health Care for Migrant Farm Workers." She was a guest speaker at the Center for Development Economics, and mentored an independent study by Katherine Foo ’02 on the “Impact of Genetically Engineered Jasmine Rice on Agricultural Economics in Thailand.” Professor Banta also served on the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology advisory committee and the Campus Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC).
During this past year Prof. Joan Edwards taught BIOL 134, Biology and Social Issues of the Tropics and BIOL 220, Field Botany, a course that uses the local flora to study plant systematics. She continues her research on Arctic-Alpine disjunct plants at Isle Royale Wilderness National Park. These plants represent some of the southernmost populations for their species. Edwards is interested in the genetic structure of their populations and also their long-term survival in the face of global warming (cold-loving species are most likely to go locally extinct under a warming climate). On campus, Edwards continues as the College Marshal and also served this past year on the Faculty Interview Panel.
Assistant Professor Marta Laskowski taught BIOL 101, The Cell in the fall, and BIOL 412, Biochemical Regulatory Mechanisms in the spring. She continued her research on understanding the mechanisms by which auxin affects the architecture of the Arabidopsis root system. Laskowski supervised the honors thesis projects of Steve Biller ’02 and Christine Palmer ’02. Laskowski also published an article in Plant Physiology. Laskowski has accepted a position at Oberlin College next year.
During this past year Professor Dan Lynch taught BIOL 101, The Cell, and BIOL 322, Biochemistry II: Metabolism. During Winter Study, he offered a lab intensive course introducing four students (three first-year and one sophomore) to sphingolipid biochemistry. He also continued his research on plant sphingolipid biochemistry, funded by a grant from the NSF. He supervised the honors thesis projects of Matt Luedke ’02 and Terri O’Brien ’02. Last summer, Terri O’Brien worked in the lab supported by a Beckman Foundation Scholarship and Caty Sumner ’03 worked in the lab as a Merck Scholar. Lynch also hosted four high school students in his lab for a week under the auspices of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award to the Biology Department at Williams and participated in the Summer Science Program for pre-freshmen. Brooke Wright, ’01 and Professor Lynch attended the American Society of Plant Biologists annual meetings in Providence, RI where Brooke presented a poster on her thesis research titled, “Sphinganine Hydroxylase Activity in Corn: In Vitro Characterization and In Vivo Stimulation by Fumonisin.” In September Lynch traveled to Goteburg, Sweden and served as an “opponent” (external reviewer) at the Ph.D. thesis defense by Anna Berglund at Goteburg University. Professor Lynch also served as an ad hoc reviewer for the National Science Foundation and the USDA, and reviewed manuscripts for the journals, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Plant Physiology.
Assistant Professor Manuel Morales joined the department this past fall, coming to us from the University of Maryland. Morales taught BIOL 207,Biology of Conservation and Extinction, and BIOL 402T, Current Topics in Ecology. He also team taught (with Birgit Koehler and Heather Stohl) the environmental studies course ENVI 102, Introduction to Environmental Science. Morales continued his research on ant-plant mutualism. He supervised the honors thesis project of Brooke-Ray Smith ’02. Morales received an NSF Research Opportunity Award to collaborate with David Inouye at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory exploring how seed predation and nutrient availability interact in an ant-plant mutualism.
Professor Wendy Raymond spent the fall on sabbatical in her laboratory at Williams pursuing a project on which she collaborated with Professor Joe Chihade in the Chemistry Department. She discovered a new gene in baker's yeast that interacts with PUS4, which is an enzyme that modifies all transfer RNAs and is highly conserved in all eubacteria and eukaryotes. In the spring, Raymond taught Immunology, a 300-level laboratory and lecture course. She also organized the weekly Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Journal Club, in which students, faculty and staff learn about new research studies. She advised Le Paliulis ’97, a current Duke University graduate student, who returned to Raymond's lab to clone several genes essential for chromosome separation. Throughout the year, Professor Raymond served as one of three faculty advisors in the Williams’ Project for Effective Teaching, an endeavor designed to help new Williams faculty members become excellent teachers.
Raymond gave a seminar at the Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts. She also reviewed chapters for the new edition of Kuby Immunology and for a first-edition of Ben Pierce's Genetics: A Conceptual Approach, to be published by W. H. Freeman Co., Inc. She attended the 2002 Cell Cycle meeting in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
This past year Robert Savage taught BIOL 301, Developmental Biology and BIOL 102, The Organism with David Smith. Professor Savage continued his research on the development and evolution of segmentation in annelids currently supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Last summer Williams College students Andrew McKinstry ’03, Sierra Colavito ’02 and Meghana Gadgil ’02 focused their research efforts on identifying annelid homologues to important segmentation genes first identified in flies. Continuing as an independent study student this past fall, Meghana cloned a number of PCR-generated fragments of annelid Hox genes. As part of her honors project, Sierra identified and then characterized the hunchbackhomologue in a closely related leech species. Both research projects have provided an important foundation for future experiments.
Savage gave seminars at Middlebury College, Albertus Magnus College, and at Williams this past spring. He also served as a reviewer for the journal Developmental Biology and NSF.
Visiting Assistant Professor Ken Schmidt taught BIOL 203, Ecology in the fall, and BIOL 302, Communities and Ecosystems in the spring. Schmidt continued working on two ongoing research projects (both in collaboration with Dr. Richard Ostfeld of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY). The first project on avian-rodent interactions in oak forest continues to monitor population abundance and reproductive success of four songbird species: Wood Thrush, Veery, Red-eyed Vireo, and Ovenbird at the Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, NY. Over 150 nests were found and monitored throughout the grounds in 2001, representing our best summer yet for all four species. These results have been used as a preliminary dataset for a proposal submitted to NSF in Jan. 2002 to investigate these interactions.
The second research project on incidental nest predation by small rodents is currently funded by NSF and was used to hire four summer research assistants in 2001: Nathan Briggs ’03 (Williams College), Chris Anderson, Andrea Kudrez, and Vivian Genovese. The focus of this research is to measure heterogeneity in white-footed mouse activity and examine its implication for nest predation in songbirds. In 2001, the lab monitored mouse foraging activity in two different ways. Mouse density was found to be neither a predictor of patterns of space use nor of predation rates on nests. These results highlight the importance of understanding predator foraging behavior (rather than a focus strictly on predator density) to determine the impacts predators may have on their prey, at least within any given year (see above).
Prof. Schmidt has accepted a position at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
During this past year Prof. David C. Smith taught BIOL 305,Evolution and BIOL 102, The Organism. He served as honors student advisor to Jessica Purcell who worked on the boreal chorus frog and Michelle Ruby who worked on aquatic insect populations in the Hopkins Forest streams. He continues his long-term study of boreal chorus frogs at Isle Royale Wilderness National Park. The summer of 2001 was his 24th year of study, one of the longest studies of an anuran population. Smith also gave a Bronfman Bag lunch talk on this research.
Assistant Professor Steve Swoap taught a course for non-majors, BIOL 133,The Biology of Exercise and Nutrition in the fall of 2001 followed in the spring by BIOL 309, Mammalian Molecular Physiology. Swoap attended three national meetings this past year, including Experimental Biology ’02 (joined by Jennifer Barone ’03 and Graham Garber ’97), the American College of Sports Medicine Meeting in Providence, RI, and The Nutritional Control of Gene Expression. Swoap also served as a reviewer for numerous journals over the past year, including the American Journal of Physiology, Physiological Genomics, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and theJournal of Applied Physiology. He was also an active reviewer of grants for both the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. Swoap spoke with several Williams alumni groups, including those in Toledo, Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington D.C., addressing the use of illegal supplements by Olympic athletes. Swoap holds active research grants with the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.
Professor Heather Williams taught a new course BIOL 303, Sensory Biology in the fall. This course examined how biological systems act as transducers of physical energy that contains information about the environment and so generate biological signals that can be used by the nervous system to regulate behavior. In the spring, she offered BIOL 204, Animal Behavior; returning this course to its traditional season allowed the resumption of early-morning (6:00 AM) red-winged blackbird labs.
Professor Williams served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation's Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program, and reviewed manuscripts for several journals.
In her lab, Prof. Williams continued her investigations of questions related to song learning and behavioral and neural plasticity. During the summer of 2001, Dan DeMoss ’03 and Nick Lafave ’03 worked on developing microsatellite analyses for determining genetic relationships among local populations of house finches, and Walther Chen ’02 used playback experiments to investigate the question of whether and how female zebra finches distinguish among the songs of males reared in different situations.
Professor Steven Zottoli taught BIOL 411, Plasticity in the Nervous System, in the fall and BIOL 205, Animal Physiology in the spring. He served as honors thesis advisor for Nicholas Hiza and Jennifer Nierman. Research in his laboratory focuses on the neural basis of behavior and responses of the nervous system to injury. Zottoli is the Director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant to Williams College, chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and acted as chair of the Neuroscience program in the fall. He continues as President of the Grass Foundation, a small not-for-profit foundation chartered to support research and education in neuroscience. He served on the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Science Council Nominating Committee and the MBL Taskforce to Ensure Continued Excellence in Teaching. He is an external advisory board member for the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) program for the state of New Mexico.
Zottoli directed a Williams College summer research program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA during July and August 2001. This program is supported in part by the HHMI, Howard and Nan Schow and the Essel grant to Williams College. David Arnolds ’04, Nikiya Asamoah ’03, Caryoln Chevez ’02,
Shakierah Fuller ’03, Nick Hiza ’02, Jen Nierman ’02, and Luis Taboada ’02 participated in the program. The program included reading papers of various scientists in residence at the MBL, meeting with each scientist to discuss the papers and career path issues and then conducting a laboratory exercise that related to the scientist’s area of interest. In addition, students had the opportunity to attend course lectures and evening seminars. Finally, students were able to conduct original research on identified neurons in fish. The results were presented at the MBL General Meetings and were published as a short note in the Biological Bulletin in October.

Dr. Andrew Bass, 1960 Scholar, Cornell University
“Singing Fish: Blending the Sexes from Brains to Behavior”
Dr. JoAnn Burkholder, 1960 Scholar, North Carolina State University
“Impacts of Toxic Pfiesteria on Fish & Human Health: Research at the Science/Policy Border”
Dr. John Dowling, 1960 Scholar, Harvard
“Fishing for Novel Genes”
Dr. Brian Farrell, Harvard
“Diversification at the Insect/Plant Interface”
Dr. Gerry Fink, BIMO 1960 Scholar, Whitehead Institute
“When Worlds Collide--Microbes vs. Immune System”
Dr. Leslie Leinwand, University of Colorado
“Lessons Learned from Genetic Manipulation of Muscle”
Dr. Diane Mathis, Harvard
“A Mouse Model of Rheumatoid Arthritis--The Joys of Serendipity”
Dr. Robert Sauer, MIT
“Energy-Dependent Protein Unfolding and Degradation”
Dr. Robert Savage, Williams College
“Flies, Worms and Hunchback: Insights into the Evolution of Segmental Pattern Formation”
Dr. Jerry Thomsen, SUNY
“TGF-β Signaling and Ubiquitin Ligase Regulation of Xenopus Pattern Formation”

Elizabeth Adler
“Zinc Regulation of Neuropeptide Y in PC12 Cells”
Zinc Signals 2002 Conference in Grand Cayman (
“Remembrance of Ions Past: Caldium, Potassium, Zinc”
Center for Neuroscience Research at SUNY, Albany (
Lois Banta
“VirF Promotes DNA Export from Agrobacterium tumefaciens
22nd Annual Crown Gall Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Wendy Raymond
“Regulation of the Cell Division Cycle”
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Robert Savage
“Flies, Worms and Hunchback: Insights into the Evolution of Segmentation”
Middlebury College
“Developmental Insights into the Evolution of Segmentation in Metazoans”
Albertus Magnus College
Ken Schmidt
“Using Giving-up Densities as an Indicator of Ecological Scales and Processes”
International Theriological Congress VIII, Sun City, South Africa
Steve Swoap
“The use of Molecular Biology in Skeletal Muscle”
New England American College of Sports Medicine.
“Caloric Restriction and Blood Pressure: Genes and Mechanisms”
University of Missouri
Heather Williams
“Coordination of Song and Dance in Zebra Finch Courtship”
Sixth Annual Bird Song Workshop at The Rockefeller University Field Research Center.

Kate Alexander
Coordinator for International Relations, Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, Japan
Jessica Bauman
Working for Teach for America in NYC for 2 years, then medical school
Steven Biller
Research assistant at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA then going on to graduate school.
Laura Bothwell
Case Western Reserve University Medical School
Sebastien Bradley
Rachel Brodie
Benjamin Chaffee
Hong-wen Chen
Michael Chiorazzi
Lani Clinton
Pursuing Ph.D. in Neurobiology & Behavior at University of California, Irvine
Sierra Colavito
Research Technician in Cancer Genomics, The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Whitehead Institute for one year. Then to graduate school for Ph.D. in Biology.
David Cooperman
Laura Crum
Meghana Gadgil
Working at a health center in Seattle through Americorps next year, and applying to/interviewing with medical schools simultaneously.
Sarah Hart
MD/PhD Program, Duke University
Britta Hult
Lab. Tech. at Harvard Partners Genomics Center in Cambridge, MA. Then to graduate school
Vickie Jo
UVA medical school
Jan Kaczmarek
Katherine Kohler
Applying for internships at a variety of zoos and wildlife centers, then vet school.
Susan Levin
University of California, San Francisco - Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Science
Matthew Luedke
Working for a year then medical school
Heather Matthews
Clinical Assistant in Orthopedic Oncology at Mass. General Hospital - Boston
Asha Mehta
Attending Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and will
be applying to medical school this year.
Caroline Messmer
Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences under the auspices of the U.S. Navy. M.D. program.
Maywa Montenegro
Science Writing Master’s Program (MS) at MIT, Cambridge, MA
Amber Moore
Research Analyst at Health Economics Research, Waltham MA, then plan on going for an MD/MPh.
Michael Nazarian
MD University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas
Jennifer Nierman
Research Assistant, University of Pennsylvania
Theresa O’Brien
University of California, San Francisco - Ph.D. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Jason Pack
Christine Palmer
Research Assistant, Arizona State University, Phoenix.
Malcolm Perry
Jessica Purcell
Janna Rearick
Brendan Reid
Steven Rettke
NYU Medical School
Abigail Rosenthal
Michelle Ruby
Teaching ecology and leading ropes course/adventure activities at Boston University Sargent Center for the next year.
Katie Sharff
University of Chicago Biological Sciences Undergraduate Department Laboratory TA/Technician. Chicago, IL.
Leah Sharpe
Adam Sischy
Research Coordinator Williams Project on Higher Education, Williamstown MA for 1 year, then New York Medical College for M.D
Brooke Ray Smith
July-November: Research assistant to Richard Connor from UMass Dartmouth, studying bottlenose dolphins, in Shark Bay, western Australia. Then start searching for grad schools, possibly in conservation biology/ environmental planning.
Caitlin Stashwick
Luis Taboada
Xiao Tan
Herschel Smith Fellow to study in Cambridge
Danielle Torin
Taking a year off, then hopefully attending Vet school.
Jennifer Veraldi
Jennifer Wetzel