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BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT


Interest in biology continues to be exceptionally strong. This June, the department will graduate 75 seniors, the largest number of biology majors ever. We will have a total of 116 junior and senior majors next year. Each year the Biology Department gives cash prize awards to 5 outstanding senior biology majors. This year's recipients were: Alvaro Sagasti and Michelle Gonzales (Benedict I & II prizes, respectively), Brian Spitzer (Conant-Harrington prize), Daniel Bolnick (Dwight prize), Maya Kumar (Grant prize). With such large numbers of majors and other students in biology courses, facilities are extraordinarily cramped. We are eagerly looking forward to completion of the new science facilities.

Three new faculty members will be joining the department next year. Dr. Marta Laskowski, our new plant molecular biologist, will be teaching two courses: Biol 308 (Plant Growth and Development), which we have not been able to offer for several years, and a new course, BIOL 208 (Advanced Cell Biology). Dr. Laskowski received her B.S. from Indiana University and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently doing postdoctoral research with Dr. Ian Sussex at UC Berkeley. Dr. Laskowski's research focuses on the development of lateral root meristems in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Dr. Steven Swoap, a physiologist, will be replacing Dr. Daniel Clemens. Dr. Swoap will be responsible for teaching BIOL 205 (Physiology) as well as a new course, BIOL 309 (Mammalian Molecular Physiology). Dr. Swoap received his B.A. from Trinity University, his Ph.D. from UC Irvine, and has most recently been doing postdoctoral research in the laboratory of R. Sanders Williams. Dr. Swoap's research interests lie primarily in the field of cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology and focuses upon the molecular mechanisms that are employed to alter muscle fiber phenotype in response to altered environmental conditions, such as endurance exercise.

Our third new faculty member, Dr. Robert Savage, will be joining the department in January of 1997. He will be responsible for teaching BIOL 301 (Developmental Biology). Dr. Savage received his B.A. from Bowdoin College and his Ph.D. from Wesleyan University. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. Marty Shankland. Dr. Savage's research involves the study of the cellular and molecular bases of metazoan pattern formation in the segmented leech Helobdella triserialis.

After six years as assistant professor, Dr. Daniel Clemens has resigned his position here in order to pursue new interests in conservation biology.

Dr. Ted Floyd will also be leaving the department following his one year appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor. He will be assuming a 2-year NSF postdoctoral fellowship position at SUNY, Stony Brook.

During the past two years Prof. Elizabeth Adler has implemented a new laboratory program for Neurobiology (BIOL 304) in which the students utilize a variety of experimental approaches including histochemistry, SEM, and morphological and biochemical techniques to investigate the influence of environmental factors on differentiation in a line of cultured cells that is a model system for sympathoadrenal precursor cells. The laboratory will reach its final form next spring with the inclusion of a new laboratory using fluorescent dyes to visualize intracellular free calcium distribution.

This past fall Prof. Adler developed a new course, Plasticity in the Nervous System (BIOL 411) which uses current readings from the primary literature as a framework in which to learn about various aspects of neuronal plasticity. She also developed and taught a new laboratory program, BIOL 104, an advanced laboratory section for students enrolled in BIOL 102 that is designed to help students develop skills required for independent experimental research.

Last summer, Prof. Adler presented a seminar pertaining to her research into the role of calcium in mediating both short- and long-term use-dependent changes in neuronal function as part of the Essel Summer Program in Neuroscience. As part of this program, she hosted several high school students in her laboratory. During the past year she also supervised three honors students: Warren Eng, Magdalene Moran and Jennifer Nicholson. This summer Prof. Adler will be presenting "Teaching in Neuroscience" abstracts on the BIOL 304 neuronal development lab and the BIOL 104 neuromuscular physiology lab at the 1996 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Professor Marsha Altschuler taught Advanced Molecular Genetics (BIOL 306) in the fall and Human Biology and Social Issues (BIOL 132) and Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BIMO 406) in the spring semester. During this past year she supervised one honors student, Janet Alter, whose project involved developing chromosome fragmentation vectors for use in Tetrahymena thermophila. Last summer Prof. Altschuler attended the FASEB conference on Ciliate Molecular Biology at Copper Mountain, Colorado. During April and May of this year she gave a six-lecture series on The Human Genome Project as part of B.I.LL. (Berkshire Institute for Lifetime Leaning). She was a reviewer for Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology and textbook chapters for Prentice-Hall and Benjamin/Cummings.

This past year Prof. Henry Art completed the second summer of a 3-year project assessing long-term changes in the Hopkins Memorial Forest, Williamstown, MA. sponsored by a grant to the Center for Environmental Studies. This grant enabled four students over the last two summers to work on this project. The periodic inventory of the Hopkins Forest dates back to 1935 when the US Forest Service established the system of 440 quarter-acre permanent plots. The senior theses of Jonnie Cluett `96 and Emilie Grossmann `96 are outgrowths of this research. Prof. Art has also continued his research on long-term changes and deer-vegetation interactions in maritime forests at Fire Island National Seashore, NY as a Research Ecologist, North Atlantic Region, National Park Service.

Prof. Art has written two books on gardening: Step-by-Step Successful Gardening, a 10 volume Series for Better Homes and Gardens Books; and Fleurs Sauvages--Cutivées dans Votre Jardin. He has also given numerous outside lectures on gardening and wildflowers. During this past year he was the Ecology Curriculum Advisor and also served on the Technology Advisory Committee at Mt. Greylock Regional High School.

Courses he taught this past year include The Organism (BIOL 102), Field Botany & Plant Taxonomy (BIOL 220) and a winter study course entitled Geographic Information Systems.

Prof. Daniel Clemens continued his research on adaptation to cold in black-capped chickadees. He supervised one honors student, Jessica Racusin, whose thesis examined the effect of short-term food deprivation on metabolic and thermoregulatory responses to cold stress in chickadees. Under his supervision she also examined the effects of inhalant anesthesia and thermocouple implantation, which provided important control data for the cold stress studies. Last summer Prof. Clemens supervised Jennifer Danforth on a short project examining thermal microclimates in relation to habitat use and activity patterns in a warbler, the American redstart, in the Hopkins Memorial Forest.

This past year Prof. Clemens taught an upper level course entitled Ecological Physiology (BIOL 307) in the fall and Physiology (BIOL 205) in the spring in addition to developing new laboratory experiments for both courses.

Prof. Ted Floyd completed a one-year appointment as a Visiting Assistant Professor. During that time he taught courses on evolution and conservation biology in the fall, and advanced ecology in the spring. In January he traveled to the Chihuahuan Desert, to study thermoregulation in grasshoppers. He was accompanied by five students who assisted him with the research and conducted independent projects of their own. Prof. Floyd also supervised two honor thesis students and several semester-long independent research projects.

During this past year Prof. Floyd presented several invited seminars at New Mexico State University, Rutgers University and the University of Georgia. He has published several articles and was an ad hoc reviewer for the journals Ecology and Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. Prof. Floyd has accepted a 2-year NSF postdoctoral position in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at SUNY - Stony Brook.

Prof. Daniel Lynch taught the introductory biology course (BIOL 101) along with Prof. DeWitt in the fall and Biochemistry (BIMO 322) in the spring semester. He also gave a winter study course entitled "Diet, Exercise and Metabolism." This past year Prof. Lynch also assumed the duties of Chair of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BIMO) Program. He supervised three honors and one independent student this year: Becky Marin, Jonathan Snow, Garth Swanson and Maya Kumar, respectively. Last summer Prof. Lynch had three students working in his lab: Greg Crowther, Jonathan Snow and Garth Swanson. In addition he also hosted five high school students for one week as part of the outreach program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute.

Prof. Lynch also managed to continue his research on plant sphingolipid biochemistry and served as a reviewer for several journals in the fields of plant biology and biochemistry and for various granting agencies including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was also an invited speaker at the University of South Dakota.

During the summer of 1995, Karen Lee `97, Alvaro Sagasti `96, Tania Shaw `96, and Michelle Gonzales `96 worked in the laboratory of Prof. Wendy Raymond on experiments that paved the way for several honors thesis projects. During the 1995-96 academic year, she advised three honors students. Using genetic and cytological approaches, Tanis Shaw and Alvaro Sagasti characterized two mutants of S. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) that may identify new genes important during anaphase of mitosis. Their projects culminated with the cloning of these two genes. Michelle Gonzales determined and analyzed the DNA sequence of a novel gene, EXM2, which functions as an essential checkpoint for the cell-cycle transition out of mitosis. Michelle's results suggest the possibility that the protein encoded by EXM2 may bind to microtubules; future projects in the lab will test this hypothesis.

Prof. Raymond taught Genetics (BIOL 202) in the fall. Several new experiments, including computer-based virtual cloning, were incorporated into the Genetics lab program with the assistance of Nancy Heins and Karen Theiling of the Biology Department. Mr. Frank Spina, Director of the Cytogenetics Laboratory at Berkshire Medical Center, presented a lecture on human chromosome analysis, and he and Maria Recco of BMC conducted a workshop for students on how to complete a human karyotype. During winter study Prof. Raymond supervised two independent projects: Dawn Biehler `97 worked with local middle school students in a project called "Girls Do Science", and Le Paliulis `97 conducted research on spindle dynamics at the Wadsworth Center in Albany. During the spring semester, maternity leave exempted her from classroom teaching; although she continued to supervise honors students in her lab. Prof. Raymond also served as a reviewer for the journal Genetics..

During the fall semester Prof. Nancy Roseman taught Immunology (BIOL 313) and in the spring a new course, Virology (BIOL 314). She was an honors thesis advisor to two students, Bryan Greenhouse and Lauren Burwell. Both students worked on projects relating to structure/function studies of the vaccinia virus dUTPase protein. Bryan perfected a method that will allow for the rapid and efficient purification of recombinant and mutated dUTPase from E. coli, and Lauren performed site-specific mutagenesis on a conserved motif in the enzyme. Prof. Roseman also attended the American Society of Virology meeting held in Austin, Texas.

Steven J. Zottoli, Schow Professor of Biology, spent two months at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA writing and conducting research on Mauthner cells in sea robins. Four Williams College students, Beth Copanas `97, Jason Meyers `97, Michael Wong `96, and Cynthia Huang `96, spent two weeks at MBL attending lectures, seminars and participating in some experiments. Beth Copanas and Jason Meyers presented some of their summer research work at the East Coast Nerve Net meetings held at the MBL last spring.

Dr. Zottoli taught Introduction to Neuroscience in the Fall with Dr. Betty Glick, and The Organism in the Spring. He continues to direct the three Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants awarded in 1991, 1993 and 1996 to Williams College.

Dr. Zottoli is part of a four year Program Project Grant awarded in 1995 to the Medical College of Pennsylvania by NIH. The grant focuses in central nervous system regeneration.

1960 Distinguished Visitors 1995-96

Dr. John Lisman Brandeis University Dr. Paul Ewald Amherst College Dr. Jeffrey Hall Brandeis University

Class of 1960 Scholars in Biology

Seniors Juniors Sophomores Brian Beckrich Eli Boritz Anna Bartow Amanda Fay Beth Copanas Meghan Byrne Gail French Susan Gurgel Cordelia Dickinson Hoa Hoang S. Trent Guthrie Honora Englander Maya Kumar Kristen Hilty Mary Frekko Deborah Palmer David Jaskoski Arminda Gensler Alvaro Sagasti Karen Lee Deborah Hirschmann Jason Myers Matthew Garland Franklin Mullins Megan Moore Sheyda Namazie Nedim Sahin Leocadia Paliulis Mara Steinkamp Sylvia Park Heather Pierce Deidre Sullivan Jonah Wittkamper Dan Zuckerman

BIOLOGY COLLOQUIA

Dr. Hans Damman, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
"Plant Quality, Predation and the Structure of the Insect Community of Rough-Leaved Goldenrod"
Dr. John Lisman, Brandeis University
Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"Shedding Light on Memory with Light: Visualization of Synaptic Function"
Dr. Daniel Clemens, Williams College
"Hot Birds in a Cold World: Thermogenesis and Thermoregulation in Black-Capped Chickadees During Extreme Cold Exposure"
Dr. Todd Dawson, Cornell University
"Sugar Maple Trees and the Unusual Ways they Use Water: An Ecophysiological Perspective"
Dr. Christopher Somerville, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, CA
BIMO Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"Connections Between Studies of Plant Membranes and Genetic Engineering of Biological Sources of Biodegradable Plastics"
Dr. Nancy Pokrywka, Vassar College
"Making Heads and Tails of RNA Localization of Drosophila"
Dr. Scott Creel, Rockefeller University
"Behavioral Endocrinology in Social Carnivores"
Dr. Paul Ewald, Amherst College
Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"Evolutionary Tools for Epidemiological Problems: Converting Medical Swords into Plowshares"
Dr. Dennis Brown, University of Texas
BIMO Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"The Structure and Assembly of a Membrane-Containing Virus"
Dr. Jeffrey Hall, Brandeis University
Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"Flies and Biological Clocks: Mutants and Molecules"
Dr. Hector Flores, Penn State University
BIMO Class of 1960 Scholars Speaker
"Insane Roots and Twisted Carrots: Underground Plant Metabolism and its Regulation"

POSTGRADUATE PLANS OF BIOLOGY MAJORS

Matthew Abrahams
Janet Alter
Applying to Dental School.
Yvonne Barnes
Working in Pathology Lab at Mass. General Hospital.
Brian Beckrich
Research in biology for a year then applying to graduate school.
Daniel Bolnick
Peace Corps in Tanzania for 2 years then graduate school in evolutionary biology.
Cassity Bromley
Michael Brush
Medical school, either St. Louis or Washington University.
Vivian Calvo
Jason Carey
Anna Cederberg
Biological research for 2 years then applying to medical school.
Jonathan Cluett
Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.
Hans Cole
Mark Colella
Heather Crooks
Biomedical research in Washington for a year then applying to medical school.
Rose Cunningham
Research in California.
Konrad Davis
Applying to medical and graduate school
Ann Dillemuth
Working at non-science related job.
Warren Eng
Working for a year in Bethesda, then attending Boston University Medical School.
Amy Fallon
Amanda Fay
Graduate school, SUNY, Stony Brook.
Allison Felley
Veterinary medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
Gail French
Working, Environmental Consulting.
Nathaniel Gerhart
Taking a year off, then applying to graduate school.
Michele Gleason
Work in Boston or New York for a year, then apply to medical school.
Michelle Gonzales
Working in non-science related field.
Froylan Gonzalez
Teaching for year then applying to graduate school.
Bryan Greenhouse
Research at NYU Medical Center - Bellevue Hospital for a year, then applying to M.D./Ph.D. program.
Emilie Grossman
Research in the Pacific Northwest for a year then applying to graduate school.
Soomie Han
Working for year at Burt's Childrens Center in San Francisco.
Robert Hanna
Hoa Hoang
Cynthia Huang
Graduate school, Michigan State, Clinical Psychology.
Sarah Kaplan
Working in medical research or as EMT in San Francisco for a year. Applying to medical school.
Hanna Kelly
Medical school, University of Pennsylvania.
Hilary Kessler
Medical school, Baylor College of Medicine.
Sophia Kim
Matthew Kohn
Maya Kumar
Bridget Lavin
Medical school, Georgetown University.
David Long
Graduate school, University of Maine at Orono (ecology and environmental science).
William Manuel
Medical school, University of Texas at Houston.
Rebecca Marin
Jesse McCarron
Eric Minkwitz
Elizabeth Moore
Magdalene Moran
Graduate school, Harvard.
Kyle Nagle
Jennifer Nicholson
Medical school, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey
Deborah Palmer
Kelly Preston
Jessica Racusin
Jayanti Ramiah
James Regetz
Graduate school, UCSB School of Environmental Science & Management.
Thomas Rogers
Year off then applying to graduate school.
Elizabeth Rumsey
Alvaro Sagasti
Graduate school, UCSF.
Jeremiah Schuur
Research at Regeneration Pharmaceuticals then apply to medical school.
Tania Shaw
Research at PDT Pharmaceuticals then Washington Univ. Med School.
Adam Smith
Interning at American Museum of Natural History studying animal behavior.
Carole Smith
Jonathan Snow
Graduate school, UCSF.
Brian Spitzer
Graduate school, San Vito, Costa Rica.
Garth Swanson
Year off then attending University of South Carolina Medical School.
Gretchen Van Oesen
Grace Wang
Medical school, NYU.
Bradley Wasserman
Medical school, University of Maryland in Baltimore.
Harriet Wasserman
Working in non-science related environment.
Julia Weed
Heidi Weilbach
Medical school, Washington University, St. Louis.
Chara Williams
Working for computer graphics firm in Boston.
Michael Wong
Teaching 9th grade Biology at Hopkins School in New Haven.
Bradford Woodworth
Justin Wright
Watson Fellowship for a year then applying to graduate school.
Jill Zimmer
Working for year then applying to medical school.


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