Biology Department at UAlbany News

John S. Mackiewicz, Ph.D., presented with Albert Nelson Marquis
Lifetime Achievement Award
by Marquis Who's Who

UAlbany Biology's Dr. John S. Mackiewicz was endorsed by Marquis Who's Who as a leader in the biology education industry.

An accomplished listee, Dr. Mackiewicz celebrates over 60 years' experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field.

Read full story here.


In the News: Dr. John B. Davis' work with the National Wildlife Refuge Service featured in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
"Open Spaces"

UAlbany Biology's Dr. John B. Davis' years of volunteer work for the National Wildlife Refuge Service throughout the United States is profiled in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website.

Dr. Davis is a lecturer in the department and has taught physics, math, GIS (Geographical Information Systems), ecology, environmental studies, and conservation biology.

For 20 years he has worked with the service, volunteering his academic and technologic expertise to help them develop wilderness management plans as well as working hands-on with other volunteers on maintaining and improving wilderness refuges.

Read full story here.


In the News: Albany Times Union profiles Assistant Professor Wendy Turner winning $2.5 Million NSF Grant

Assistant Professor Wendy Turner received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue her study of how anthrax spreads among African wildlife.

Read full story in "Albany Times Union"

Read full story in "Schenectady Daily Gazette"


New Biology Ph.D. Candidates
Join RNA Fellows Program

Two Biology Ph.D. students (Deniece Brown, top left, and Serene Durham, top right) join fellow graduate students from the Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences departments in the interdisciplinary RNA Fellows Program, an initiative of the University's RNA Institute.

Read full story


Outstanding Biology Teaching Assistant of 2018

Based on strong support from both students and faculty, Clare Miller was elected as this year's Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year!

The Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year Award was established in 1995 in memory of Don LaFrancois. The award recognizes graduate student teaching assistants who have earned the respect of students and faculty alike for their dedication to teaching and to their students, their outstanding performance in the classroom and their excellence in fulfilling all responsibilities associated with their teaching assignment.

These teaching assistants have gone above and beyond their normal duties, and through their performance, have made a difference in undergraduate teaching in the department.

Congratulations, Clare!


Earth Day Action by UAlbany Biology Students

On Earth Day University at Albany Biology students (Isabella Citone, Carlitos Serrano, Ugur Demir, Linsky Lundy, Isabella Brew, and Amanda Kimler) and faculty member Elizabeth Peterson put action behind their words by volunteering at a local wildlife rescue (Into the Wild, Inc) to build an enclosure for rescued racoons.

Into the Wild focuses on co-existing peacefully with wildlife, and facilitates wildlife rehabilitation through the treatment and temporary care of injured, diseased, and displaced indigenous wildlife and the subsequent return of healthy animals to appropriate habitats in the wild.


UAlbany Biology Students/Faculty participate in Earth Day "March For Science"

Thousands marched in downtown Albany on Earth Day in solidarity with over 600 "March for Science" rallies worldwide to protest current policymakers' expressed hostility to science and the funding of scientific research.

The University at Albany's Biology Department was well represented by students (Isabella Citone, Carlitos Serrano, Ugur Demir, Linsky Lundy, Wilfredo Reyes, and Amanda Kimler) and faculty member Elizabeth Peterson, with local television interviewing several departmental members.

(Faculty member Elizabeth Peterson)

Albany organizers and the organizers of the worldwide march say that the rally exceeded their expectations and signaled a growing understanding of the importance of science and an awareness of the threats being raised against it.


Biology Undergraduate Scholar Earns SUNY's Highest Award

David Bunn, Biology Major from Amityville NY, won one of ten UAlbany Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence. The award recognizes a student's outstanding academic performance as well as their campus involvement, community service, arts, athletics, and career achievement.

In addition to his own academic achievements and his service to the University, David serves as a member of the Biology Department's Graduate Recruitment Committee. He plans to attend medical school and has been accepted to Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Weill Cornell Medicine.


Scimemi Lab's Research on Hemorrhagic Strokes

Research by the UAlbany Biology Department's Scimemi Lab studied the process by which a specific type of stroke plays out at the molecular level and uncovered a novel target molecule which could be key to helping prevent brain damage from these strokes. The study, as well as its implications for the treatment of strokes, are detailed in the March issue of Scientific Reports.







Undergraduate Research Symposium in Biology, October 25, 2016

Undergraduate students from 11 universities participated in the first Undergraduate Research Symposium in Biology sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences on Tues. Oct. 25, 2016.

Students delivered oral presentations and posters on their research projects and enjoyed a keynote symposium by Novel Laureate, Thomar R. Cech entitled “How to win a Nobel Prize.”

The undergraduate symposium was partnered with the new endowed lecture series “Life at the Interface of Science and Engineering,” which included a research seminar by Dr. Cech at University at Albany, SUNY entitled, “Long-noncoding RNAs and Epigenetic Gene Silencing” and a research seminar at RPI entitled: “CRISPR Genome Engineering Give New Insights about Telomerase and its Role in Cancer.”   

Photographs from the UAlbany events are at:  

The seminar series was made possible by an endowment by Dr. Marlene Belfort, Distinguished Professor at the University at Albany, SUNY, and Dr. Georges Belfort, Institute Professor at RPI.



New Lecture Series: "Life at the Interface of Science and Engineering"

Aimed at sparking collaboration across disciplines, Distinguished Professor Marlene Belfort of UAlbany and Dr. George Belfort of RPI have endowed a new lecture series “Life at the Interface of Science and Engineering” that premiered with a research seminar by Dr. Cech at University at Albany entitled, “Long-noncoding RNAs and Epigenetic Gene Silencing.”








2016 Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium

The UAlbany Biology Department's 33rd Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on April 29. The general excellence of the laboratory work of the students was on display in 18 poster presentations and 16 oral presentations. Students worked in labs in Biology, the Cancer Research Center, Chemistry, Environmental Health Sciences, the RNA Institute, Psychology, and the Wadsworth Center.  [Photos]

The presentations were competitive and judges gave awards for both poster and oral presentations:

Oral Presentations

Glenn L. Bumpus Award:

Michael Kuna, "Role of Wnt Non-Canonical Signaling in Germline Stem Cell Differentiation'

Departmental Awards:

Giuseppe Costabile, "Determining the role of RNA structure on translation control"

Brittany Egnot,"Bioconjugated Microparticle Complexes for Use in Multiplexed Cell Signaling Assays"

Oksana Lenchenko, "Pathway to the Origin of Life: 2’-5’ linkages in the RNA Duplex"

Poster Presentations:

Departmental Awards:

Alexandria Sarenski, "Sex differences in calbindin-D28K expressing cells in the brains of progesterone receptor knockout mice"

Deniece Brown, "The function of the RCK/p54 prion-related domain on hepatitis C gene expression"

Evanna LeRouge, "The Investigation of DNA and RNA Structural Differences Using Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography"

Mohammad Nasrallah, "The Cell Cycle-Dependent Transcriptional Landscape of Stem cell Differentiation"



Northeast Society for Developmental Biology (NESDB) 2016 Meeting at Woods Hole, MA

UAlbany Biology Department faculty, students, and postdoctorate fellows were well represented at the recent (April 15th through 17th) Northeast Regional Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology at the Marine Biological Laboratories at Woods Hole, MA.

The meeting featured oral and poster presentations from four UAlbany Biology Department research labs including the Larsen Lab, the Rangan Lab, the Forni Lab, and the Szaro Lab.

Professor Rangan's student Pooja Flora won the first prize for Best Oral Presentation by a Graduate Student, and his post doctorate fellow Katarina Tluckova won the first prize award for Best Poster Presentation by a Postdoc.



Dan Wulff, Supporting Future Scientists through JSHS for 31 years, retires from UAlbany Biology Department

(University at Albany article on upcoming retirement of Dan Wulff in University at Albany News Center)



RNA Researcher Looks to Unlock the Power of Stem Cells

(University at Albany article on research of Prashanth Rangan in University at Albany News Center)



Book by Biologist Kleppel heralds a Farming Revolution

(University at Albany article on research of Gary Kleppel in University at Albany News Center)



News items which have previously appeared on our home page


Emeritus Professor John W. Saunders, 1919 - 2015

Dr. John W. Saunders, Jr., an eminent developmental biologist whose pioneering experiments helped elucidate the tissue interactions controlling vertebrate limb patterning, passed away on December 26th, 2015 at the age of 96.

Dr. Saunders was appointed Professor of Biological Sciences at the University at Albany in 1967 where he served until 1985 when he became Professor Emeritus. Dr. Saunders was the recipient of numerous awards during his distinguished career, including the Edwin Grant Conklin Medal by the Society for Developmental Biology in 1996 and the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Dr. Saunders was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.


Emeritus Professor Jerram Brown receives 2015 Loye and Alden Miller Research Award

The Loye and Alden Miller Research Award is given by the Cooper Ornithological Society for lifetime achievement in ornithological research and has named Dr. Jerram (Jerry) Brown as its 2015 recipient.

Dr. Brown came to the Biology Department at the University at Albany in 1978 to develop a Behavioral Ecology program. At UAlbany he led the effort to organize the first behavioral ecology conference in 1986, and then helped found the International Society for Behavioral Ecology.

Dr. Brown retired from SUNY Albany in 2002.


Belfort appointed to NIH Advisory Council

The National Institutes of Health announced that Dr. Marlene Belfort was one of nine individuals recently appointed to the NIH Council of Councils, which advises the NIH Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives.

2014 Pew Scholar

Prashanth Rangan was named today as a 2014 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Rangan was awarded for his investigations into the role of non-coding RNA in the fate of stem cells. [More...]

2014 Recognition of Graduates

The Ceremony to recognize the 2014 Graduates was held on the Podium on May 17. This was a first time in this location and the ceremony went off with a minimum of glitches. Photos from the Ceremony can be found in a slide show by clicking the picture or heading above, or by going directly to our Flickr Photo site.

Biology students receive research awards

Several Biology majors have been recognized for their undergraduate research. Justin Coon (supervisor: R. Reliene) and Alex Schin (supervisor: C. Pager) received Greenwald Awards; Stanley Abraham (supervisor: M. Larsen/S. Sequeira) received a Presidential Award; Alvin George (supervisor: Ewan McNay) received a Zimberg Award; Kathryn Fanning (supervisor: P.Agris) received a Schmid Award.

31st UG Research Symposium

Biology's 31st Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on April 18. The general excellence of the laboratory work of the students was on display: there were 26 posters presentations and 15 oral presentations. Students worked in labs in Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, Public Health, CNSE, Albany Med, Pharmaceutical Research Institute, and Wadsworth Center, [Photos ...]

Life Science Scholarship

Matt Mitchell has been awarded a 2013-14 Lawrence and Marie Shore Scholarship in the Life Sciences. Matt works in the laboratory of Dr. Katy Gonder and studies biodiversity and primates in Cameroon and Gabon.

Science and Animal Enthusiast

Senior Corine Giroux's love of animals was put to good use doing research with Dr. Gary Kleppel on the use of livestock to manage invasive species. Although already coming from the background in agriculture, the project allowed Corine to obtain further experience working with livestock. [more...]

Student Work featured on Journal Cover

The work of graduate student, Erica Hutchins, appears in the September 11 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience  (Hutchins & Szaro, 2013), and an image from her work is featured on the cover. The research concerns the biochemical regulation of the growth of nerves and was performed in the lab of Professor Ben Szaro. The cover photograph shows fluorescent labeling of various proteins in a Xenopus laevis embryo and was taken with the Confocal Microscope in the Biological Imaging Facility.

Graduation 2013

The Department's Graduation Recognition Ceremony was held on Saturday, May 18. Congressman Paul D. Tonko [photos] was the invited speaker. The first 250 photographs from the ceremony are in a slide show. Any picture from within the slide show can be downloaded at 1800x1200 resolution from Flickr: double click the picture and Flickr will open. [Photos...]

Biology students receive research awards

Several Biology majors have been recognized for their undergraduate research. Justin Coon (supervisor: R. Reliene) and Alex Schin (supervisor: C. Pager) received Greenwald Awards; Stanley Abraham (supervisor: M. Larsen/S. Sequeira) received a Presidential Award; Alvin George (supervisor: Ewan McNay) received a Zimberg Award; Kathryn Fanning (supervisor: P.Agris) received a Schmid Award.

30th Undergrad Research Symposium

The 30th Biology Undergrad Research Symposium was held on April 26. The all-day event featured posters and talks by current students and invited talks by alums of the program. Congratulations to all presenters for their excellent research, and expecially to the award winners. [photos]

Parks protect rare species

George Robinson was featured in The Sunday Gazette after returning from a sabbatical during which he worked with the NY Natural Heritage Program database and analyzed the role of state parks in protecting rare plants and animals. His analysis emphasizes that, although the parks comprise less than 1% of New York's area, they need to play a major role in protecting rare and endangered species. His findings were published in the Natural Areas Journal.

Richard D. Kelly, 1935-2013

Professor Richard Kelly, an emeritus professor of Biological Sciences, passed away on January 17. Dick joined the Department in 1965 and retired in 1989. He specialized in Biology Education and was a pioneer in using film, audio and other media in his teaching.

Allstadt receives Thesis Award

Dr. Andrew Allstadt was awarded the Paul C. Lemon Award "...for a thesis that is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the ecological and environmental problems, inter-relationships and challenges in man’s natural world."

Conservation Project in Central Africa

Dr. Katy Gonder will conduct an international biodiversity conservation project in Central Africa. In collaboration with the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program. Gonder will develop an evolutionarily-informed framework for protecting Central African biodiversity. [more...]

Chen receives NIH grant

Professor Haijun Chen received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his study changes in cardiac potassium channels. The grant builds on work previously funded by the American Heart Association and presented in the journal Science Signalling. The work focuses on characterizing the ways that specific pores in the cell membranes can maintain their selectivity for the potassium ion. [more]

Graduation Recognition Ceremony

The Department recognized the accomplishments of the 2012 graduates at a Recognition Ceremony at the PAC Main Auditorium on Saturday May 19 at Noon. Over 100 graduates receiving BS and BA degrees in Biological Sciences and BS degrees in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology attended along with 500 guests. [PHOTOS]

29th Undergraduate Research Symposium

The Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on April 27th. Congratulations to the Award winners: Stanley Abraham, Miry Almada-Makebish, Elizabeth Apraku, Joseph Fanti, Mohammed Makshood, Gregory Moy, Nyla Naim, Brooke Pati, and Umang Sharma. Photo Gallery [note: dbl-click >'actions' >'view all sizes'].

Graduate Scholarship

The Lawrence and Marie Shore Graduate Scholarship in the Life Sciences enhances the educational mission through the provision of an annual graduate scholarship to a student studying Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Neuroscience or Biophysics.  Each award shall be applied to a graduate student in financial need and with demonstrated academic achievement. [more..]

Grants to study salivary gland development and function

Dr. Melinda Larsen was awarded two grants to investigate salivary gland development. One grant from the Sjögren's foundation is directed at the hypothesis that Rac1 signaling is disrupted in Sjögren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease resulting in dry mouth, dry eye, and other symptoms. The second grant from the National Institute of Health continues work with CNSE and GE on the "Effect of Extracellular Scaffold Elasticity and Binding Site Density on Salivary Acinar Cell Differentiation".

Life Sciences Research Symposium

The Life Sciences Initiative held its 3rd Annual Research Symposium on Oct. 28. Haijun Chen and Ewen McNay were the organizers. Posters and talks were presented by graduate students and postdocs from the labs and research groups in the Life Sciences. Best Talk awards went to Sarah Peters from the Larsen Lab and Matt Mitchel from the Gonder Lab; Best Poster award went to Paul Sesink Clee from the Gonder Lab. [Photos]

Alumna & Black Death

Forensics Alumna Sarah Schmedes was co-author on a paper in Nature describing the genome of a strain of Y. pestis obtained from a burial site dating to 1350, and responsible for the great European plague epidemic.

Life Science Scholarships

Erica Hutchins and Yuanyuan (Kevin) Liu have each been awarded a 2011-12 Lawrence and Marie Shore Scholarship in the Life Sciences. Erica and Kevin both work in the laboratory of Dr. Ben Szaro.

Chen receives AHA grant

Professor Haijun Chen received an American Heart Association grant for three years to study changes in cardiac potassium channels. The grant follows a recent paper published in the journal Science Signalling and focuses on characterizing the ways that specific pores in the cell membranes can maintain their selectivity for the potassium ion. [more]

Group travels to Gabon

Dr. Katy Gonder and her graduate students Matt Mitchell and Paul Sesink Clee traveled to Cameroon and Gabon for a workshop on biodiversity in the Congo Basin. The travel by train and "bush taxi" was an eye-opener for the students who had not previously traveled to the region.

Congratulations, Class of 2011

Congratulations to the Biological Sciences and Biocheminstry/Molecular Biology graduates of 2011. The Faculty and Staff wish you success and prosperity in all your future endeavors. [Photos from the Recognition Ceremony]

Undergrad Research Symposium

Congratulations to all the participants in the 28th Annual Biology Research Symposium. Special congratulations to the Award winners: for Oral Presentations, Vivek Bhatty, Greg DeIulio, Nyla Naim, Umang Sharma and Vlatko Stejanoski; for Poster Presentaions, Amanda Faris, Brandon King and Brooke Pati. [photos]

Osuna receives NSF grant

Professor, Robert Osuna received a National Science Foundation Award for 4 years to investigate the cellular processes used to regulate the bacterial global gene regulator DksA, which is involved in the cellular response to nutritional stress. [more]

Biology majors recognized as Leaders

Congratulations to Biology majors Emmanuel Adomfeh (Outstanding Senior Award) and Giovanny Destin (Great Dane Award) for receiving 2011 President's Awards for Leadership.

Pan Li receives NSF Career Award

Professors Pan Li has received an NSF Career Award for his work on RNA folding. Alternative folding of the molecules is an intrinsic property of RNA and plays a critical role in gene regulation. The single-molecule study will provide observations necessary to calibrate the leading folding theories, and will foster close collaborations between biologists and physicists [more]

Environmental Lead

Professors Helmut Hirsch and Greg Lnenicka are collaborating with researchers at Wayne State University and have received funding from NIH/NIEHS for a project entitled "QTL and Microarray mapping of lead toxicity genes". The research examines the effect of lead exposure on nervous system development and involves behavioral, physiological and genetic investigations in drosophila.

Kleppel's sheep earn keep

Professor Gary Kleppel has been investigating ways to remediate the proliferation of invasive plant species. One approach that has proved fruitful is to employ animals that will browse on the plant. Sheep can remove purple loosestrife and other invasives more efficiently than mechanical or chemical means at a NY nursery. [see video][Times Union]

Lnenicka awarded NSF grant

Greg Lnenicka has received an NSF grant titled "Synaptic Homeostasis". Dr. Lnenicka's research investigates the physiological processes by which neurons and muscles can adapt to ongoing levels of activity. [more]

Careers in Biological and Environmental Sciences

On Nov 3, CARSS and Career Services hosted a panel discussion directed at students seeking job possibilities. Panelists were from various external organization. This event was part of the effort towards retention and advancement of students in science and technology careers.

Katy Gonder featured in TU blog

Associate Professor Katy Gonder was featured in Daniel Nester's Times Union Blog. She responded to issues related to a Senate candidate's comment that "evolution is a myth".

Life Sciences Research Symposium

The Life Sciences Research Symposium (September, 2010) provided an opportunity for local researchers to share their current work. A panel of judges acknowledged some of the best presentations. Talks: Priya Banerjee, Abhijit Jadhav, Dr. Sharon Sequeira, Abith Vattekkatte; Posters: Matthew Mitchell, Shayoni Ray, Nakesha Smith.

Corrado Baglioni 1933-2010

The Department is saddened by the passing of Professor Emeritus Corrado Baglioni, MD. Dr. Baglioni was a cell biologist who, in the 1970s, investigated the role of interferon in the degradation of double stranded DNA and, in the 1960s, contributed to our understanding of thalassemia, an inherited blood disease. He was Department Chair from 1973-5.

2010 Graduation

Congratulations to Graduates! Several sets of photos from the Biology Recognition Ceremony and a few from around the Podium on Saturday are available through our Flickr site. [PHOTOS].

2010 UG Research Symposium & Awards

The 27th Annual Research Symposium included 22 posters and 15 oral presentations.[Photos]. The award winners were: Glenn Bumpus Award - Erden Goljo; Departmental Awards - Emmanuel Adomfeh, Merve Ay, Fraulin Joseph, Daniel Leonard, Francelina Morillo, Karen Torrejon, Shayna Vega.

Presidential Awards for UG Research

Sam Centanni and Erden (Eddie) Goljo have received Presidential Awards for Undergraduate Research. Both students are working in the lab of Dr. Melinda Larsen. Sam was mentored by grad student Will Daley and Eddie was mentored by Research Scientist Riffard Jean Giles.

The RNA Institute founded

The RNA Institute has been established to foster collaborations between investigators using RNA to develop innovative medicines and vaccines. Paul Agris will serve as founding director.

Chancellor's Awards

Biology and BCMB students Erin Duffy, Fareed Haddad, Francelina Morillo and Julita Patrosz have received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence. They will be honored at a SUNY-wide ceremony on April 6.

Daniel L. McKinley 1925-2010

Emeritus Faculty Dan McKinley passed away on March 20. Dan joined the faculty of the Department in 1966 and retired in 1989. He was a quiet scholar whose writings often emphasized historical and biographical aspects of his subjects.

Alumna Honored

Dr. Sallie W. (Penny) Chisolm (PhD, 1974) of MIT is the recipient of the ALEXANDER AGASSIZ MEDAL from the National Academy of Sciences. She is being honored for pioneering studies of the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the sea and for integrating her results into a new understanding of the global ocean.

Student Leadership Awards

Several Biology majors received 2010 President's Leadership Awards: Emmanuel Adomfeh - Great Dane Award; Amy Rowe - Five Quad Award; Fraulin Joseph - Great Dane Award; Julita Patrosz - Distinguished Scholar-Leader. The Faculty and Staff congratulate them.

Jerram Brown listed among Leaders

Emeritus Professor Jerram Brown is one of 21 scholars profiled in "Leaders in Animal Behavior: Second Generation" (Ed., L. Drickamer & D. Dewksbury, Cambridge Press, 2010).

Kevin Liu awarded Fellowship

Yuanyuan (Kevin) Liu has been awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for his research.

Szaro receives NSF grant

Dr. Ben Szaro was recently funded by NSF to investigate "Post-transcriptional regulation of neurofilament expression during axon outgrowth." The funding will allow continuation of Dr. Szaro's work on growth of neurons during development and recovery from injury.