Visual Ecology, Tom Cronin

A new book written by Tom Cronin and colleagues — the publisher’s note says:

“Visual ecology is the study of how animals use visual systems to meet their ecological needs, how these systems have evolved, and how they are specialized for particular visual tasks. Visual Ecology provides the first up-to-date synthesis of the field to appear in more than three decades. Featuring some 225 illustrations, including more than 140 in color, spread throughout the text, this comprehensive and accessible book begins by discussing the basic properties of light and the optical environment. It then looks at how photoreceptors intercept light and convert it to usable biological signals, how the pigments and cells of vision vary among animals, and how the properties of these components affect a given receptor’s sensitivity to light. The book goes on to examine how eyes and photoreceptors become specialized for an array of visual tasks, such as navigation, evading prey, mate choice, and communication.”

LA Times: Mantis shrimp wear tinted shades to see UV light, Tom Cronin and Michael Bok

“When you look at a mantis shrimp, you see a vivid lobster-like crustacean whose forearms can strike with the force of a .22-caliber bullet. But when a mantis shrimp looks at you, we have no idea what it sees. That’s because the mantis shrimp possesses one of the most complex eyeballs on the planet, an organ that allows it to perceive a rainbow of colors in both the visible and ultraviolet spectrum without the massive brainpower required for human vision,” so writes Julia Rosen of the Los Angeles Times.

Rosen’s story, Mantis shrimp wear tinted shades to see UV light, tells of Tom Cronin and Michael Bok’s paper. Cronin is a professor of biology and Bok a graduate student who has now moved on to a post doc at Lund University.

The paper, which was recently published in the journal, Current Biology, reported that, “that that mantis shrimp use a set of filters to separate ultraviolet light into discrete colors that get picked up by the animals’ photoreceptors.”

Maricel Kann, Translational Bioinformatics

Maricel Kann, assistant professor in the department of biological sciences, recently published a new online book, Translational Bioinformatics on PLOS-CB (first open access book in PLOS.)  

This is a great resource for our students, the textbook is a good introduction to many of the topics in the emerging field of Translational Bioinformatics, and it is free to all, says Kann.

The e-pub file is downloadable from the collection page:

www.ploscollections.org/translationalbioinformatics

It’s also in mobi format for Kindle users. If you don’t have an ipad/tablet/ereader to view the epub or mobi file on, you should be able to view it on Firefox if you download this add-on:  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/epubreader/

Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg, Biological Sciences, Earns AAI Excellence in Mentoring Award

srosenbeThe American Association of Immunologists (AAI) awarded Dr. Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg, Department of Biological Sciences Professor, the 2013 Excellence in Mentoring Award “[i]n recognition of exemplary career contributions to a future generation of scientists.”

View the official announcement and see other award recipients at the American Association of Immunologists website.

Jeremy Yap ’08, Biological Sciences, Wins Predoctoral Fellowship

Alumnus Jeremy “Jerry” Yap ’08, biological sciences, was recently honored as one of four national winners of a 2012-2013 American Chemical Society (ACS) Medicinal Chemistry Predoctoral Fellowship.

Yap is currently attending the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where his work “focuses on the design and synthesis of small-molecule inhibitors (drugs) of oncogenic protein–protein interactions,” according to University of Maryland here. The story also notes that the fellowship will allow Yap to pursue his research by providing a full, year-long stipend.

“This is as an excellent example of how important collaboration is in any professional setting,” said Yap upon being named to the fellowship. “The ACS Medicinal Chemistry Fellowship is the result of the joint efforts of my mentor, Dr. [Steven] Fletcher, highly efficient University staff, and a dedicated faculty both on and off campus. All their efforts and support have allowed me the chance to apply for such a generous opportunity. Success in any field is never entirely the result of just one person’s effort, but through extensive collaboration and teamwork.

“Through this fellowship, there are many opportunities that will undoubtedly be available to me in the future. This is a very unexpected award, and I am very grateful for whatever doors it may open in my future career.”

Michael Bok ’14, Biological Sciences, on io9

Michael Bok ’14 Ph.D., biological sciences, was featured in a July 8th blog post on the science blog io9.

The piece focused on a video, filmed by Bok and posted on his website Arthropoda, of a dead Longfin Inshore Squid whose chromatophores were still active. Bok set the piece to Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel.

You can watch the video and read other posts by Bok at Arthropoda.

Alumnus Ed Becker ’01, Biological Sciences, in Cape Gazette

Cape Gazette, the newspaper which covers the Cape Region of Delaware, published an article written by alumnus and practicing orthopedic physician Ed Becker ’01, biological sciences, on June 24th.

The article, entitled “Tennis elbow: not just for tennis players,” is something of an ABC for the sporting ailment, ranging over such matters as symptoms, contributing factors, and finally offers a few recommendations to lessen the likelihood of tennis elbow occuring, and possible courses of action if it does.

“Always warm up before play,” wrote Becker, “and put all of [the] major joints through a complete range of motion. Lighter racquets and reduced string tension may help alleviate symptoms. Avoid motions that aggravate the problem and reduce wrist motion to a minimum. Any persistent symptoms or worsening pain should be evaluated by a physician.”

Applied Molecular Biology Master’s Degree Program Symposium and Open House (2/22)

UMBC Biological Sciences Departments invites Biology, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics majors to find out the benefits of an AMB Master’s Degree: a nine-month research based program with an emphasis on modern molecular biology and basic research skills. The open house will be held on Wednesday, February 22, from noon-1 p.m. in UC 312. Please RSVP to Sue LeCompte at lecompte@umbc.edu or call at ext. 5-3669. For more information about the program, find us on the web at:
http://www.umbc.edu/biosci/grad/amb.php.

Bird Population Change in North America (2/1)

The Geography and Environmental Systems and Biological Sciences departments present a joint seminar by John Sauer, Research Wildlife Biologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Dr. Sauer’s talk is entitled, “Bird Population Change in North America from 1966-2010: Summary and Analysis of North American Breeding Bird Survey Data.” The lecture will be held Wednesday, February 1, noon, in Biology 004. Note the change from the usual location for GES seminars.

For more information, contact Dawn Biehler at dbiehler@umbc.edu or ext. 5-2095.