Department of Biological Sciences - Lehigh University

Volume 10, 2014 - Biological Sciences Newsletter - Spring 2014

In this edition.....

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Support awarded from Langer-Simon Endowed Fund for bioscience research

Robert & Laura Langer established the Langer-Simon Endowed Fund for Bioscience Research through a generous gift in 2012. The purpose is to support research experiences for undergraduate students in the biological sciences. The fund will support student research projects with an emphasis on lab activities that integrate multiple disciplines and perspectives.

In Fall, 2013, The Department of Biological Sciences held the first competition for support from the Langer-Simon Endowed Fund for Bioscience Research. Student applicants submitted their credentials, research plans, and recommendations from faculty. Finalists were selected by a faculty committee and interviews were conducted.

We are pleased to announce the first Langer-Simon Scholars:

Lehigh University Langer Recipients 2013-2014
2013-2014 Langer-Simon recipients (l-r)
Francisca Onyiuke Joanna Warren, Aislinn Rowann

Joanna Warren (’15), is working with Dr. Amber Rice and Dr. Julie Miwa to investigate the evolutionary history of a gene, lynx1, that underlies learning potential. Her study involves sequencing and analyzing DNA from different species of birds that vary in their ability to learn song. The findings will help determine whether natural selection has acted on lynx1 in birds that have the capability to learn songs throughout their entire lives. More broadly, the results are relevant for understanding sources of variation in learning potential in humans. Joanna will receive $3,250 to support her research.

Francisca Onyiuke (’15), a behavioral neuroscience major, was awarded $750 to attend the 11th International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics in Madison, Wisconsin in June. She is working with Dr. Kathy Iovine on a zebrafish model that explores cellular mechanisms that regulate bone growth. Her study evolved from a project that linked developmental biology, biophysics, and bioengineering that was conducted by Dr. Iovine and Dr. Bryan Berger, a chemical engineer. Francisca is using both isolated cells and regenerating fins, focusing on interactions between a key signaling molecule, Sema3d, and its possible target receptor, Nrp2a.

Aislinn Rowan (’14) is a biology major working with Dr. Linda Lowe-Krentz to define changes in blood vessel cells that may lead to vascular disease, one of the most serious health problems in the United States. Aislinn is exploring whether these endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, show a response to inflammation comparable to that seen in well characterized non-vascular cells. The study was developed in part through a collaboration between Dr. Lowe-Krentz, a biochemist, and Dr. Yaling Liu, a mechanical engineer. Aislinn’s experiments focus on three markers of inflammation. The results she has obtained to date have led to an invitation to present her research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Aislinn will give a talk and also present a poster at the meeting. She received a $1,000 award to fund her travel and meeting expenses.


Murray Itzkowitz, Chair | Michael Behe | R. Michael Burger | Lynne Cassimeris | David Cundall
Matthis Falk | Julie Haas | M. Kathryn Iovine | Michael Kuchka | Gregory Lang | Linda Lowe-Krentz | Julie Miwa
John Nyby | Amber Rice | Jeffrey Sands | Jill Schneider | Neal Simon | Robert Skibbens | Jennifer Swann | Vassie Ware