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College of the Sciences

Biology News 2007-2008 Academic Year

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Summer 2008

Lucinda Carnell was awarded a 2 year RIG (Research Initiation Grant) from NSF beginning this fall to characterize serotonin-signaling pathways involved in behavior adaptation in the nematode, C. elegans.

Lixing Sun has three new peer-reviewed papers that he completed and submitted recently: (1.) Zhang J.X., D. Liu, L. Sun, R. Wei, G. Zhang, H. Wu, H. Zhang and C.Zhao. 2008. Potential chemosignals in the anog enital gland secretion of giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, associated with sex and individual identity. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 34: 398-407; (2.) Zhang J.X., X. Rao, L. Sun, D. Wang, D. Liu and C. Zhao. 2008. Cohabitation impaired physiology, fitness and sex-related chemosignals in golden hamsters. Physiology and Behavior, 93:1071-1077; (3.) Zhang, J. X., Y. J. Liu, J. H. Zhang, and L. Sun. 2008. Dual role of preputial gland secretion and its major components in sex recognition of mice. Physiology and Behavior 95:388-394. The third article was cited and highlighted by the British Journal Nature (China) as a significant new discovery in ecology and evolution and can be found online in Nature China Highlights - Subject Category: Ecology and Evolution, 27 August 2008 | doi:10.1038/nchina.2008.197

Dave Darda presented an invited public lecture at the Barn Beach Reserve in Leavenworth on September 12. The evening presentation, "Amphibians and Reptiles of Central Washington" was part of Barn Beach's public lecture series on the natural history of north central Washington. Approximately 60 people attended. A smaller group accompanied Dr. Darda on an all-day field trip the following day.

Jim Johnson and Ian Quitadamo published a manuscript (with an undergrad researcher) this summer: Quitadamo, I. J., Faiola, C. L., Johnson, J. E., Kurtz, M. J. 2008. Community-based inquiry improves critical thinking in general education biology. Cell Biol. Educ. 7(3):327-37.

Holly Pinkart published two papers from the Soap Lake Research lab this summer: Vanengelen, M., B. Peyton, M. Mormile, and H. Pinkart. 2008. Fe(III), Cr(VI), and Fe(III) mediated Cr(VI) reduction in alkaline media using a Halomonas isolate from Soap Lake, Washington. Biodegradation 19: 841-850 and Dimitriu, P., H. Pinkart, B. Peyton, and M. Mormile. 2008. Spatial and Temporal Patterns in the Microbial Diversity of a Meromictic Soda Lake in Washington State. Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 74: 4877-4888

Ian Quitadamo was asked to serve on the Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education (LASER) Steering Committee, overseeing science education for much of the state.

In July, Dave Darda accepted a one-year appointment as the Associate Dean of the College of the Sciences.

Ian Quitadamo became a member of the Washington State Teachers Association Executive Board.

Ian Quitadamo became a Washington State Quality Award Examiner (based on national Baldrige organizational excellence criteria). He will be involved when CWU submits a lite application.

Holly Pinkart's undergraduate research student, David Justus, was awarded an internship at the National Institutes of Health at the end of spring quarter. David started working on stem cell research at NIH this summer.

Spring 2008

Linda Raubeson and undergraduate Science Honors student Skip McCoy (first author) with Jennifer Kuehl (DOE Joint Genome Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) and Jeffrey Boore (DOE Joint Genome Institute and Lawrence Berkeley, UC-Berkeley, and Genome Project Solutions) had their paper, "The complete plastid genome sequence of Welwitschia mirabilis: an unusually compact plastome with accelerated divergence rates" published in BMC Evolutionary Biology 2008, 8:130 in May 2008.

Linda Raubeson and Lucinda Carnell were recipients of the 2008 Equipment Grant Awards for their proposal titled "Thermocyclers: Essential Equipment for Biological Sciences". Gabriel Stryker and Holly Pinkart were also recipients for their proposal of "Real-time (Quantitative) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) System." Their proposals were evaluated by academic affairs administrators and a five person committee made up of members from each of the four colleges and the library.

Lixing Sun and coauthors Drs. Jianxu Zhang, Kevin Bruce and Milos Novotny have received attention from MSNBC, LiveScience, and the Washington Post regarding their paper "Chronic exposure of cat odor enhances aggression, urinary attractiveness and sex pheromones of mice" which was published in the Journal of Ethology (279-286)

Winter 2008

Paul James and graduate students Andrew Puls and Allison Johnson attended the "Annual Meeting of the North Pacific International Chapter of the American Fisheries Society" in Bellingham, WA, on March 4-6, 2008. Paul and Andrew co-authored a paper that Andrew presented titled "Microhabiotat Partitioning in an Eastern Cascades Stream Fish Assemblage" and Andrew won second place ($125) for the his presentation in the student paper competition at the meeting.

Steve Wagner and other CWU biologists have established the Amphibian Decline Research Fund. According to Dr. Wagner, several CWU researchers are at the forefront of research that investigates factors contributing to both the worldwide and regional decline of amphibians in Washington State. However, amphibians, and also reptiles, are underrepresented groups for the funding of research at the state or federal level although it has been reported that approximately 1/3 of the world's amphibians are threatened with extinction. Therefore, in order for these biologists to continue to be leaders in herpetological research and provide educational and research opportunities for CWU students and faculty, they have created the Amphibian Decline Research Fund. The group is currently focusing their efforts on the disease factors contributing to amphibian decline, long-term monitoring of amphibian biodiversity in Washington State and the Yellow Mountains of China, a research expedition to document the biodiversity of amphibians in southern Borneo (Indonesia), and providing small grants to enhance research and emergency funding for projects. If you are interested in supporting the amphibian or herpetological research at CWU please contact Dr. Steve Wagner, phone 509-963-3105 or email at

Lixing Sun was awarded a College of the Sciences Faculty Summer Research Grant for a $3000 study called "Differential recombination rate between males and females as a consequence of sexual conflict".

Susan (Belmont) Brady, an undergraduate researcher, Jim Johnson, and Steve Wagner presented a paper titled "DNA Barcoding and Amphibian saprolegniasis" at the Joint Wildlife Society and Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology annual meetings in Missoula Montana on February 25-29. In addition, Kori Ault, NSF graduate fellow, John Arlt, Ellensburg High School teacher, Jim Johnson and Steve Wagner presented a poster entitled "Yakima WATERs Project: Team HERPS Helps to Enhance Research in Public Schools". April Barraca, graduate student, and Jason Irwin presented a poster titled "Frogs in the Snow: Where do they go? The overwintering strategies of Cascade Frogs (Rana cascadae)". Aja Woodrow, graduate student, presented a poster entitled "Effects of salvage logging on an Eastern Cascade Bird community 12-13 years post stand-replacement fire".

Dave Darda presented an invited public lecture at Yakima Valley Community College on January 29. The presentation was part of YVCC's Visiting Lecture Series and was titled "Andy Rooney's Eyebrows, the Human Tailbone, and that Thing that Hangs Down in the Back of Your Throat: Oddball Anatomical Structures and the Stories they Tell". Approximately 200 people attended.

Kori Ault, NSF Fellow, and Steve Wagner attended the NSF sponsored GK-12 conference in Washington D.C., Feb 29- March 2, and presented their contributions to the Yakima WATERs Project.

Jim Johnson, Susan Belmont (undergraduate researcher), and R. Steven Wagner published a paper titled "DNA Barcoding as a means to identify organisms associated with amphibian eggs" in Herpetological Conservation and Biology 3:116-127.

Ian Quitadamo was nominated to the Washington Science Teacher Association Executive Board as a representative of Teachers of Teachers of Science (TOTOS), a state-wide consortium of higher education institutions involved in science teacher education.

Jim Johnson and Steve Wagner co-authored a paper along with Tara Chestnut (WSDOT) titled "Results of amphibian chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) sampling in Denali National Park, Alaska, USA" that is currently in press for Herpetological Review.

Steve Wagner was a co-author of a submitted paper with Chinese colleagues (Bin Wang, Jianping Jia, Feng Xie, Xiaohong Chen, Gang Liang) from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu Institute of Biology titled "Phylogeographic evidence of diversification and range expansion in the Feirana complex across central China" to Molecular Ecology.

Fall 2007

Linda Raubeson published a paper entitled "Comparative chloroplast genomics: analyses including new sequences from the angiosperms Nuphar advena and Ranunculus macranthus" published in Biomed Central Genomics Volume 2007, issue 8, 27 pgs.

Linda Raubeson presented a paper at the Botany and Plant Biology Congress, Chicago, July 8-11, 2007. Five undergraduate students and two other members of the lab also presented on their research. Two of the undergraduates were supported to work in the lab over the summer on REU supplements to her NSF grants.

Linda Raubeson submitted a manuscript for review based on a CWU science honors thesis.

Jason Irwin attended a grant-writing workshop along with Roger Fouts at Simon Frazier University organized by The Grant Institute.

Steve Wagner contributed to a successful biodiversity field school in China during the summer and then conducted amphibian biodiversity fieldwork in Borneo for two weeks.

Ian Quitadamo, Steve Wagner and Paul James contributed to a successful workshop to initiate the NSF WATERS grant along with several graduate student fellows and public school science teachers.

Holly Pinkart co-authored a paper titled "Coevolution of cyanophage and cyanobacteria in an Antarctic lake" published in Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X. Proc. SPIE 6694: 54-67 and co-authored another titled "Diversity, evolution, and horizontal gene transfer in soda lakes" published in Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X.

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