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University of Richmond Biology Department Seminar

In Honor of George M. Langford’s continued contributions to integrative and inclusive science, we present the 2020 Scientist of Color Speaker Series. Seminars are held on Mondays from 12:45pm - 2:15pm.

Upcoming Seminars

Monday, March 8, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Omar A. Quintero, University of Richmond: “Actin-based and Microtubule-based molecular motors encode for distinct Miro-dependent and Miro-independent mechanisms of interaction with mitochondrial membranes"

Omar A. Quintero is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Richmond.  He joined the faculty at Richmond in 2012.  He completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at The Pennsylvania State University, his PhD in Cell Biology at Duke University with Jo Rae Wright, and his postdoctoral work as a SPIRE Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with Richard Cheney.  Prior to his position at University of Richmond, he was faculty at Franklin and Marshall College, Mount Holyoke College, and the College of Medicine at Penn State.  His research focuses on the mechanisms of mitochondrial transport and organization inside cells, and utilizes modern quantitative microscopy approaches.  His lab is made up almost exclusively of undergraduate scientists, and he often incorporates components of his research into his classroom teaching.  He recently received the “Distinguished Educator Award” at the University of Richmond, and has served in leadership roles for the American Society for Cell Biology (Education Committee and as a member of Council) and is an advisor for the Allen Institute for Cell Science. 

Click here to join the webinar.


Past Seminars 

Monday, August 31, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Sabrice Guerrier, Rollins College: “Understanding the regulation of membrane curvature during mating in Tetrahymena thermophila”

Sabrice Guerrier is a native of Brooklyn, NY having earned a B.S. in Biology from Long Island University - Brooklyn. He would go on to earn a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he studied the migration of neurons during mammalian cortical development. He then participated in a short postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic Cancer center where he studied the cytoskeleton of natural killer cells. Finally, after teaching at Carleton College and Millsaps College, Sabrice recently moved to Rollins College in Winter Park, FL where he is an Associate Professor of Biology. His laboratory interest are in the area of cell biology and is specifically focused the signals and proteins that dictate cell and organelle shape.

Monday, September 7, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Gerald Downes, University of Massachusetts: “From Swimming to Seizures: Investigating Locomotor Behavior and Epilepsy in Developing Zebrafish”

Dr. Gerald (Gerry) Downes, originally from Kingston, Massachusetts, graduated from Johnson C Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina with a B.S. in Biology. Although originally interested in medical school, Dr. Downes participated in four rewarding undergraduate research programs at Duke University, Vanderbilt University, and his home institution that inspired him to enroll in the Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience Graduate Program. He earned his Ph.D. from this program and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In 2005, he became an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. His research has two related goals. One goal is to better understand how genes and neural networks in the brain and spinal cord control movement. More recently, due to personal and professional reasons, he has established a second goal, which is provide new insights into epilepsies and develop new therapeutics to treat these disorders. To pursue both of these research goals, his laboratory uses zebrafish as a model system. Across his career, Dr. Downes has won several awards, including a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship at Washington University, a Merck/United Negro College Fund (UNCF) postdoctoral fellowship, a diversity and inclusion award from the University of Massachusetts, and research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Lab Website Click here to view Dr. Downes' talk

Monday, September 14, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Keynote Speaker, George M. Langford, Syracuse University: “Pursuing inclusive excellence: a cell biologist’s journey studying the cytoskeleton” 

George M. Langford is Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Biology at Syracuse University and served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2008-2014. His primary area of study is the cytoskeleton and mechanisms of transport of organelles and vesicles in nerve cells. He and his collaborators used Video Enhanced Contrast (VEC) Microscopy to discover the actin-dependent component of vesicle transport in nerve cells. They were the first to propose the dual filament model of transport in which long range transport of vesicles occur on microtubules while short range transport occurs on actin filaments. He identified myosin5 as the motor for vesicle transport in axoplasm. His research group has been instrumental in developing protocols for long-term imaging of living cells using high resolution multi-mode light microscopy.

He served as dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the inaugural Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences at Dartmouth College and professor of Physiology, the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He was appointed in 1998 by President Clinton to a six-year term on the National Science Board, the governing board of the National Science foundation. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letter by Beloit College in 2001 and elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2013. A longstanding advocate for supporting under represented minority students in the sciences, Professor Langford was named inaugural chair of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), and the first recipient of the ASCB EE Just Award for his seminal work on the actin cytoskeleton and molecular motors. He recently served on the Science Education Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was former chair of the Board of Directors of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He is Program Director of the Syracuse University CHANcE Project funded by the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Initiative. 

Click here to view Dr. Langford's talk.

Monday, September 21, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Cassandra Quave, Emory University: "Ethnobotany and the Search for New Antibiotics from Nature"

Cassandra Quave, Ph.D. is Curator of the Herbarium and Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Human Health at Emory University, where she leads antibiotic drug discovery research initiatives and teaches courses on medicinal plants, microbiology and pharmacology. Her research focuses on the documentation and biochemical analysis of plants used in the traditional medical treatment of infectious and inflammatory skin disease. She applies this unique approach to natural products drug discovery in her search for new antibiotics that target multidrug resistant pathogens. She earned her B.S. in Biology and Anthropology from Emory University in 2000, her Ph.D. in Biology from Florida International University in 2008, and completed post-doctoral fellowships in Microbiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (2009-2011) and Human Health at Emory University (2012). Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, Fortune 100 industry contracts, and philanthropy. Dr. Quave has authored more than 100 scientific publications, 2 edited books and 6 patents. She is the co-founder and CEO/CSO of PhytoTEK LLC, a drug discovery company dedicated to developing solutions from botanicals for the treatment of recalcitrant antibiotic resistant infections. She is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a past President of the Society for Economic Botany, a recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award and Charles Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award. She is the creator and host of Foodie Pharmacology, a podcast dedicated to exploring the links between food and medicine. Dr. Quave’s research has been the subject of feature profiles in the New York Times Magazine, BBC Focus, Brigitte Magazin, NPR and the National Geographic Channel.

Research group website | Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Click here to view Dr. Quave's talk.

Monday, September 28, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Nathan A. Smith, George Washington University, "Calcium Independent Astrocytic Lipid Release Modulates Neuronal Activity through Kv Channels"

In 2018, I became the first African American Principal Investigator within my department at Children’s National Research Institute and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology & Physiology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. I earned my B.S. in Biology Premed from Xavier University of Louisiana, and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. I completed my postdoctoral training at the University of Utah/Boston University and Children’s National Hospital. 

My research focuses on neuroglia interactions. Specifically, my lab studies how neuromodulators mediate the unique interactions between neurons, astrocytes, and microglia in healthy brains, and how disruptions in neuronal-glial crosstalk contribute to diseases such as ADHD, depression, and epilepsy. 

My research is currently funded by a National Institutes of Health  NINDS K01 Faculty Career Development Award, a National Science Foundation Frontiers Award, and the Department of Defense Army Research Award. 

Lab website | Click here to view Dr. Smith's talk.

Monday, October 5, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Steve Ramirez, Boston University: "Storing, retrieving, and manipulating memories”

Steve Ramirez is an Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Boston University and a former Junior Fellow of Harvard University. He received his B.A. in neuroscience from Boston University and began researching learning and memory in the laboratory of Howard Eichenbaum. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in neuroscience in the laboratory of Susumu Tonegawa at MIT, where his work focused on artificially modulating memories in the rodent brain, and his current work focuses on leveraging these manipulations to alleviate symptoms associated with psychiatric diseases. Steve has also received an NIH DP5 award and an NIH Transformative Award, the Smithsonian's American Ingenuity award, National Geographic's Breakthrough Explorer prize, Forbes and Technology Review's Top 35 Innovators Under 35 award, a McKnight Foundation award, and has given two TED talks. 

Lab website | Instagram | Click here to view Dr. Ramirez's talk.

Monday, October 12, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Michael D. L. Johnson, University of Arizona: "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Copper II"

Dr. Michael D. L. Johnson received an A.B. in Music from Duke University and “smoothly” transitioned to obtaining his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing his dissertation in bacterial motility and attachment, he went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the Department of Infectious Disease to study how bacteria process nutrients, specifically metals, during bacterial infections. He then worked in the Department of Immunology studying newly discovered ways of how the body eliminates harmful pathogens. During his postdoctoral fellowship, he also founded Science Sound Bites, a science podcast for kids. Currently, Dr. Johnson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in the Department of Immunobiology where he studies mechanisms of metal toxicity in bacteria. He is active in science outreach through events like DNA Day, The BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, in minority scientific affairs through the American Society for Microbiology, and online through twitter @blacksciblog.

Click here to view Dr. Johnson's talk.

Monday, October 19, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Marc Edwards, Amherst College: “A Mutually inhibitory Ras-PI(3,4)P2 feedback loop mediates cell migration in Dictyostelium”

The goal of the Edwards laboratory is to develop a deep mechanistic understanding of how cells move. Cell migration is an important process during the development of organisms, and it plays a role in the pathophysiology of diseases such as cancer.  We use a range of cell biology and microscopy techniques to decipher the basic mechanisms of directed migration in Dictyostelium. The dynamic extension and retraction of the protrusions that drive cellular motility are controlled by the coordinated activity of the signal transduction and cytoskeletal cellular networks.  We are particularly interested in the molecular architecture of the feedback loops that control signal processing, and amplification within these networks.  We are also interested in how cells use signal transduction networks to integrate guidance cues from different modalities as they migrate through signal-rich environments.

Click here to view Dr. Edwards' talk.

Monday, October 26, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Chantell Evans, University of Pennsylvania: "Investigating the spatial and temporal dynamics of mitophagy in neurons"

Chantell Evans is a Senior Postdoc Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology from the University of Wisconsin. Her graduate thesis investigated Ca2+-regulated exocytosis using biochemistry and biophysics. At the University of Pennsylvania, she uses advanced microscopy and biochemical techniques to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms that regulate mitophagy in primary neurons. Her recent work focused on characterizing the spatial and temporal dynamics of neuronal mitophagy. She is particularly interested in examining mitochondrial quality control pathways in neurons and the role of mitochondrial regulation in neurodegenerative diseases. Chantell was an inaugural recipient of the Hanna Gray Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Twitter | Linkedin | Click here to view Dr. Evans' talk.

Monday, November 2, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Jaye Gardiner, Fox Chase Cancer Center: “Embracing the unexpected: Drawing insights from cellular conversations and IDEAs for a better future”

Dr. Jaye Gardiner received her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology in 2017 from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she studied how HIV effectively spreads between cells and how that infection changed the cells behaviors. Now, she researches pancreatic cancer's tumor microenvironment, specifically focusing on how the non-tumor cells communicate to support the tumor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. As a first generation American and college graduate, Jaye is passionate about and involved in a variety of science communication (scicomm) efforts to increase access, exposure, and IDEA (inclusivity, diversity equity, and accessibility) in STEM; predominantly through art, organizing spaces/platforms for diverse scientists and scicomm, and teaching (check out her comics group JKX Comics, the high school research program TRIP Initiative where she is an instructor, #UniqueScientists on twitter/Instagram, and the science communication workshop for graduate students ComSciCon). You could say that in lab and out, Jaye is all about communication.When not chasing her dreams, you can find Jaye chasing her two pet bunnies, working out, or playing video games. 

Click here to view Dr. Gardiner's talk.

Monday, November 9, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Floretine Rutaganira, UC Berkeley: "The Evolution of Phosphotyrosine Signaling in the Animal Stem Lineage"

As a scientist, I find joy in the ability of scientific exploration to inspire creativity and transform practices. For my postdoctoral research, I am combining skills that I have gained as a chemist and a biologist to study choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals. Although choanoflagellates are considered to be “simple” organisms in comparison with their multicellular animal relatives, recent studies on choanoflagellates show that they have many unappreciated features that are shared with their “complex” animal relatives. I am particularly interested in studying genes that allow choanoflagellates to transition between a unicellular lifestyle to a multicellular lifestyle. It is likely that many of these genes have functions that are important to animal development. By studying choanoflagellates, I hope to uncover new insight into human biology which lead to new approaches to treat human disease. In addition to pursuing my own scientific interests, I hope to inspire others to pursue careers in science. There are endless discoveries to be made and science is truly a team effort. 

Twitter | LinkedIn | Click here to view Dr. Rutaganira's talk.

Monday, November 16, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Kizzmekia S. Corbett, PhD, National Institute of Health: "Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Development Enabled by Preparedness" 

Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett is the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center (VRC). Appointed to the VRC in 2014, her work focuses on developing novel coronavirus vaccines, including mRNA-1273, a candidate vaccine against the virus that causes COVID-19. In response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine concept incorporated in mRNA-1273 was designed by Dr. Corbett’s team from viral sequence and rapidly deployed to industry partner, Moderna, Inc., for FDA-approved phase 1 clinical trial. The clinical trial, including 45 participants, started only 66 days from the release date of the virus sequence. Following promising results in animal models and humans, mRNA-1273 is currently in Phase 3 clinical trial. Alongside mRNA-1273, Dr. Corbett’s team boasts a portfolio which also includes universal coronavirus vaccine candidates and novel therapeutic antibodies. Additionally, Dr. Corbett spent several years working on a universal influenza vaccine, which is slated for phase 1 clinical trial in the upcoming year. She has fifteen years of expertise with dengue virus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, and coronaviruses. Her scientific career began at University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar and a NIH undergraduate scholar. She received a BS in Biological Sciences, with a secondary major in Sociology, in 2008. She then enrolled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), from where she obtained her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology in 2014.

Click here to view Dr. Corbett's talk.

Monday, February 1, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Stacy Nelson, North Carolina State University: "Monitoring, Modeling, Mentoring in Geospatial Sciences and all the other things that they don't tell about surviving in academia" 

Dr. Stacy A. C. Nelson is a professor in the College of Natural Resources’ Center for Geospatial Analytics, the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, and the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Science Program at North Carolina State University. Dr. Nelson’s research interests focus on the use of geospatial technologies to address both regional and local-scale questions of land use and land cover change and the impact this change has on aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Nelson earned a B.S. in biology from Jackson State University. He completed a master’s degree from the College of William and Mary’s school of marine science-the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. His Ph.D. was completed in Limnology and Fisheries Sciences from Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, where Dr. Nelson attended graduate school as a NASA graduate research fellow. Dr. Nelson served a year-long Federal Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointment within the National Headquarters of the USDA Forest Service’s Office of Civil Rights in Washington D.C. In D.C., Dr. Nelson worked with the USDA Forest Service and multiple agencies to expand working partnerships between majority-serving and minority-serving Land-Grant Universities in an effort to increase shared research capacities, curricula, and diversity among institutions.

Click here to view Dr. Nelson's talk.

Monday, February 8, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Samantha Lewis, UC Berkeley: "Mitochondria and their genomes"

Dr. Samantha Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her lab is focused on the inner workings of subcellular structures involved in energy production - mitochondria. Mitochondria are derived from bacteria which, in an ancient endosymbiotic event that occurred more than 1.5 billion years ago, became an organelle inside all eukaryotic cells. Thus, mitochondria have their own genome. The Lewis lab is interested in mitochondrial genome inheritance and replication, as well as mitochondria assembly, cell metabolism, and interactions between mitochondria and other membrane-bound organelles. Professor Lewis has been a past recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Award, a Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation Award, and was recently recognized with the Kelsey Wright Award for Excellence in Mitochondrial Medicine by the Mitochondrial Medicine Society."

Click here to view Dr. Lewis's talk.

Monday, February 15, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Berlin Londono, Kansas State University: “Transmission of pathogens and human-mosquito interactions through feeding.” 

Dr. Londono is currently an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University, in the Department of Entomology. Her research is focused on the characterization of mosquito salivary proteins as markers for disease risk and transmission dynamics. In the past five years, she has also been involved in the study of human immune factors associated with Flavivirus transmission to the mosquito vectors. Specifically, she is currently looking at the interactions among Dengue/Zika virus, mosquito midgut proteins and human immune factors as mechanisms for designing transmission-blocking vaccines. In summary, the emphasis of Dr. Londono’s research is the study of pathogen – host interactions with potential for control and monitoring of vector-borne diseases. Lab website | ResearchGate

Click here to view Dr. Londono's talk.

Monday, February 22, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Antonio Baines, North Carolina Central University 

Science was always one of the courses that Dr. Antonio (Tony) Baines excelled in throughout high school. It was this love for science that led him to major in biology as an honor student at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1995, Tony was admitted to the Ph.D. program in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. As a graduate student working in the Arizona Cancer Center, he studied the molecular mechanisms of colon cancer.

In 2001, Tony received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology, becoming the 2nd African American to graduate from the department in its approximately 30 years of its existence. Afterwards, Tony studied as a teaching/research postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in pharmacology working on pancreatic cancer.

In August 2006, Tony accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Biology at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina where he currently teaches and continues his biomedical research on pancreatic cancer. At NCCU, he studies numerous molecular targets that are involved in various phenotypes of pancreatic cancer such as aberrant cell growth and drug resistance. Overall, Dr. Baines is interested in validating these molecular targets in pancreatic cancer for potential drug therapies.

In addition, he is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology and a member in the Curriculum in Toxicology and Environmental Medicine at UNC-CH.

During his free time, Tony likes to jog, practice martial arts, watch movies, read, travel, and most importantly, spend quality time with his family. NCCentral University | UNC School of Medicine

Click here to view Dr. Baines' talk.

Monday, March 1, 2021 | 12:45pm - 2:15pm

Crystal Rogers, UC Davis: "Cell fate and survival: Cadherin proteins during embryonic development"

Dr. Crystal Rogers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Cell Biology at the University of California Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. She earned her BS from the University of California, Los Angeles and her PhD from Georgetown University. Following her love of developmental biology, Dr. Rogers moved to the California Institute of Technology to pursue her Postdoctoral training with Dr. Marianne Bronner. Subsequently, Dr. Rogers moved to a position as an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge, a primarily undergraduate institution. She moved her lab to UC Davis in 2019 to expand the research program and to begin mentoring PhD students. Over the course of her career she has had two major goals. Her first goal is to create a research program that is inclusive and accessible to scientists from all backgrounds and walks of life. Her second goal is to define the mechanisms that drive the evolution and formation of the vertebrate body plan. The research in the lab is aimed at determining the function of neural crest transcription, cell adhesion, and cytoskeletal factors during cell fate specification and the epithelial to mesenchymal transition, identifying if the function of these factors in neural crest cell development is conserved between vertebrate species, and understanding the effects of environmental exposures to toxins and toxicants on these mechanistic pathways. Rogers Lab Website.

Click here to view Dr. Rogers' talk.


Contact seminar series organizer Christie Lacy with questions.