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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 12-1.

Seminar Details

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:

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

Keynote Speaker, George M. Langford, Syracuse University

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

Cassandra Quave, Emory University 

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:


Twitter/Instagram: @QuaveEthnobot 

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

Nathan A. Smith, George Washington University

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

Steve Ramirez, Boston University

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 instagram: 2fos2furious

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

Omar Quintero, University of Richmond

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

Marc Edwards, Amherst College

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

Chantell Evans, University of Pennsylvania

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: @channyskye


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

Jaye Gardiner, Fox Chase Cancer Center

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

Floretine Rutaganira, UC Berkeley 

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. If you are interested in contacting me and/or want to learn more about what I work on, you can check out my twitter @frutag33 and LinkedIn at: 

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

Kizzmekia S. Corbett, PhD, National Institute of Health 

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.

Monday, February 1, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Stacy Nelson, North Carolina State University

Monday, February 8, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Samantha Lewis, UC Berkeley

Monday, February 15, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Berlin Londono, Kansas State University 

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.

Monday, February 22, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

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. 

Monday, March 1, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Crystal Rogers, UC Davis

Contact seminar series organizer Christie Lacy with questions.