Cornell Volunteers Travel to Colombia to Promote Higher Education in Biology

Over winter break, eight Cornell volunteers collaborated with seven students from the Universidad del Magdalena in Santa Marta, Colombia, to teach biology to Liceo Samario high school students. For some time, Prof. Timothy DeVoogd, psychology, has been trying to create international experiences for Cornell students in the sciences. He realized that one way to promote students’ international involvement might be to work with peers in Latin America over winter break. DeVoogd proposed the idea to Carlos Coronado, director of International Relations at the University of Magdalena. Coronado then found a public high school in which 80 percent of its students come from families below the Colombian poverty line, DeVoogd said.

Current members of 2018 Cornell iGEM team gather in front of Weill Hall.

Project Team Spotlight on Cornell iGEM: Furthering Synthetic Biology Research

Biological engineering is a up-and-coming area of research with broad applications ranging from protein engineering to prosthetics. And here at Cornell, a group of students are working — and competing — to develop biological engineering solutions to solve a diverse set of scientific challenges. Cornell’s branch of the International Genetically Engineered Machine is a multidisciplinary undergraduate research project team comprised of more than 40 students from four colleges at Cornell. The Cornell iGEM team, supervised by Prof. Jan Lammerding, biomedical engineering, builds projects that solve real-world problems with a heavy emphasis on synthetic biology — a branch of biological engineering that aims at the redesign of biological systems that do not already exist in the natural world. Members of Cornell iGEM compete against hundreds of other iGEM teams from around the globe each year in the iGEM Giant Jamboree, an international synthetic biology competition held in Boston.

Cornell Lab Discovers New Regulatory Mechanism of Protein, Sheds Light on Importance of Cornell’s High Energy Synchrotron Source

Proteins are strikingly complex macromolecules, which control every aspect of molecular function in all living organisms, making them an interesting research target. The Ando Lab studies the structure of proteins, specifically enzymes, in order to understand their function, using structural techniques like x-ray diffraction and small-angle x-ray scattering. These techniques allow for the visualization of atomic and molecular structure of proteins. Small-angle x-ray scattering is a technique used to study the structure of proteins in solution. SAXS maintains an advantage over other techniques because it allows for the understanding of the movement of proteins; however a caveat to SAXS is its lower resolution, creating the need for combinatorial approaches to studying proteins such as combining SAXS with chromatography.

Research Probes Key Protein’s Role in Cancer Cell Growth

Cornell researchers discover protein regulating mechanism which could be the key to eventually treating over 30 percent of all human cancers. For more than three decades, mutant Ras proteins have been known to play a vital role in driving 95 percent of pancreatic cancers and 45 percent of colorectal cancers. With this in mind, Dr. Hui Jing and Dr. Xiaoyu Zhang, both former graduate students who worked under Professor Hening Lin, chemical biology, sought to learn more about the regulation of human cancers by studying K-Ras4a: one of the four members of the Ras protein family. In addition to studying K-Ras4a, Zhang and Lin studied SIRT2, which is another protein that has been closely implicated in aging related diseases. “In the basic research field, scientists still do not fully understand how SIRT2 promotes the formation of the certain types of cancers” said Zhang.

Evolution of Darwin’s Finches: Integrating Behavior, Ecology, and Genetics

For many, Drs. Rosemary and Peter Grant, evolutionary biology, Princeton University, are living legends in the field of modern evolutionary biology, having conducted over four decades of field research on the Galapagos finches. On Monday, March 12, students, professors and alumni packed into Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall to witness the scientists bring their research on the Galapagos Finches to life. Rosemary’s talk, titled “Evolution of Darwin’s Finches: Integrating Behavior, Ecology, and Genetics” kicked off the Paul C. Mundinger Distinguished Lectureship, in honor of the late Paul C. Mundinger. Mundiger received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1967 and developed a strong attachment with lab of Ornithology as a graduate student.