Cal State Northridge
College of Science &
Dept. of Biology
The Biology Department Newsletter
Volume 14: No. 2, Editor: J. Maxwell, Publisher J.W. Dole
California State University, Northridge
Far-Away Places Attract Students
for Summer Research
This past summer Greg Fox spent eight weeks
in an internship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), an arm of the National Institutes
of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NCI he investigated genetic mutations in
the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, under the guidance of Dr. Florence
Davidson. Greg's study focused on three genesócalled Grim (grm), Reaper (rpr) and
HIDóknown to influence cell death (apoptosis) during development. Greg used such
techniques as RNA isolation, polymerase chain reactions (PCR) and reverse transcriptase
(RT)-PCR to determine if mutations in these genes cause the retina of the eye to
degenerate. At Cal State Northridge Greg works in Dr. Peter Bellinger's lab under
the guidance of Dr. Cathy Coyle-Thompson. To learn more about opportunities for similar
internships, see http://www.training.nih.gov/student/sip/asp/sipapply.asp. Information about NIH scientists and their projects can be found at
Each summer MARC students are involved in research somewhere
other than at Cal State Northridge. This past summer Edward
Yamoah, a student of Dr. Steven Oppenheimer, traveled
to England as a participant in the LA Basin CSU Consortium Minority International
Research Training Program. While there, he did research at Queens College, Cambridge
University. Another of Dr. Oppenheimer's students, Juan
Carlos Pelayo, spent this summer on a research fellowship
at UC San Francisco. Two other MARC students, Maria
Abundis and Rosemarie
de Ocampo, spent their summers working at UC San Diego
and UCLA, respectively.
MBRS students also did summer research projects off-campus. Arwen Vidal was at the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C. Clarence
Gillett studied algae in Hawaii with Dr. Robert Carpenter.
research was conducted at the University of Washington where he also visited patients
in clinics. All MBRS students are applying for graduate programs; hence, when not
working on their research they took time to study for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
Student Wins Coveted Stoye
Amy McClean, a student in Dr. Larry Allen's lab, won the prestigious and highly
competitive Stoye Award for best student paper in Ecology and Ethology at the American
Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists meeting at Pennsylvania State University.
Amy's paper was titled "Patterns of settlement in a temperate reef fish, Paralabrax
Amy's competition for the award were graduate students from
universities worldwide, including many of the most prestigious.
Biology Students Present,
Publish Results of Research
Ambroise, Edward Yamoah, Monica Londono and Juan Carlos
Pelayo co-authored with Dr. Steven Oppenheimer a poster, "Charged molecules
block egg activation," that was presented by Fabienne at the 58th national meeting
of the Society for Developmental Biology in Charlottesville, Virginia. An abstract
of the work was published in Developmental Biology.
Three students from Dr. Cohen's lab attended the Experimental Biology ë99 meeting
last April in Washington, D.C. where they presented the results of their research.
Graduate students Agata Pikula and Chris Hernandez gave papers on glutamate excitotoxicity and undergraduate Huong Can
presented her studies on cockroach feeding behavior.
Monica Londono, Edward Yamoah, Juan Carlos Pelayo and
authored a poster entitled "Charged molecules inhibit fertilization: Rinse out
experiments," that Monica presented at the Experimental Biology ë99 national
meeting. At the same meeting Monica
Tully presented a poster on "Lectin effects during
sea urchin gastrulation." An abstract of both posters appeared in the Federation
of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal. Dr. Steven Oppenheimer
is a co-author of both studies.
In the July l999 issue of the journal Acta Histochemica three full-length
papers from Dr. Steven Oppenheimer's lab appeared simultaneously, a first for Dr.
Oppenheimer, even though more than 130 publications have been produced from his lab.
Twelve students were co-authors with Dr. Oppenheimer on the papers. Brian Salbilla, Houman Vaghefi, Pavanjit Chhabra, Greg
Hall, Derrick Brown, Fereshteh Sadoughi, Edna Francisco, Liat Attas, Sherri Walker
Bich Ngoc Nguyen co-authored "Analysis of cell
surface properties using derivatized agarose beads." A second paper, "A
putative role for carbohydrates in sea urchin gastrulation," was co-authored
by Virginia Latham
and Monica Tully.
Virginia was also a co-author on the third paper, "A simple image analysis method
for evaluating cell binding to derivatized beads."
Van Tran and Ariela
Ostrovsky, both recent graduates of the Genetic Counseling
Program, presented papers at the annual National Society of Genetic Counselors meeting
in Denver. Van's paper was on prenatal decision-making in Vietnamese women. Ariela
talked about the impact of testing for predisposition alleles for breast cancer.
Both did their work under the guidance of Dr. Aïda Metzenberg.
MariaAnne Del Barrio, a graduate student in Dr. Maria
Elena Zavala's lab, has been invited to present a poster at the Society for the Advancement
of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference. This invitation
is truly an honor since few students are invited presenters. The organization will
pay much of MariaAnne's costs.
Karen Kesterson, a graduate student in Dr. Paul Tomasek's
lab, presented a poster at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) meeting in
Chicago. The poster was entitled "A rapid PCR method to detect Flexibacter
maritimus in marine aquaculture." An abstract of the work was selected for
an "Award of Special Merit" and Karen was invited to present her research
in a special student forum. Karen's trip was made possible by two travel grants of
$400 and $900 from, respectively, the ASM and the CSU Program for Education and Research
in Biotechnology. Karen completed her MS in August and is now in a Ph.D. program
at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Andra Dumitrescu, another of Dr. Paul Tomasek's graduate
students, presented a poster entitled "Sequencing of the carbofuran hydrolase
gene and characterization of the start codon sites" at the ASM-sponsored Microbial
Biodiversity Conference in Chicago. Andra's trip was made possible by a travel grant
from ASM. After completing her M.S. this summer, Andra took a position in a research
lab at the City of Hope Medical Center. She plans to begin a doctoral program soon.
Jo Anne Del Rio, a student working with Dr. Maria Elena
Zavala, has been invited to submit a paper based on work she presented in the neurosciences
meeting last spring. The lab has also received a request that another manuscript
be submitted, this one based on work performed by Dr. Zavala, Dr. Rui Li, a post-doctoral
fellow, and graduate student Julissa
Sosa. The three of them also were invited to the International
Conference on Auxins and Cytokinins in Prague, Czech Republic where they presented
the results of their research. They combined the week-long conference with a bit
of traveling. "The experience was wonderful and the meeting was great,"
says Dr. Zavala. Julissa's travel was supported in part by the MBRS program.
One of Dr. Larry Allen's students, Carol
Phalen, gave a talk on the topic of "Genetic variation
among twelve populations of kelp bass, Paralabrax clathratus" at the
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists meetings at Pennsylvania State
Babak Ghovanloonia, an undergraduate student working
with Dr. Linda Caren, presented a poster at UC Irvine at the West Coast Biological
Science Undergraduate Conference in May. His poster was titled "Effects of multifrequency
EMF on the mutation rate of four tester strains of S. typhimurium in the Ames