Cal State Northridge
College of Science &
Dept. of Biology
The Biology Department Newsletter
Volume 15: No. 2, Editor: J. Maxwell, Publisher J.W. Dole
California State University, Northridge
||Biology Students Take Honors at Research Competition
Biology students were well-represented among the winners at this year's Student Research
Symposium, an annual opportunity for students to present the results of their research
to the University community.
Jeannie Chari, a graduate student working with Dr. Paul
Wilson, won first place for an oral presentation in Biology or Health Science. Her
talk was entitled "Factors limiting hybridization between Penstemon spectabilis
and Penstemon centranthifolius."
Two of Dr. Robert Carpenter's undergraduate students, Kim
Whiteside and Clarence Gillett, won awards for
their posters. Kim's poster, on "Morphological variation in Gelidum robustum
(Gelidiales, Rhodophyta) from Santa Catalina Island," took first place in the
undergraduate category. Clarence won second prize with his poster entitled "Effects
of light and flow on the photosynthetic yield of Dictyopteris undulata."
Julissa Sosa and MaryAnne Del
Barrio, both students working in Dr. Maria Elena Zavala's lab, also won prizes
for outstanding presentations. Julissa's oral presentation on "Induction of
cytokinin glycosyltransferase in Zea mays under cold stress" took second
place among graduate students. MaryAnne's presentation, entitled "Effects of
excised shoot and seed organs on the growth and development of Zea mays roots,"
took second place for a poster presentation by a graduate student.
Biology Students Earn Awards, Grants
Graduate Student Iman Mohtashemi, working with Dr. Aïda
Metzenberg, was awarded a Student Projects grant of $2400. He will use the funds
to support his thesis research on "The role of clusterin protein in the maintenance
Graduate student Delaram Araghi received $1,500 from
the University Corporation to support her interdisciplinary project. Working with
her engineering partner, Maral Sagherian, Delaram will
use the funds to test the feasibility of using bacterially produced magnetic particles
to destroy cancer cells. The study, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Larry
Baresi, is an outgrowth of a Biomedical Engineering (EE 603) seminar taught by Drs.
Baresi and Willis Downing (Department of Electrical Engineering). The seminar brought
graduate students from different fields together to collaborate and develop new ideas.
Biology graduate students were remarkably successful this year at garnering funds,
a total of $6,900, from the Office of Graduate Studies, Research and International
Programs to aid them in their thesis research. Nick Haring,
Denise Weisman and Maiko Kasuya, students working
in Dr. Robert Carpenter's lab, each received $600 to support their research at the
Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. Two of Dr. Randy Cohen's students,
Christopher Hernandez and Agata
Pikula, were each awarded $500 to fund their research on neurodegeneration
in a rat mutant.
GRIP awards also went to Jeannie Chari, a student of
Dr. Paul Wilson for her study of pollination; she received $300. Sandra
Ng, who works with Dr. Jim Dole, was awarded $600 to support her study of
the use of habitat corridors by carnivores in the Santa Monica Mountains. Joyce
Merritt, working with Dr. Paul Tomasek, received $600 to further her work
on cloning and sequencing the 3,4-dihydroxyxanthone dioxygenase (DHXD) gene from
bacteria of the genus Arthrobacter, a group of organisms commonly found in
soil and often associated with the biodegradation of organic molecules. Lisa
Allen, whose research is being guided by Dr. Jeffrey Smallwood, was awarded
$500 and Dr. Edward Carroll's student, Chad Barber,
got $400 to support his research efforts.
Also successful in the GRIP competition were six genetic counseling students, all
working with Dr. Aïda Metzenberg: Alison Hobson, Aparna
Murali, Christine Seward, Melanie Salvador, Candy Nehlsen and Christine
Delgado McElroy. Each received from $100 to $300.
A student of Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, MaryAnne Del Barrio,
won an award of $600 from the GRIP competition to support research she will carry
out at Cornell University where she will work with two collaborators, Drs. Eloy Rodriguez
and Manuel Arregullin, renowned experts in plant secondary metabolites; her goal
is to use state-of-the-art gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify a
flavonoid from plant roots. At Cornell, she will stay with two former Cal State Northridge
students, Luis Rodriquez, a former MARC Scholar and currently a Ph.D candidate, and
Monica Londono, a former MBRS student who now holds a position as Research Associate.
Two Biology graduate students-Sarah Kimball and Dave Bottinelli-have been awarded a Teaching Associate waiver
of State University fees for the spring 2000 semester. For students enrolling for
7 units or more, the award is equivalent to $985.
Karoline Rostamiani, one of Dr. Aïda Metzenberg's
students, received a $900 Student Travel Award from the CSU Program for Education
and Research in Biotechnology. The money paid for her trip to the American Society
of Human Genetics annual meeting where she presented her work.
Biology Students Present, Publish Research
Four students in Dr. Aïda Metzenberg's lab attended the Annual Meeting of the
American Society of Human Genetics in San Francisco where two presented their work
on the molecular bases of X-linked disorders. Karoline Rostamiani
presented the results of her study of novel missense mutations in the DKC1 gene among
patients with dyskeratosis congenita. Denise Smith's
presentation was on mutations in X-linked dominant chondrodysplasia punctata. "Both
papers elicited international interest!" says Dr. Metzenberg. Karoline and Denise
also attended a mentoring breakfast with top investigators in the field of human
genetics, as did two other students working with Dr. Metzenberg, Troy
Phipps and Vince Pureza.
Dr. Randy Cohen's lab was well-represented at the Entomological Society of America
conference in Atlanta, Georgia last December. At the meeting, graduate student Danielle Mahoney and undergraduate student Huong
Can presented their work about the mechanisms regulating feeding behavior
in cockroaches. Zerlinde Balverde and Veronica
Talamantes, both undergraduates, presented their novel study of the anesthetic
effects of nicotine on cockroach motor behavior.
Juan Carlos Pelayo presented a poster on "Charged
amino acids block egg activation and fertilization: Rinse out experiments" at
the 39th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Steven Oppenheimer co-authored the presentation. An abstract of the paper was
published in Molecular Biology of the Cell. Three other students in Dr. Oppenheimer's
lab-Fabienne Ambroise, Edward Yamoah and Monica
Londono-also were co-authors.
Claudia Argueta is first author of a paper entitled
"Isolation and identification of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) from foods
as possible sources of infection" that has been accepted for publication in
the Journal of Food Protection. The other authors were Sean
Yoder, A. Holtzman, T. Aronson, N. Glover, O.G.W. Berlin, G. Stelma Jr., S.
Froman, and P.H. Tomasek. Dr.Paul Tomasek is Claudia's M.S. thesis advisor; the work
was conducted in Dr. Alan Holtzman's mycobacterial research lab at Olive View Medical
Center in Sylmar.
Bernadette Jean-Joseph, a graduate student, and Dr.
Stan Metzenberg, her mentor, jointly presented a poster at the tenth annual Molecular
Parasitology Meeting at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Their study was on the molecular
characterization of the U5/U6 snRNA gene repeat in Taenia solium, a tapeworm that
causes the disease neurocysticercosis. Ariadna Martinez,
a class of 1997 Biology Honors and MARC student, was a co-author on the paper, along
with two collaborators at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Kenneth Guidry, an MBRS undergraduate student, also attended
Biology Faculty Receive Grants, Awards
Drs. Paul Tomasek and Larry Baresi have been awarded a grant of $299,182 from the
USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. The grant will
support a program entitled "Enhancement of microbiology programs at three hispanic-serving
institutions," and the purchase of equipment for a Food Microbiology course.
NSF recently awarded the Biology Department $109,700 to acquire a research microscope
and associated image analysis system. Dr. Randy Cohen was principal grant author;
Drs. Lisa Banner, Edward Carroll, Cheryl Hogue, Steve Oppenheimer and Maria Elena
Zavala collaborated with him.
The California Department of Fish and Game has provided Dr. Larry Allen with $122,260
in continuing support for his "White Sea Bass sampling" project.
An award of $6,000 to Dr. Cheryl Hogue from the USC/Sea Grant program will allow
her to continue her study of "Macroparasites as indicators of pollution exposure
in fishes from Santa Monica Bay."
The Joseph Drown Foundation has awarded Dr. Steve Oppenheimer $30,000 to support
his research efforts on the mechanisms of cell adhesion, bringing his total from
the foundation to $230,000. Although he has received over $5 million from NIH, NSF
and other agencies, Dr. Oppenheimer says he especially appreciates the Joseph Drown
Foundation grants because they support preliminary experiments that must be done
before the federal agencies will make awards.
Dr. Peter Edmunds received $4,146 to support his study on "The coupling of physiology
and physical effects to the demography of tropical reef corals, and another $4,500
from NSF to develop his research in Australia.
Biology Faculty Achievements
Dr. Paul Wilson recently had a paper entitled "Vegetation patterns in heterogeneous
landscapes: the importance of history and environment" published in the Journal
of Vegetation Science. Co-authoring the paper were G. Motzkin, D. Foster and A. Allen.
Dr. Robert Carpenter was invited to be a member of the National Science Foundation's
Biological Oceanography panel. The panel reviews and recommends research proposals
from all over the nation for funding totalling about $15 million.
Drs. Lisa Banner and Steve Dudgeon were among the winners of reassigned time from
the University's Probationary Faculty Development Program competition. Each received
three units of reassigned time for the spring semester.
Dr. Peter Edmunds has had a paper on the distribution of adult and juvenile corals
along the coast of St. Johns Island accepted for publication as a part of the Marine
Ecology Progress Series.
A publication authored by Dr. Jennifer Matos has been accepted for publication in
the prestigious journal Evolution. The paper is entitled "Chloroplast evolution
in the Pinus montezumae complex. I. A coalescent approach to isolation by
distance in Pinus hartwegii."
Dr. Maria Elena Zavala was recently elected president of the Society for the Advancement
of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). She will be the first woman
to head this national organization. Dr. Zavala also has been asked to serve on two
national panels: a special National Institutes of Health panel that will review proposals
targeting the improvement of electronic infrastructure at minority-serving institutions;
and an American Association for the Advancement of Science committee charged with
facilitating the development of an electronic library of educational resources for
undergraduate educators of Biology.
The national Research Council (NRC) has invited Dr. Tacheeni Scott to join a national
panel charged with selecting recipients of the NRC-sponsored predoctoral science
Dr. Joyce Maxwell will represent the Biology Department on a newly-created biotechnology
articulation committee established at Ventura College. The committee's goal is to
coordinate and link biotechnology courses taught at fifteen Ventura County High Schools,
three Community Colleges and the Universities that serve them (Cal State Northridge,
CSU-Channel Islands, Cal Lutheran University and UC-Santa Barbara), so as to facilitate
the transfer of students seeking biotechnology careers.
Dr. Steven Oppenheimer had a letter on "Valuing scientists as educators"
published in the journal Science. The letter describes how Biology's faculty successfully
mentored sixteen teachers in their labs last summer. Dr. Oppenheimer also presented
this work at a faculty retreat. Cal State Northridge faculty who guided the teachers'
research include: Drs. Larry Allen, Larry Baresi, Edward Carroll, Randy Cohen, Cathy
Coyle-Thompson, Steven Dudgeon, Janet Kubler, Jennifer Matos, Aïda Metzenberg,
Stan Metzenberg, Paula Schiffman, Michael Summers, Paul Tomasek, and Maria Elena
Biology Faculty Arrange Western Society of Naturalists
Drs. Larry Allen, Robert Carpenter and Peter Edmunds organized the 1999 annual meeting
of the Western Society of Naturalists (WSN) held in Monterey, California. As the
Society's Secretariat, the trio has arranged the past three annual meetings. Having
completed their term, the task now shifts to a new team at UC Santa Barbara.
The WSN, a society that focuses on the natural history of North America, encourages
and supports student participation by offering stipends to help defray their costs
to students who contribute papers. Says Dr. Allen, "The annual meetings offer
a unique opportunity for students to participate in a scientific conference, to learn
more about the scientific process, and to gain insights into the rewards and responsibilities
of a research career." This year, nine Cal State Northridge students helped
organize the conference and three, Nick Haring, Josh Idjadi
and Traci Prude, gave talks on their Masters' research.
Nick works with Dr. Robert Carpenter, Josh and Traci with Dr. Peter Edmunds.
According to Dr. Allen, "For less than the cost of a movie ticket, students
may join the Society and be eligible to attend the meetings." Additional information
is available on the WSN webpage at http://www.csun.edu/wsn/
Elementary and Secondary School Students Learn
Methods of Science, Publish Findings
The Journal of Student Research Abstracts publishes summaries of research completed
by pre-college students. Dr. Steven Oppenheimer of the Biology Department is the
founder and Editor of the journal; Helen Chun of UCLA is Associate Editor.
In a departure from past practices, the Millennium 2000 edition will include abstracts
authored by elementary and secondary school students-more than two hundred of them!
Some of the research reported by the students was guided by the forty teachers who
participated in Dr. Oppenheimer's National Science Foundation-sponsored research
experience program this past summer.
As a part of that experience each teacher began an original research project under
the guidance of a Biology faculty member. Then, taking what they had learned back
to their own classrooms, the teachers supervised research projects devised by their
own students. As the program expands, more teachers and still more students will
learn how scientists use the scientific method of inquiry to answer questions about
Course Offerings for Fall 2000
Next fall Dr. Lisa Banner will teach the Full Immersion Research Experience (FIRE)
course, Biol 447, a unique lecture/lab course that allows students to fully participate
in the scientific process. Focusing on neurobiology, students will learn how scientific
research is conducted by postulating hypotheses for new lines of research, carrying
out experiments testing those ideas, analyzing their data, and then communicating
their results in both oral and written form.
Chicanos for Community Medicine
Chicanos for Community Medicine (CCM) is a club open to anyone interested in doing
community work, volunteering in clinics or hospitals, helping at health fairs, and
the like. CCM meets every other Wednesday at 5 pm in Science 2127.
During January, 2000, members of CCM visited with students at Stanford University's
medical and dental schools, UC San Francisco and UC Davis' medical schools, and the
dental school at University of the Pacific. Participants talked with students at
the various schools and accompanied some to class, thereby gaining a great deal of
insight into what life as a medical or dental student is like. As a result of the
experience, many of the members were encouraged about applying.
Thirteen CCM members attended the SUMMA (Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance)
Pre-Medical conference in February, where they participated in workshops dealing
with application and interview processes, non-traditional paths to medical schools
and medical school curriculum. In addition, participants had opportunities to hear
physicians speak on their professions and to talk with medical school representatives.
Officers of the CCM are: Lilian Ore-Moser (Pres.), Christian Espinoza (V.P.), Omar Ojeda
(Sec.), Arely Zaragoza (Treas.), Marcela
Barajas (Concilio Representative).
Admission Requirements for Graduate Program
According to Dr. Michael Summers, who with Dr. Paul Wilson coordinates the Biology
Graduate program, applications for the Master's degree program are due March 15.
Two separate applications must be filed, one to the University, one to the Biology
Department. Forms for the University application are available at the Office of Admissions
and Records; Biology's application form can be obtained from the Biology Department
office, Science 2102, or from the Department's webpage at www.csun.edu/~bd46942.
Acceptance into the Biology program requires an acceptable score on both the general
and biology portions of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GRE is offered next in
April; call the Testing Center at 818-677-2364 for specifics. Applicants must submit
a photocopy of their scores as soon they receive them, usually sometime in June.
Prospective graduate students are encouraged to talk with professors they believe
are potential thesis advisors. For more information about the research interests
of the faculty, check out the Biology Department's webpage. The information is also
available in printed form in the Biology office.
Dr. Wilson, Students Take Research to Mexico, Plan
Last summer, Dr. Paul Wilson and his Colombian colleague Dr. Cala Castellanos took
two students, Melody Johnson and Vincent
Pureza, on a field expedition to Mexico. The purpose of the trip was to study
the pollination biology of penstemon flowers.
Prior to the trip, predictions had been made that hummingbird-pollinated species
should have anthers (pollen-bearing structures) that open wider and more rapidly
than bee-pollinated species. Compared to the bee-pollinated flowers, the bird-pollinated
flowers were also expected to be redder, have narrower floral tubes, be more inclined,
and have anthers and stigmas (female reproductive parts) that extended farther out
of the corolla (petals). It was also expected that bird-pollinated flowers would
produce nectar with a lower concentration of sugar but in larger quantities. Says
Dr. Wilson, "On the trip, nine species were studied, and in all cases the predictions
proved to be true."
In addition to a successful research venture, these floral explorers received the
very best of Mexican hospitality. Says Dr. Wilson, "In the Sierra Madre the
campesinos shared their breakfast beans with us, and in Mazatlan the police fixed
our van at 11 pm after we had a tire come apart. The doctors in Querétaro also
fixed a little problem with some Mexican bacteria. And we met an incredible hotel
owner in Zacatecas who gave us a grand tour of the city in his VW Rabbit at about
Next summer, Dr. Wilson will be going on additional research trips, this time
to Utah and Oregon. He has stipends for two students who are "meticulous and
zealous workers and who don't mind living on apples, crawling in the dirt, and existing
without showers for days on end." If interested, look for Dr. Wilson in Science
Biology Honors Program
Dr. Cheryl Hogue, program director, says that "The Biology Honors Program is
a great opportunity for undergraduates to acquire research experience. That experience
will not only enhance their academic careers but better prepare them for graduate
or professional school."
Students who complete the Biology Honors program have a special notation on their
transcripts and are recognized publicly during commencement week at the Biology Department's
honors ceremony. They also receive an Honors certificate from the Biology Department.
To be admitted to the Honors Program, an applicant must have completed 90 units of
University-level work, have a GPA of 3.50 both in the major and overall, and have
a faculty sponsor. Students then do research under the guidance of a sponsor and
submit a senior thesis to the Honors Committee.
Last year, Huong Can, working under the guidance of
Dr. Randy Cohen, was the only undergraduate to receive Honors in Biology. Huong spent
her senior year investigating the physiology of feeding behavior in two species of
cockroaches. Her research, presented in a thesis entitled "A comparative study
of nutrient self-selection by the cockroaches Rhyparobia madera and Grophadorhina
portenosa," is now being readied for publication in a scientific journal.
Huong has also presented her work at several scientific meetings, including the Society
for Neuroscience in New Orleans, the Entomological Society of America in Atlanta,
the American Physiological Society in Washington, D.C., and the National Minority
Research Symposium in New York City. Huong is currently working as a research assistant
at the John Wayne Cancer Center and is applying for a Ph.D. program.
Students interested in more information about the Honors Program are encouraged to
contact Dr. Hogue at 677-3349 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Costa Rican Tropical Biology Class Fills Early
The tropical biology class that will visit Costa Rica this coming summer is already
filled and has a waiting list, says Dr. Jim Dole, one of the instructors and Chair
of the Biology Department. This is the earliest the class has ever filled, a tribute
to both strong interest in the subject and a strong economy. The class, last taught
in summer 1998, will be offered again in 2002.
Student Volunteers Needed for Cancer Class
Prof. Steven Oppenheimer is seeking students to help him invite and greet distinguished
guests for the Biology of Cancer Course (Biology 285). The class is scheduled each
Monday, 6:00 to 7:40 pm, during the fall 2000 semester.
Says Dr. Oppenheimer, "This is a chance for students to meet top cancer experts
and help plan a course." If interested, you can find Dr. Oppenheimer in his
basement lab, Science 2005.
Biology Department Loses Long-time Botany Associate
Long-time associate of the Biology Department, Dr. Velva Rudd, passed away at her
home in Reseda on December 9 at the age of 89. Dr. Rudd had been a Senior Research
Fellow in Biology since 1973 when she retired from her position as Curator of the
National Herbarium at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
During her long and productive career Dr. Rudd conducted field work and visited herbaria
in many countries around the world. A world renowned expert on plants of the Fabaceae,
the pea family, she authored more than 70 papers and book chapters, primarily taxonomic
works on various tropical species.
Until the week before her death, Dr. Rudd could be found every Friday in the herbarium
identifying and studying specimens, working on manuscripts, and visiting with interested
students, staff, or faculty. She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law who
reside in Reseda.
||Gymnosperm Forest Tree Planting Event Slated
Between 9:00 am and noon on April 26 the Biology Department, the University Student
Union and TreePeople will host a campus tree-planting party. The goal is to plant
forty trees around Science 1 and 2.
The event, planned for Earth Week, marks the beginning of a Gymnosperm Forest, an
assemblage of cone-bearing trees and ferns that when mature will resemble a natural
forest. A sprinkling system is already in place, installed and paid for by the University.
Funds to purchase the trees were provided by a grant from California ReLeaf, an organization
that fosters the enhancement of urban forests. Mr. Brian Houck and Ms. Brenda Kanno
of the Botanic Garden staff will coordinate the planting. Ms. Christine Zoraster,
donor of the redwoods already planted, may speak at the event. Ms. Zoraster's donation
was, in part, the inspiration for the Gymnosperm Forest concept, says Mr. Houck.
Everyone is invited to help put the trees into pre-dug holes. The Student Union will
supply bagels and Starbucks coffee to all who help. TreePeople will provide tools
and planting instructions.
California Science Standards Ranked Best In Nation!
The Fordham Foundation ranked California's Science Standards the best in the nation.
California's standards were awarded a score
of 75, one point higher than any other state. This outstanding rating is a clear
testament to the quality of work overseen by Dr. Stan Metzenberg, who was a science
consultant for the State Academic Standards Commission and spearheaded the statewide
effort to change the way science standards are written.
The evaluation noted that, "The document is superbly done. It is scientifically
correct, written in clear language, and well organized....Ideas are introduced at
proper grade levels, and the grade-by-grade follow-through is excellent." The
complete report is at http://www.edexcellence.net/
But Dr. Metzenberg did not work alone. The late Nobel Laureate, Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg
chaired the Commission's Science Committee and Drs. Aida Metzenberg and Paul Tomasek
of the Biology Department, and Mrs. Carolyn Baresi (Dr. Larry Baresi's wife) contributed
heavily to the effort. Several other Biology faculty reviewed the document.
The Biology Department is continuing to participate in state policy decisions. Dr.
Steven Oppenheimer is an Alternate Member of a state committee that is drafting a
new Science Curriculum aligned with the standards, and both Carolyn Baresi and Dr.
Jennifer Matos served on a state textbook review panel to evaluate K-8 instructional
materials submitted by publishers in response to the standards. Dr. Stan Metzenberg
is a member of the California Science Project Advisory Board, which funds teacher
development projects aligned with the standards, and also the science content review
panel that has constructed test items for the new standards-based tests in 2001.
Dr. Scott Advises Native American Science Students
Dr. O. Tacheeni Scott recently spent three days at the University of Minnesota School
of Medicine, Duluth (UMD), talking with Native American science and medical students
and their research mentors. He also presented seminars on "Endosymbiosis: The
interface between cytoplasm and the environment" and "Mother Earth-Father
Sun: Traditional Global Biology."
Many of the UMD students with whom Dr. Scott talked had transferred to the University
from the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the nation's only combined tribal
college and state community college. Most began their education at Ojibway (Chippewaa)
schools on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Dr. Scott, himself a member of the Navajo
Nation, touted the MARC/MBRS program as the premier example for involving Native
American students in science education.
Biology Student Instructs H. S. Class in Molecular
One of Dr. Aïda Metzenberg's students, Troy
Phipps, spent three days last fall helping students in the Granada Hills High
School Honors Biology class-all 150 of them!-do molecular genetics experiments. This
unique opportunity came about because Mr. John McLaughlin, the teacher in the five
classes, had worked in Dr. Aïda Metzenberg's lab last summer. Mr. McLaughlin
was a teacher-scholar in Dr. Steven Oppenheimer's teacher-training program.
|Dental Hygiene Hot Field
||Environmental Internships Available
|Dental Hygiene as a career choice has recently become very attractive. Salaries are
up, jobs are plentiful. Licensing requires graduation from an accredited dental hygiene
school and passing a State Board Exam. The program takes two years. There are five
Dental Hygiene schools in the Los Angeles area, nine others in California.
Additional information is available from Dr. Mary Corcoran, Pre-dental Advisor. She
can be found in Science 3216B, Mondays 2:00 to 4:00 and Wednesdays 10:00 to 11:00
and 2:00 to 4:00.
|ECO is a national non-profit organization that places current college students and
recent college graduates into paid professional environmental internships across
the country. The internships are sponsored by federal agencies, non-profit organizations,
or businesses and corporations. In 1999, over 600 college students and recent graduates
were placed into paid environmental internships, at no cost to students with agencies
like Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Department of Energy.
For more on ECO, visit our website at www.eco.org.
Students in Electron Microscopy Class Master TEM and SEM
Working under the guidance of Dr. O. Tacheeni Scott, this past semester students
in the Principles of Electron Microscopy class and its lab (Biol. 575/L) learned
to use the Biology Department's Zeiss Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) and
its Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).
Students in the class learned that every illumination source, whether it be light
or an electron beam, is governed by the same basic principles of optical physics,
based on an illumination source's wavelike properties. In preparation for actual
work, they were shown how to align each instruments to maximize resolution. of the
object being viewed.
In the lab portion of the course, the students gained hands-on experience preparing,
sectioning and viewing specimens with the TEM. From these preparations they then
made electronphotomicrographs of the ultrastructure of fruit fly tissue and the nervous
tissue of rats.
With the SEM the class observed and studied the surface structure of such things
as fruit flies and pollen grains. By comparing SEM and TEM views they were able to
see how thin sections can be used to complement surface features seen with the SEM.
Dr. Scott says that he hopes to be able to offer the class on a yearly basis. Students
interested in talking with him about the class can find him in Science 2209.
New Biotechnology Option Available
Option IV of the Biology major has been modified so as to permit specializing in
Biotechnology, a hot area of Biology today. According to Dr. Linda Caren, "There
are many career opportunities in biotechnology. Students well versed in biotechnology
are snapped up for jobs in research, product development, as clinical studies coordinators,
sales, even forensic medicine and patent law if the candidate has appropriate credentials,"
such as an MBA or law degree.
In the Biotechnology option, core requirements are supplemented with strong backgrounds
in calculus, cell biology, microbiology and biochemistry. In addition, students will
choose among courses such as cell and tissue culture, immunology, recombinant DNA
technology, and the like. The courses available are listed in the fall 1999 Schedule
of Classes on page 119. Copies of this page are available in the Biology Office.
Students interested in a career in biotechnology are encouraged to talk with Dr.
Joyce Maxwell. She can be reached by phone at 677-2620 or by email at email@example.com.
The Students' Forum
Bios invites articles written by students about their personal "biological
experiences." Interested students are encouraged to consult with the editor
regarding their ideas.
- the editor
Lisa-anne Gershwin is a graduate of Cal State Northridge's
Biology Department where in 1995-97 she was a full-year Research Fellow in the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Program. Currently, she is a doctoral
student at UC Berkeley and has been invited to present a talk about her work in Australia
at the UC Berkeley Lawrence Science Museum.
|An Australian Odyssey: Musings of a Former Student
- by Lisa-anne Gershwin
There is no easy way to sum up a yearlong adventure-the adventure of a lifetime.
Shortly after graduating from CSUN with a BS in Biology, I was awarded a Fulbright
Fellowship to Australia. My project was entirely field-oriented, with the task of
surveying the effect of jellyfish on commercial fisheries and the potential for economic
loss. As a side project to keep me busy during the off-season, I was to study the
world's largest collection of Precambrian (fossil) jellyfishes from the deserts of
Early on, it became clear that surveying the fisheries aspect of jellies would be
difficult, because the species themselves were poorly known. So I set out to define
what species were present and amass any biogeographical data I could. This led me
to the far reaches of Australia, nearly circumnavigating the continent twice. But
in my jelly-quest, it was the adventures along the way that proved most memorable.
I was invited to participate in a month-long Darwin Harbour survey conducted by the
governmental agency that surveys for introduced species. During the survey, I got
to see one of the most remote parts of Australia, the site of the first European
settlement (which vanished in the late 1700's). As we were landing on the "airstrip"
a day's boat ride from our goal, our plane had to veer off the "runway"
to avoid hitting a water buffalo. Our survey team also discovered an invading mussel
similar to the Zebra Mussel, which has become an infamous invader of American waters.
I went-twice-to the site of the first Precambrian fossils ever discovered, and found
myself smack-dab in the middle of an international fossil theft investigation. It's
not as bad as it sounds-I was not the thief! But because a particular fossil I wanted
to study turned up missing, several people were indicted (and convicted) and several
hundred scientifically valuable fossils were recovered.
One of the places I wanted most to visit was Botany Bay, a place with which I became
intrigued when Dr. Jennifer Matos (of Cal State Northridge) "forced" me
to learn about it in Systematic Botany. She said it would help in making travel plans
in the future. Who could have known how accurate her words would be? Botany Bay turned
out to be uninteresting, as it is now an industrial area, but in learning the story
behind its naming I became fascinated with the voyages of Captain James Cook, an
interest that still persists. This interest also led me to Holothuria Banks, a place
I didn't learn about in Dr. Peter Edmunds' Invert Zoo class, but that intrigued me
I spent Christmas day in the rainforest of far north Queensland, adjacent to the
Great Barrier Reef, cuddling an orphaned baby kangaroo. While in Queensland, I became
interested in an obscure and poorly-known group of jellyfishes, a group that includes
the world's deadliest animal, the Australian Deadly Box Jellyfish. This interest
eventually led to my being hired back to Australia for another summer to work on
a project to develop an antivenin for another, less-well-known, but possibly more
dangerous, box jellyfish.
Back in Darwin, I attended an international "jellyfest"-well, okay, there
were only four of us, but we were from three countries, and we had a heck of a lot
of fun! I learned how to catch the Deadly Box Jellyfish with my bare hands, and also
how to harvest the stinging cells for medical research.
In my adventures through Western Australia I discovered that I am allergic to jellyfishes
just as some people are allergic to bees. This revelation came when I tested the
sting of a new species on my own arm. Bad idea! After recovering from the sting in
Perth, I headed to the untamed northwest.
My timing could not have been worse! Arriving in the remote little town of Exmouth
late in the day, I arranged a next-day boat trip to an island to catch jellyfish.
But, at the dock I was greeted with a warning of an impending category 5 cyclone,
the highest possible rating, and a directive to stock up on food and water for 24
hours and meet for evacuation to the disaster shelter. The cyclone slammed right
into Exmouth and over the next three days I endured Australia's worst-ever cyclone
and witnessed many heart-tugging acts of human kindness.
My last disaster occurred about a month later, while traveling through the Queensland
outback. I had seen most of Australia's wildlife, including koalas, bandicoots, emus,
cassowaries, camels, echidnas, Tasmanian devils, kookaburras, death adders, dingos,
and thorny devils. And, yes, kangaroos. Lots of kangaroos! Seeing one grazing at
the side of the road I slowed so as not to spook it. But at the last moment it started
boi-oing-oinging toward my car, then just in front of me, it stopped. The collision
resulted in the immediate death of both the roo and my car. Thankfully, I walked
away uninjured, but being stranded in the Australian outback is a humbling experience.
I was rescued by sheep-shearers and taken in by a nice family who run a cattle station
and had never met an American before.
Through it all, I saw jellyfish! I collected over 2000 specimens, discovered 38 new
species, and even ended up gathering a good data set on jellies' negative effects
on fisheries. It turns out they're wreaking all kinds of havoc. I even went to New
Zealand to consult with others about some problems there. My work led not only to
my coming back for the Australian summer (I am writing these words from the Great
Barrier Reef right now!), but also to my being awarded a large grant from the Australian
government to continue studying the nation's jellies. And from the whole adventure
I got four published papers (and counting!). Hard to believe that just three years
ago I was an undergrad at Cal State Northridge!
Notes from the Advisement Center
|Advisement Center Hours
Students are invited to stop by the Biology Advisement Center to have academic
questions answered," says Dr. John Kontogiannis, the Biology Department's Principal
Advisor. Dr. Kontogiannis is assisted again this year by graduate student Cecil Shikiya.
The Advisement Center, Science 2133, is open Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00-2:00, and
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-2:00.
|Grad Checks Due
Undergraduates expecting to graduate spring or summer 2001 must file a Graduation
Evaluation form (Grad Check) no later than May 5. Students may have their form completed
and signed at the Biology Advisement Center, or by any member of the Biology faculty.
|Writing Exam Required to Graduate
The Upper Division Writing Exam must be completed no later than the semester
in which 90 units are completed. Students planning to graduate in spring 2000 must
pass the exam no later than April 15. A registration card may be picked up at the
Student Financial Services. For additional information call 677-3303.
|Accessing Advisement Information
A free Advisement Handbook, available in the Advisement Center, provides
invaluable information on program requirements and course equivalencies. The information
is also available on the internet, easily accessible from the Biology Department
Homepage. Students may even submit questions and receive answers through the Advisement
Forum on the Biology website or at http://lrc.csun.edu/HyperNews/jmaxwell/get/openforum.html.
|Career Information Available
One or two page career sheets are available in the Advisement Center. Each
sheet describes career opportunities associated with each option in the Biology major.
Minority Access to Research Careers
Minority Biomedical Research Support News
FormerStudents to Speak
Scheduled for this semester's Biology Colloquium are talks by two former MARC students
who are currently completing their doctorates. On March 17 Jo Ann Del Rio, a doctoral
candidate at UC Irvine, will speak on the "Neurobiology of Cocaine Abuse."
Eric Villegas, currently at the University of Pennsylvania, is scheduled for April
14 when he will talk on the subject of "Pathogenic and protective roles of costimulatory
molecules during toxoplasmosis." Before their presentations, both Eric and Jo
Ann will share their experiences as doctoral students with current MARC and MBRS
News from a Former Student
Former MARC student Dang Huyhn has been accepted into a multidisciplinary Ph.D. program
at Arizona State University with a full four years of financial support.
Opportunities for Student Involvment in Research
Off-campus Research Opportunities
According to Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, "The MARC/MBRS office has information
about numerous opportunites for students to learn-and earn-during the summer months."
Dr. Zavala, director of the two minority programs, indicates that many programs are
open to students of any ethnicity.
Many of the programs are at Universities or institutions across the nation, hence
would require travel, but others are within easy driving distance of Cal State Northridge.
Most programs are designed to involve students in research, but there are many types
of programs from which to choose.
Deadlines for applying to most programs are between February 1 and March 15. The
MARC/MBRS office, in Science 518, among the bungalows near the orange grove, has
application forms for most. If interested, stop by and peruse the possibilities.
Veterans Hospital Offers Students Opportunity to do Medically-Related Research
Prior to the 1994 earthquake the Biology Department had a very successful cooperative
student research program with the Sepulveda VA Medical Center. Unfortunately, with
the collapse of buildings at both the medical center and at Cal State Northridge
on January 17, 1994, the program was temporarily disbanded.
An agreement has now been signed between the University and the VA Medical Centers
to reinstate an enlarged version of the program. Students admitted to the program
will be able to work in laboratories at the Sepulveda or the Wadsworth (Westwood)
VA facilities. More than 200 investigators are conducting research on human-related
topics at the two hospitals.
Interested students must apply for the program; only top students will be selected.
The Honors Committee, of which Dr. Cheryl Hogue is chair, will screen applicants
and oversee the program for the department. Dr. Joyce Maxwell is campus coordinator
of the program.
Students interested in the program are encouraged to talk with Dr. Hogue (677-3349)
or Dr. Maxwell (677-2620).
|Faculty Labs Welcome Students
Students interested in working in the lab of Dr. Steven
Oppenheimer are encouraged to talk with him. He studies the role of cell surfaces
in cancer and development. Dr. Oppenheimer is a Fellow of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the nation's most prestigious scientific
research honors, and has been awarded over $5 million in research and training grants.
He and his students have authored about l30 papers, abstracts and books. Many of
his more than 200 student co-authors have gone on to advanced programs at such prestigious
universities as Stanford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and UC Berkeley. His office and
lab are in the basement of Science 2, room 2005.
Dr. Paul Wilson is looking for student help for next summer when he travels to Utah
and Oregon to gather data for his pollination study. If interested, you can find
Dr. Wilson in Science 1323. More about his research can be found in an accompanying
article on page 5.
Dr. Maria Elena Zavala is always looking for interested students to conduct research
in her lab. Her studies focus on the physiology of plant growth. Her office is in
Microbiologist Culture More than Microbes
Faculty, Students Attend Microbiology Meeting
The Biology Department's microbiology group was well represented at the annual meeting
of the southern California branch of the American Society for Microbiology (SCASM)
held in Irvine last November. Patricia Medina, a graduate student, and Sandra Trinidad,
an undergraduate, attended the meeting, accompanied by Drs. Larry Baresi and Nancy
Bishop and Mr. Manual Fernandez, Microbiology Technical Support Supervisor.
Mr. Fernandez, himself a graduate of Cal State Northridge's microbiology program,
won the Grand Prize in the Trivia Division, a tribute to his vast knowledge of disease-causing
microbes. At the meeting, Drs. Bishop and Baresi served as invited judges for the
Student Colloquium Poster Session competition. Dr. Baresi judged in the Ph.D. candidates'
division, Dr. Bishop in the M.S. division.
Former Students Shine at Annual Meeting
The annual meeting of the SCASM was more than an opportunity for students and faculty
to present their work. It was also a homecoming of sorts, an opportunity for current
students to meet successful students from the past.
One of Dr. Bishop's former students, Dr. Michael A. Lewinski,
organized and moderated a session entitled "Case studies of unusual and emerging
pathogens." His presentation was designed to test and then expand the knowledge
of the conference attendees regarding unusual or newly prominent microbial diseases.
Dr. Lewinski is Director of Infectious Diseases, Quest Diagnostics, Inc., in San
Dr. Lee A. Borenstein, another former CSUN student,
organized and moderated a session entitled "Public health infrastructure and
community preparedness." In his presentation Dr. Borenstein described cases
or outbreaks of infectious diseases (plague, influenza, listeriosis, anthrax) that
are models for bioterrorism and the roles of the State and County Health Departments
during these outbreaks. Dr. Borenstein is currently a Technical Supervisor at the
Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
Another former student, Aline Grigorian, currently a
graduate student at San Diego State University, presented a poster entitled, "The
contributions of DnaA, beta-subunit of DNA polymerase III, and RecF proteins to the
rate of DNA replication in Escherichia coli."
||Young Scientists, Parents Learn Importance of Microbes
On February 12 Drs. Nancy Bishop and Paul Tomasek conducted a science education outreach
class targeted at "Young Scientists," ages 11-13, and their parents. Each
young scientist and his or her parent, working as a team, learned about beneficial
microorganisms such as those involved in food and beverage production. For example,
using yeast the teams made observations, took measurements and conducted experiments
on metabolism. They also constructed "microbial lava lamps" to observe
the yeasts in action.
The session concluded with a "micro" lunch featuring microbiologically-based
foods (bread, sausage, cheese, mustard, pickles, sour creme-flavored items, frozen
yogurt and root beer). Students and parents alike enjoyed the session and several
parents expressed their desire for more "young scientist" classes to be
offered. The class was offered through the College for Extended Learning.
The Bathyscope-An Ocean View
Marine Biology Semester at Catalina-Fall 2000
The third annual CSU Marine Biology Semester will be offered in fall 2000 at the
Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. Students in the program will live
at the station and involve themselves in three marine-oriented courses, offered in
sequence, followed by an independent project of their own design.
The courses, to be taught by Drs. Robert Carpenter, Steve Dudgeon and Peter Edmunds,
are Invertebrate Biology (Biol 313, 313L,392L), Marine Ecology (Biol 529, 529L, 592I),
Population Biology of Clonal Organisms, and Independent Study (Biol 499). Together
these courses constitute a full load of 15 units.
Dr. Carpenter notes that, "This unique semester provides students with an opportunity
to fully immerse themselves in marine biology and to gain experience conducting field
and lab research." Participants in the program must have completed Population
Biology (Biol. 322), a prerequisite for three of the courses.
Interested students are encouraged to pick up a brochure from the Biology Department
office (Science 2102) and talk with a course instructor or Dr. Larry Allen, Director
of the Ocean Studies Institute. Information about the program is also available on
the Biology Department's webpages; check out www.csun.edu/~bd46942
and follow the Catalina Semester links.
Students Present Research
Carla Zilberberg, one of Dr. Peter Edmunds' graduate
students, presented a talk on her thesis research at the Cal State Northridge Student
Research Symposium. The title of her presentation was: "Intraspecific competition
in small Agaricia agaricites: patterns and processes of interaction."
Carla is currently completing her research at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab while
working as a teaching assistant for Northeastern University's East/West Marine Biology
program. Dr. Edmunds has been teaching Coral Biology for the program since 1989.
Denise Weisman, Nick Haring, and Maiko
Kasuya, all graduate students from Dr. Robert Carpenter's lab, presented posters
at the University's 1999 Student Reseach Symposium. The topic of Denise's paper was
the "Effects of grazing by the sea urchin, Centrostephanus coronatus,
on the benthic algal community." Nick's presentation was entitled "Morphological
variation in the branched, bladed alga, Pachydictyon coriaceum, from wave-exposed
and wave-protected habitats," and Maiko gave results from her work on "The
effects of grazing by amphipods on the morphology of the rhodophyte, Pterocladia
capillacea, and its possible consequences."
Dr. Edmunds Uses Sabbatical to Visit Reefs of South Seas
A year's sabbatical leave has allowed Dr. Peter Edmunds, an expert in coral reefs,
to make lengthy research visits to several tropical reefs. After two weeks at the
UC Berkeley field station on the island of Moorea, near Tahiti, Dr. Edmunds spent
four weeks at the University of Sydney's research station on One Tree Island, a part
of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In his travels, he also managed to work in a brief
stay at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The goal of the trip was to begin a study of the population biology of reef corals
and the role of global climate change in reef demise. In a part of his travels, Dr.
Edmunds was accompanied by graduate student Joshua Idjadi
who, in addition to serving as Dr. Edmunds' assistant, managed to complete a portion
of his Master's research. Dr. Edmunds' work is partially supported by funds from
the National Science Foundation. A second trip to Australia is planned in spring
Noted Marine Biologist Speaks
On April 7 the Biology Colloquium will host a visiting distinguished speaker from
UC San Diego/Scripps, Dr. Nancy Knowlton. Dr. Knowlton, a well-known researcher in
the field of evolutionary biology, will speak on the subject "The ecological
and evolutionary significance of crypic diversity in the sea."
Dr. Peter Edmunds, who garnered the funds to bring Dr. Knowlton to campus, says "You
won't want to miss this opportunity; Dr. Knowlton is a world-class researcher, well
Marine Biologists Study Jamaican Reefs
In January 2000, Dr. Peter Edmunds visited Jamaica for two weeks to gather data on
his research into the cause of coral bleaching. He was accompanied in his travels
by Dr. Robert Carpenter who collaborated with Dr. Edmunds in a study of regrowth
of Jamaican reefs and gave several guest lectures.
Students Rebecca Habeeb and Joshua
Idjadi also traveled to Jamaica where Rebecca worked as a research assistant
for Dr. Edmunds and Joshua served as site coordinator for Northeastern University's
East/West Marine Biology program. While in Jamaica, Rebecca began her studies of
coral acclimation, for which she has received a grant from the Associated Students,
and Joshua continued his study of the relationships between invertebrates and reef