Monday, February 11, 2008

Eight UNLV Scientists Displaying Latest Research at Nev Biotech Awards Luncheon

Eight scientists from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) will be displaying their research at the Nevada Biotech Awards luncheon on February 18th. UNLV Research Projects on Display:

“Identification of an In Vivo Inhibitor of Bacillus anthracis Stern Spore Germination”Ernesto Abel-Santos, Associate Professor, Chemistry Department

Spore germination is the first step in anthrax pathogenesis. Inhibition of germination implies no development of vegetative bacteria, no toxins and no death. There are seven putative germination receptors encoded by tricistronic operons and five germination pathways.

“A Mathematical Model for Polymorphism Within and Between Two Related Species”
Amei Amei, Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department

Characterizing the various forces that shape patterns of genetic polymorphism within and between species is a goal of population genetics (Hartl and Clark 2007). Statistical inference using Poisson random field models can provide powerful likelihood and Bayesian methods for quantifying some of the forces, such as mutation and directional selection.

“Life is Hard Then You Die: Age, Flight Behavior and Senescence in the Honey Bee”Michelle Elekonich, Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences

Foraging bees produce the highest mass-specific metabolic rate ever measured while flying. Conservative estimates suggest these hard working flight muscles contract over 4 million times per day. Thus foragers’ flight muscles may experience high levels of oxidative stress during normal daily activities. An average lifespan of bees is 3 -4 weeks.

“Effects of GSK-3B Inhibitors on Stabilization of p53 and B-Catenin”
Ron Gary, Associate Professor, Chemistry Department

B-catenin is a bifunctional protein. It associates with cadherins as part of a membrane-cytoskeletal linkage in cell-cell adhesions, and it acts as a transcription factor for cell proliferation in the Wnt signaling pathway. Levels of B-catenin are controlled mainly by glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK-3B), a constitutively active kinase that suppresses B-catenin. There appears to be a regulatory feedback mechanism that connects GSK-3B activity and B-catenin to changes in the p53 tumor suppressor protein.

“Thermodynamic Modeling as a Predictive Tool for Determining Energy Availability in Great Basin Hot Springs” Brian Hedlund, Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences

Photosynthesis does not occur in geothermal systems above ~73ÂșC, so energy for primary production within these systems must come from chemolithotrophy.. Furthermore, 16S rRNA gene libraries from many hot springs in the Great Basin are dominated by unknown groups of Archaea and Bacteria.

“Transferring Biomechanics Research to New Technologies in Robotic Locomotion”David Lee, Associate Professor, School of Life sciences

Comparative biomechanics can elucidate the complex dynamics that underly animal movement in terrestrial environments. Solutions have led to the locomotor principles which have informed the mechanical design and control of BigDog (Boston Dynamics, Inc.), the world’s most advanced legged robot, and continue to promote our understanding of mechanical design in animals.

“Insect Flapping Aerofoil Propulsion in Variable Density Atmospheres: A Model for the Design and Function of Micro Aerial Vehicles”
Stephen Roberts, Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences

The success of current efforts to develop micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) will depend on the ability of MAVs to vary aerodynamic forces during operation in variable-density atmospheres and exploration of novel, irregular landscapes. Flapping aerofoil propulsion (vs. fixed-wing design) is amenable to MAVs due to enhanced lift generation, drag reduction, and maneuverability.

“Roles and Regulation of the Shigella Outer Membrane Protease, IcsP”Helen Wing, Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences

Omptins are a family of proteases that are found associated with outer membranes of a number of gram negative bacteria. In Salmonella, the omptin PgtE has been shown to provide resistance against cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) [1]. The overall aim of this study is to determine whether PgtE and IcsP can functionally substitute for each other.

John Laub, President of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium said, “It’s exciting to see a portion of the research that is going on at UNLV and it's a great opportunity mort importantly, attendees will have a chance to talk to the scientists.”

The Nevada Biotechnology Awards luncheon will be held Monday, February 18, 2008 at the Wynn Hotel. Tickets for the luncheon are $75 and $125. The luncheon starts at 11:30.

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