Common Searches


Spring 2013

Congratulations to all of our 2012-2013 graduates!  Best of luck in the future!

New Arrivals

The Biology department is pleased to welcome Dr. Fang Wei, who joined the Wang lab in March 2013 as a visiting scientist for one year.  Dr. Wei is a Research Scientist in the Institute of Oil Crop Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and specialized in analyses using mass spectrometry. Brian Fanella joined the Wang lab as a Research Associate after completing his M.Sc. study in Biology in the spring.  Congratulations Brian!

Cassiano Welker is a visiting graduate student from Brazil who will be working in the Kellogg lab.  In addition, Pu Huang has joined the Kellogg lab as a post-doctoral fellow studying the population genetics of green millet.  Pu recently completed his Ph.D. degree at Washington University under the guidance of Barbara Schaal.

Honors and Awards

Two undergraduates working in biology labs were awarded College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Grants!  Congratulations to Serene Darwish and Bojana Opacic for their work.  Bojana is spending her summer working on a project entitled “Overexpressing IAA biosynthesis rescues mutants with low IAA phenotypes” in the Zolman lab.  Serene’s project is titled “Identifying contact zones in Guyana for great kiskadee populations through differences in unlearned loud songs” and you can read more about Serene’s summer work in Guyana.  Serene also was awarded funding from the Kent A. Tomazi Memorial Student Research Fund, a Biology award given to an undergraduate researcher. 

Leticia Gutiérrez (Ricklefs lab) was awarded a grant of $29,105.46 from the Lyme Research Alliance and a $1500 grant-in-aid of research from the American Society of Mammalogists.

Iris Levin was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology.  Iris recently completed her PhD in the Parker lab and is moving to the University of Colorado - Boulder for her postdoc with Dr. Rebecca Safran.

Gideon Erkenswick and Dan Hartman, both from the Parker lab, were awarded with University of Missouri-St. Louis TWA Scholarships for 2013-2014. Gideon Erkenswick also received a 2013-2014 research grant from the American Society of Mammalogists.

Joseph Russo (Olivas lab) and Gretchen Spiess (Zolman lab) were awarded College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Awards during the 2012-2013 year.  Joe’s proposal was entitled “Puf protein regulation of genes implicated in Parkinson’s disease” and Gretchen’s funding was for “Elucidating the developmental role of IBA derived IAA in maize”.

Two incoming Ph.D. students are making headlines already – Mohit Patel and Jason Atkins have commercialized an invention from their MS work in Dr. George Gokel's lab. Jason and Mohit won the student inventor/entrepreneur of the year 2013 award, have been inducted in to the Nation academy of Inventors and have won the St.Louis Institute of NanoScience and NanoMedicine 2013 elevator pitch award.  Genetix Fusion is biotechnology introducing the next generation of non-toxic and highly efficient DNA and RNA delivery reagents for biomedical researchers. Genetix Fusion is the first start-up company established by UMSL students to commercialize a University of Missouri technology.  Their company is among the 20 winning companies (out of more than 700 companies from 15 countries) at the Arch grants global competition. The lab also has received a Fast Track grant from UMSL to conduct research and develop our products for commercialization.  You can read more about this project and these two students at

During our spring awards ceremony, several graduate students were recognized for outstanding research and service in the Biology department – congratulations to all of our winners!

  • Jinshun Zhong (Kellogg lab) and Joseph Russo (Olivas lab) were awarded the Raju Mehra Award, the departmental award that recognizes outstanding graduate students. 
  • Daniel Bush was recently recognized by the Biology department for outstanding academic accomplishments.  The Muriel E. Babcock Memorial Fund recognizes a biology graduating senior planning to undertake a graduate program for research in the biological sciences. 
  • Anthony Fischer, Aleksey Karpitsky, and Melissa Manis were recognized as Outstanding TAs.
  • Vincenzo Ellis (Ricklefs) was awarded the Arnold B. Grobman Scholarship, honoring a biology graduate student who has a primary interest in fieldstudent_award biology, ecology, evolution, or behavior of animals and plants and maintained high academic standards.  Rachel Hosna was the Arnold B. Grobman Scholarship winner at the undergraduate level.  Rachel worked in the Marquis lab for several semesters. 
  • Iwona Kuczynska was awarded the Jenni Higashiguchi Memorial Scholarship in Ecology.

 Xuemin (Sam) Wang received the 2013 UMSL Faculty Inventor of the Year Award.  The Wang lab has been working on increasing oil production in plants, which is now being commercialized.  You can read more about his award here.  Congratulations to Sam!

Elizabeth Kellogg was awarded a grant from NSF Developmental Mechanisms for 2013-2016!  The grant is on “The role of suppressor of sessile spikelet1 (sos1) in meristem maintenance and determinacy” with funding of $395,000.  The project is a collaboration with Dr. Paula McSteen at UM-Columbia and will study the genes that control the number of seeds produced on an ear of corn. 

Wendy Olivas was awarded a $12,500 Research Award for her lab’s project “Examining the interplay between microRNA and Puf protein regulation of Parkinson’s disease genes”. 

Bethany Zolman was awarded funding during the first Interdisciplinary Intercampus Research competition with the University of Missouri.  Her project, “Using new technologies to dissect root initiation pathways” was awarded $72,000 for 2013-2014 and involves a collaboration with two scholars from Missouri Institute of Science and Technology, Gayla Olbricht and Chang-Soo Kim. 

Outside Of The Research Building

The Biology graduate student association (BGSA) held a Plant Sale at the student center to raise money to support graduate student travel and invited speakers.


Elizabeth Kellogg is currently serving as President of the Botanical Society of America, an organization of more than 3000 plant scientists.  The society promotes education and basic research in the plant sciences and publishes the American Journal of Botany. 

Gideon Erkenswick and Mrinalini Watsa (Research Associate at WashU) are serving as Scientific Advisers for a new wildlife documentary tentatively called Planet Primate.  It is a three part series on nonhuman primate cognition, adaptation, and sociality.  One of the primate species that Gideon studies is the emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator), which should appear in the sociality part of the series on cooperative breeding behavior.  The program is slated to debut in January 2014 on the BBC in the UK and on the Discovery Channel (a co-sponsor of the production) in the USA.

Dr. Chuck Granger hosted a special News at Noon this spring on climate change: "Examining the foundation of the ecological crisis: Is Degradation Inevitable?"  

Presenting Our Science

Congratulations to all of the Biology students who participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium:

Mehdi Amini (Bourne)

Kevin Cox (Schechter)

Richard Davenport (Thiel)

Matthew Dombek (Bourne)

Kristina Gordon (Bourne)

Johnda Green (Bourne)

Jacob Greiten (Thiel)

Steve Korb (Thiel)

Matthew Krhal (Bourne)

Kaitlin Kretzler (Thiel)

Jennifer Lam (Bourne)

Radostina Marinova (Thiel)

Maria Martinez
(Danforth Center)

Susan Monnig (Thiel)

Vimal Patel (Thiel)

Shanin Sanchez (Olivas)

Rameez Siddiqui (Bourne)

Samantha Tatoian (Bourne)

Brian Waldrop (Bourne)

Patrick Ward (Thiel)

Kaifwafi Youssef (Bourne)


A special acknowledgement to Rachel Hosna (Marquis) and Livingstone Nganga (Zolman), who did both poster and oral presentations at the URS.


A second big congratulation to all of the Biology students who participated in the Graduate Research Symposium:

Jessie James (Thiel)

Elizabeth Karslake (Bourne)

Gyanpriya Maharaj (Bourne)

Gretchen Spiess (Zolman) – prize winner!


Maoyin Li, Siyun Su, Yuan Su, Geliang Wang, and Xuemin (Sam) Wang attended the Gordon Research Conference (GRC): The Plant Lipids: Structure, Metabolism & Function, held January 27 - February 1, 2013 in Galveston, TX.  Maoyin, Yuan, and Geliang each presented a poster, and Sam served as vice chair of the conference and gave an invited lecture.

Recent Publications From The Department

Duggan, PS, Thiel, T, and Adams, DG. 2013. Symbiosis between the cyanobacterium Nostoc and the liverwort Blasia requires a CheR-type MCP methyltransferase. Symbiosis 59:111-120.

Elliott K. H, Ricklefs RE. Gaston, Hatch, SA, Speakman, JR, and Davorena, GK.  2013.  High flight costs, but low dive costs, in auks support the biomechanical hypothesis for flightlessness in penguins. PNAS, in press. Check out more about this article at and see some of the commentaries at Nature and Discovery News

Kim S, Guo L, Wang X. 2013. Phosphatidic acid binds to cytosolic glyceraldehyde-3-phosphase dehydrogenase and promotes its cleavage in Arabidopsis.  J. Biol. Chem. 288, 11834-11844.

Li M,  Bahn SC,  Fan C,  Li J,  Phan TOrtiz M*,  Roth MR,  Welti R,  Jaworski J,  Wang X.  2013. Patatin-related phospholipase pPLAIIIδ increases seed oil content with long chain fatty acids. Plant Physiol. 162, 39-51.

Lu S, Bahn S,  Qu G,  Qin H, Hong Y,  Xu Q, Zhou Y, Hong Y, Wang X. 2013. Increased expression of phospholipase Dα1 in guard cells decreases water loss with improved seed production in Brassica napus.  Plant Biotech. J. 11, 380–389.

Pappan K, Wang X. 2013.  Assaying different types of plant phospholipase D activities in vitro. Teun Munnik and Ingo Heilmann (eds.), Plant Lipid Signaling Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 1009, DOI 10.1007/978-1-62703-401-2_19, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Sheridan, R*, Pratte, BS, and Thiel, T. 2013.  Regulation of the V-nitrogenase genes in Anabaena variabilis by RNA processing and by dual repressors. Mol Microbiol 88:413-424.

Spiess, GS and Zolman, BK.  2013.  Peroxisomes as a source of auxin signaling molecules.  Subcell Biolchemistry  69: 257-281

Zhao J. Devaiah SP, Wang C, Welti R, Wang X. 2013. Phospholipase Dβ1 modulates defense responses to bacterial and fungal pathogens in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist 199, 228-240.



Fall 2012


The Biology department is pleased to welcome two new faculty members!


Dr. Michael Hughes studies circadian rhythms in fruit flies and mice to understand how the nervous system regulates several behavior and physiology ouputs.  Dr. Hughes is currently a postdoctoral associate at Yale University and will be starting in the Biology department (and looking for students!) in August, 2013.  Check out more about him at


Dr. Nathan Muchhala will be joining us in August following a postdoctoral position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Dr. Muchhala is an evolutionary ecologist who studies plant-pollinator interactions, focusing on bat-pollinated flowers.  You can read more about Dr. Muchhala’s work at


Post-doc Michael McKain has just joined the Kellogg lab.  He recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, working on comparative genomics in monocots.  Welcome Michael!  You can read more about the Kellogg lab at




Gideon Erkenswick (Parker lab) and Leticia Soares (Ricklefs lab) were both awarded Sigma Xi 2013 Grant-in-Aid-Of-Research grants!  Congratulations to both of them. 


Out in the community


The new Biology service course, BIOL 3001, Experiential Practicum in Biosciences, has its first student.  Laurel Kornuta, a Sophomore Pre-Med student in Biology, travelled to Ghana in February as part of a surgical team which will be providing badly needed health care to the underserved population of the country.  The new course is designed to provide undergraduate credit for students who will be participating in unique, service-based projects that will give them experience and insight into potential careers in the biological or biomedical sciences.  This course was developed by the Biology department to encourage students to undertake extraordinary projects to advance their educations through unique experiences while also providing valuable service to others.


Marc Spingola was recently appointed as Station Manager of our campus radio, The U – UMSL Student Radio!  Listen now at

Cover photo for Levin and Parker (2012), taken by Jason Pogacnik, of two Nazca boobies in Galapagos

Levin, I.I. and P.G. Parker. Philopatry drives genetic differentiation in an island archipelago: Comparative population genetics of Galapagos Nazca boobies (Sula granti) and great frigatebirds (Fregata minor). Ecology and Evolution 2:2775-2787.    


Recent publications from the  departmentnazca_boobie

Cover photo for Levin and Parker (2012), taken by Jason Pogacnik, of two Nazca boobies in Galapagos

Levin, I.I. and P.G. Parker. Philopatry drives genetic differentiation in an island archipelago: Comparative population genetics of Galapagos Nazca boobies (Sula granti) and great frigatebirds (Fregata minor). Ecology and Evolution 2:2775-2787.    

Bai, F., R. Reinheimer, D. Durantini, E. A. Kellogg, and R. J. Schmidt.  2012.  A TCP transcription factor,  BRANCH ANGLE DEFECTIVE1 (BAD1), is required for normal tassel branch angle formation in maize. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109: 12225-12230.

Baiao, P. and P.G. Parker.  2012. Evolution of the Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) in the Sulidae (Aves, Suliformes). Journal of Heredity 103:322-329.

Bataille, A., G. Fournie, M. Cruz, V. Cedeno, P.G. Parker, A.A. Cunningham, S.J. Goodman.  2012.  Host selection and parasite infection in Aedes taeniorhynchus, endemic disease vector in the Galapagos Islands. Infection, Genetics, and Evolution 12:1831-1841.

Bennetzen, J. L., J. Schmutz, H. Wang, R. Percifield, J. Hawkins, A. C. Pontaroli, M. Estep, L. Feng, J. Grimwood, J. Jenkins, K. Barry, E. Lindquist, U. Hellsten, S. Deshpande, X. Wang, X. Wu, T. Mitros, J. Triplett, X. Yang, C.-Y. Ye, M. Mauro-Herrara, L. Wang, P. Li,  M. Sharma, R. Sharma, P. C. Ronald, O. Panaud, E. A. Kellogg, T. Brutnell, A. Doust, G. A. Tuskan, D. Rokhsar, and K. M. Devos.  2012.  Reference genome sequence of the model plant Setaria.  Nature Biotechnology 30: 555-561.

Chaves, J., P.G. Parker, T.B. Smith. 2012. Origin and population history of a recent colonizer,
the yellow warbler in Galápagos and Cocos Islands. J. Evolutionary Biology 25:509-521.

Deem, S.L., M. Bedon Cruz, J.M. Higashiguchi, P.G. Parker.  2012. Diseases of poultry and endemic birds in Galapagos: Implications for the reintroduction of native species. Animal Conservation 15:73-82.

Deem, S.L., J.L. Rivera-Parra, P.G. Parker.  2012. Health status of Galapagos hawks on Santiago Island, Galapagos. J. Wildlife Diseases 48:39-46.

Estep, M. C., D. Vela Diaz, J. Zhong, and E. A. Kellogg. 2012.  Eleven diverse nuclear encoded phylogenetic markers for the subfamily Panicoideae (Poaceae).  American Journal of Botany Primer Notes and Protocols 99: e443-e446.

Gerlach, N.M., J. McGlothlin, P.G. Parker, E.D. Ketterson.  2012. Reinterpreting Bateman gradients: multiple mating and sexual selection in males and females of a socially monogamous songbird.  Behavioral Ecology 23:1078-1088

Gerlach, N.M., J. McGlothlin, P.G. Parker, E.D. Ketterson.  2012. Promiscuous mating produces offspring with higher lifetime fitness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 860-866.

Kellogg, E. A.  2012.  Phylogenetic relationships in Saccharinae and Sorghinae.  Pp. 3-21 in. A. Paterson, ed. Genomics of the Saccharinae.  Springer.

Levin, I.I. and P.G. Parker. Prevalence of Haemoproteus iwa in Galapagos Great Frigatebirds (Fregata minor) and their obligate fly ectoparasite (Olfersia spinifera) Journal of Parasitology 98:924-929.    

Levin, I.I., G. Valkiunas, T.A. Iezhova, S.L. O’Brien, P.G. Parker.  2012. Novel Haemoproteus species (Haemospirida:Haemoproteidae) from the swallow-tailed gull (Lariidae), with remarks on the host range of hippoboscid-transmitted avian hemoproteids. J. Parasitology  98:847-854.

Schwagmeyer, P.L., P.G. Parker, D.W. Mock, H. Schwabl. 2012. Alternative matings and opportunity costs of paternal care in house sparrows.  Behavioral Ecology 23:1108-1114.

Rivera-Parra, J.L., K.M. Levenstein, J.C. Bednarz, F.H. Vargas, V. Carrion, P.G. Parker. 2012. Implications of goat eradication on survivorship of the Galapagos Hawk. J. Wildlife Management 76:1197-1204.

Santiago-Alarcón, D.; Ricklefs, R.E. & Parker, P.G. 2012. Parasitism in the endemic Galápagos dove (Zenaida galapagoensis) and its relation to host genetic diversity and immune response. Studies in Avian Biology 42: 31–42.

Sari, E.H.R. and P.G. Parker.  2012. Understanding the colonization history of the Galapagos flycatcher (Myiarchus magnirostris).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63:244-254. 

Triplett, J. K., Y. Wang, J. Zhong and E. A. Kellogg.  2012.  Reticulate evolution, allopolyploidy, and radiation in Panicum: evidence from multiple nuclear and plastid loci.  PLoS ONE 7(6): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038702.

Watsa, M., Erkenswick, G., Rehg, J. Leite Pitman, R. 2012. Distribution and new sightings of Goeldi's monkey (Callimico goeldii) in Amazonian Perú. International Journal of Primatology 33(6): 1477-1502

Zhang, G., P. Parker, B. Li, H. Li, J. Wang. 2012. The genome of Darwin’s Finch (Geospiza fortis). GigaScience.


Spring 2012 News Brief

Congratulations to all of our spring graduates and best of luck!

Special congratulations to our three new PhD graduates:

Eloisa Sari, "Colonization history and origin of the Galapagos flycatcher (Myiarchus magnirostris) and its parasites."

Edgar Javier Hernandez, "The effect of photoperiod on regulation of key components of the life cycle in the bumble bee Bombus impatiens L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)."

Melanie Miller, "Analysis of the Condition-Specific Regulation of Puf3p Activity and Puf3p=Mediated Regulation of mRNA Translation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

New arrivals

The Biology department is pleased to welcome Dr. Aimee Dunlap, starting in the Fall 2012.  Dr. Dunlap, most recently from the University of Arizona, will be joining the department as a new Assistant Professor.  Her research focuses on environmental and evolutionary influences on learning and memory, using fruit fly and bee systems.  Check out her current website at

Dr. Michael Howard has accepted a position as Assistant Teaching Professor of Biology.  Dr. Howard will be teaching Vertebrate Biology, General Biology, and Microbiology courses for the department and doing undergraduate advising for those with last names from G to L. 

Dr. Fatthy Morsy, a Fulbright Scholar from Egypt, is completing his 9-month visit to the laboratory of Dr. Teresa Thiel. Dr. Morsy came here to work on hydrogen production in the cyanobacterium, Anabaena. During his visit he has successfully cloned and expressed the genes for hydrogenase production from Clostridium in cells of Anabaena. He has been able to demonstrate that the genes function, allowing Anabaena to produce hydrogen. He has been a great addition to the lab and he will be greatly missed when he returns to Egypt at the end of May.


Leticia Gutierrez, a PhD student in Dr. Bob Ricklefs’ group, recently was awarded several grants to fund her research, including $400 from Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research Program, $5000 from the UW-NPS Research Center Small Grant Program, and $1250 from the St Louis Audubon Society!  She will be completing her field season at Grand Teton National Park during Summer 2012.

Dan Hartman, a PhD student in Dr. Patty Parker’s lab, received the St. Louis Zoo's Field Research for Conservation grant, and will be in the Galapagos for 7 weeks this summer doing field work.  

Dr. Patricia Parker was elected a governing member of the Charles Darwin Foundation.  This group serves as an advisory board for the Galapagos Islands, where Dr. Parker and her lab group have extensive research projects.   For more on this honor, see the recent article on UMSL Daily.  

Diego Salazar, a PhD candidate in biology working the Marquis lab, has been awarded a $15,000 dissertation improvement grant from the National Science Foundation for his doctoral dissertation which is titled “The effect of plant phylogenetic and chemical diversity on herbivore community structure and plant host herbivore damage.”  Diego’s research was recently profiled on the UMSL website. 

Dr. Marc Spingola was awarded the 2011-2012 Best Teaching Track Professor award from the UMSL College of Arts & Sciences.  And well deserved!  Dr. Spingola has been teaching Molecular Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Virology, and recently introduced an online version of Cell Biology. 

Dr. Xuemin Wang received a grant from DOE ARPA-E program called “Center for Enhanced Camelina Oil (CECO)”.   CECO is led by Dr. Jan Jaworski of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center with 5 CoPIs from 5 institutions.  Total funding is $5,524,564!  The project will develop highly-engineered oilseed crop camelina that is designed to produce enough oil per acre to compete successfully with other fuel crop.  Dr. Wang also received a grant with Jaworski entitled “Meeting the Challenge of Increasing Seed Oil Yield”, jointly supported by the National Biodiesel Board and Department of Transportation.

Jinshun Zhong, a PhD student in Dr. Elizabeth Kellogg’s lab, was recently awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant for $15, 000 for the dissertation work on "The evolution of floral symmetry across the order Lamiales" starting this July. This work is also partly supported by Graduate Student Research Award from Botanical Society of America.

syringa spSyringa sp, a member of the olive family, with radially symmetrical flowers 

2011-2012 Biology department awards

Raju Mehra Award, honoring outstanding graduate students:  Joy Valenta and Eloisa Sari

gradaute awards

Arnold B. Grobman Scholarship, honoring biology students who have a primary interest in field biology, ecology, evolution, or behavior of animals and plants and have maintained high academic standards: Oyomoare Osazuwa-Peters, Elyse Coffey, and Jeremy Martin.

Outstanding teaching assistant: Ryan Mertz

Jenni Higashiguchi Memorial Scholarship in Ecology: Oyomoare Osazuwa-Peters

Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship: Matt Madeiros



Kent A. Tomazi Memorial Student Research Fund:  Melanie Kunkel (Ricklefs lab)





R.SheridanMuriel E. Babcock Memorial Fund, recognizing a biology graduating senior undertaking a graduate program for research in the biological sciences: Ryan Sheridan





Biologists in the news

Check out these recent articles featuring UMSL faculty:

Darwin vs. design, with Dr. Charles Granger, in the St. Louis Beacon.

Politics obscure science of the stem-cell debate, with Dr. Michael Howard, in the St. Louis Beacon.

Dr. Zuleyma Tang-Martinez gave a public talk at the St. Louis Zoo: "Women and Science: Shifting Paradigms." Find out more about her here.

Spreading our research

Several biology postdocs have recently given presentation on their research:

Dr. Brad Oberle, a Postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Amy Zanne’s lab, gave a talk at Wichita State University entitled "Mission Impossible: Conserving Biodiversity in a Warming World"

Dr. Geliang Wang, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Wang Lab gave an invited lectureLipid signaling in nitrate uptake and assimilation in soybean under low nitrogen conditions” at the 8th Annual Soybean Biotechnology Symposium at Columbia, MO

Congratulations to all of the students who presented posters at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Graduate Research Fair this spring.  Ekaterina Loginicheva (Schechter lab) won the top Master's student poster category. 

Recent publications from the department

Christin, P-A., E. J. Edwards, G. Besnard, S. F. Boxall, R. Gregory, E. A. Kellogg, J. Hartwell, and C. P. Osborne.  (2012)   Adaptive evolution of C4 photosynthesis through recurrent lateral gene transfer.  Current Biology 22: 445-449.

Ellis VA, Merrill L, Wingfield JC, O’Loghlen AL, Rothstein SI.  (2012)  Changes in Immunocompetence and Other Physiological Measures during Molt in Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater).  The Auk 129:1-8

Guo L, Mishra G, Markham JE, Li M, Tawfall A, Welti R, Wang X. (2012).Connections between sphingosine kinase and phospholipase D in signaling Arabidopsis response to abscisic acid.  J. Biol. Chem.  287, 8286-8296

Guo L, Wang X. (2012). Crosstalk between phospholipase D and sphingosine kinase in plant stress signalingFront. Plant Sci. 3:51

Khan BR, Adham AR, Zolman BK.  (2012) Peroxisomal Acyl-CoA oxidase 4 activity differs between Arabidopsis accessions.  Plant Molecular Biology 78:45-58.

Maatta S, Scheu B, Roth MR, Tamura P, Li M, Williams TD, Wang X, Welti R. (2012). Levels of Arabidopsis thaliana leaf phosphatidic acids, phosphatidylserines, and most trienoate-containing polar lipid molecular species increase during the dark period of the diurnal cycleFront. Plant Sci. 3, 49.

Oberle, B, Beck JB, Montgomery RA, Esselman EE.  (2012) A morphologically intergrading population facilitates chloroplast introgression from diploid to tetraploid Dodecatheon (Primulaceae).  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 168: 91-100.

Schechter LMValenta JC, Schneider DJ, Collmer A, Sakk E. (2012) Functional and Computational Analysis of Amino Acid Patterns Predictive of Type III Secretion System Substrates in Pseudomonas syringae.  PLoS ONE 7: e36038.

Vu H, Tamura P, Galeva NA, Chaturvedi R, Williams TD, Wang X, Shah J, Welti R. 2012. Direct infusion tandem mass spectral profiling of oxylipin-containing Arabidopsis thaliana phospholipids and galactolipids reveals varied patterns in response to different stressors.  Plant Physiol. 158:324-339.

Wang G, Ryu SWang X. (2012) Plant phospholipases, an overview.  Methods Mol Biol. 861:123-137.

Yang YZheng Y, Bahn S, Pan XLi M, Vu HS, Roth MR, Scheu B, Welti R, Wang X. (2012). The patatin-containing phospholipase A pPLAIIα modulates oxylipin formation and water loss in Arabidopsis thaliana.  Molecular Plant,  5:452-460



Fall 2011 News update!

Greetings from the Research complex at the University of Missouri - St. Louis!


stadler hall  

Honors for many in the Biology department!

Congratulations to all of our recent graduates! Good luck as you move on and remember to check back for news updates regularly.

tang-martinez influential academic Hispanics

Dr. Zuleyma Tang-Martinez recently retired after more than 30 years in the Biology department, but certainly hasn't slowed down. She was named a Founders Professor, honoring her long commitment to the university and allowing her to continue working with students and teaching. She was also honored by her colleagues in animal behavior, being named as a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. And check this out - she was named one of the top eight most influential academic Hispanics in the nation! For more information, check out her recent profiles by UMSL or in the St. Louis Beacon.

Shown here: Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and former students and post docs (Debbie Boege-Tobin, Tang-Martinez, Beth Congdon, Danielle Lee, Stan Braude) pose at the Animal Behavoir Society awards ceremony.

undergrads in the labUndergraduates in the lab!

Charles Davis, an undergraduate working with Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, is shown here explaining his poster at the Animal Behavior Society/International  Ethological Conference meeting in June, at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Charles was selected - in a very competitive process - for the NSF funded ABS Turner Program for undergraduates.

Two undergraduate Biology majors recently received College of Arts and Sciences Research Grants! These competitive awards will help fund research projects and give undergraduate students valuable experience to complement their course work at UMSL. Ryan Sheridan is a double major in Biology and Biochemistry/Biotechnology and working with Dr. Teresa Thiel on "Hydrogen Production in Anabaena variablis." Rachel Hosna is a junior Biology major working with Dr. Robert Marquis on "Diversity of Galling Wasps across Eight Species of Quercus in Missouri." Congratulations to all of these talented students!

mares high school hall of fame

Dr. Kenneth Mares, Research Associate in the Department of Biology and Director of the Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program, was inducted into his high school hall of fame, September 23, 2011. Dr. Mares was a member of the class of 1961 at University City High School in University City, MO. He was nominated and inducted into the University City High School Hall of Fame for his 20+ years of STARS program leadership and his philanthropic givings.




Dr. Amy Zanne received a 1 year fellowship for 2012-2013 under the International Research Initiative Scheme (IRIS) at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at UWS ( Check out more about the Zanne lab on her website.

Drs. Bob Ricklefs and Amy Zanne co-organized the St. Louis BEES fall retreat, bringing together scientists from all over the St. Louis area for a scientific retreat at the Tyson Research Center. BEES stands for Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. UMSL was well represented with many posters and research presentations by Dr. Patricia Parker, Brad Oberle (postdoctoral fellow in Amy Zanne's group), Diego Salazar (graduate student in Bob Marquis' group), and Matt Estep (postdoctoral fellow in Toby Kellogg's group). Dr. Robert Ricklefs also was invited to be a plenary speaker at the Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Cusco, Peru, in November 2011. Click here to find out more about the Ricklefs' lab.


Fun in the field!
ellis ozarks

Vincenzo Ellis out in the Ozarks in July 2011, along with two UMSL undergraduates in Biology- Melanie Kunkel and Elyse Coffey.


Eliot Miller, a Biology PhD student, has been busy in the field for the past several months - check out his site in Australia! In addition, Eliot presented a talk entitled "Habitat filtering explains much of the variation in Australian honeyeater assemblages" at the Evolution Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma in June and another entitled "Phylogenetic and morphological patterns of diversification in the Australian Proteaceae" at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne in July.  

campsite s. australia

Campsite at the Gluepot Reserve in South Australia

miller tasmanian forest

Eliot Miller observes foraging honeyeaters in a Tasmanian forest
Photo credit Sarah Wagner

kellogg konza prairie  

The Kellogg lab took a field trip to the Konza Prairie in October. They enjoyed learning what a tallgrass prairie looks like during a drought (the tall grass is short), and had some good close looks at bison.



Cheng Y, Zhou W, El sheery NI, Peters C, Li M, Wang X, Huang J. 2011. Characterization of the Arabidopsis glycerophosphodiester phosphodiesterase (GDPD) family reveals that a plastid-localized AtGDPD1 is involved in membrane lipid remodeling under phosphate deficiency. Plant J. 66:781-795.

Guo L, Mishra G, Taylor K, Wang X 2011. Phosphatidic Acid binds and stimulates Arabidopsis sphingosine kinases. J. Biol. Chem. 286:13336-13345.

Li M, Bahn SC, Guo L, Musgrave W, Berg H, Welti R, Wang X. 2011. Patatin-related phospholipase pPLAIIIβ-induced changes in lipid metabolism alter cellulose content and cell elongation in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 23:1107-1123

Gallavotti, A., C. Gaines, S. Stanfield, C. Whipple, E. Kellogg, S. Malcomber, and R. J. Schmidt. 2011. The BARREN STALK FASTIGIATE1 (BAF1) AT-hook transcription factor is required for the formation of maize ears. Plant Cell 23: 1756-1771.

Preston, J. C., J. Doebley, H. Wang, and E. A. Kellogg. 2012. The role of teosinte glume architecture (tga1) in coordinated regulation and evolution of grass glumes and inflorescence axes. New Phytologist 193: 204-215.

Galbraith, D. W., J. L. Bennetzen, E. A. Kellogg, J. C. Pires, and P. S. Soltis. 2011. The genomes of all angiosperms: a call for a coordinated global census. Journal of Botany 2011: Article ID 646198.

Spring 2011 updates!

Biology day at the ballpark! 38 members of the Biology department went to see the St. Louis Cardinals play this spring and enjoy some end of the semester time off. And they won - Cardinals 4, Houston Astros 2!

Three corpse flowers! The Biology greenhouse has been full of flowers this spring, but not just your normal flowers. Greenhouse manager Kathy Upton has a knack for growing corpse flowers - a unique flower with a completely unappealing odor. We had three flowers bloom this summer, which is amazing given that the appearance of these flowers in greenhouse settings is quite rare. Check out our pictures and get more information at
(Smells not included)

Dr. Corneille Ewango (M.S. 2006) has been awarded one of the three Future For Nature Awards. The award, €50.000, was given in recognition of Ewango's outstanding efforts in the protection of the okapi. Over the past fifteen years Ewango has protected the Ituri Forest and the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the eastern part of DR Congo by means of research and community-based conservation. The Okapi Faunal Reserve has become a very important station for training and research in tropical botany and plant diversity conservation.

The Biology department is on TV! Michael Hofmann filmed a segment in our lab demonstrating the function of the electrosense for a show in the National Geographic Television series on "Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr". The paddlefish feature is a segway to demonstrate the function of the rostrum and electrosense in the greater sawfish, the main topic of the show. The paddlefish segment can be seen in the 4-min excerpt "Paddlefish Ho", Lon Wilkens filmed a sequence on the paddlefish for the TV series on "MegaFish" featuring the naturalist Zeb Hogan. This show has been scheduled for August 12 on the National Geographic channel.

Ecologist Patricia Parker was recently featured for her work on the behavior of Galápagos birds and the ecology of their diseases. Check out the article at

Dr. Robert Ricklefs received the 2011 Alfred Russel Wallace Award from the International Biogeography Society at the biennial meeting held in Heraklion, Crete, in January. This award recognizes a lifetime of outstanding contributions by an eminent scholar in any sub-discipline of biogeography. Dr. Ricklefs is also serving during 2011 as President of the American Society of Naturalists.

Dr. Teresa Thiel recently returned from a semester at the University of Leeds! Dr. Thiel's time in the UK was quite productive, resulting in new research collaborations, 6 seminar presentations, and two talks to the general public on GM foods and on alternative energy. Dr. Thiel also was recently awarded a new grant from the National Science Foundation for her work on "Regulation of the genes encoding the Mo-nitrogenase in Anabaena." This grant is for $632,975 and will run until 2014. For more information on the Thiel lab, check out

Honors for many Biology department students lately!

Rani Asmarayani received the 2011-2012 Baltzer Fellowship from the Missouri Botanical Garden to support her fieldwork research in Malaysia and Sulawesi (Indonesia).

The Arnold B. Grobman Scholarships were awarded to Kirk Barnett, Daniel Hartman, Jason Reinhardt, and Vania Torrez. This scholarship recognizes outstanding undergraduate and graduate students whose research and scholarship focuses in Ecology.

Nicole Benjamin and Rachel Hosna were awarded the Department of Biology Alumni Scholarships for the 2011-2012 academic year. Congratulations to them and a big thank you to all of our alumni who contribute to the scholarship fund.

Allisyn-Marie Gillet and Leticia Soares were both awarded research scholarships from the St. Louis Audubon Society. Allisyn-Marie Gillet received further research support from the Fund for Conservation Research from the Saint Louis Zoo for her project: Parasite transmission dynamics of the cooperatively breeding Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis).

The Raju Mehra Awards, which recognize outstanding graduate students in Biology, were given to Liang Guo and Cynthia Hong-Wa.

Robbie Hart received the 2011 TWA Scholarship for graduate research.

The Outstanding Teaching Assistant was awarded to Robert Miele based on his excellence in teaching undergraduate courses during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Oyomoare Osazuwa-Peters received the 2011 Mickey Scudder Scholarship from the Webster Groves Nature Study Society (

Heritiana Ranarivelo received the 2011-2012 Bovard Fellowship from the Missouri Botanical Garden to support his fieldwork research in Madagascar.

Jose Luis Rivera received research support from the Fund for Conservation Research from the Saint Louis Zoo for his project: Parasite spread model, based on inter-island host movement and rate of parasite transmission. Seabirds in the Galapagos Islands.

Eloisa Sari was awarded a Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship, which provides support for a student in their final semesters of dissertation research.

Ryan Sheridan was awarded the Kent A. Tomazi Student Research Award, supporting his undergraduate research in Dr. Teresa Thiel's lab over the summer.
Congratulations on all of these fine accomplishments! And of course, congratulations to our 2011 spring graduates.

New publications:

Barber NA, Marquis RJ. 2011. Leaf quality, predators, and stochastic processes in the assembly of a diverse herbivore community. Ecology. 92:699-708.

Bollmer, J.L., J.M. Hull, H.B. Ernest, J.H. Sarasola, P.G. Parker. 2011. Reduced MHC and neutral variation in the Galapagos Hawk, an island endemic. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11:143.

Deem, S.L., P.G. Parker, M.B. Cruz, J.F. Merkel, P.E.A. Hoeck. 2011. Comparison of blood values and health status of Floreana Mockingbirds (Mimus trifasciatus) on the islands of Champion and Gardner-by-Floreana, Galapagos Islands. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47:94-106.

Dutra HP, Barnett K, Reinhardt JR, Marquis RJ, Orrock JL. 2011. Invasive plant species alters consumer behavior by providing refuge from predation. Oecologia. 166:649-57.

Guo L, Mishra G, Taylor K, Wang X. 2011. Phosphatidic acid binds and stimulates Arabidopsis sphingosine kinases. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286:13336-45.
Hailer, F. E.A. Schreiber, J.M. Miller, I.I. Levin, P.G. Parker, R.T. Chesser, R.C. Fleischer. 2011. Long-term isolation of a highly mobile seabird on the Galapagos. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278: 817-825

Levin, I.I., P.G. Parker. 2011. Haemosporidian Parasites: Effects on Avian Hosts. In: Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine: Current Therapy 7th Edition; RE Miller and M Fowler (Eds). Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 356-363.

Li M, Bahn SC, Guo L, Musgrave W, Berg H, Welti R, Wang X. 2011. Patatin-related phospholipase pPLAIIIβ-induced changes in lipid metabolism alter cellulose content and cell elongation in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2011 23:1107-23.

Parker, P.G., E.L. Buckles, H.L. Farrington, J.L. Bollmer, K. Petren, N.K. Whiteman, R.E. Ricklefs, G. Jimenez-Uzcategui. 2011. 100 years of Avipoxvirus on the Galapagos Islands. PLoS ONE 6(1): e15989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015989

Ricklefs RE. 2011. Applying a regional community concept to forest birds of eastern North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108:2300-5. Rivera, J.L., F.H. Vargas, P.G. Parker. 2011. Natal dispersal and sociality of young Galapagos Hawks on Santiago Island. Open Ornithology Journal 4:12-16.

Ryder, T.B., J.G. Blake, P.G. Parker, B.A. Loiselle. 2011. The composition, stability, and kinship of reproductive coalitions in a lekking bird. Behavioral Ecology 22: 282-290.

Fall 2010

A special congratulations to all of our Fall 2010 graduates - best of luck in the future! And check back often for news updates!

Corinne Kozlowski, a PhD student in the Ricklefs lab, was awarded a Graduate School Dissertation Award for the Fall 2010 semester. This award is given to a finishing PhD student both in support of their research and in acknowledgement of their accomplishment. Congratulations to Corinne!

Danielle Lee, who worked with Dr. Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, was named one of St. Louis Magazine's "45 people whose ideas might most change St. Louis"! Check out more about Danielle at or the press release describing some of her recent projects. Congratulations Danielle on making such an impact in St. Louis!

Dr. Robert Marquis and his students have been studying growth of the invasive plant species honeysuckle - and the ticks that live around them. Check out this news article, published in the St. Louis Beacon, or this recent press release about their local work.

Dr. Patty Parker and her research group work in the Galapagos Islands. Check out their recent findings on the frigatebird. In addition, a recent collaboration between Dr. Parker and Dr. Robert Ricklefs resulted in a publication on the impacts of disease on birds in the population. In fact, UMSL is the lead institution for an NSF-sponsored Research Coordination Network grant on malaria parasites of vertebrates, which includes both Dr. Parker and Dr. Ricklefs. This project is an international effort to coordinate research on malaria parasites of wildlife populations. For more information on this work (and some great pictures), see Dr. Parker's website at or Dr. Ricklef's site at

Dr. Robert Ricklefs has recently been awarded Honorary Doctorates honoris causa at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of Burgundy (France). In addition, Dr. Ricklefs was given the Alfred Russel Wallace Award from the International Biogeography Society for 2011. Congratulations to him on these impressive honors!

Dr. Mindy Steiniger, was recently awarded $45,000 for "Characterization of the poly(A) and histone pre-mRNA3' end core cleavage factor" from the University of Missouri Research Board! For more information on the Steiniger lab, check out

Dr. Lon Wilkens, now a Professor Emeritus in the Biology department, recently participated in two programs with the National Geographic Society. In April, Dr. Michael Hofmann assisted in filming paddlefish and Dr. Wilkens did a 6-hr film session for the NGO cable channel series on "Monster Fish", a series featuring Zeb Hogan. Check back for updates on when these shows will be airing.

Dr. Godfrey Bourne is involved in the development of an innovative teaching collaboration with Barry Chernoff of Wesleyan University as part of an 18 month exploration of global warming through the lenses of science and art. The class was taught jointly by artists from the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange: Cassie Meador and Matt Mahaney, with several classes covered by Liz Lerman in the USA. One of our department graduates, Dr. Deborah Boege-Tobin, who is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Kachemak Bay Campus also participated. The hypothesis is that by integrating performance art and ecology we can promote a more comprehensive understanding of the topics and their social ramifications. Paul and Abigail Horton were the official videographers for the course. Together, the group produced a film "Connections with a Fragile World," narrated by Dr. Bourne.

New publications:

Allan, B.F., Dutra, H.P**. Goessling, L.S., Barnett, K**., Chase, J.M., Marquis, R.J., Pang, G., Storch, G.A., Thach, R.E., and Orrock, J.L. 2010. Invasive honeysuckle eradication reduces tick-borne disease risk by altering host dynamics. PNAS 107: 18523-18527

Camara, P. E. A. S**., and E. A. Kellogg. 2010. Morphology and development of leaf papillae in Sematophyllaceae. The Bryologist 113: 22-33.

Chemisquy, M., L. M. Giussani, M. Scataglini, E. A. Kellogg, and O. Morrone. 2010. Phylogenetic studies favor the unification of Pennisetum, Cenchrus and Odontelytrum: a nuclear, chloroplast and morphological combined analysis. Annals of Botany 106: 107-130.

Kozlowski, C. P**., R. A. Mauck, K. M. O'Reilly, J. Philipsborn, and R. E. Ricklefs. 2010. Changes in plasma hormone levels correlate with fledging in nestling Leach's storm-petrels. General and Comparative Endocrinology 169: 91-97.

Miller, M.A**. and Olivas, W.M. "Roles of Puf proteins in mRNA degradation and translation." WIREs RNA 2010 DOI: 10.1002/wrna.69

Outlaw, D. C*., and R. E. Ricklefs. 2010. Comparative gene evolution in haemosporidian (Apicomplexa) parasites of birds and mammals. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27(3): 537-542

Ricklefs, R. E. 2010. Evolutionary diversification, coevolution between populations and their antagonists, and the filling of niche space. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 107(4): 1265-1272.

Ricklefs, R. E., and D. C. Outlaw*. 2010. A molecular clock for parasites. Science 329: 226-229.

Khan, B.R**. and Zolman, B.K. 2010. pex5 Mutants that differentially disrupt PTS1 and PTS2 peroxisomal matrix protein import in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 154:1602-15.

Summer 2010

The Biology department is happily celebrating several recent awards:

The Evolutionary Biology group within the Biology Department at UMSL ranked 16th in the nation! Academic Analytics ranks programs by a combined measure of numbers of publications, grants, citations, and awards. Notably, UMSL has the fewest faculty in the list of the top schools. Check out the list here.

The Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center was honored with a "What's Right with the Region!" award this summer. The nonprofit group recognized the Harris Center for "Creating Quality Educational Opportunities". For more information on this award, check out the recent release and look for all the latest Harris Center news at

Elizabeth Kellogg has received a grant from the NSF Plant Genome program for "The Genomic Effects of Selection for Herbicide Resistance in Green Foxtail", with a total award of $296,756! For more information on the Kellogg lab, see

The Animal Behaviour Society awarded Zuleyma Tang-Martinez the Quest Award "for critical contributions that have moved the field of animal behavior forward"! Specifically mentioned were her work on social behavior and communication in rodents. The Quest Award is one of the ABS prestigious lifetime career awards. Click here for more information or learn more about her work at

Amy Zanne was awarded the Gerald and Deanne Gitner Excellence in Teaching Award, which "recognizes and honors early career faculty for outstanding and innovative teaching"! Amy was recognized for her recent teaching in Ecology and senior seminar courses for undergraduates and her innovative graduate seminar course for EES M.S. and Ph.D. level students. For more information about her research, check out her website at If you are interested in more information about the Gitner award, see

This summer was a busy field season for two Ph.D. students in the Kellogg lab: Jinshun Zhong had a successful field season collecting members of the mint family in China with his field assistant (his nephew).

Cynthia Hong-Wa spent several months in Madagascar completing collections and ecological surveys for her thesis. In addition, Cynthia gave an oral presentation on "The sectional classification of the Madagascar olive, Noronhia (Oleaceae); insights from morphological and molecular data" for the Association pour l'Etude Taxonomique de la Flore d'Afrique Tropicale (Association for the Taxonomic Study of the Flora of Tropical Africa) held in Antananarivo Madagascar. Jinshun gave a talk at the Botanical Society of America meeting entitled "Floral diversity and evolution within the Lamiaceae s.l."

New publications:
Sbeglia, G.C.**, Tang-Martinez, Z., and Sussman, R.W. 2010. Effects of food, proximity, and kinship on social behavior in ring-tailed lemurs. American Journal of Primatology 71: 1-11.

Schechter, L.M., Guenther, J*., Olcay, E.A. Jang, S., and Krishnan H.B. 2010. Translocation of NopP by Sinorhizobium fredii USDA257 into Vigna unguiculata root nodules. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76: 3758-61.

Tang-Martinez, Z. 2010. Bateman's Principles: Original experiment and modern data for and against. In Breed M.D. and Moore J. (eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, pp.166-176. Oxford: Academic Press.

Spring 2010

Congratulations to these Biology students, who were 2009-2010 award winners!!

  1. Arnold B. Grobman Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students with a primary interest in field biology, ecology, evolution, behavior of animals and plants: 
    1. Graduate students:  Eloisa Sari and Javier Hernandez
    2. Undergraduate student:  Ben Haffner
  2. Raju Mehra Award, honoring an outstanding graduate student in biology, recommended by the Biology faculty:   Justin Ungerer and Humberto Dutra
  3. Outstanding teaching assistant, recognizing a department graduate teaching assistant who demonstrates excellence in teaching and a strong commitment to instruction, preparation, and assisting faculty:  Eliot Miller
  4. Kent A. Tomazi Memorial Student Research Fund, supporting undergraduate student researchers:  Adam Henderson, Ryan Thies
  5. 2010-2011 Alumni scholarships, providing scholarships to undergraduates majoring in Biology:  Craig Hill
  6. Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship, supporting the completion of the dissertation by providing a stipend of $7000:  Iris Levin
  7. Research Excellence Award, recognizing the research accomplishments of a graduate student:  Rafeiza Khan  


** To our alumni - thank you for your help in sponsoring the Alumni Scholarship and the and Outstanding Teaching awards!

** Thank you to the UMSL graduate school, who sponsors the Dissertation Fellowships and the Research Excellence Award.

** Thank you again to our generous donors who endowed the Grobman and Tomazi awards!

The department is growing - We are pleased to announce that Dr. Mindy Steiniger is joining the department in the fall as an Assistant Professor! She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and her research group will study posttranscriptional gene regulation, focusing on mRNA metabolism.

Craig Hill, an undergraduate Biology major who did undergraduate research in Teresa Thiel's lab, has been accepted for a summer research program in Astrobiology! This competitive award will allow him to spend 10 weeks at the SETI Institute in California. He will work with scientists at the SETI Institute and at the NASA Ames Research Center. Congratulations to Craig on this position!

Amanda Duckwall, a 2010 Biology graduate, gave a commencement address at the May 15 College of Arts and Sciences ceremony! Amanda is a 2009-2010 Alumni Scholarship Award recipient. Amanda will be moving on to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, studying for a Ph.D. in physiology.

Elizabeth Kellogg was recently elected to National Academy of Sciences of Argentina! Check out the article describing her connections to Argentina, or check out more about her work at

Bob Ricklefs has been awarded an NSF Research Coordination Network grant for "Haemosporida of Terrestrial Vertebrates: A Model Parasite-Host System." The grant award totals $500,000 over 5 years. The network will establish a website for organizing and sharing information on blood parasitesand develop a summer school to train students and young investigators to work with blood parasites. Patty Parker is a member of the steering committee for this project. For more information on the award, check out

Marc Spingola has been recognized for his creative use of the news in Virology! Check out this link in the NY Times or read more about Dr. Spingola here.

Teresa Thiel has received the Fulbright-Leeds University Distinguished Chair Award for 2010-2011! She will spend January to June 2011 at Leeds University in the UK doing collaborative research in a cyanobacterial/plant symbiosis with David Adams and lecturing at Leeds University. For more information, click here.

This spring, the Biology department hosted ~50 high school students for an afternoon! The students had fun in a lab, extracting DNA from strawberries, creating chemical polymers, and analyzing of starch-degrading enzyme activity (alpha-amylase) in cheek cells before and after eating. Wendy Olivas organized the event, with several graduate students assisting: Milad Alasady, Anthony Fischer, Javier Hernandez, Melanie Miller, Jamie Palmer, Joseph Russo, Jonathan Sweeney, and Justin Ungerer. This program is through the Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium. Check out for more information.


New publications:

Hoeck, P.E.A., J.L. Bollmer**, P.G. Parker, L.K. Keller. 2010. Genetic drift in Galapagos mockingbird populations: Differentiation in isolated populations., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B., 365: 1127-1138.

Parker, P.G., S.L. Deem, and R.E. Miller. 2010. Pathogens and parasites of Galapagos birds: a proactive approach to conservation. Book chapter, from In Building a Future for Wildlife: Zoos and Aquariums Committed to Biodiversity Conservation, pp. 111-117

Ryder, T.B.**, W.P. Tori**, B.A. Loiselle, J.G. Blake, and P.G. Parker. Mate choice for genetic quality: a test of the heterozygosity and compatibility hypotheses., Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 21, pp. 203-210, 2010

Santiago-Alarcon, D.**, D.C. Outlaw±, R.E. Ricklefs, and P.G. Parker. 2010. Phylogenetic relationships of haemosporidian parasites in New World Colulmbiforms, with emphasis on the endemic Galapagos dove., International J. Parasitology, 40: 463-470

Weyman, P.D±., Pratte, B., and Thiel, T. 2010. Hydrogen production in alternative nitrogenase mutants in Anabaena variabilis. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 304:55-61.
Yasukawa, K., D.A. Enstrom, P.G. Parker, T.C. Jones. 2010. Male red-winged blackbirds with experimentally dulled epaulets experience no disadvantage in sexual selection., J. Field Ornithology, 81: 31-41.
Zanne, A. E., M. Westoby, D. S. Falster, D. D. Ackerly, S. R. Loarie, S. E. J. Arnold, and D. A. Coomes. 2010. Angiosperm wood structure: global patterns in vessel anatomy and its relationship to wood density and potential conductivity. American Journal of Botany 97(2): 207-215.

Old news

Winter 2010 

Godfrey Bourne and Carol Bourne have published "The CEIBA Reader: an introduction to the people, ecosystems, plants, animals and cuisine of CEIBA Biological Center, Guyana.", a text for students taking field courses in Guyana." Students taking "Documenting Biodiversity in the Land of the Macusis" during the 2010 Winter Intersession will be the first group using this text as a primer. Many chapters in the book were co-authored with high school students, UMSL undergraduates, and graduate students who collaborated on research projects completed at CEIBA Biological Center, Madewini, Guyana. Chapters in this book focus on the beetles, frogs, butterflies, fish, and lizards in the area.

Recent publications

Bourne, G.R. & Bourne, C.M. (Eds.) The CEIBA Reader: an introduction to the people, ecosystems, plants, animals and cuisine of CEIBA Biological Center, Guyana. Yerfdog Publishing, St. Louis, MO.

Undergraduate student author contributors include L. Drewel, B. Lunsford, E.G. Miller, A.J. Sammons, P. Sharma, and D.J. Smith

Graduate student author contributors include T.C. Allen, T.K. Consiglio, D.B. Tobin, R.A. Polster, L.C. Watson, and H. York

Local high school student author contributors include G. Lynch, E.B. Karlslake, and J.P. Park

Zanne, A.E. & Falster, D.S. 2010. Plant functional traits - linkages among stem anatomy, plant performance and life history. New Phytologist 185:348-51.

November 2009
Interested in learning more about the research happening in the Biology department? Check out this video of Toby Kellogg! Different video segments include her descriptions of the Power of Grasses, thoughts on teaching, and funding at both the University of Missouri Research Board and National Science Foundation. All of the video, audio, and written segments are designed to be easily understandable by the general public.

New publications:
Cornwell, W. K., J. H. C. Cornelissen, S. D. Allison, P. Eggleton, C. Preston, F. Scarff, J. T. Weedon, C. Wirth, A. E. Zanne. 2009. Plant traits and wood fates across the globe-rotted, burned, or consumed? Global Change Biology.15: 2431-2449.

October 2009
Karen E. DeMatteo, a postdoctoral fellow in Patty Parker's lab, has been selected for a Fulbright Specialists project in Argentina at the Universidad Nacional de Misiones during November! For more information, check out the recent press release.

Zuleyma Tang-Martinez has written an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a recent scientific issue in the news. Check out her article "What Caster Semenya can teach us about life" here.

Ph.D. student Eliot Miller has been awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for his proposal "Does contagious seed dispersal lead to predictable tree species associations?" Eliot's funding will start in 2010!

Robert Marquis has been awarded $451,614 for "Study of the impacts of wood-boring beetles on arboreal ants, and in turn the effect of the ants on herbivores in cerrado vegetation of Brazil." by the National Science Foundation! For more information, click here.

The new Zeiss's confocal microscope has arrived! In conjunction with faculty from the Center for Nanotechnology, the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, and the Physics department, seven Biology faculty members submitted a proposal in 2008 entitled "Acquisition of a Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope to Enhance the Research Capabilities of University of Missouri at St. Louis" to the Missouri Life Sciences Research Board. The group, led by Sam Wang in Biology and Jimmy Liu and Dan Zhou in the Center for Nanoscience, was awarded $281,745.

On October 15-16, UMSL hosted a NSF Pre-Award Site Visit for the proposed Science and Technology Center for Plant Lipid Systems (CPLiS). Xuemin Wang is leading a multi-institutional, national-wide effort to establish the CPLiS and Chuck Granger is leading the education effort. The CPLiS is one of 11 sites that NSF is visiting. The eleven sites were selected from 43 full proposal applications, which were selected from 240 preliminary proposals.

September 2009
Ph.D. students Joy Valenta (Schechter lab) and Liang Guo (Wang lab) presented research talks at the Washington University Plant Biology retreat, held at Shaw Nature Reserve, on September 4. Joy's talk was entitled "Characterization of the Type VI Secretion System in Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato DC3000" and Liang described his research on "Phosphatidic Acid binds to and Promotes the Activity of an Arabidopsis Sphingosine Kinase".

New publications:
Zanne, A.E., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Coomes, D.A., Ilic, J., Jansen, S., Lewis, S.L., Miller, R.B., Swenson, N.G., Wiemann, M.C., and Chave, J. 2009. Global wood density database. Dryad. Identifier number:

August 2009
Xuemin Wang has received a four-year NSF Collaborative Research grant on "Metabolomic Profiling and Functions of Oxidized Membrane Lipids in Plant Stress Responses" For details, see

New publications:
Hofmann, M.H., Chagnaud, B. and Wilkens, L.A. An edge detection filter improves spatial resolution in the electrosensory system of the paddlefish. J. Neurophysiol. 102, 797-804.

July 2009
Lisa Schechter has been awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation! This award is for over $737,000 and will fund research in the Schechter lab for 5 years. The title of the grant is CAREER: The Role of the HrpR/S Proteins in the Regulation of Virulence in the Plant Pathogenic Bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. For more information, see

New publications:
Preston, J. C.**, A. Christensen, S. T. Malcomber, and E. A. Kellogg. 2009. MADS-box gene expression and implications for developmental origins of the grass spikelet. American Journal of Botany 96: 1419-1429.

June 2009

The Biology department greenhouse Titan Arum Flower is blooming. Watch the Progress!

Ph.D. student Javier Hernandez has been awarded an NSF Dissertation Research Award for 2009-2010. His grant is "Molecular characterization of photoperiod effects on social ontogeny in a bumble bee", and includes faculty members Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and James Hunt. For more information, see or check out Javier's website at

Bethany K. Zolman has been awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation! This award is for $575,000 and will fund research in the Zolman lab for 5 years. The title of the grant is CAREER: Molecular mechanism of Indole-3-butyric acid action in Arabidopsis. For more information, see
or click here.

Robert Ricklefs has been awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award! Bob will spend a sabbatical year in Germany in 2009-2010.
Click here for more information.

New publications:
Moles, A.T., Warton, D.I., Warman, L., Swenson, N., Laffan, S.W., Zanne, A.E., Pitman, A., Hemmings, F.A., Leishman, M.R. 2009. Global patterns in plant height. Journal of Ecology. 97: 923 - 932.

** This article was highlighted in Nature and on the BBC: