Biology’s 2008 “Outstanding Senior Biology Major,” Melissa Johnson, publishes her M.S. research results
Melissa Johnson, UH Hilo Biology Department alumna and “Outstanding Senior Biology Major 2008” has just published her first peer-reviewed, lead-author paper, “Postzygotic barriers isolate sympatric species of Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae) in Hawaiian montane forest understories.” The paper, which was coauthored by members of the Departments of Biology and Geography, is highlighted as an “Editor’s choice” article in the November 2015 issue of the American Journal of Botany. The paper results from her M.S. thesis in UH Hilo’s TCBES Graduate Program, which she defended in 2011. Currently, Melissa is continuing her studies on Cyrtandra as a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University.
Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she studied snRNA processing and miRNA regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Burch helped identify mutants defective in pollen and embryo development and showed the critical importance of C-terminal domain processing of snRNAs in the plant’s development.
Prof. Stan Nakanishi publishes findings on the use of Cannabinoids agonist and its effects on learning and memory after a traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can often lead to long-term deficits in cognitive functions including learning and memory. There are several post-TBI processes that may contribute to learning and memory deficits, but there is currently no clinical treatment to inhibit these pathological processes. Other studies have suggested that activation of the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) may inhibit aspects of post-TBI pathology; so we applied a synthetic CB1R agonist to young adult male rats after administering a controlled TBI and then tested their learning and memory behavior. We found that administering a CB1R agonist after a TBI appears to rescue their learning and memory functions. Further research is necessary to better understand the potential use of cannabinoids in clinical practice.
Research led by Dr. Yohan Pillon in the Stacy Lab reveals a cryptic adaptive radiation of trees in New Caledonia. This study of the nickel(Ni)-hyperaccumulating tree genus Geissois suggests that variation in biochemical strategies for coping with both typical and adverse soil conditions may help to explain the diversification and coexistence of tropical forest trees on similar soil types.
Biology Professor Dr. Don Price, along with Dr. Elizabeth Stacy and Dr. Patrick Hart received 5 million dollar NSF CREST award titled “Understanding Biotic Response to Environmental Change in Tropical Ecosystems Through a Place-Based Context”. This award primarily supports the UH Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) program, but also provides many research opportunities for undergraduates in the UH Hilo Biology Department.
Adam Pack also co-authored the paper “Habitat segregation by female humpback whales in Hawaiian waters: avoidance of males?” published in the journal “Behaviour.” The research reported in this article shows that female humpback whales with newborn calves segregate themselves into shallower water than females without calf to avoid energetically costly associations with male humpback whales prospecting for mating opportunities. The article’s findings were featured in a story by the BBC News: Edinburgh, File, East Scotland (Read the complete article).