Biology Speakers Series

Bilogical Sciences Distinguished Speaker Series

This is a monthly series that focuses on current biological science topics for the purpose of engaging students and faculty  with distinguished scientists, doctors, and other biomedical professionals from the community.



9/18/14 Nigel S. Atkinson, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin

"Identifying alcoholism-related genes using Drosophila behavioral genetics"

4/15/14 Seema Agarwala, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology Department, University of Texas at Austin

"Shape Changes During Neural Tube Closure"

3/18/14 Lisa M. Goering, Ph.D.

St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas

"Variety is the Spice of Life!  Investigating the Genetic Basis of Pheotypic Change"

2/18/14 J. Hayley Gillespie, Ph.D.

Environmental Scientist, Salamander Conservation Program, City of Austin, Watershed Protection Department

"Embracing a Career at Crossroad of Art + Science"


1/21/14 Brian Colwell, Ph.D.

Professor, Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, Texas A&M Health Science Center

"Tobacco and Adolescents:  A Public Health Concern"



11/19/13 Kristy Neff, Nurse Practitioner

Children's Cardiology Associates

"Common Issues in Pediatric Cardiology"


9/17/13 Kendra Abbott, M.A. in Ecology

Adjunct Professor, St. Edward's University

Instructor, Wild Basin Creative Research Center

"The Endangered American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in Texas"

The American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) was federally listed in 1989 as an endangered species, the first beetle to be listed.  N. americanus was historically recorded from at least 150 counties in 35 states(including Texas) in the eastern and central United States, as well as Southeastern Canada.  Monitoring and studying these organisms is important for the protection and management of remaining populations.


4/16/13 Richard H. Finnell, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry University of Texas, Austin

Director, Genomic Research
Dell Children's Medical Center

"Embryonic Consequences of Abnormal Folate Transport"

The interaction between specific genes and nutritional factors can play an influential role in embryonic development.  Developing better means of identifying high-risk pregnancies and optimizing the use of nutritional factors to prevent preventable birth defects, and understanding the relationships between metabolic pathways and risk genes will have important relevance for a broad range of congenital birth defects.


3/19/13 Virginia Harrod, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief of Neuro-Oncology and Survivorship Services at Dell Children's Hospital's Specially for Children group

"Neurobiology and Pediatric Oncology"

Pediatric Oncology is a challenging specialized discipline in medicine concerned with diagnosing and treating children with cancer.  Oftentimes, treating children with cancer involves very different strategies and medication than treatment for adults.


2/19/13 Christopher Sullivan, Ph.D.

University of Texas at Austin

"Molecular Genetics & Microbiology"

The regulation of gene expression has been the focus of many molecular biology and geneetic approaches to therapeutics for a variety of human diseases.  The relatively recent discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and small regulatory RNAs has dramatically changed the understanding of this importance regulation.



11/20/12 Robert McLean, Ph.D.

Texas State University, San Marcos, TX

"Bacterial Biofilms and Their Importance on Earth and in Space"

Most bacteria in their natural environments live on surfaces as slime-encased, biofilm communities and are quite resistant to environmental stresses such as harmful chemicals and antibiotics.  While biofilms are the dominant form of growth of bacteria in nature, little is known about the biological factors that allow growth in biofilms.


10/16/12 Jelena H. Pantel, Ph.D.

Katholieke Universiteit - Leuven, Belgium

"The Biological Consequences of Environmental Variability in Freshwater Ponds"

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is often defined as the variety of all forms of life, from genes to species, through the broad scale of ecosystems.  Environmental conditions and variability often dictate the species distribution in a given ecosystem, thus playing an important role in the development of biodiversity.  Please join Dr. Pantel as she discusses her recent research on the effects of environmental variability on the biological diversity of freshwater ponds.


Schonna Manning, Ph.D.

University of Texas at Austin

"Algae: Biofuels and Beyond"

DR. SCHONNA MANNING earned a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010, studying under Dr. John W. La Claire II, phycologist, molecular biologist, and microscopist. She also worked closely with Dr. Tom J. Mabry who is widely recognized for his contributions in the field of phytochemistry. During her time in the La Claire and Mabry laboratories, Dr. Manning’s doctoral research focused on the molecular biology and natural products chemistry of harmful bloom-forming algae. After graduation, Schonna worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Martin Poenie wherein her research focused on the characterization of lipids synthesized by microalgae relevant to the production of biofuels and nutraceutical applications. Currently, she is a Research Associate at UTEX, The Culture Collection of Algae at The University of Texas at Austin, evaluating algal productivity in large-scale bioreactors. Her research interests include expanding the characterization of algal metabolomes; interdisciplinary studies regarding the gene expression and synthesis of primary and secondary metabolites from algae; utilizing the remarkable diversity of algae for CO2 mitigation, and the production of pharmaceuticals, biomass, and biofuels. Dr. Manning has worked with algae and cyanobacteria for over 10 years and is a coauthor on numerous manuscripts and patents regarding the molecular biology, extraction, and chemical analysis of natural products from algae.


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