WELCOME FROM THE CHAIR

Portrait of Laurie Stargell.Hello!  I am very excited to share with you all the new things that are happening since our last communication.  First, we welcomed our new president, Joyce McConnell, to CSU!  We also welcomed our newest assistant professor Grant Schauer, Ph.D. coming to us from Rockefeller University. In addition, we have initiated two Professional Masters Programs that began this fall, one in Biological Data Analytics, and the other in Microscope Imaging Technology.  Both programs are highly interdisciplinary, drawing on coursework and faculty from a range of disciplines spanning a dozen departments at CSU.

Our department also recently opened the doors to our new learning and advising space that focuses on the needs of our undergraduate population. This unique area serves as a place to hold recitations and study groups as well as offers a space for networking and collaboration for students, mentors, and instructors.

Thanks to the efforts of our own Paul Laybourn, CSU and Front Range Community College are teaming up to support transfer students. This is possible due to a new $4.28 million grant that was awarded to the program Wolves to Rams (W2R) Scholars.

Using new imaging techniques, Tim Stasevich and Tatsuya Morisaki, have found a way to watch living cells undergoing stress in real time at the single cell level, a process never witnessed from start to finish before now.

We have many congratulations to spread amongst our faculty this fall. Two of our instructors with special teaching appointments, Aaron Sholders and Farida Safadi-Chamberlain, were promoted to Associate Professors thanks to the new changes in non-tenure track appointments.  Aaron Sholders and Jennifer DeLuca received new, very prestigious awards – Aaron won the Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and Jennifer had the honor of being awarded the College of Natural Sciences Professor Laureate Award.

We have many more new developments, so please read through this full newsletter.  It highlights just some of the amazing new things our students, faculty and staff are accomplishing. We appreciate the support and good wishes of our many alumni and friends, and we hope you are a having a fantastic fall and have a wonderful holiday season.

All the best,

Laurie A. Stargell
Professor and Chair 

FEATURED NEWS

Tim Stasevich (right), Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Tatsuya Morisaki (left), Research Scientist, with a single-molecule microscope in the W.M. Keck Gene Imaging Lab.
Tim Stasevich (right), Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Tatsuya Morisaki (left), Research Scientist, with a single-molecule microscope in the W.M. Keck Gene Imaging Lab.

“I think seeing is believing, and that’s our contribution here,” said Dr. Timothy Stasevich, a Boettcher Investigator whose lab previously published the biochemical tagging and imaging technique in the journal Science.

In a new experiment published in Nature Cell Biology, biological imaging experts led by Dr. Timothy Stasevich, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University, have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress. With single-molecule precision, the researchers have captured individual RNA molecules interacting with stress granules, revealing how, when and where the RNAs move around – a process never before witnessed from start to finish. They have shown definitively, among other things, that RNA translation is completely silenced before the RNAs enter the stress granules. 

DEPARTMENT HIGHLIGHTS

Two New Professional Science Master’s Programs Introduced

This fall the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with the College of Natural Science,introduced two new Professional Science Master’s degrees: Biological Data Analytics and Microscope Imaging Technology. Both programs are highly interdisciplinary, drawing coursework from a range of disciplines spanning a dozen departments at CSU.

Contacts for the programs are:

Biological Data Analytics – Tingting Yao (tingting.yao@colostate.edu)

Microscope Imaging Technology – Jeff Field (jeff.field@colostate.edu

2019 Vice President for Research Fellow – Robert Wimbish 

Robert Wimbish presents “Attachment Issues: Uncovering the Molecular Basis for Chromosome Movement in Cells” at the 2019 Vice President for Research three minute challenge on February 11, 2019.

Robert Wimbish, a Ph.D. candidate with Dr. DeLuca, was selected as a Vice President for Research fellow (VPR fellow). The VPR fellowship program was created to support excellence in graduate research and to promote interdisciplinary work at the university by engaging the best and brightest students from graduate programs across the institution. Fellows are eligible to receive up to $4,000 in scholarship and travel support as well as opportunities to engage in monthly professional development. The mission of the program is to provide students with the resources they need to succeed in their graduate education such as travel support, workshops, networking opportunities with thought leaders in their industries, and personal resume reviews.  

CSU and Front Range Community College Team Up for Transfer Students 

Anthony Martinez, a transfer student from Front Range Community College, at the end-of-summer Bridges to Baccalaureate research poster session. A new NSF grant will support more STEM students like Martinez who are transferring to CSU from Front Range. Photo credit: John Eisele

Thanks to the effort by Paul Laybourn, professor in our department, CSU and Front Range Community College have secured a grant from the National Science Foundation for a new program to help students successfully transfer from Front Range Community College to CSU to earn bachelor’s degrees.

The $4.28 million grant will fund the new Wolves to Rams (W2R) Scholars program. W2R will support transfer students, helping them to graduate and go on to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The program’s broader goal is to increase participation of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students in STEM.  

Welcome New Faculty Member, Dr. Grant Schauer

Dr. Grant Schauer with Cam the Ram.

In August we welcomed Dr. Grant Schauer as our newest assistant professor.

Dr. Schauer has a B.A. in Biochemistry and a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of New Mexico. During this time, Schauer received training in molecular modeling and simulation at the Institute for Multiscale Modeling of Biological Interactions at Johns Hopkins University. Schauer received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Structural Biology in a joint program between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, where he trained in single-molecule fluorescence techniques with Sanford Leuba, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

For his postdoctoral work, Schauer joined Mike O’Donnell’s lab at Rockefeller University, where he worked on the first reconstitution of the eukaryotic replication machinery, known as the replisome, using pure proteins at the bulk and single-molecule level. Schauer’s research has been published in Nucleic Acids Research, eLife, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Cell.

At CSU, Schauer’s research will focus on auxiliary machines that couple to the replisome to ensure high-fidelity replication. For instance, mediators coordinate the cellular response to DNA damage during S-phase by directly coupling to the replisome. Also, a diverse group of histone chaperones work with the replisome to coordinate symmetric inheritance of epigenetic marks during replication. Schauer’s group will use single-molecule fluorescence and biochemical techniques to understand these dynamic molecular mechanisms. Schauer will also contribute to instructional needs within the department.

Announcing a New Learning Space for Biochemistry Majors 

After a year of designing and renovating, our new learning space is complete. This project was funded by the University Facility Fee Advisory Board (UFFAB). We now have a common meeting place for all our undergraduate students that serves our students advising, computing, and academic needs. Furthermore, we hope that this new space acts as a catalyst for the development of rich relationships between our students. The space will also reach well beyond our own majors and will service many students from multiple disciplines across the entire campus. Two classrooms in the new learning space will be used as recitation rooms for the classes Principles of Biochemistry (BC351), Introductory Genetics lecture and lab (Life 201B and Life 203) and Introductory Eukaryotic Cell Biology lecture and lab (Life 210 and Life 212), all of which are required by many other departments and taught by faculty in our department. It also provides office space for graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate learning assistants that service these courses, as well as the faculty that teach these courses. Finally, the space comes equipped with a modern research lab that will be used for the development of advanced undergraduate labs. 

Out with the Old, In with the …Old 

Written by Jeff Hansen, professor 

Screenshot of tutorials.

In the 2000’s Dave Fahrney wrote an extensive series of structural biochemistry tutorials for students in the class Comprehensive Biochemistry 1 (BC401). These tutorials utilized the program Chime (as a plugin for Netscape) to visualize biochemical structures in pseudo-3D. Programming was done in HTML1. In a stroke of genius, Fahrney linked the visualizations to text that explains what the view was looking at, creating a powerful, interactive learning tool. Fahrney used to give students a CD that would run the Chime tutorials on a PC computer. I have loved these tutorials since I first saw them.

I started using the tutorials extensively in BC401 when I began teaching the class after Fahrney – eventually to the point where the tutorials replaced a textbook.  Unfortunately, over time, newer browsers stopped supporting the Chime plugin and Fahrney’s visionary work was in danger of disappearing. It has been a goal of mine for quite some time to convert the tutorials into a web-friendly format. This project was a major component of the outreach aim of my National Science Foundation grant. During the past year, due to the hard work and vision of one of our undergraduate students, Ben Robinson, this goal has been achieved. Robinson has taken many of Fahrney’s original tutorials and re-written them so that they can run on an updated program called Jsmol. Robinson has done a superior, and at times our right amazing, job. The tutorials look and function great on computers, tablets, and even cell phones.

The tutorials can be found online.

Dr. Fahrney established the first scholarship available specifically for students majoring in Biochemistry. If you are interested in supporting our students, please consider giving to the David E. Fahrney Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship in Biochemistry endowment.

2019 Robert and A-Young Woody Lecture

Robert Woody, A-Young Woody, and Kim Orth at the Robert and A-Young Woody Lecture on October 15, 2019.

Dr. Kim Orth, Earl A. Forsythe chair in biomedical science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at University of Texas Southwestern, presented Black Spot, Black Death, Black Pearl: The Tales of Bacterial Effectors at the Robert and A-Young Woody Lecture on October 15, 2019 in the Lory Student Center.

Orth is known for elucidating the activity of virulence factors from pathogenic bacteria and the corresponding signaling pathways of host cells including strategies that can be utilized to prevent disease or treat patients.

The Woody Lectureship is supported by an endowment that was established by Robert and A-Young Woody upon their retirement. If you are interested in supporting the lecture series, please consider giving to the Robert and A-Young Woody Lectureship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Endowment.

FACULTY HIGHLIGHTS – CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING FACULTY MEMBERS

Dr. Jennifer DeLuca was named a Professor Laureate 

Professor Jennifer DeLuca was awarded with the College of Natural Sciences’ highest academic honor, the Professor Laureate award in April 2019. The Professor Laureate Awards are given to dedicated faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the missions of research, teaching, mentoring, and outreach. The designation is intended to honor recipients and to provide the college with exceptional role models. The title is held for three years and includes an honorarium and two years of research funding. Well done, Dr. DeLuca!  

Dr. Farida Safadi-Chamberlain was promoted to Associate Professor 

Portrait of Farida Safadi-Chamerlain.

Farida Safadi-Chamberlain obtained her Ph.D. from CSU in 1991 after receiving her master’s degree from the University of Jordan. Safadi-Chamberlain is a very valuable member of our team. She has contributed significantly to the development of the courses Introductory Genetics Laboratory (LIFE 203) and Introductory Cell Biology Laboratory (LIFE 212) and continues to introduce evidence-based innovations in teaching and curriculum. Thank you, Dr. Safadi-Chamberlain, for your commitment to our mission and students.  

Dr. Aaron Sholders was promoted to Associate Professor and awarded with the Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award 

Portrait of Aaron Sholders.

Our very own, Aaron Sholders, received the 2018-19 Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, one of CSU’s highest honors. The board believes that, “excellence in teaching involves creating a process of inquiry that stimulates the curiosity of students and that helps them develop and probe ideas. The teaching function increases motivation, challenges students, and channels inquiry.” Congratulations Dr. Sholders! 

SUPPORT THE DEPARTMENT

Your support of the department is incredibly valuable. Please consider making a difference to today’s students, faculty, facilities, and programs—at whatever level is right for you. Thank you!

For more information on giving, contact
Simone Clasen (simone.clasen@colostate.edu),
Executive Director of Development and Operations
College of Natural Sciences | 1801 Campus Delivery | Fort Collins, CO 80523-1801 | Phone: (970)491-0997 | Mobile: (970)214-9938