Undergrads wrap up the semester w talks and posters

Several undergraduates in the lab were carrying out research for course credit this past semester, and their projects culminated with oral presentations at the honors thesis symposium (Larry Yang not pictured here) or posters. They all did terrific work and presented it clearly and thoughtfully. The aMDX lab is grateful for their contributions!

counterclockwise from top left: Adhham Zaatri is proud of his poster; Arusha killed her talk at the Koeppe Biology Undergraduate Honors Symposium; Daisy Hensley and her very quantitative poster!

What does a scientist look like? A kid!

Amy enjoyed teaching 11 classrooms of kindergarteners and 2nd graders at a local elementary school, in partial fulfillment of the lab’s commitment to substantial outreach in conjunction with our NSF grant. She asked the kids:
what do scientists do? (lots of action words that happy kids act out!)
what does a scientist look like? (the kid in the mirror! – the kindergarteners drew their ideas)
what kinds of questions do scientists ask? (the Q words minus “why”)
what is a cell? (the building block of living things)
can you see a cell? (sure, but many can’t be resolved without a microscope!)
And then she walked the kids through these broad steps of animal development:
a very big cell
cleavages
rearrangements
animal growth
And the kids did the first 3 steps hands-on with playdough!
Take home messages:
teachers are HEROS!
kids are scientists!

Tons of fun at the ASCB/EMBO meeting in San Diego

ASCB was fun, invigorating, and exhausting, as always. Amy co-organized a Saturday subgroup: the 5th bi-annual Frontiers in Cytokinesis session. She filled in for an invited speaker who couldn’t make it, with a talk about contractile oscillations in cytokinesis. Later that day, undergraduate Anusha Doshi presented her work in a special poster session for undergraduates. She flew back red-eye that same night to try to beat the snow storm! Michael came in early for the same reason, and arrived in time to celebrate with the Cytokinesis community at a huge happy hour at Tivoli Bar, which boasts being the oldest establishment in San Diego. The event was well-attended and was sponsored by Molecular Devices, Journal of Cell Science, eLIfe, Biochemistry, Nikon, and Zeiss. On Sunday we had a delicious fish taco lab reunion dinner at the South Beach Bar and Grill in Ocean Beach. Daniel was selected to speak in a Minisymposium on Motors organized by Julie Welburn and Michael Ostap. Though he had to wait to speak last, he did a great job! With Jan Skotheim, Amy co-organized a minisymposium that took place Tuesday. Michael wrapped up a well-attended, awesome session with a terrific talk! Discussions continued at a relaxing dinner afterward. Paul and Amy re-connected with the younger set of Salmon lab alumni, and zoomed around town on Lime scooters.

Amy speaks in an undergrad-organized symposium in Istanbul Turkey

Amy was honored to be invited to speak in a conference put together by undergraduates in the Molecular Biology Club at Istanbul Technical University. The students were incredibly professional in their hosting of the symposium in a huge, beautiful auditorium. 500 undergraduates from around Turkey registered for the symposium and traveled for this 3-day event. Amy did not know a single one of the 24 other outstanding faculty, hailing from Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, the UK, Spain, Jerusalem, Canada, and other countries! With the students’ attentive help, we shared meals and toured the city, which boasts a population of 15-20 million, and sprawls over the bits of Europe and Asia that meet at the Bosphorus.

Dylan Ray joins the team

Dylan graduated from UNC with a double major in Statistics & Operations Research and Applied Math. He has been working with other Math-Biologists at UNC on macroscopic problems of collective behavior. Now Dylan is working with both live-cell imaging and agent-based modeling to study the cytoskeletal and shape change dynamics of the cytokinetic ring. We’re thrilled to have him on board!

Katie Rehain-Bell defends her thesis

Congratulations to Dr. Rehain-Bell, who defended her thesis work on the differential regulation of actomyosin contractility in stable germline bridges and the dynamic cytokinetic ring, by GCK-1 and CCM-3. She published a paper in Current Biology, a methods piece in Methods in Cell Biology, a preview in Current Biology. Her work on cytokinesis is forthcoming! She TAed, taught, served on committees and trained and coordinated many, many work-study students and rotation students.
Katie immediately started a teaching position at Fayetteville Tech, where the students are sure to love and appreciate her!!
Congrats to Katie on her work, contributions to the community, great presentation, and ceiling-tile champagne-cork dent!
We will miss her!

Michael Werner promoted to Research Assistant Professor

As of July 1, Michael Werner will hold the post of Research Assistant Professor. Michael received his PhD for work at the IMP in Vienna and at the University of Chicago with Michael Glotzer. Dr Werner then did post-doctoral work first with Robert Bacallao at the IUPUI in Indianapolis, and later with Brian Mitchell at Northwestern University. Michael came to UNC early in 2015 and has worked on cytokinetic shape changes, the structure and regulation of the C. elegans germline syncytium, and the “interactome” of conserved structural proteins. He has become expert at data analysis in Excel and image analysis in Matlab and other programs. He has trained several undergraduate researchers and rotation students, and mentors many colleagues in the Maddox labs and our wider cell and developmental biology community at UNC. Michael has also taught Cell Biology and guest lectured on thesis writing and oral presentations. The Research Assistant Professor position is therefore befitting of his depth of expertise and many meaningful leadership roles.

Maddox labs enjoyed Salmon Family beach trip

Together with the labs of Paul Maddox, Bob Goldstein, and Kerry Bloom, we enjoyed a weekend retreat at Sunset Beach, NC. Special guest Sadie Wignall, from Northwestern University spoke on campus on Friday and accompanied us to the beach. Florian Jug from the Max Planck CBG also joined us and regaled us with his work, while down at the beach. We played in the waves, competed in mini-golf, and enjoyed delicious cooking by the lab members.

Carlos and Vincent inducted into FPG Honors Society

Vincent Boudreau, a PhD student in the lab of Paul Maddox, and Carlos Patino Descovich, a former member of Amy Maddox’s lab currently a PhD student in Scott Williams’ lab, will be inducted into the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society. The Honor Society (FPGHS) recognizes outstanding service provided to the University and community (https://gradschool.unc.edu/studentlife/fpghs/), and includes a very select group of faculty and graduate students. Vincent and Carlos’ contributions to research science are deeply appreciated by their peers and colleagues. These contributions include research discoveries, computer vision software, and orchestrating conferences including the popular Triangle Cytoskeleton Meeting.