Biology News Archive

The following is a list of past news from the Department of Biological Sciences. For more general stories or announcements, please visit the  Charles E. Schmidt College of Science  homepage, the  Jupiter Life Science Initiative webpage , and the  Owl Research & Innovation Magazine


February 2018


January 2018


December 2017


November 2017


October 2017


September 2017

  • First Video of Rare Monkey featured in FAU's Digital Magazine. Thanks to the work of primatologist Kate Detwiler, Ph.D., FAU is at the epicenter of ground-breaking research involving the Dryas Monkey, an endangered species located in one of the world’s most remote regions — the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lomami National Park.

  • SIZE DOESN'T MATTER - AT LEAST FOR HAMMERHEADS AND SWIMMING. Dr. Marianne Porter of the Biological Sciences Department had her research published and got the cover of the recent issue of  Journal of Experimental Biology . Congratulations to Dr. Porter and her students, IB PhD student Sarah Hoffmann and undergraduate researcher Matthew Warren.  

  • Dr. Tanja Godenschwege of the Biological Sciences Department had her research published in  PLOS Biology . This study established a role for  insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling in regulating the trafficking of gap junctional proteins that is conserved over the large evolutionary distance between  Drosophila melanogaster  (fruit flies) and humans, and between different cell types.

  • Brain Institute featured in Florida Trend magazine. The September issue of the magazine featured an article about FAU’s Neuroscience Pillar and the Brain Institute.


August 2017

  • Dr. Tanja Godenschwege of the Biological Sciences Department and her recent graduate Sirisha Kudumala had their research published in  PLOS One . This study established the Drosophila Giant Fiber neurons (GF) as a novel model to study axonal trafficking of L1-type Cell Adhesion Molecules (CAM) Neuroglian (Nrg) in the adult CNS using live imaging. 

  • Neuroscience Images Featured in FAU's First Digital Research Magazine. Many researchers of the Biological Sciences Department, Jupiter Life Science Initiative and Brain Institute had their images featured on the 'Brains Illustrated' cover story. 

  • Prestigious Fellowship Awarded to Biology Master's Student. Congratulations to Biology Master's student Danielle Dodge who was chosen for the prestigious 30-year old NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.  

  • Graduate College Fellowship Recipients. Congratulations to the Integrative Biology PhD students that have received scholarships from the Graduate College. 

  • FAU Biology student and alumnus recognized as emerging scholars. Gabrielle Rind, Biology major, and Dawit Rumicha, recent Biology graduate, were each given the Emerging Scholar Award at the 17  th   International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations in Toronto, Canada. The two also gave a research presentation on diversity in higher education during the conference.

  • Dr. Kailiang Jia of the Biological Sciences Department had his NIH-funded study recently published in   PLOS Genetics  . This is the first study to demonstrate how autophagy, a garbage-disposal like process where cells remove debris they produce - combined with food absorption and food smell - impacts the aging process, primarily by diet restriction. 

  • Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully of the Biological Sciences Department has been named the 2017 Distinguished Researcher! This award is given once a year to a researcher who leads by inventing and innovating by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority (FARDA), which operates the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University. 


July 2017

  • FAU Scientists discuss black tip shark migration and shark physiology. Drs. Stephen Kajiura and Marianne Porter, Professors in the Biological Sciences Department, discuss the black tip shark migration (6:30) and shark physiology (43:00). Check out the show and happy shark week! 

  • FAU SCIENTIST HELPS DISCOVER NEW MINIATURE SHARK SPECIES. Dr. Stephen Kajiura, Professor in the Biological Sciences Department, was part of a team of scientists who discovered a new species of miniature, glow-in-the-dark sharks belonging to the Lanternshark family.

  • USA Today Interview. Dr. Marianne Porter, Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department, discusses Olympic legend Michael Phelp's chances racing a shark. 

  • Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. FAU was well-represented by faculty and students from across several campuses at the 2017 large national conference. Congratulations to Sarah Hoffmann, IB Ph.D. student in Dr. Porter's laboratory, for receiving an award in the student talk competition! 

  • Good Morning America Interview. Dr. Stephen Kajiura, Professor in the Biological Sciences Department, discusses great white sharks with GMA hosts as they discuss actor Rob Lowe's encounter with a great white shark off the California coast.

  • FAU -SCI Partnership Yields First CareersFAU’s new workforce training partnership with Sancilio & Company (SCI), a Riviera Beach-based biotech company, has yielded new careers for recent graduates.

  • Avian Expert Awarded Scientific Product Grant. Wildlife Acoustics, Inc. has awarded a Scientific Product Grant to Rindy Anderson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Anderson will receive acoustic recording units to further her research on Bachman's sparrow.

  • Research In Action. Anthropology researchers led by Kate Detwiler, Ph.D., are studying a little known monkey population living in Dania Beach. The video features Missy Williams, IB PhD candidate, and Daniel Alempijevic, MSc Environmental Science student. 


June 2017

  • Former Biology Honors Thesis Program Student Making Waves in SNMA. Congratulations to Sergeine Lezeau on being chosen to serve as the Publications Committee Co-Chair and Journal Editor of the Student National Medical Association’s (SNMA) National Committee Chair.   

  • Loggerhead turtle nests facing new threats. Dr. Marguerite Koch-Rose of the Biological Sciences Department along with researchers at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center were interviewed on WPTV to discuss rising threats to South Florida nesting grounds and sea turtle populations. 

  • FAU Biology Student Named Florida Student of the Year. Congratulations to Tevin Ali, recent B.S. Biological Sciences Graduate for receiving the prestigious award from the Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE). 

  • The Mystery of the Wild Monkeys of Dania. Congratulations to Integrative Biology PhD student Missy Williams and Dr. Kate Detwiler, her advisor, for getting their research featured in the summer issue of Gold Coast magazine (page 58).

  • Biology Master's student wins award. Congratulations to Danielle Dodge of the Voss laboratory for winning “Best Graduate Student Poster Presentation” at the 2017 Benthic Ecology Meeting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

  • Dr. Nate Dorn Reignites Research Collaboration. Dr. Dorn recently restarted a collaboration and currently has four funded research projects totaling more than $640K.


May 2017


April 2017


March 2017


February 2017


January 2017


December 2016

  • Biomaterials: Sharks shift their spine into high gear. The languorous undulation of a shark cruising along a reef gives little hint of the fish's potential to unleash a burst of high-speed movement when pursuing prey. Writing in the Journal of Experimental Biology, Porter et al. reveal how the structural properties of the non-bony, cartilaginous skeleton of the spiny dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias) allow this fish to shift seamlessly between low-speed cruising and high-speed swimming.

  • Four PhD students were hooded at the graduation ceremony on December 16th. 

  • A study on fear memory by Robert Stackman, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychology, and Joan Lora, a doctoral student in Integrative Biology - Neuroscience, was recently published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Collaborators include Sathyanarayanan (Sathya) V. Puthanveettil, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps, who led the study. Previous work defined a role for the prefrontal cortex in consolidation of fear memory. However, the involvement of this brain region in encoding new long-term memories had not been determined.

  • The biology department recently awarded more than $34,500 in scholarships to 21 graduate students.  Additionally, 18 biology graduate students received Fellowships from the FAU Graduate College for the 2016-2017 academic year. Please join us in congratulating the following students:  


      • Narcissus Smith (Baldwin; Hughes)


      • Chelsea Bennice (Brooks)


      • Stephanie Kelly (Dawson-Scully)

      • Saheed Oseni (Kumi-Diaka)

      • Melissa Slocumb (Keene)

      • Paveena Vichyavichien (Zhang)


      • Jessica Dell (Benscoter)

      • Sergio Gonzalez (Dorn)


      • Karim Dawkins (Esiobu)


      • Lauren Kircher (Baldwin)

      • Marisa Martinez (Gawlik)


      • Lisa Celano (Salmon)

      • Christina Coppenrath (Milton)

      • Danielle Ingle (Porter)

      • Rachel Bladow (Milton)

      • Alexandra Lolavar (Wyneken)

      • Jacob Lasala (Wyneken)

      • Boris Tezak (Wyneken)

      • Sarah Hoffmann (Porter)


      • Erick España (Esiobu)


      • Priyanka Kakad (Godenschwege)

  • FAU Brain Institute Designated ‘Nikon Center of Excellence’. Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute in Jupiter is now home to a Nikon Center of Excellence, making it one of seven designated centers in the United States and 17 worldwide. Drs. Rodney Murphey and Ken Dawson-Scully were instrumental in developing this strategic partnership between Nikon and FAU. 


November 2016

  • Congratulations to Florida Atlantic University's inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Championship winners! Three students from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science placed in the Championship Heat. The IB PhD program took the 2nd and 3rd place positions in the Graduate College’s inaugural Three Minute Thesis Competition this last month.  Stephanie Kelly (Dawson-Scully) and Keith Murphy (Dawson-Scully/Ja (Scripps)) took 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

  • Championship Winner ($2,500) Mickelene Hoggard, Doctoral candidate, Chemistry

  • Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. "Snail Spit to Medicine." Advisor: Dr. Mare Cudic & Dr. Tanja Godenschwege

  • First Runner-Up ($1,500) Stephanie Kelly, Doctoral candidate, Integrative Biology

  • Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. "Of Flies and Men: Insights from an Age-Related Stress Tolerance Assay" Advisor: Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully

  •  Second Runner-Up ($1,000) Keith Murphy, Doctoral candidate, Integrative Biology

  • Charles E. Schmidt College of Science "Postprandial Sleep Mechanics in Drosophila." Advisor: Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully & Dr. William Ja

  • Following eight 3MT Heats comprised of nearly 90 graduate students representing each college and a range of disciplines, 17 graduate students advanced to compete at the Championship.  A number of our PhD and MS students placed and/or won People’s Choice throughout the 3MT heats. We’d like recognize the following students for representing our department:

    • Christina Coppenrath (Baldwin)

    • Douglas Holmes (Esiobu)

    • Kyle Newton (Kajiura)

    • Betsy Evans (Gawlik)

    • Victoria Erb (Wyneken)

    • Alexandra Lolavar (Wyneken)

    • Carlie Perricone (McCarthy)

    • Michael Studivan (Voss)

    • Alberto Padilla (Hartmann)

  • Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully’s company Neuro Pharmalogics participated in the Tech Runway program and has just entered into a licensing agreement with FAU. Neuro Pharmalogics is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapies for patients with rare neurological diseases. Read more here: and here.

  • Keith R. Murphy (IB-N PhD) is the primary author of a paper about how different foods can play roles in the immediate effects of sleep titled, “Postprandial Sleep Mechanics in Drosophila.” Researchers at FAU, Scripps Florida Research Institute, and Bowling Green State University have discovered evidence for “food comas”, the sleepy-like stupor that comes after eating a large meal. The study has gained national press this Thanksgiving, including articles in the Huffington Post and Fox news. Drs. Ken Dawson-Scully and Alex Keene and IB student Maria Yurgel are co-authors on the paper. Read the study here:

  • FAU Drug Study Proposal Selected by National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program. The National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) Interventions Testing Program (ITP) recently approved a proposal by two Florida Atlantic University faculty members to test the known anti-inflammatory drug sulindac in a pilot study for life span extension. Distinguished Research Professor Herb Weissbach, Ph.D., and Shailaja Kesaraju Allani, Ph.D, research assistant professor- both of FAU’s Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science- based the proposal on years of research conducted at FAU on the drug, which revealed other unique biological properties that protect normal cells against oxidative damage that occurs after traumatic events such as heart attack and oxidative damage to the retina. Additionally, they have shown that sulindac can make anti-cancer drugs more effective in killing cancer cells. For more information, contact Weissbach at

  • The Neuroscience Student Organization Hosted Kick-Off Event. Graduate students interested in brain sciences and brain health at FAU launched the group Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) with an event held in downtown West Palm to network and hear TED-style talks focused on key facets of the graduate experience, from the perspectives of senior neuroscientists. The speakers included Tanja Godenschwege, Ph.D., associate professor, biological sciences, FAU, Robert Stackman, professor & interim chair, psychology, FAU and David Fitzpatrick, scientific director & CEO of Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.


October 2016


September 2016


August 2016


July 2016


June 2016


May 2016


April 2016


March 2016


February 2016


January 2016


December 2015


September 2015


August 2015


June 2015


March 2015