News & Announcements

Miriam Hernandez-Romero Receives a 2018 ASPB Recognition Travel Award 


Miriam Hernandez-Romero

UMass Amherst Plant Biology Graduate Student Miriam Hernandez-Romero has received a 2018 ASPB Recognition Travel Award to attend attend the upcoming Plant Biology 2018 Symposium in Montréal. Plant Biology 2018 is a joint meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), Canadian Society of Plant Biologists/Societe Canadienne de Biologie Vegetale, and the International Society of Photosynthesis Research at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Plant Biology 2018 attendees will come from 36 countries and 46 states in the US.  Read More

Baskin, Fritz-Laylin Awarded Whitman Center Fellowships

Tobias Baskin

Two members of the biology faculty, professor Tobias Baskin and assistant professor Lillian Fritz-Laylin, have been awarded separate Whitman Center fellowships to support research this summer at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) on Cape Cod. Read More

Study Suggests Evolutionary Change in Protein Function Respects Biophysical Principles

Elizabeth Vierling

AMHERST, Mass. – Some molecular biologists who study the proteins that regulate cell operations, including Elizabeth Vierling at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, do not confine their research to understanding the molecules’ current roles. They also look deep into the proteins’ evolutionary past to explore what structures have allowed proteins with new functions to develop in response to new needs.

An expert in how plants cope with heat, Vierling’s interest for many years has been small heat shock proteins (HSPs), which accumulate in plants at high temperatures and appear to act as “molecular chaperones” to protect other proteins from damage. Read More

New UMass Amherst, Stanford Research Identifies Plant Cell Wall Sensing Mechanism

Professor Alice Cheung

An international collaboration of plant researchers this week reports yet another newly discovered role for the versatile receptor kinase, FERONIA, in the model plant Arabidopsis. The researchers say it acts as a sensor in the plant cell wall to help maintain its integrity and protect the plant from environmental assaults. 

How cells sense their physical state and compensate for cell wall damage is poorly understood, say authors led by Alice Cheung at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and collaborator José Dinneny from the Carnegie Institute for Science and Stanford University. But their new analysis of plants exposed to salt stress offers the first experimental evidence and molecular mechanisms showing how FERONIA is essential for the cellular responses that ensure survival under high salinity.

Details are online now and will be in the March 5 issue of Current Biology.   Read more

That's Life [Science] grad student blog publishes their 150th post

That's Life Science 150th blog post photo

Graduate students in the UMass IDGP programs created That's Life [Science], an interdisciplinary outreach blog, in 2016. Since then, the group has published 150 articles covering interesting topics across life science fields for the general public. "A Day in the Life of a Bird Nerd" is their 150th article!

UMass Amherst and Peking University Scientists Advance Knowledge of Plant Reproduction

left to right: Professors Hen-Ming Wu, Li-jia Qu, Hongya Gu, and Alice Cheung

Two groups of plant molecular biologists, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Peking University, China, have long studied how pollen tubes and pistils, the male and female parts of flowers, communicate to achieve fertilization in plants. Today they report in a Science early release paper that they have identified a pair of receptors essential to these communications as well as molecules that modulate the receptors’ activity. Read More

Researchers Link Fungicides, Bumblebee Decline

Professor Lynn Adler, Biology Department

Several bumblebee species have seen their ranges contract and some may face extinction due to several combined stressors, say ecologists Lynn Adler, Professor of Biology, and her former Postdoctoral Fellow Scott McArt, with others. Their recently published research analysis in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. explores the relative importance of multiple factors, and found unexpectedly that greater use of fungicides was the strongest predictor of range contraction in declining bumblebee species. Read More

Susan Han Named Outstanding Teacher of the College of Natural Sciences 

Susan Han, Stockbridge School of Agriculture UMass Amherst

Susan Han, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, has been awared the 2016-2017 Outstanding Teacher of the College of Natural Sciences. More Information

Soil Researchers Quantify an Important, Underappreciated Factor in Carbon Release to the Atmosphere

Marco Keiluweit

Soil plays a critical role in global carbon cycling, in part because soil organic matter stores three times more carbon than the atmosphere. Now biogeochemist Marco Keiluweit at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues elsewhere for the first time provide evidence that anaerobic microsites play a much larger role in stabilizing carbon in soils than previously thought. Read More

Madelaine Bartlett Receives a 5-year National Science Foundation Grant to Study the Evolution of Flowers

Madelaine Bartlett, Biology UMass Amherst

With an emphasis on encouraging young women in science, UMass Amherst Assistant Professor of Biology Madelaine Bartlett has received a 5-year, $837,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Grant to study the evolution of flowers—particularly in the economically important grass and grain family. Yet as much as it’s about flowers, Bartlett’s project also is about students: offering summer courses in basic molecular biology for high school students, training undergraduates to do research in molecular biology and evolution in a lab-based class, and involving graduate students in research and outreach. Read More