Department of Biology Outreaching to the Community
June 15, 2023
June 15, 2023
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation is dedicated to funding research into the prevention and treatment of sight threatening diseases in children. Each year, the foundation invites proposals for funding of research related to pediatric ocular disorders. Dr. Sumanth Manohar, a postdoctoral research scholar working in the lab of Dr. Ann Morris in UK’s Department of Biology, was one of 25 scientists selected to receive this funding in 2023-2024.
Click here for more information about Dr. Sarah Tishkoff.
Africa is thought to be the ancestral homeland of all modern human populations. It is also a region of tremendous cultural, linguistic, climatic, and genetic diversity. Despite the important role that African populations have played in human history, they remain one of the most underrepresented groups in human genomics studies. A comprehensive knowledge of patterns of variation in African genomes is critical for a deeper understanding of human genomic diversity, the identification of functionally important genetic variation, the genetic basis of adaptation to diverse environments and diets, and for reconstructing modern human origins. African populations practice diverse subsistence patterns (hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, agriculturalists, and agro-pastoralists) and live in diverse environments with differing pathogen exposure (tropical forest, savannah, coastal, desert, low altitude, and high altitude) and, therefore, are likely to have experienced local adaptation. In this talk I will discuss results of analyses of genome-scale genetic variation in geographically, linguistically, and ethnically diverse African populations in order to reconstruct human evolutionary history in Africa, African and African American ancestry, as well as the genetic basis of adaption to diverse environments.
PhD from Université Paris 6 (France)
Group Leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (2006-2015) (Heidelberg, Germany)
Head of Research Unit at the Institut Pasteur (2015-2019) (Paris, France)
Professor, The University of Chicago (2019-.)
The mechanisms that regulate the efficiency and specificity of interactions between distant genes and cis-regulatory elements such as enhancers play a central role in shaping the specific regulatory programs that control cell fate and identity. In particular, the (epi)genetic elements that organize the 3D folding of the genome in specific loops and domains have emerged as key determinants of this process. I will discuss our current views on how 3D genome architecture is organized, how it influences gene regulatory interactions and illustrate how alterations of the mechanisms and elements that organize genomes in 3D could contribute to genomic disorders and genome evolution.
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Sarah Tishkoff is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, holding appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences. She is also Director of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity.
Dr. Tishkoff studies genomic and phenotypic variation in ethnically diverse Africans. Her research combines field work, laboratory research, and computational methods to examine African population history and how genetic variation can affect a wide range of traits – for example, why humans have different susceptibility to disease, how they metabolize drugs, and how they adapt through evolution.
Dr. Tishkoff is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of an NIH Pioneer Award, a David and Lucile Packard Career Award, a Burroughs/Wellcome Fund Career Award, an ASHG Curt Stern award, and a Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) endowed chair. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering and the Board of Global Health at the National Academy of Sciences and is on the editorial boards at PLOS Genetics, Genome Research; G3 (Genes, Genomes, and Genetics);Cell.
Her research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Institute, and the American Diabetes Association.
Africa is the ancestral homeland of all modern human populations within the past 300,000 years. It is also a region of tremendous cultural, linguistic, climatic, phenotypic and genetic diversity. Despite the important role that African populations have played in human history, they remain one of the most underrepresented groups in human genomics studies. A comprehensive knowledge of patterns of variation in African genomes is critical for a deeper understanding of human evolutionary history and the identification of functionally important genetic variation that plays a role in both normal variation and disease risk. Here I will describe our studies of genomic variation in ethnically and geographically diverse Africans in order to reconstruct human evolutionary history and identify candidate genes that play a role in adaptation to infectious disease, diet, high altitude, stature, and skin color. I will highlight recent research integrating data from a genome wide association study of skin pigmentation in Africans and scans of natural selection from whole genome sequencing. Combining high-throughput reporter assays, Hi-C, CRISPR-based editing, and melanin content assays, we identified novel regulatory variants that impact melanin levels in vitro and modulate human skin color variation. Additionally, we identified a novel gene regulating pigmentation by impacting genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and melanogenesis. These results provide insights into the mechanisms underlying human skin color diversity and adaptive evolution.
Bryan Dewsbury is an Associate Professor of Biology at Florida International University where he also is an Associate Director of the STEM Transformation Institute. He received is Bachelors degree in Biology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and his Masters and PhD in Biology from Florida International University in Miami, FL. He is the Principal Investigator of the Science Education And Society (SEAS) program, where his team conducts research on the social context of education. He is a Fellow of the John N. Gardner Institute and a Director at RIOS (Racially-Just Inclusive Open Science) institute. He conducts faculty development and support for institutions interested in transforming their educational practices pertaining to creating inclusive environments and, in this regard, has worked with over 100 institutions across North America, United Kingdom and West Africa. He is a co-author of the book 'Norton's Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching', available for free as an E-book. He is the founder of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Deep Teaching Residency, a national workshop aimed at supporting faculty in transforming their classroom to more meaningfully incorporate inclusive practices. He is the creator of the MOOC called 'Inclusive Teaching' sponsored by HHMI Biointeractive which will be released on August 15th. Bryan is originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and proudly still calls the twin island republic home.
Education holds the promise of preparing students to be engaged, thriving participants in a socially just democracy. For that ideal to occur, the structure and experience of the classroom must reflect both its constituents and consider the socially just imaginaries in which we would all like to inhabit. Using examples from the civil rights era's interrogation of our society, we will explore how an introductory biology course can help fulfill higher
education's civic mission.
Check out his book here!
Check out his HHMI/Inclusive Teaching trailer here!
Watch the seminar here!
I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in how climate and landscape history shape the
diversity, biogeography, and ecological structure of mammalian faunas across spatio-temporal
scales. I test hypotheses about how changes in climate, tectonic activity, topographic
complexity, and habitat heterogeneity impact communities and ecological processes at local
scales and govern diversity at regional scales. To do so, I use the fossil record to investigate
diversity patterns, macroevolutionary processes, and paleoecology, focusing on the history of
small mammals during the Cenozoic. My work on the past is conducted in parallel with
investigations of modern and historical small-mammal populations across broad climatic and
environmental gradients today.
My research group integrates fieldwork, specimen-based research, and quantitative
paleobiology. Primary tools of our research include stable isotope ecology and
paleoenvironmental reconstruction, analysis of trait variation, diversification analysis, and
coupling of geological and biological modeling approaches. We work in western North
America and in the East African Rift, both tectonically active and dynamic landscapes with
high species richness today and in the past.
Mountains across the globe are biodiversity hotspots for many different groups of plants and animals; however, the deep-time relationship between mountain building and biodiversity remains elusive and requires integration across disciplines in geosciences, paleontology, and biology. When and how did these hotspots form? What role do landscape and climate dynamics play in eco-evolutionary processes? Using modern and fossil records, as well as empirical and quantitative approaches, my research program investigates how the biodiversity of mammals has been influenced by tectonic and climate interactions that shape mountain landscapes and generate topographic and climatic gradients. In this presentation, I will focus on the diversification history and faunal structure of mammals in the Basin and Range Province of western North America across the Neogene, highlighting the role of tectonic extension and global warming during the Miocene Climate Optimum (17-14 million years ago) at multiple spatial scales. I will also share new research from coupled landscape-biotic evolution models to understand how tectonic uplift may both generate and preserve evidence of montane biodiversity hotspots in the fossil record.
Watch the seminar here!