Doctoral Program in Biology
Lipke, Peter N
200 Ingersoll Hall Extension
The Biology Department at Brooklyn College provides a vibrant environment for research in biology with substantial external grant support and modern facilities, which will be enhanced significantly by a new science facility currently in the planning stages. The department has fifteen full-time faculty on tenure-track lines. The faculty is diverse; one-third is women or members of groups underrepresented in science.
Research specialties represented in the department include work in molecular biology, microbiology, cell biology, developmental biology and behavior, and bioinformatics. Organismal biology, with emphasis on microorganisms, is the major focus in much of this work. Evolutionary diverse model systems, including bacteria, fungi, protists (ciliates and photosynthetic algae), plants, and invertebrates (flies, mosquitoes, and crayfish) are being used for investigations of fundamental biological questions that have relevance both as basic science and in such applications as understanding disease states and new treatments for diseases, and new sources of bioenergy. These diverse investigations employ a holistic approach in which the biology of the entire organism is considered in relation to a specific problem for experimentation. Cell, molecular, biochemical, biophysical, bioinformatic, and evolutionary approaches are routinely used for these investigations. Other organismal research areas include evolutionary origins of behavior, microtubule interactions in the cytoskeleton, computational biology, molecular studies of fertilization, organelle trafficking, drug design and mechanism of action, bacterial-induced pathogenesis in plants, photobiology, bioenergy, central nervous system development, and cell wall structure. Specific faculty interests are described below with links to their research lab webpages.
Grant Support and Research Resources
This research is currently supported by more than $5,100,000 in grants from NIH, NSF and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Some of the facilities and equipment available to students doing research in the department can be found by clicking here.
The Brooklyn College Doctoral Program in Biology
Biology Program Faculty
Our faculty participate in the CUNY Graduate Center biology doctoral subprograms in molecular cellular and developmental biology, and ecology, evolutionary biology, and behavior. A number of our faculty serve on the doctoral programs in both biology and biochemistry. Highlights of the biology doctoral program on the Brooklyn campus are weekly seminars by visiting scientists, research meetings, and journal discussions. Our students find the atmosphere in the department to be personal, cooperative, and supportive. To ensure our doctoral students are competitive after they obtain their degree, Brooklyn College offers students free professional development workshops in such areas as science teaching, grant writing, laboratory management, effective scientific communication, writing in the sciences, building a competitive curriculum vitae, and searching for academic, industrial, and research jobs. Our commitment to our students does not end when they file their dissertations. Our faculty members continue to provide a supportive professional mentoring network to our students as they advance in their careers.
- Basil, Jennifer, Animal Behavior
Jennifer Basil's laboratory (LIBE: Laboratory for Invertebrate Ecology and Behavior) focuses upon the evolution of behavioral and brain complexity. The long-term goal of our laboratory is to understand the competing influences of ecology and evolutionary history on learning and memory capabilities and their neural substrates. We use cephalopod mollusks as a model system, as they have large brains and complex behaviors. The current experimental program characterizes the underlying principles guiding associative and spatial learning in the chambered nautilus, often termed a "living fossil." Our laboratory currently has two Ph.D., two master's and numerous undergraduate researchers. Basil is away on sabbatical (August 2011-August 2012).
- Eshel, Dan, Cell Biology
The Eshel laboratory is investigating signal transduction pathways that control and regulate the dynamics and function of microtubules in cells. These studies use molecular genetic approaches in the budding yeast Saccharomyces.
- Forest, Charlene, Cell and Molecular Biology
Research focuses on fertilization in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii with specific emphasis on identification of proteins required for gamete fusion. Cell biology, molecular biology and bioinformatic approaches are used to investigate production and function of proteins potentially involved in membrane fusion. We are also investigating regulatory sequences required for minus gamete expression.
- Gavin, R.H.,
- He, Qi, Developmental biology
He is interested in the molecular mechanisms of nervous system development. Using Drosophila as a model, He's lab seeks to understand how axons are organized in the brain to form neuropils and how neural lineages are regulated during the formation of many different types of neurons. The approaches are multiple facets and take advantages of the Drosophila model where sophisticated molecular and genetic manipulations are available. Projects being pursued include dissecting axon guidance, analyzing neural cell lineage and connectivity, and developing multicolor cell-marking techniques.
- Ikui, Amy E., Genetics
The cell cycle is an ordered set of processes by which one cell grows and divides into two daughter cells. Cell cycle progression is driven by Cyclin/Cdk complexes. Ikui's research studies the molecular targets of Cyclin/Cdk, and the biological importance of the new cyclin targets.
- Lipke, Peter N., Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Cell Biology
Research interests include role of amyloid interactions in structure and function of cell adhesion proteins that mediate pathogen-host interactions and biofilm formation.
Lipke's lab has recently discovered a key role for protein amyloids in cell aggregation and biofilm formation. These functional amyloids have profound effects on host-Pathogen interactions and the balance between pathology and commensalism.
The work uses molecular biology, protein chemistry, spectroscopy and bioinformatics to study domain structure and activity. The lab also studies biogenesis of fungal cell walls and their role in disease. It uses bioinformatic approaches to both protein structure and evolution to show how structures evolve and function.
- Muth, Theodore, Microbiology
Muth's laboratory studies the virulence mechanism of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the pathogen causing crown gall disease in fruit trees and grapes. The lab is using a number of molecular, cellular, genetic and bioinformatic approaches to determine how the A. tumefaciens bacteria avoid the plant's defensive response and deliver virulence factors into plant cells.
- Nishiura, James, Cell
The Nishiura lab's overall goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control mosquito larval midgut growth and metamorphosis in order to identify processes that can be exploited to better control populations of hematophageous, disease-carrying mosquitoes. The work uses RNAi techniques to investigate the role of regulatory genes in mosquito midgut metamorphosis.
- Ovalle, Rafael, Microbiology
In the Ovalle laboratory, there are two parallel lines of research on cell walls: 1) surveying novel compounds for antifungal activity, and 2) understanding the processes of modification, transfer and anchorage of GPI-proteins in the fungal cell wall.
- Polle, Juergen, Molecular & Cell Biology
Work in the laboratory includes fundamental and applied research with microalgae. Molecular biology, biochemical and biophysics methods are used to investigate regulation of acclimation of abiotic stress on productivity of mass cultures of microalgae. Work is being performed on a project of microalgae to jetfuel.
- Saxena, Anjana D., Biochemistry, Genetics
Saxena's research focuses on checkpoint-tumor suppressor signaling using the tools of molecular genetics and biochemistry to investigate the role of nucleolin in regulation of the p53/p14ARF pathway.
- Singh, Shaneen M., Bioinformatics
The long-term research goal is to apply computer modeling to gain insight into cellular signal transduction pathways, specifically to provide deeper insight into both the normal and aberrant subcellular targeting of domains contained in proteins.
- Studamire, Barbara, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics
Work in the laboratory focuses on the influence of host factors and chromatin conformation on retroviral integration and replication. Among the techniques we use to assess the effects of various host-factors on the fidelity of the integration reaction are: gene knockdown (by RNA interference), molecular biology, protein over-production, cell culture and genetics.