Past Events

Friday, September 24 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)

Summer Research Student Presentations

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220

Tinglin Shi and Thomas Khodadad (Spritzer lab)

Dose dependent effect of dihydrotestosterone on spatial memory in adult male rats

Daphne Halley (Pask lab)

A Hairy Situation: An SEM investigation of Chemosensory Sensilla in Fireflies and Ants

Jenny Pushner (Spatafora lab

Investigating a Protein Interaction in Streptococcus mutans

Tina Cai (Moody lab

Determining levels of phosphorus in aquatic invertebrates

Friday, October 8 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)

Summer Research Student Presentations

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220

Ben Morris and Aiden Masters (Pask lab)

Frankenflies: Decoding Ant Olfactory Receptors Using Transgenic Fruit Flies

Olivia Olson (Mychajliw lab)

A Zooarchaeological Study of Sea Mink (Neovison macrodon) in Maine

Emily Bulczynski (Spatafora lab)

ChIPping away at identifying SloR binding sites throughout the S. mutans genome

Malia Armstrong (Moody lab)

Are our data fibbing? Data visualization of Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIBs) through Shiny

Friday, October 15 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
Kaela Singleton, Emory University

Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms in Neural Development and Neurodevelopmental disorders

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216

Person doing paperwork in lab  Biography

Dr. Kaela S. Singleton is a Black multiracial Queer woman born in Texas and raised in Grayson, Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience and classical history from Agnes Scott College in 2014 and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University in May 2020. She is currently working as a postdoc in the Faundez lab at Emory University as well as an adjunct professor in biology at Agnes Scott College. She is a NIH BP-ENDURE alum, NINDS D-SPAN Scholar, and IRACDA FIRST Fellow, among other distinctions.

Though Kaela is early in her career, she has already made a tremendous impact on the fields of cellular and developmental neuroscience. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and professional development, and has been invited to speak at several institutions including Columbia University, Tulane Brain Institute, and Georgia State University. She has also used her voice to speak on numerous panels including ones sponsored by NINDS, NeuroMatch Conference, and National Academy of Science, Medicine and Engineering.

Kaela is the President-Elect and Co-Founder for Black In Neuro, an international organization becoming a non-profit that focuses on celebrating Black scholars in neuro-related fields. Through social media and public outreach, Kaela hopes to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, representation, and accountability (DEI & RA) within the scientific community. Most recently, Kaela and her Black In Neuro colleagues published a letter in Nature Reviews Neuroscience titled ‘An open letter to past, current and future mentors of Black neuroscientists’ with the goal of encouraging and advising future mentors how to most effectively mentor Black researchers.

When Kaela is not engaged in cellular neuroscience or her community service and mentoring efforts, she can be found cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs, listening to pop-punk music, or being the Beyonce of Neuroscience on Twitter.


Dr. Kaela S. Singleton’s research interests are driven by three key questions: How are mature, unique neurons generated and maintained in the brain? How do pathologic mechanisms disrupt molecular and cellular events during neuron generation and development? And why do rare genetic diseases preponderantly affect the nervous system of children? During her seminar she will address these questions by focusing on both her predoctoral and postdoctoral research. As a graduate student Dr. Singleton defined the role of Sox11, a prominent transcription factor in mammalian and non-mammalian neural development, using RNA-sequencing and protein mapping both in vivo and in vitro. Her postdoctoral research addresses the molecular and cellular events disrupted in Menkes disease, a progressive form of childhood neurodegeneration that is triggered by dysregulation of copper. She is investigating mitochondria integrity in Menkes disease using mouse and Drosophila models in order to shed light on how the brain protects itself from but also becomes susceptible to copper. Collectively, Dr. Singleton aims to use her training in cellular and molecular neuroscience as well as pedagogy and mentorship to understand on how neurons and future generations of scientists develop into mature, unique individuals.


Wednesday, October 27 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
Jessica Corman, University of Nebraska

Nutrient cycling in flowing waters: Are grassland rivers pipes or reactors?

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216


Dr. Corman is an Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A limnologist, ecosystem ecologist, and biogeochemist, Dr. Corman combines insights from manipulative experiments and long-term ecological datasets to understand aquatic ecosystem processes. Dr. Corman's research is funded by the National Science Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. She received her PhD from Arizona State University and her BS from Cornell University.

About the lecture

Rivers cut across the agrarian landscape of the midwest, but are often an afterthought in terms of their influence on nutrient cycling. In this talk, I will present research on the biological and biogeochemical activity of the Niobrara River, a tributary of the Missouri River, and how these findings influence our understanding of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

Friday, December 3 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
Siobhan Cooke, Johns Hopkins University

Diet, Dentition, and Craniomandibular Shape: Biting into Complex Relationships. 

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220


Dr. Cooke’s laboratory- and field-based research program focuses on the evolution of mammals in the Neotropics with a specific focus on primates. She is particularly interested in understanding how modern mammalian communities developed in the diverse environments of the new world from the Miocene to the present. 

Due to the vagaries of the fossil record, teeth are often the only evidence of a mammalian species recovered in the field, but these fossils can provide a valuable window into the paleobiology and phylogenetic relationships of the extinct animal. To analyze how a dentition is uniquely adapted to an animal’s dietary profile, methodologically, Dr. Cooke uses three-dimensional geometric morphometric (3DGM) methods and dental topographic analysis. As changes in diet often mark the evolution of new species and lineages, understanding dietary adaptation in the fossil record and today is essential for theorizing mechanisms of mammalian evolution broadly. 

In addition to her lab-based work on craniodental function, she also has two on-going field-based research projects. Since 2009, Dr. Cooke has worked on Hispaniola in collaboration with the Museo del Hombre Dominicano and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Santo Domingo. She examines patterns of mammalian faunal distribution and extinction in relation to human settlement patterns, the introduction of invasive species, and biogeographic barriers on Hispaniola. Second, she is a co-director of the La Venta Paleontological Project in Colombia. At this Miocene site, she and her colleagues study how mammalian niche partitioning and community composition have changed through time in response to environmental and geological change. 

About the lecture:

In this seminar Dr. Cooke will examine the masticatory morphology of the primates. She’ll discuss how she uses three-dimensional modeling and topographic analysis of primate teeth to understand how primate dentitions function and how dental data can be used to infer ecological niche in poorly known extant primates and in extinct species. As shifts in diet often lie at the root of evolutionary transitions, understanding dietary adaptions today and in the fossil record help researchers better understand primate evolution broadly. 

Biology & Neuroscience Senior Thesis Presentations

Wednesday, January 26th (12:30 - 1:20 PM)

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216

Simone Ameer

“Exploring the relationship between small mammal predators, mice, and ticks”

India Drummond

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!" - William Shakespeare. Exploring sRNAs in the S. mutans regulon

Thursday, January 27th (12:30 - 1:20 PM)

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216

Olivia Olson

"Sea minks (Neovison macrodon) in context: ecology, phylogeny, and extinction"

Kristen Monten

Multiple Mechanisms of Sleep Regulation: An exploration of local cortical regulation of sleep intensity and global behavioral state

Class of "88 talks
Thursday, March 3 (4:30 - 5:20 PM) & Friday, March 4 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220
Brigette Widemann, National Cancer Institute

Biography: As chief of NCI’s POB Dr. Widemann oversees and active basic, translational and clinical research program for children and young adults with hematologic and solid malignancies.

 Dr. Widemann joined the NCI in 1992 as a pediatric hematology oncology fellow after having obtained her MD and completed pediatric residency at the University of Cologne in Germany. Her research has been focused on drug development and early clinical trials for children with refractory solid tumors or genetic tumor predisposition syndromes, in particular neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The work of her research team on NF1 resulted in the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved medical therapy, the MEK inhibitor selumetinib, for children with NF1 and inoperable, symptomatic plexiform neurofibroma. She received tenure at the NIH in 2009 and became the Chief of the POB in 2016.

 Dr. Widemann  is a member of the Association of American Physicians and recipient of the AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research. She has authored more than 200 original scientific papers, reviews, and book chapters, and has conducted many clinical trials.


“Advances and challenges in drug development for children and young adults with cancers”

About the talk: Dr Widemann will provide an overview of the incidence of pediatric cancers and the advances that resulted in transforming diseases that were uniformly fatal to achieving high cure rates for most pediatric cancers to date.
In particular, describing recent regulatory changes and novel treatment modalities, which are impacting how we treat cancers today.
The talk will also include remaining challenges we have to overcome.
So much has changed since the 1950’s when chemotherapy was first introduced for pediatric leukemias.


“ Development of effective therapies for neurofibromatosis type 1 related peripheral nerve sheath tumors”

About the talk: This talk will describe the genetic tumor predisposition syndrome NF1 and the history of how the team and collaborators developed the first FDA approved medical therapy for NF1 peripheral nerve sheath tumors.
Dr Widemann will describe the genetics and clinical manifestations and the pathogenesis (RAS pathway activation) of NF1 tumors and how the evaluation of novel targeted therapies in clinical trials with novel endpoints combined with a natural history study of NF1 resulted in the identification of a targeted therapy resulting in consistent tumor shrinkage for the first time. Given these successes, they are applying a similar approach to the treatment of other disorders characterized by RAS pathway activation.

Person with short dark hair, smiling, standing with open drawer for rocks Friday, March 11 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
Advait M. Jukar, Ph.D., Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

The Evolution of Terrestrial Mammalian Communities in South Asia

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220

Biography: Advait Jukar is a Gaylord Donnelley Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and Department of Anthropology. His current research focusses on the assembly of fossil and modern vertebrate faunas at local, regional, and continental scales. His previous work has ranged from the phenotypic plasticity of frogs to the ecology of coral reef fish. He received his B.A. in Biology from Reed College in 2011, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University in 2018. After his PhD, Advait was awarded the Deep Time Peter Buck Fellowship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, following which, he moved to Yale. In addition to being a researcher, Advait is a science educator and communicator, and helps develop fossil exhibitions at Yale and the Smithsonian.

About the talk: The fossil record of mammals in the Indian Subcontinent from the last 4 million years provides a unique opportunity to understand how ecological forces such as climate change and human activities have affected ecosystems, and in turn, resulted in the composition of the modern mammalian fauna. Using historical museum collections, and quantitative approaches from ecology and paleobiology, I uncover the hidden story of India’s fossil mammals. This story involves giant elephants, antlered giraffes, toothy hippos, and three-toed horses. The land of the tiger as we know it today was shaped by successive dispersals of mammals from Europe and Africa driven by the monsoon, the evolution of local species, a mysterious change in the fauna, and finally, a human-caused megafaunal extinction.


Friday, April 8 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
man in dark suit speaking into microphone
Pascal Losambe, Educational Consultant

Our Shared Humanity, Belonging and the Brain

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216

Biography: Dr. Pascal Losambe is the Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer for Synergy Consulting Company. Dr. Losambe has a Bachelor's in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from
Middlebury College and a Master's of Science in Biology with a focus on Neurobiology from Boston College where he received the Donald J. White award for teaching excellence, a distinguished honor given annually to graduate instructors. Dr. Losambe has earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Purdue University with a focus on
cultural competence. He is the keynote presenter and curriculum developer for the United Front Initiative, a city and regional program with the goal of bringing unity and
reconciliation to the region. Additionally, Dr. Losambe consults and presents to companies and other organizations on various topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion,
educational leadership, and organizational culture. He has led strategic vision initiatives for various institutions and has conducted multiple workshops on cultural competence at
national and international conferences. Dr. Losambe’s achievements include the Mosaic Award in 2018, and being invited onto the Purdue University Educational Leadership and
Policy Studies Advisory Board, the Purdue University Fort Wayne College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board, the Young Scholars Academy Board, and the Heart of Character
Leadership Committee. He previously served on the Independent School Association of the Central States Equity and Justice Committee Board.

About the Talk:

Our shared humanity calls for us to live by the golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated—and by the platinum rule that says to treat people the way they want to be treated. This platinum rule underscores the need for authentic relationships, an open and humble heart in listening and truly hearing what others are going through, and a desire to know how to support others. If history reveals a core truth to us, it is that interdependence is needed to achieve the most significant potential in our institutions. When we begin to view ourselves and others from the lens of our shared humanity, we will feel compelled to practice self-awareness through reflection and introspection and begin to understand one another's needs, desires, impulses, thoughts, and emotions. This presentation will provide insights into our fundamental human need to belong and explore research that highlights the role of the mind and brain in human socialization and identity formation, which ultimately impacts our sense of belonging.

Department of Biology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753