Catherine Combelles
Office
McCardell Bicen Hall 346
Tel
(802) 443-5251
Email
ccombell@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
On Academic Leave (2022-2023). Contact by Email.
Additional Programs
Biology Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

The health of adults, neonates, and fetuses all depend upon normal development of the embryos and oocytes from which they arise. My laboratory is interested in (1) understanding what makes up a good quality oocyte as well as (2) identifying determinants of oocyte quality.

Using a clinically relevant animal model, our current assessment centers on the oxidative stress status of bovine oocytes. Towards this goal, we investigate the oxidative stress systems that prevail in all of the compartments making up the ovarian follicle, thereby defining the milieu within which an oocyte is about to embark on the penultimate developmental process of oocyte maturation. My laboratory also focuses on designing novel culture conditions in order to support the development of optimal quality oocytes in vitro. Long-term application of our work includes the improvement of not only treatment strategies for human infertility but also reproductive efficiency in domestic species.

Collaborative projects involve the diagnostic evaluation of human oocytes that fail to mature normally, the cryopreservation of human immature oocytes, and the monitoring of antioxidants secreted by human embryos of different developmental competencies.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Cell Biology and Genetics
In this introduction to modern cellular, genetic, and molecular biology we will explore life science concepts with an emphasis on their integral nature and evolutionary relationships. Topics covered will include cell membrane structure and function, metabolism, cell motility and division, genome structure and replication, the regulation of gene expression and protein production, genotype to phenotype relationship, and basic principles of inheritance. Major concepts will be illustrated using a broad range of examples from plants, animals, and microorganisms. Current topics in biology will be integrated into the course as they arise. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Developmental Biology
Have you ever wondered how an embryo develops from a simple fertilized egg to a complex adult? This course explores this question, examining the preparation and initiation of development (gametogenesis, fertilization, cleavages, and gastrulation), the formation of embryonic structure (morphogenesis), the creation of embryonic pattern (pattern formation), and the control of gene expression during embryogenesis. In lab, students will design and carry out experiments at the cutting edge of developmental biology, incorporating modern cellular, molecular, and genetic techniques with classical embryological approaches. Fundamental mysteries of development will be investigated in model organisms that best illustrate each process. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./4 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Topics in Reproductive Medicine
In this course we will examine the fundamentals of human reproduction and modern reproductive intervention strategies. Rapid discoveries in medical technologies have allowed us to push the limits of the human body, and we will explore the scientific and medical challenges that surround the control of fertility and infertility, fetal life, birth, and the neonatal period. Through critical review of the primary literature, writing, and informed dialogues, students will gain an understanding of key topics in reproductive medicine. (BIOL 0140, BIOL 0145, and one other 0200 or 0300-level biology course)

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Winter 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0500, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (BIOL 0211. Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (BIOL 0211. Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
Seniors majoring in Biology who have completed one or more semesters of BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 and who plan to complete a thesis should register for BIOL 0701. In this course students will produce a written thesis, deliver a public presentation of the research on which it is based, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0211 and BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Independent Research
This course is for non-seniors wishing to conduct independent research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Additional requirements include attendance at all MBBC-sponsored seminars and seminars sponsored by the faculty mentor’s department, and participation in any scheduled meetings and disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

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Course Description

Senior Independent Research
Seniors conducting independent research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the guidance of a faculty mentor should register for MBBC 0700 unless they are completing a thesis project (in which case they should register for MBBC 0701). Additional requirements include attendance at all MBBC-sponsored seminars and seminars sponsored by the faculty mentor’s department, and participation in any scheduled meetings and disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
This course is for seniors completing independent thesis research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry that was initiated in BIOL 0500, CHEM 0400, MBBC 0500, or MBBC 0700. Students will attend weekly meetings with their designated research group and engage in one-on-one meetings with their research mentor to foster understanding in their specialized research area. Students will also practice the stylistic and technical aspects of scientific writing needed to write their thesis. (BIOL 0500, CHEM 0400, MBBC 0500, MBBC 0700) (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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