Biology Research Streams

Biology 173: Cellular responses to protein misfolding

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In eukaryotic cells, newly synthesized proteins enter the secretory pathway at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) where they first assume their folded state.  Because proper protein folding is essential for cell survival, accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins at the ER is known as ER stress, and contributes to numerous diseases from cystic fibrosis to diabetes.  The goal of this course is to study cell response to ER stress using yeast as a model system.  Students will learn to perform assays to detect ER stress, measure mitochondrial ROS generation, and assess mitochondrial remodeling. Students will also participate in a yeast genetic screen to characterize the cellular machinery that promotes an adaptive mitochondrial response to ER stress.   In this way, our efforts represent first steps towards devising therapeutic strategies for disorders linked to ER stress.

Biology 173: Urban Agriculture

Click on heading for more information.   Offered Spring term.

In this research and Community Based Learning (CBL) section of Intro Bio Lab, the class will serve as a mock contract lab for Growing Hope, a gardening and urban agriculture non-profit.  Recently they have experienced the emergence of a soil arthropod pest, Symphyla, at their farm near downtown Ypsilanti.  Students will conduct field experiments testing biological control measures. Data collection at the farm site will include population counts of Symphyla and crop damage assessment, along with laboratory analysis of soil samples to profile the soil microbial communities. They will use the available data to develop hypotheses around factors that impact this pest’s populations and present their results to Growing Hope.

Biology 173: Environmental Biology – Forest Ecosystems and Carbon Cycling

Click on heading for more information. Offered Spring term.

Students will learn biology laboratory and field techniques through studies conducted on-site at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Projects will focus on measurements of the carbon cycle using research-grade analytical equipment. Your work will be informed by and contribute to on-going research at the FASET (Forest Accellerated Succession Experiment) site and newly funded FORTE (Forest Resilience Threshold Experiment) project that studies why some forests recover from disturbance and others crash. The research faculty team includes Chris Gough, Luke Nave, Chris Vogel and Knute Nadelhoffer.

Yeast evolution

Click on heading for more information. Offered Winter term.

“Evolution on display”

In this course students will learn basic concepts in evolutionary biology through active research on evolving yeast populations in diverse environments. Students will research and learn about forces that dictate microevolution such as mutation, selection, and genetic drift. Students will perform a semester long experiment to adapt yeast to a variable environment by serial transfer of yeast cultures for 70 days.

Human Microbiome

Click on heading for more information. Offered Fall and Winter Terms.

The community of bacteria on and within us (our microbiome) modulates every imaginable aspect of our health ranging from digestion to happiness. In the research sections of Biology 173, rather than performing traditional laboratory exercises, you will conduct research on your own microbiome.