Vernal Pools Dispatch
Coming to you from the backyard of UC Merced - The Vernal Pools Dispatch!
Rolling grasslands at the edge of the UC Merced campus and the foothills of the Sierra are bright green with temporary pools in the spring and a dry golden yellow in the fall. Believe it or not, this dynamic ecosystem is home to a diversity of unique flora and fauna. RadioBio interviews four scientists who each study a different part of one of California’s most surprising ecosystems: vernal pools!
Vernal Pools Reserve Director, Monique Kolster
Ecohydrologist, Dr. Mark Rains
Herpetologist and Conservation Biologist, Dr. Brad Shaffer
Biologist, Shannon Kieran
Dr. Julie Zikherman
Autoimmune diseases occur when our immune systems start to attack our own cells, rather than foreign invaders. Unfortunately, very little is known about how these disorders arise in otherwise healthy individuals. Join us as we talk with B-cell immunologist and autoimmune clinician, Dr. Julie Zikherman, as we discuss how to control these inappropriate immune responses.
Dr. Robert Phillips
Genetics is a majorly hot topic in biology right now -- everything is genome sequencing this, gene expression that -- but how much do we really know? We know a lot about which genes are present in which organisms, and what certain genes do, but not a lot about how or why they do it. Our guest today, Dr. Rob Philips, is a researcher at CalTech who is working to understand the language of gene regulation, and the methods we can use to understand how genes work.
Dr. Ellen Rothenberg
Everyone gets sick, but have you ever thought about how your body fights off infections? Dr. Ellen Rothenberg from CalTech studies the development of a white blood cell that plays a big part in keeping you safe from infections, the T cell. She takes us on the harrowing journey that a T cell takes in order to become the powerful protector that it is.
Dr. Heinrich Jasper
Dr. Heinrich Jasper shows us new tools using Stem Cells that can help with both our longevity as well as degenerative disease. The Jasper lab is focused on regulatory mechanisms that control stress tolerance, metabolism and aging with the help of fruit flies. In particular, Dr. Jasper has been recognized for making seminal discoveries about the effects of aging on stem cell behavior, and about the role of stress in regulating stem cell function. Current projects in his lab focus on the control of tissue regeneration, metabolic homeostasis, and cell death by insulin and stress signaling pathways. Here we learn how science moves from a bench in a lab at a school into an industrial clinical setting.
Dr. Jimmy McGuire
Two words: Flying Lizards. How'd it happen? Evolution. Evolutionary history is complicated. It can sometimes be helpful to look at funky animals to see what their unusual traits tell us about their history. For example, Dr. Jim McGuire from the University of California Berkley, studies the evolutionary correlates of size, color, and flight in lizards.
Dr. Pleuni Pennings
Viruses are iconically challenging to define, but they have DNA so they evolve. In the 1980s, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) shook the world and propelled a massive undertaking to study the evolution of drug resistance in viruses. On World AIDS Day, December 1st, 2017, we spoke with Dr. Pleuni Pennings from San Francisco State University about how viruses adapt to treatments through time.
Dr. Adriana Briscoe
We may not think about it this way, but there is a whole world of colors that we can not perceive or understand that other organisms use on a daily basis, like butterflies. Did you know that even males and females from the same species see the world differently? Today on RadioBio, Dr. Adriana Briscoe discusses the evolution of color vision in Heliconius butterflies using genes, physiology, and behavior.
Dr. Joanna Chiu
Have you or someone you know been affected by sleep disorders, depression, or even drug or alcohol addiction. Believe it or not this may be linked to how and when you sleep...which is actually controlled by when you eat.
Dr. Joanna Chiu, Professor of Entomology at UC Davis, studies the animal circadian clock and its control on organismal physiology. Besides being indispensable for the control of daily activities, defects in circadian rhythms and clock genes have also been implicated in a wide range of human disorders. The Chiu lab's goal is to dissect the molecular network and cellular mechanisms that control the circadian oscillator in animals, and investigate how this clock interacts with the environment and metabolism to drive rhythms of physiology and behavior.
Dr. Holly Bik
If you've ever had a pet or known someone with a pet, you probably know what a round worm is, but did you know these are nematodes? 180 years of visualizing these fascinating worms gives us insight into biodiversity, evolution, and marine ecosystems. This week Dr. Holly Bik from the University of California, Riverside guides us through an exploration of these mysterious deep sea creatures using both ancient and novel techniques.
Dr. John Stark
N at work. What is N? N, or nitrogen, is one of the most abundant gases in the atmosphere and is an elemental building block of life. But we can't use N from the atmosphere, we need help nitrogen fixing bacteria and plants to acquire N in a form we can use. Dr. John Stark from Utah State explains N, how it flows through natural ecosystems, and the organisms that make it work!
Dr. Otger Campas
How do cells interact with their physical environment? Dr. Otger Campas from the University of California, Santa Barbara joins RadioBio to discuss the physical properties of cells and how the interactions between cells and their environment shape cell and organism development.
Dr. Embriette Hyde
You may have heard about the human microbiome or even the pro-biotic fad, but how much do you really know about the micro-organisms that live on and in you? Dr. Embriette Hyde from UC San Diego discusses her work with the American Gut Project on understanding the world of human microbiome. This work could lead to advances in our understanding of both the human health and human disease.
Dr. marie-Claire chelini
Have you ever wondered why males and females of a species are different sizes, shapes, and colors? Dr. Marie-Claire Chelini, University of California Presidential Post-doctoral Fellow, discusses her research on the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in crab spiders.
Dr. zachary knight
Everyone knows what hunger feels like and understands the drive to seek food when hungry, but how does it work? Dr. Zachary Knight from UCSF joins RadioBio to discuss his work on understanding the pathways in the brain that sense hunger to drive behavior. Knight's work is revealing new insights into how the brain makes decisions about food, whether it looks tasty, and how hunger dictates behavior. These results could lead to important advances in our understanding of eating disorders.
Dr. Aaron Gitler
How do misfolded proteins cause human neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's, ALS, and Parkinson's? The Gitler lab at Stanford University studies the cellular biology underlying protein-misfolding diseases using the model organism yeast. Since dealing with misfolded proteins is an evolutionary problem, they hypothesize that the mechanisms employed to cope with misfoldings is likely conserved from yeast to humans. Gitler's long-term goal is to identify the critical genes and cellular pathways affected by misfolded human disease proteins.
Dr. Kathleen Ferris
Evolution; no small topic. Biologists can use a diverse array of systems to try to test evolutionary concepts. Some systems, like bacteria, are useful for looking at how evolution happens in real time, because they have such short generation times. Others, like animals, are much more difficult, but can allow us to ask really interesting questions like how behavior influences evolutionary processes. Dr. Kathleen Ferris asks questions about how organisms respond to stress in an evolutionary sense using two very different systems.
Dr. Dan Weinreich
Evolution is the process by which an organism becomes more fit for its environment. Often overlooked is how genes evolve over time to make smaller changes to increase the fitness of an organism. The Weinreich lab uses antibiotic resistance genes to study how a gene can evolve in bacteria to give rise to increased resistance. Today we are going to learn about the exciting world of gene evolution and discuss science philosophy with Dr. Weinreich himself.
Dr. Jack Sites Jr
Ever wonder where species come from? Do species even exist? Why do they matter? RadioBio discusses the speciation process through space and time with Dr. Jack Sites Jr. from Brigham Young University.
Dr. Johanna Schmitt
Climate change can cause organisms to experience conditions they are not adapted to. How do these organisms respond and keep up with a changing world? Our guest this week studies how a small, ubiquitous plant responds to both natural and experimental climate change to learn about the potential pathways to adaptation plants may follow. Dr. Johanna Schmitt talks about climate change and the genetics of Arabadopsis thaliana, a tiny weed that can yield big insights into what the future holds for plants.
Dr. Rob Spitale
In many cells, RNA plays an essential role in regulation. Technological innovations are needed to further understand the role of RNA molecules in regulating basic biological function. Further, there is a need to expand the biochemistry toolkit to understand how large groups of RNAs are working in parallel inside living cells. The Spitale lab develops novel biochemical approaches toward understanding the role of RNA molecules in normal cell biology, as well as disease. Today we are going to learn about these new methods and tools in the RNA world from our guest Dr. Spitale himself.
Dr. Chris Amemiya
What are coelacanths? Why would a marine fish contain chitin, a sugar that makes up the exoskeleton of insects? How do sharks sense fish? Why do we care about lamprey immune systems? Dr. Chris Amemiya from the Benaroya Research Institute studies these questions using comparative genomics. This research will improve our understanding of marine ecology as well as immunology, and holds implications for both the medical and biotechnical fields.
Dr. Emily Jane Mctavish
The famous geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky once said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." But how do we study evolution? How do we reconstruct evolutionary relationships amongst hundreds, even thousands of taxa across the tree of life? Can we really predict how fast species evolve? Dr. Emily Jane McTavish, Assistant Professor in the Quantitative & Systems Biology graduate group at the University of California, Merced, joins us to talk about her research as a phylogeneticist and computational biologist.
Dr. nathan lanning
Everyone knows the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. But what changes does it undergo to promote cancer and other diseases? We sit down with Dr. Nathan Lanning of California State University, Los Angeles and discuss his work regarding mitochondria dysfunction.