Fall 2015 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




Dr. Edwin AntonyDr. Edwin Antony earned his Ph.D. from Wesleyan University, and completed a post-doctoral Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, as well as Washington University School of Medicine. As an enzymologist, his research focuses on studying the function of ATP driven enzymes by taking scientific snapshots of different points in their processes. He is specifically studying Helicases, Fe-S helicases and oxidoreductases.


Dr. Antony splits his time between his research in his lab with his wife Dr. Sofia Origanti, his kids in his classroom as an assistant professor for Marquette University and his two kids at home. If he did have free time, he would probably use it to golf.


For more information on his research go to: www.antonylab.org



Dr. Tony GambleDr. Tony Gamble first became interested in biology due to his curiosity about animals as a child. He later completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota and became an evolutionary biologist. He now studies repeated evolutionary processes in geckos, including: sex determining mechanisms, gain/loss of adhesive toe pads, and nocturnal/diurnal switching. This research involves doing field work in places where geckos live such as South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Australia. When not at work Dr. Gamble enjoys spending time with his family.


Find out more about Dr. Gamble’s research at: www.geckoevolution.org



Dr. Stefan SchnitzerDr. Stefan Schnitzer studies biology due to his fascination with the complexity of nature. He earned his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in ecology and evolutionary biology. His main area of research is the ecology of tropical forests; in particular, the mechanisms that maintain species diversity, plant competition, and tropical forest succession, regeneration, and carbon dynamics. He has a wife and two kids and they spend time in both Milwaukee and the Republic of Panama.








Marquette University has promoted 26 faculty members to professor or associate professor with tenure, effective for the fall 2015 semester. Dr. Martin St. Maurice has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Academic tenure is intended to guarantee a faculty member the right to academic freedom and to not have his or her position terminated without just cause. It is achieved through demonstrating a strong record of published research and academic visibility, teaching and administrative service.






Dr. James Buchanan has been awarded the Wehr Distinguished Professorship from the trustees of the Wehr Foundation. This appointment is for three years, and will provide funding for Dr. Buchanan's current research.





Dr. Lisa Petrella


Dr. Lisa Petrella, assistant professor of biological sciences, is one of the 2015 recipients of the Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards. These awards support promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers. The awards of up to $32,000 are intended to fund $2,000 in operating costs and to cover up to 50 percent of salary to afford the recipient a one-semester sabbatical.   “During my semester sabbatical I will be working on one of the projects in my lab investigating why organisms go sterile at high temperatures. Specifically, I will be using whole genome approaches to look at differences in gene expression between an organism that is very temperature sensitive and an organism that is very temperature resistant.” Dr. Petrella developed an interest in this topic four years ago when this project began. For Petrella this was a natural extension of her research since it is a merging of her two fields of study, temperature response from her postdoctoral work and germline biology as a graduate student.





Dr. Michael SchlappiDr. Michael Schläppi has received a $500,000 federal grant and has been receiving lots of press attention for genetics and genomics research in an effort to grow rice in cold climates like Wisconsin.


Schläppi, a geneticist and molecular biologist, is developing an experimental cold-resistant strain of rice. His research team successfully grew different rice varieties in four southeastern Wisconsin locations this year, including in three fields and on top of the Wehr Life Sciences Building on Marquette’s campus.


“This grant will help us understand the genetic and physiological mechanisms of cold tolerance and sensitivity in rice plants,” said Schläppi, an associate professor of biological sciences in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “We want to dig deeper to understand cold tolerance in rice at the molecular and cellular level.”


Schläppi received the grant from the Agriculture Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A total of $150,000 of the grant will be distributed to the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, to conduct genetic mapping research.


About half of the world’s population consumes rice as a primary staple and some countries rely on United States exports. In the United States, most rice is grown in California and Arkansas. With drought conditions in California, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain such a water-intensive crop. Growing rice in the Midwest will contribute to sustainable rice cultivation for the United States and the world.


Schläppi has tested more than 200 varieties of rice. He believes a Russian line, called Krasnodarsky 3352, and maybe others in the future could yield 8,000 pounds of rice on an acre in Wisconsin.


“Few people would have imagined that rice could be an economically and environmentally viable crop in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Edward Blumenthal, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.  “This grant represents an important vote of confidence by the federal government in Dr. Schläppi’s research.”


- See more at: http://news.marquette.edu/news-releases/marquette-scientist-receives-500000-grant-to-study-genes-involved-in-growing-rice-in-cold-climates/#sthash.rjgzP3HV.dpuf


More stories on Dr. Schlappi's work:





Dr. Sandra Hunter, professor of exercise science in Marquette University’s College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Robert Fitts, professor of biological sciences in Marquette University’s Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, have been awarded a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund research on decreased muscle mass and increased fatigue in aging populations and how a novel exercise program can address these effects.


“A decline in limb muscle mass and capacity for movement combined with increased fatigability collectively result in reduced ability to carry out daily tasks and are significant problems for older adults – especially women,” Hunter said.


According to Hunter, the study will use cutting-edge techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, two non-invasive methods to study areas of the brain and muscle in order to determine neural and muscle causes of age-associated power loss. They will also use biopsies to extract single muscle fibers from young and older people.


“We’re looking at the mechanisms of muscle fatigue in order to find out what is happening in the muscle fibers,” Fitts said. “This will help us better understand the loss of muscle function with aging and what can be done to address that loss.”

The project will also include an exercise-training program with the goal of improving muscle performance, resistance to fatigue and quality of life for older adults.


In addition to Hunter and Fitts, the study is also supported by Dr. Alex Ng, associate professor of exercise science; Dr. Carolyn Smith, clinical professor of physical therapy; and Dr. Mehdi Maadooliat, assistant professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science.


“The project combines expertise in whole body performance coupled to cellular neurophysiology in order to understand the detrimental effects of aging and the benefits of exercise,” said Dr. William Cullinan, professor and dean of the College of Health Sciences at Marquette and director of Marquette’s Integrative Neuroscience Research Center.


“It’s a unique collaboration, one that highlights the strength and importance of translational research at Marquette,” added Dr. Richard Holz, dean of the Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.


See more at: http://news.marquette.edu/news-releases/marquette-researchers-receive-2-8-million-grant-to-study-effects-of-exercise/#sthash.iV3xv1pp.dpuf





Andrew Karls and Michelle Mynlieff. 2015.  GABAB receptors couple to Gαq to mediate increases in voltage-dependent calcium current during development. Journal of Neurochemistry, 135 (1): 88–100


Zac Lunak and Dale Noel.  2015.  Quinol oxidase encoded by cyoABCD in Rhizobium etli CFN42 is regulated by ActSR and is crucial for growth at low pH or low iron conditions.  Microbiology 161:1806-1815.


LaDisa, JF, Jr., Bozdag S, Olson J, Ramchandran R, Kersten JR, and Tom Eddinger.  2015.  Gene expression in experimental aortic coarctation and repair: candidate genes for therapeutic intervention? PLoS ONE 10(7): e0133356.


Van der Heijden, GM, Powers J.S., and Stefan Schnitzer.  Lianas reduce carbon accumulation and storage in tropical forests. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015 Oct. 12.


Michael Mashock, Anthony Kappell, Nadia Hallaj, and Krassi Hristova (2015), Copper oxide nanoparticles inhibit the metabolic activity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Environ Toxicol Chem. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1002/etc.3159





Dr. Anita Manogaran was invited to the Gordon Research Conference:  Stress Proteins in Growth, Development & Disease at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco in Italy last July. She presented a brief talk and a poster: Lyke, D., Legan, E., and Manogaran, AL. (2015) Actin and the vacuole: probing cellular mechanisms involved in prion formation.


Dr. Manogaran has also recently presented the following invited talks:

  1. Actin and the vacuole: probing cellular mechanisms involved in prion formation.  University of Nevada, Reno.  Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.   September 2015.  Reno, NV
  2. Work Life Balance.  Marquette University.  Biological Undergraduate Society Meeting.  October, 2015.
  3. Yeast prions: Providing insight into neurodegeneration.  Marquette University. Integrative Neurosciences Research Center Seminar Series.  November, 2015, Milwaukee, WI.





Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
(Directions/campus map)
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355