The Biological Sciences Department is proud to present our Friday Seminar Series, supported by the Scholl Endowment. Eminent scientists are invited to the department to deliver seminars, and students have ample opportunity to engage these scientists in individual or group conversation. Seminars are held at 3:00 pm on Friday afternoons in Wehr Life Sciences 111.
Please join us for our 30th annual Oliver H. Smith Memorial Lecture honoring the memory of Dr. Oliver H. Smith, a faculty member in the department from 1963-1985. The seminar series was established by Oliver’s family who has continued to support this and other important departmental programs. Previous Smith Lectures have included three Nobel Laureates: Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (1993), Dr. Richard Roberts (2001), and Dr. Thomas Steitz (2002).
Dr. Colleen Cavanaugh is recognized worldwide for her contributions to microbiology involving symbiosis of chemosynthetic bacteria with marine invertebrates. This began, when as a graduate student, she recognized that the giant tubeworms, Riftia pachyptila, at that time only recently discovered at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, contained symbiotic sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophs. Like chloroplasts, these bacteria fix CO2, thus feeding these mouthless and gutless worms internally. She has participated in research cruises worldwide with deep-sea dives in the submersible Alvin, and has shown that such symbioses are not limited to vents, but occur widely in nature in sulfidic (and methanogenic) habitats ranging from coastal sediments to deep-sea cold seeps. Specific research emphasis has focused on the characterization of genetic and metabolic capabilities of uncultured symbionts and their evolutionary relationships with their animal hosts and with free-living bacteria. Current efforts focus on symbiont transmission strategies and the effects on genome evolution and consequences for the biogeography of such symbioses. With expertise in the study of uncultured bacteria, her research has recently expanded from marine symbioses to the characterization of the microbiomes of humans, wild animals, and protists and their roles in health and disease.
Each of our graduate students is expected to present their research in an annual mini-seminar. Mini-seminars occur approximately every other week with two graduate student speakers per session. Attendance at these mini-seminars is mandatory for all graduate students.