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sciences Accomplishments

Mar 28, 2017
Jacqueline Phan and her mentor, Ernesto Abel-Santos (both Chemistry and Biochemistry), placed second and won the People's Choice Award in the three-minute thesis (3MT) competition at the Western Association of Graduate School's (WAGS) 2017 conference, earlier this month. In November, under professor Abel-Santos’ mentorship, Phan placed first in the 2016 Rebel Grad Slam — a 3MT competition in which UNLV graduate students showcased their research and scholarship — earning her, in part, funding to travel to Seattle to represent UNLV in the first annual WAGS 3MT competition.

Mar 22, 2017
Elizabeth Stacy (Life Sciences) and colleagues, including Donald Price (Life Sciences), published "Incipient Ecological Speciation between Successional Varieties of a Dominant Tree Involves Intrinsic Postzygotic Isolating Barriers" in the journal Ecology and Evolution. This study demonstrates that partial intrinsic postzygotic barriers may be among the first isolating barriers to arise during speciation between large, hybridizing populations of a long-lived species.

Mar 9, 2017
Vivian Sam and Matt Rader (Life Sciences) were featured in "Study Breaks," a national undergrad write-up. Both are pursuing biology degrees with concentrations in ecology and evolution.

Mar 8, 2017
Christopher Adcock, Oliver Tschauner, Elisabeth Hausrath, Arya Udry, and Minghua Ren (all Geoscience) and a team of international researchers recently published a research paper titled, “Shock-transformation of Whitlockite to Merrillite and the Implications for Meteoritic Phosphate” in Nature Communications. The research focuses on how shock can dehydrate minerals in meteorites, specifically, a phosphate mineral that commonly occurs in meteorites, including Martian meteorites. The amount of water in meteorites is often used to understand water contents in the early solar system and on planets such as Mars. This water content has important implications for the origins of our solar system and the possibility of life outside of Earth. All meteorites have experienced shock and the research team shows that shock may dehydrate phosphate minerals within meteorites. This means Mars and the early solar system may have had more water than previously thought.

Mar 3, 2017
Bing Zhang (Physics and Astronomy) co-organized an Aspen Center for Physics conference titled, “Fast Radio Bursts: New Probes of Fundamental Physics and Cosmology” in February. The conference hosted approximately 80 scientists from around the world to discuss the nature of fast radio bursts, mysterious radio bursts discovered 10 years ago. The event was reported recently by Nature and Scientific American magazines.    

Feb 24, 2017
Zhaohuan Zhu (Physics and Astronomy) has been named a 2017 Sloan Research Fellow. He is one of 126 researchers from 60 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada — and the first UNLV scientist — to be awarded the prestigious fellowship for early career scholars considered the ‘next generation of scientific leaders.’ 

Feb 16, 2017
Dennis Bazylinski (Life Sciences) and a team of international researchers recently published a research article titled “Origin of Microbial Biomineralization and Magnetotaxis During the Archean” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows magnetic navigation by swimming bacteria may be more ancient than previously thought. Bazylinski’s research team shows genomic evidence that magnetotaxis, the production of magnetosomes (intracellular magnetic crystals in certain bacteria) and the subsequent use of the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation, likely evolved in the Archean (a geologic era 4 to 2.5 billion years ago). It is during this period the Earth’s crust cooled and the continents formed, and before there was significant oxygen gas in the atmosphere — far earlier than previously thought. The team’s finding, the first that show data to support the conclusions, also suggest that magnetotactic bacteria may have been the first organisms to utilize the Earth’s geomagnetic field for navigation, but they may have also been the first biomineralizing organisms on Earth.  

Feb 15, 2017
Ai-Sun "Kelly" Tseng (Life Sciences) published an article, “Seeing the Future: Using Xenopus to Understand Eye Regeneration” in genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development. Graduate student Cindy Kha’s images were selected for the journal cover illustration. This invited review article is part of of a special issue focusing on biological advances and emerging technologies using the frog, Xenopus, as a model organism.  Tseng’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that enable animals to regrow organs and tissues with the goal of applying this knowledge toward developing regenerative therapeutics.

Jan 23, 2017
Qiang Zhu (Physics and Astronomy) recently had a research paper published in Angewandte Chemie. The paper, titled "The Structure of Glycine Dihydrate: Implications for the Crystallization of Glycine from Solution and Its Structure in Outer Space," looks at long-term puzzling crystal structure determination of glycine at low temperature and discusses its nucleation mechanism and possible existence in exoplanets. 

Jan 10, 2017
Frank van Breukelen (Life Sciences) received a four-year, $797,810 National Science Foundation grant to study hibernation in tenrecs. The current views about mammalian hibernation were developed using traditional models such as the ground squirrel. In these models, hibernators periodically rewarm to active levels between bouts of depressed metabolism. In this proposal, a unique model of hibernation will be used. Common tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus) originate from Madagascar and in contrast to all other known hibernators, do not periodically arouse from hibernation. Moreover, these mammals have a very variable active body temperature (Tb) which allows for direct comparison between active and hibernating tenrecs at the same body temperatures.  The proposed research will determine the extent and duration of metabolic savings associated with hibernation. Kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are normally depressed during hibernation. The proposed research will determine how kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are affected by temperature and hibernation status in the more variable tenrec. Outreach efforts will include development of a television program on hibernation.