Arcane Archaea

May 20, 2024

The Santago-Martinez lab uses modern approaches to investigate ancient things.

-by Stacey Hanlon

Cellular life on Earth can be classified into one of three domains: Eukarya (Eukaryota), Bacteria, and Archaea.

Geo Santiago-Martinez
Dr. Geo Santiago-Martínez, Principal Investigator at the UConn Microbial Ecophysiology Laboratory.

Though most of us are familiar with species that fall into the Eukaryota and Bacteria domains, those belonging to the Archaea domain are often ignored despite being found all around us.  From the Greek word meaning “ancient things,” archaea are found in a variety of harsh environments like boiling-hot geysers and salt lakes, but they can also be found in the soil and the digestive tracts of several animals, including humans. The Archaea domain was established in the late 1970s after scientists began using genetic sequence (rather than physical characteristics) to classify organisms and reveal how closely they are related[1]. The significant difference between the genetic sequences of microbes that physiologically appeared to be very similar to one another led scientists to establish the Archaea domain to separate these species from Bacteria and Eukaryota.

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Announcing the first ‘Picturing MCB’ Image Competition

May 6, 2024

In science, there are often times when art and data are indistinguishable. To showcase the beauty of the Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) Department's research and the creativity of its members, we are proud to introduce the first Picturing MCB Image Competition! Anyone associated with the MCB Department may submit an unlimited number of entries for consideration.

2024 All-Biology Colloquium

The All-Biology Colloquium was held with great success on Friday, April 26, 2024. The Colloquium showcased undergraduate research occurring in the three Biology departments at UConn. Award winners were celebrated at a reception prior to the graduation ceremonies on May 5. Congratulations to these exceptional students!

Biology Director’s Award: Carrie Epstein (PNB) and Alana Grant (PNB)

CT State Museum of Natural History Award: Sila Inanoglu (EEB)

Excellence in Applied Genetics: Sindy Gorka (MCB)

Margaret Ertman Award: Olivia Bowes (MCB)

Outstanding Senior in EEB: Laurel Humphrey (EEB ) and Annaliese Seibel (EEB)

Outstanding Senior in PNB: Akshara Iyer (PNB)

Outstanding Senior in MCB: Emma Beard (MCB)

MCB Major Paxton Tomko ’24 Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

May 2, 2024

Paxton Tomko ’24 is a molecular and cell biology major and her faculty mentor is Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology/Microbiology Geo Santiago-Martínez. In the fall, she will be starting a master’s in oceanography at UConn Avery Point, working with Professor of Marine Sciences Pieter Visscher. Tomko’s research interests are in geobiology and astrobiology and is interested in stromatolites as biosignatures and the role that methanogens play in microbial mats.

Learn more about NSF-GRFP and UConn's recipients

MCB Undergrads Receive 2024 SURF Awards

2024 Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards have been announced. Of the 50 recipients, 13 are Molecular and Cell Biology majors! These students were selected from a strong group of applicants representing diverse areas of academic inquiry.

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MCB Grad Student Appreciation Week

April 10, 2024

On Monday, 4/8, the MCB Department celebrated UConn's Grad Appreciation Week with Dairy Bar ice cream! It was a beautiful day to be outside and enjoy each other's company along with the ice cream. Thank you MCB Graduate students for all you do!

2024 Grad Appreciation Ice Cream Social

MCB DEI Seminar and Workshop with B. Chad Starks a Success

April 8, 2024

The MCB DEI Committee recently welcomed Dr. B. Chad Starks, CEO and Founder of BCS & Associates for a special seminar and workshop. Dr. B. Chad Starks is a writer, speaker, and educator with over 20 years of experience working with universities, research institutions, and organizations to provide training on issues of social justice and equity.

The seminar, entitled Be The Messenger of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Within and Beyond the University of Connecticut Community was held on 4/2 as part of the department’s regular Seminar Series and was received by a large audience.

As a follow-up to the lecture, Dr. Starks held an interactive workshop on Wednesday 4/3, introducing his “Be the Messenger” theoretical framework which examines four major constructs - Identity, Culture, Diversity, and Respect - essential to self-development, understanding bias, implicit bias, and privilege, and cultivating a deep appreciation of diversity and inclusion.

MCB DEI Seminar and Workshop 4/2-4/3/2024