Welcome to the Department of Biology



Biology is the study of life. Its scope extends from molecules to organisms and ecosystems. It deals with fundamental questions such as the origin and evolution of plants and animals, interactions between living organisms and their environment, mechanisms of embryonic development, the structure and function of the living cell, the molecular basis of inheritance, the biochemical and genetic basis of human diseases, and the operation of the brain and the nervous system. Staff of the Biology Department conduct research and offer teaching programs in all these areas. The Department of Biology's well-equipped teaching and research laboratories are located in the Stewart Biology Building and the Bellini Life Sciences Building.

Areas of Research




Research Highlights

Lessons from the twist and zip of C. elegans microtubules

New work from the Brouhard Lab tackles fundamental questions about microtubules: a conserved component of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. By studying the  structure and dynamics of microtubules from the C. elegansnematode, they reveal structural divergences in a specific region of the microtubule subunit, tubulin. They show how this divergence might drive the worm's ability to grow microtubules extremely fast, and with non-canonical structures.

Reference:
Chaaban et al. 2018, Dev Cell. 47(2):191-204.e8

   

The worm’s nose knows

Sensory input doesn’t make much sense unless it is interpreted in the context of the position and movements of your own body. The Hendricks Lab is studying a neural circuit in Caenorhabditis elegans (a small roundworm with just 300 neurons), that allows it to interpret stimulus changes that are caused by its own movements and produce appropriate behavioral responses. We don’t normally thinking of animals like worms as having sophisticated perception, but this work underscores the fundamental need to distinguish self-generated sensation from other kinds of input for any animal that needs to navigate and behave in the world.

Reference:
Ouellette et al., 2018, ENEURO.0121-18.2018. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0121-18.2018


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