Biology in The News Archive

Felicitations to our two new Figge Fellows!

October 20th, 2021

Major congratulations are in order for Kenzie Knight and Jess Qui ñ ones , two Biology of Global Health majors that were recently named Figge Fellows ! Led by Dr…

Monarchs in the Media!

August 1st, 2021

Recently , the Ries Lab & nbsp ; was featured in Science Friday ! A science talk show & nbsp ; airing on public radio every Friday , the show incorporated the research of…

A Bio Major’s Mission to Mars!

May 27th, 2021

Laura Ratliff , a graduating senior and Biology major , has an internship that is out of this world ! As a member of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA , Ratliff…

Awards, Awards, Awards!

May 24th, 2021

Georgetown Biology is home to unique and exceptional biologists ! Here are some of the amazing awards that members of the department received this spring . Con…

image from npr (Ed Reschke/Getty Images)

Cicadas are back, cicadas are snacks!

May 24th, 2021

Now that summer is here , Brood X , a brood of cicadas that have lain dormant for 17 years , is finally emerging ! Loud , numerous , and nutritious , these cicadas are…

Shirey’s Butterfly Excellence Continues!

January 20th, 2021

This January , Vaughn Shirey from the Ries Lab had two of their papers accepted for publishing ! The first paper , entitled & nbsp ; A complete inventory of North Amer…

Cooper and Marra new paper

New paper: On tracking the secretive movements of Kirtland’s Warblers

August 21st, 2020

“Discovering these hidden movements by Kirtland’s warblers challenges us to reshape how we think about animal movement,” Nathan Cooper. Check out the study co-authored by Peter Marra, professor in the Department of Biology and director of Georgetown Environment Initiative (GEI) and Research Associate, Nathan Cooper!

Ries Lab mentioned in The Washington Post

May 19th, 2020

Jim Waggener and a group of over a dozen senior citizens have been working effortlessly to document changes they find. Mr. Waggener and his team’s data, collected and analyzed by The Ries Lab, is now accessible worldwide on a national network.

New course created by Professor Heidi Elmendorf.

April 9th, 2020

COVID-19: Theory and Action in a Time of Pandemic. A new multi-disciplinary course created by Professor Heidi Elmendorf. Read to discover about this timely course and why it was created:

Shweta Bansal

Professor Shweta Bansal Answers to COVID-19 FAQs

March 24th, 2020

Check out the list of answers to COVID-19 FAQs. It is created by Professor Shweta Bansal from the department of Biology, and the head of the disease ecology and research lab at Georgetown.

Professor Janet Mann fascinating speech

January 30th, 2020

Janet Mann, Vice Provost for Research (2013-2017) and Professor of Biology and Psychology at Georgetown University, gave a sold-out speech on January 26, 2020. Professor Mann detailed the plight of Potomac River—Chesapeake Bay dolphins at Bier Baron. The enthusiastic crowd stayed for questions until closing time.

Manus Patten receiving an award

Professor Manus Patten Awarded!

January 13th, 2020

Manus Patten, Professor of Biology at Georgetown University, received the prestigious Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Georgetown Biology Professor Mark Rose praised Professor Patten, noting that Professor Patten “champions original undergraduate research.” Professor Patten also runs the Research-Intensive Senior Experience (RISE) program, and mentors many of his own students, who have become co-authors on some of his recent papers.

Steidle and Morrisette of the Rolfes Lab publish a new paper

December 17th, 2019

This winter, Victoria A. Morrisette and Elizabeth A. Steidle of the Rolfes Lab published a paper of their research on the enzyme Siw14 in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Siw14 encodes a phosphatase in the inositol polyphosphate pathway, an enzymatic pathway that controls the levels of inositol pyrophosphates, important regulatory molecules found in many organisms. The relative levels of these molecules can impact filamentation, the stress response, and the cell cycle in yeast. Morrisette and Steidle’s paper analyzes how Siw14 controls Msn2, a transcription factor that modulates the environmental stress response. Their incredible research begins to scratch the surface of the important effects of inositol pyrophosphates!

Congrats to Dr. Vivianne Morrison of the Huang lab for publishing a new paper

November 27th, 2019

Dr. Vivianne Morrison, one of Georgetown University’s postdoctoral students, recently published a paper titled Retinoic Acid Is Required for Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cell Production and Differentiation in the Postnatal Mouse Corpus Callosum with the Huang Lab. Morrison’s article discusses the role of retinoic acid in the formation of the myelin sheath during development, and connects this to the effect of poor nutrition on brain growth. Importantly, these findings inspire future research on the role for endogenous RALDH2-dependent RA synthesis in OPC production and differentiation in the CC (corpus callosum), as well as in the development of other cell types derived from neural stem cells in the embryonic ventricular zone (VZ) and SVZ, as well as the postnatal subcallosal SVZ.

Georgetown Features: Women in Science Progressing Science One Woman at a Time

November 4th, 2019

The women in Georgetown’s scientific community create an ever-lasting impact on the progression of physical, computer, social, and life sciences, as well as mathematics and medicine. Quite frankly, Georgetown would not be the elite research university it is today without the contributions from different women over several decades. Everyday new and exciting research stands as a perfect representation of the impact that women have on the scientific community. However, it does not end there. From undergraduates to professors, researchers to teaching assistants, graduate students to doctors, Georgetown University is proud to empower and support the extraordinary women we have the privilege of calling Hoyas.

Brinsmade Lab Grabs the National Institute of Health’s Attention

November 4th, 2019

The Brinsmade lab was awarded an NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research grant to fund their work investigating the interface of metabolism and pathogenesis in Gram-positive bacteria using Staphylococcus aureus as a model pathogen. The grant will allow the lab to foster their research and help encourage further investigations into cellular metabolism, gene expression, and microbes.

A Success Story of a Student-Teacher Collaboration

November 4th, 2019

As technology continues to advance, scientists are always trying to find new and exciting ways to reap the benefits. Professor Bansal, in a special supplemental issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease, evaluated the opportunities and challenges associated with sources of big data. Along with the great potential, these data sources need to be further developed. All in all, the holistic approach provides an effective means of infectious disease surveillance and control. Elizabeth Lee, a Ph. D candidate in Global Infectious Diseases, took the lead on an article in the special issue with a focus on the issues that need to be addressed for big data to be used efficiently.

Representing Georgetown Well: The Success of 3 Biology Professors at the XXV International Congress

November 4th, 2019

In September, 2016, the International Congress of Entomology hosted 6,600 participants to present their research on insects at the conference Entomology without Borders. Representing Georgetown University, three biology professors: Martha Weiss, Peter Armbruster, and Edward Barrows each had the opportunity to display their work on a wide-range of biological organisms and genetics’ topics. The Department of Biology is both honored and prideful to be represented by dedicated and intelligent professors!

Neuroethics Studies Scholar Awarded Fulbright

November 4th, 2019

Alisha Dua, a former undergraduate scholar of the Neuroethics Studies Program, has won and is currently participating in a Fulbright United Kingdom Partnership Award to complete a Masters of Research in Biosciences at University College London this Fall.

Congratulations Caitlin and Kathy on being selected as NSF Graduate Fellows

November 4th, 2019

Dissimilar from most graduate student, Catilin is also a graduate of Georgetown’s Undergraduate program. She worked with Tim Beach’s lab on a project looking at human and natural environmental changes in Mayan agricultural lands as well as Mann’s lab working as a field research assistant in Australia studying dolphins.

Antarctica Expedition Could Help Solve Mars’ Question of Life

November 4th, 2019

Professor Johnson, along with her research team, aims to conduct the first-ever DNA sequencing done on the continent. In hopes of investigating potential life beyond Earth, she plans to analyze our planet’s inaccessible biospheres, which can provide information into the ability of cells to survive in the most extreme environments. Antarctica, the coldest, driest place on earth, is home of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the site of the research.

Recognizing Graduate Student Research at GUMCGSO

November 4th, 2019

Alyssa King and Kevin Mlynek are among a select group of students given the honor to give and oral presentation after they poster-presented their work. After presenting to the GU Medical Center Graduate Student Organization, Alyssa and Kevin went on to place 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

Making Georgetown Proud: Kaitlyn Choi wins the John Doctor Education Prize

November 4th, 2019

After joining our faculty as an Assistant Teaching Professor this fall, Dr. Choi created the video “My Fate is in Your Hands: Inductive Signals for Cell Fate Determination.” Her work explores the process of induction and differentiation to explain a cell’s fate. Congratulations Dr. Choi!

Professor Bansal Honored as Distinguished Investigator

November 4th, 2019

The Distinguished Investigator Recognition honored Professor Bansal, along with 26 other professors, for excelling in sponsored research. Professor Bansal’s research group uses mathematical models to focus on infectious disease transmission.

What’s the Buzz? Biology Professors work to make Georgetown a “Bee Campus”

October 24th, 2019

This year, Georgetown is working to earn designation as a Bee Campus, a status indicating that the University is committed to increasing the number of pollinators, native and non-native, on campus. Furthermore, Bee Campuses establish plans for habitats, awareness events, and student projects to support bees and other pollinators. Student group Hoya Hive and Professors Martha Weiss and Edward Barrows are leading the project, which is currently focusing on planting native plants to attract pollinators.

Biology Professors Ride to Support MS Research

September 8th, 2019

On Sunday, September 8th, three professors from the Biology Department biked as a part of Team Georgetown at the Bike MS ride, an event that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Professors Peter Armbruster and Steven Singer joined Professor Mark Rose, Chair of the Department, and the rest of Team Georgetown as they biked over 400 combined miles and raised more than $7,000 for the MS Society. As Rookie Team of the Year, these professors made an impact on the event and on the research of treatments for the disease.

Joseph Neale

Another larger review on the efficacy of NAAG in animal models of several clinical disorders is in the press in a top-ranked journal.

September 6th, 2019

Joseph H. Neale, Professor of Biology at Georgetown demonstrates the importance of NAAG, a peptide neurotransmitter that is widely present in our nervous system. He concludes that drugs that inhibit NAAG inactivating enzymes lead to pro-cognitive effects through activation of NAAG. His paper has inspired future research to understand the effect of NAAG and glutamate carboxypeptidase inhibitors on higher cognitive processes such as learning, memory formation, and attention.

Professor Peter Marra and Georgetown climate experts demand climate change action

September 6th, 2019

Dr. Peter Marra, professor and researcher of Environmental Biology at Georgetown, joined other climate change experts at the university in emphasizing the danger that climate change poses to life on earth. In arguing for action on climate change, Marra invoked Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical about the moral and spiritual importance of environmental justice. As an expert on the conservation of birds and other animals, Professor Marra’s research makes it clear that habitat loss and climate change will cause irreversible damage to the world’s ecosystems.

Dr. Leslie Ries and her colleagues in Ohio, Oregon, and Michigan recently published a study in PLoS ONE about the decline of butterflies in Ohio.

July 9th, 2019

Dr. Leslie Ries, along with researches from Oregon State University, Ohio lepidopterists, and Michigan State University, analyzed more than 24,000 butterfly surveys contributed by trained citizen scientists from 1996 through 2016. They discovered and published in PLoS ONE, the fall of the butterfly population in one Ohio area that provides a baseline for overall trends in the insect population. The data from Ohio estimated population trends for 81 butterfly species and found three times as many species were trending downward as upward. Dr. Ries helps run one of the longest existing systematic insect-monitoring programs in North America.

Peter Armbruster

Article on our very own Dr. Peter Armbruster doing research on mosquitoes!

June 26th, 2019

Davis Family Distinguished Professor Dr. Armbruster has been studying mosquitoes for over 30 years now. His newest project about the insect revolves around studying the genes that make mosquitoes bite in the first place. Armbruster is essentially trying to recreate the natural biting patterns of the yellow fever mosquito, then pinpointing the exact genes for the ‘biting behavior’. His research has the potential to eliminate the spread of deadly diseases that transmit through the bite of mosquitoes.

Murad Mamedov

Murad Mamedov (COL ’10) Recognized as 2019 Michelson Prize Winner!

June 13th, 2019

Congratulations to Biology alumnus, Murad Mamedov (COL ’10), who has recently been rewarded the 2019 Michelson Prizes from The Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Vaccines Project! Mamedov is receiving $150,000 for his research using gene-editing technologies to understand an important set of immune cells, which may provide insight into the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Huang featured as a special guest for an interview with RealTalk MS!

June 6th, 2019

Dr. Jeffery Huang is featured as a special guest for an interview with RealTalk MS. Huang talks about starting his journey with Multiple Scoliosis as a Ph.D. student well as his current investigations into how oligodendrocytes regenerate after injury. His lab is focused on animal models of MS.


Four Biology majors recognized!

April 25th, 2019

Of the 70+ research projects that were on display at the NHS Undergraduate Research Conference, four of our very students were recognized! Congratulations to the following: Best Poster Presentation: Emma Nedell (C’20) Excellence in Poster Presentation: Zachary Susswein (C’20) Excellence in Oral Presentation: Julie Bevilacqua (C’19) Rising Research Award: Ian Yannuzzi (C’21)


Gates Cambridge Scholarship to Ayan Mandal

February 16th, 2019

A double major in neurobiology and biological physics, Mandal plans to earn his Ph.D. in psychiatry while at Cambridge, before likely returning to the United States to attend medical school.

Joseph Neale

Professor Joseph H. Neale of Biology department recently published a paper in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

February 1st, 2019

Joseph H. Neale, Professor of Biology at Georgetown University, along with Dr. Rafal Olszewski at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), recently published a paper in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Neale and Olszewski uncover recent findings on the importance of NAAG, the third most prevalent peptide neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. They conclude that GCPII (glutamate carboxypeptidases II) inhibitors, inhibitors which reduce the rate of inactivation of NAAG, increase synaptic NAAG and affect cognition in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory pain, and ethanol intoxication. With their recent findings, Neale and Olszewski inspire future research on defining the procognitive role of NAAG and GCPII inhibitors, and understanding the role of NAAG and GCPII on higher cognitive processes such as learning, memory formation, and attention.

Dr. Johnson is pushing the envelope with a $7 million grant from NASA

November 2nd, 2018

Although many sci-fi movies and stories assume extraterrestrial life will bear some humanoid semblance, Dr. Sarah Johnson is pushing the envelope with a $7 million grant from NASA. The money will fund her program which will, “go beyond what we currently understand and devise ways to find forms of life we can scarcely imagine.”

Biology department plays a role in supporting the first-generation success

October 10th, 2018

Biology professor Heidi Elmendorf reviews an assignment in the lab during the Community Scholars Program’s five-week summer orientation. Elmendorf leads the Regents Science Scholars Program, which is designed for first-generation college students interested in the sciences.

Biology professors land more than $10 million in grants

October 5th, 2018

The Georgetown College Department of Biology has enjoyed a successful summer: 10 professors in the department have received research grants totaling more than $10 million from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and private foundations.

NSF Awards go to Grad Students Researching Cancer, Cognition, Salt Marshes

July 31st, 2018

Georgetown student Jewel Lipps, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in biology and three other Georgetown Ph.D. candidates in psychology, biology, and tumor biology have been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their potential to become lifelong leaders and contributors to scientific innovation and teaching.

Niteace wins best poster award at the Society for Developmental Biology meeting

May 1st, 2018

Everyone has heard of the scientific method. Many scientists have performed the scientific method over and over, designing experiments and analyzing data. However, a major part of the method that many people over look is to report results. Scientists across the world live on reading research and understanding past studies done. Without reporting results, the entire experiment loses its value. Niteace Whittington has mastered the art of reporting scientific results and was recognized for the best poster on her work for her Ph. D. dissertation.

Ries Receives Three Grants for Ecological Research

March 12th, 2018

Biology professor Leslie Ries has recently received 3 grants from the National Science Foundation to analyze the springtime emergence patterns of plants, insects and birds, to study the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, and to examine the impact of natural disasters on butterfly habitats.

Singer and Coelho Publish Review Of Parasite Research

January 24th, 2018

Biology professor Steven Singer and postdoctoral fellow Camila Henriques Coelho, in collaboration with a team from Brazil, recently published an analysis of the spread of Giardia lamblia. Giardia lamblia is an intestinal parasite linked to untreated water and poor sanitation.

Assistant Professor Shweta Bansal and Her Research

November 2nd, 2017

Why one might ask, would you want to stop getting vaccines? Assistant Professor Shweta Bansal and her research collaborators are trying to identify just that. With datasets based on location and information on the emergence or childhood diseases, Bansal’s research is an attempt to validate or discredit the movement against vaccines one and for all.

Paper Accepted in Parasites and Vector

September 15th, 2017

The Armbruster lab is conducting novel research on malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health. A paper co-authored by Dr. Armbruster, investigating the photoperiodic responses of two species of malaria-transmitting Sahelian mosquitoes, was published in Parasites and Vectors, a peer-reviewed open-access medical journal.

Investigator is Awarded Two National Science Foundation Grants

September 14th, 2017

Fighting back against climate change is more important than ever before. Georgetown professors are at the forefront of groundbreaking research to help understand how we can best protect our planet. Investigator Leslie Ries has secured over $400,000 in grant money for Georgetown to conduct research on pressing environmental issues such as the future of monarch butterflies and climate-driven phonological mismatch.

Congrats on Paratha Sah’s Publication!

April 13th, 2017

Georgetown Ph.D candidate Paratha Sah publishes a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences rejecting the hypothesis that community formation universally protects animal populations from infectious diseas e outbreaks. Her research provides critical information that can be used to model disease spread in other species, including humans. As technology continues to advance, scientists are always trying to find new and exciting ways to reap the benefits. Professor Bansal, in a special supplemental issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease, evaluated the opportunities and challenges associated with sources of big data. Along with the great potential, these data sources need to be further developed. All in all, the holistic approach provides an effective means of infectious disease surveillance and control. Elizabeth Lee, a Ph. D candidate in Global Infectious Diseases took the lead on an article in the special issue with a focus on the issues that need to be addressed for big data to be used efficiently.

Sarah Johnson receives NASA Grant

April 5th, 2017

Professor Johnson continues to impress NASA on her journey to understanding planetary environments. From silica sinters and acid salt lakes to ancient deposits in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, her research is out of this world.


Ayan Mandal Receives Goldwater Scholarship Award

April 5th, 2017

Georgetown Undergraduate is on the pursuit for excellence. With dreams of incorporating both research and education in the field of neuroscience, he is headed in the right direction.

Biology Professor Finalist For Prestigious National Teaching Award

April 4th, 2017

Biology professor Heidi Elmendorf, who College Dean Chester Gillis calls “a tireless advocate for students and the epitome of the professoriate,” is a finalist for the $250,000 Robert Forster Cherry Award for Great Teaching issued by Baylor University

Gift Awarded Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award

March 28th, 2017

Tanaporn Wangsanut (Gift) of the Biology Department has been awarded the Graduate Student Teaching Assistant award for her efforts in Professor Rolfe’s Genetics Lab. The award, granted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is a testament to her curiosity and diligence at the University.

Breanna Walsh

Combatting A Parasite: Research that Extends Across the Globe

March 8th, 2017

Breanna Walsh is a senior Biology of Global Health major that covers the spectrum by conducting research, tutoring, and working as a teaching assistant. While conducting research in Professor Elmendorf’s lab, she focuses on finding a way to combat the common intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. Across the globe, the parasite causes diarrhea and dehydration in impoverished communities. As she continues to progress in her research, Breanna seeks to further the extension of her impact on global health and the scientific community far beyond the front gates of Georgetown University. Reflecting upon her research, she praises Elmendorf’s ability to foster intellectual and personal growth. Breanna stands as a phenomenal representation for undergraduates seeking to gain the most of their time through research and academics.

Rolfes receives R15 grant to study gene expression in Candida albicans

January 1st, 2017

Professor Rolfes has always been committed to her research and obtaining results to understand yeast strains and their cellular metabolism. However, she does not stop there. Rolfes’ goes above and beyond by bringing her work into the scope of her students in order to introduce new, aspiring scientists into the world of scientific research.

Seasonal Influenza Severity as Told by PH.D. Student Elizabeth Lee

December 25th, 2016

Elizabeth Lee’s first-author publication use routinely available flu surveillance data to identify age patterns among working-aged adults and school-aged children in unconfirmed sick cases that look like they could be flu, that are consistent across multiple flu seasons in the United States.

Congratulations to Dr. Bansal and Grad Student Elizabeth Lee

December 19th, 2016

As technology continues to advance, scientists are always trying to find new and exciting ways to reap the benefits. Professor Bansal, in a special supplemental issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease, evaluated the opportunities and challenges associated with sources of big data. Along with the great potential, these data sources need to be further developed. All in all, the holistic approach provides an effective means of infectious disease surveillance and control. Elizabeth Lee, a Ph. D candidate in Global Infectious Diseases, took the lead on an article in the special issue with a focus on the issues that need to be addressed for big data to be used efficiently.

Gift Wangsanut’s co-authored paper!

December 15th, 2016

Graduate student Gift Wangsanut co-authored a paper for the first time on the mechanisms involved in the virulence of C. albicans. The study at the heart of paper may be able to help in future therapeutic interventions of this common human pathogen!