An Update for the FAU Life Science Community   |   January 5, 2018
This newsletter will highlight initiatives and activities in the Department of Biological Sciences. With 30 faculty distributed at three sites (Davie, Jupiter, and Boca Raton), we play a large role in the development of FAU's life sciences. Our faculty focus on three main research areas: environmental science, neuroscience, and marine science. In 2016, they published 70 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and spent $2.6 million dollars in research grant funding. The Biological Sciences Department has strong collaborations with local research institutions. We plan to cover various areas and geographic units as the stories emerge.
Dr. Rod Murphey, Chairman
New Appointments for Biology Faculty Members
Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully
Ken Dawson-Scully has been promoted as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Science and will assume his new position effective January 2 nd .
Dr. Sarah Milton
Sarah Milton has been promoted as the new Associate Director of the Integrative Biology PhD Program and has also taken on the role of co-Director of the new Marine Science Master's Program.
Integrative Biology PhD Candidate Gets Cover of Autophagy Book
Thomas Parker , an Integrative Biology PhD candidate that works in the genetics laboratory of Dr. Kailiang Jia , recently published a chapter and had his artwork featured on the cover of a new book entitled Autophagy: Cancer, Other Pathologies, Inflammation, Immunity, Infection, and Aging  - 1st Edition by M. A. Hayat (Editor). Parker is a third year PhD student that recently advanced to candidacy. His research focuses on autophagy using the genetically tractable model system,  C. elegans . Parker also has a Professional Science Master's degree from FAU. Congrats on the book chapter and winning the cover artwork! Read more  here
Dr. Diane Baronas-Lowell Featured in Science Remix Podcast Series
Dr. Diane Baronas-Lowell , Associate Scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences, is featured in the first episode of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science's new podcast series 'Science Remix.' In this episode, Dr. Baronas-Lowell discusses the antibiotic crisis, a topic covered in her Small World Initiative ( SWI) Life Science labs. In the 2016-2017 academic year, she implemented 12 SWI Life Science labs (274 students), where students isolated and analyzed thousands of bacteria from their own Palm Beach county soil samples and contributed 111 new antibiotic-producing bacteria to SWI's glabal database. This new series will introduce the exciting work being done by faculty and students here at Florida Atlantic University. Begin your journey with Episode 1- Antibiotic Resistance featuring Diane Baronas-Lowell. Listen  here
Congratulations to all Biology Department Scholarship Recipients
The Biological Sciences Department is pleased to announce this year that 24 graduate students received $36,900 in departmental graduate student scholarships this year! These scholarships are generously provided by a number of donors through nine scholarship funds. Award criteria is determined by donor specifications and are usually based on academic merit and performance, financial need, and research that focuses on specific areas such as molecular biology, conservation, marine biology, botany, ecology, and environmental studies. Congratulations to all scholarship recipients and many thanks to the generous support from all donors that contribute to FAU Biology Department Scholarships! Read more here .
Integrative Biology PhD Student Participates in Social Media Conference
The  British Ornithologists’ Union Twitter Conference (#BOU17TC)  was the first ever general ornithology Twitter conference. Twitter conferences are becoming increasingly popular as they are both a low carbon and cost-free way for researchers from around the world to come together to share their research. Betsy Evans , a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Dale Gawlik , presented her research on Wood Stork dietary flexibility in response to human-induced rapid environmental change. Read more here .
Integrative Biology PhD Candidate Wins Calendar Photo Contest
Chelsea Bennice , Integrative Biology PhD student that works in the laboratory of Dr. Randy Brooks , has won the 2018 LagoonFest Photo Contest. Her image will be featured on the 2018 Lake Worth Lagoon Calendar. Each year the Palm Beach County of Environmental Resources Management holds the photo contest before the annual LagoonFest. This event celebrates the unique 20-mile Lake Worth Lagoon waterway and offers multiple ways to enjoy its beauty, such as music, wildlife presentations, kayak team regatta, children's activities, and it is right next door to the West Palm Beach Green Market.
Student Spotlight
Samantha Berner, member of the University Honors Program pursuing a B.S.Neuroscience and Behavior, began work in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully in the Biological Sciences Department as a volunteer in August 2016 and then became a Directed Independent Study (DIS) student. She is currently working on a research project developing novel methods for the treatment of ischemic stroke using the anoxia-tolerant fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster , as a model organism. Her research is investigating if pharmacological manipulation of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase G (PKG) pathway modulates survival rates following low-oxygen stress exposure. Samantha’s immersion into research has fostered her future career aspirations. “Prior to my introduction with the Dawson-Scully laboratory, my goal was to attend medical school and specialize in Psychiatry. However, due to this unique research experience, I now hope to continue my education in Neuroscience and potentially focus on brain damage and neurological disease.” Samantha is a shining example of the outstanding success of the Biological Sciences Department’s dedication to undergraduate research and inquiry. 
Where Are They Now?
Shelby Creager, M.S.
While I was a Master’s student in the Biology program in the laboratory of Dr. Marianne Porter , I was fortunate enough to get involved in several opportunities that helped me get to where I am today. During my time at FAU, I took advantage of the opportunity to teach undergraduate science labs such as Anatomy & Physiology and Biodiversity. I also traveled to multiple conferences where I presented the findings of my thesis project, participated in multiple field work trips that gave me fish sampling and research experience, and took graduate level courses focused on conservation and fisheries biology. My experiences and focus on shark biology helped me land an exciting contract position with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a fisheries observer immediately after graduating. In 2017, I traveled on commercial fishing vessels and collected valuable data and biological samples from various sharks and teleosts. The skills and knowledge I acquired at FAU followed me into the next step of my career. I recently started a career as an Endangered Species Act Section 7 Biologist with NOAA via a contractor. Since beginning this new position at the Southeast Regional Office, I have applyied the writing, research, and project management skills I acquired during my time at FAU. In addition to the success I’ve had with my career, my thesis on the tensile properties of shark skin was recently published in the Journal of Zoology . Were it not for the experiences I had at FAU and the guidance of my advisor Dr. Marianne Porter, I would not be here today!
Meet the Boca Raton Lab Coordinators
Geri Mayer , Coordinator for Academic Programs. Please contact Geri if you have questions about TA positions, contracts, or need information about Biology lab courses.
Daniela Scheurle, PhD , Coordinator for Academic Support Services. Please contact Daniela if you have questions or need support regarding the Microbiology lecture or lab courses.  
Diane Baronas-Lowell, PhD , Associate Scientst. Diane is leading the Small World Initiative (SWI) in Life Science for non-STEM majors by redesigning them with research and inquiry-based methods.
The Biological Sciences Department staff is here to serve students, both majors and non-majors, across several colleges and campuses at FAU. We are always happy to assist as well as answer questions that you may have. For general information about the Biological Sciences Department contact Sharon at 561-297-0387 or
To feature exciting news and accomplishments in this newsletter,
please contact  Dr. Stacee Caplan at