An Update for the FAU Life Science Community   |  April 27, 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 2017, they published 75 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 Courses Available in Davie and Jupiter: Fall 2018
Announcing new courses available on the FAU Davie and Jupiter campuses this fall! In the upcoming fall semester, the Davie and Jupiter campuses will offer a number of upper-level Biology and Psychology courses. Now a Bachelor's degree in Biology, Psychology, or Neuroscience and Behavior can be completed at the Davie and Jupiter campuses. 
Biology Faculty Teaching Innovations Improve Student Success
This year many Biological Sciences Department faculty members are using innovative teaching strategies to improve student learning and success in undergraduate Biology courses including Genetics, Principles of Ecology, Human Morphology and Function, Human Neuroanatomy, and the Small World Initiative (SWI) Life Science laboratory. Their innovative strategies involve implementing better technology and online interactive resources, in-class activities and exercises designed to engage students and improve comprehension, targeting lecture material to focus on challenging topics, and real-world applications that allow students to understand how learned concepts apply to practical situations and problem-solving skills. Read more here
Congratulations to Biology Technology Fee Awarded Proposals
The Biology Department received four technology fee grants this year totaling $72,222.30 f or the purchase of a high-pressure liquid chromatograph with electrochemical detection (HPLC-EC), two apple computers, and GraphPad Prism Software for the Biological Science Department, optogenetics equipment for the Genetics Lab to support learning and research in neuroscience, an intelligent stereo-microscope in the organismal biology classroom on the Davie campus, as well as equipment to enhance student research experiences in the Small World Initiative (SWI) Life Science Labs. The HPLC-EC system will be located in Dr. David Binninger’s research space in the Biological Sciences building on
the FAU Boca Raton campus. The requested supplies for the SWI labs will speed overall experimental process and success for students. Read more about the technology fee awarded proposals here .
Biology Faculty Receive Local and National Media Coverage
Five Biological Sciences Department faculty members have received local and national media coverage of their research ranging from environmental influences on gender disparity in green sea turtles, to how milking venomous snails can help build better medicines, to identifying new mechanisms that regulate sleep in vertebrates, to a conceptual framework linking reproduction, development, and settlement in coral reef fish . Drs. Sarah Milton , Jeanette Wyneken , Erik Noonburg , James Hartmann , and Alex Keene had their work featured on numerous TV news and broadcasts around the country, local and national newspapers such as the Sun Sentinel and New York Times, and featured online at   National Geographic, the Wildlife Society, Newsweek, the Ecological Society of America, the Oceana Organization, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology News, and Science Daily.
They're Back! Shark Migration Season Begins in S.E. Florida
In the largest migration in U.S. coastal waters, blacktip sharks are headed south in the thousands for their annual migration off Florida’s southeast coast. For eight consecutive years, Dr. Stephen Kajiura , internationally renowned shark researcher, has been observing and tracking these “snowbirds of the sea ,” using a boat, a plane, acoustic monitoring devices, and now drones, to report their whereabouts in real-time. In prior years, the researchers have reported as many as 15,000 sharks on any given day. Odds are that anyone in the water will be within a 60-foot radius of one of these sharks. Read more here
Congratulations to the 9 th Annual GPSA Research Day Winners
The Biology Department swept the competition this year! Congratulations to Jordan Merritt - IB PhD candidate, Sean Paz - IB PhD student, Rashean Graham -Biology MS student, and Tasso Cocoves -Environmental Science MS student, for winning awards in many of the science categories! Read more here .
Biology Honors Thesis Students Well Represented at OURI Research Day
FAU showcased its 8 th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (OURI). Over 200 faculty, staff and students from FAU and FAU High school learned from students engaged in research, scholarship and creative activities across all academic disciplines. Biology Honors students participated in the event and presented their research projects. The Biology Honors Program is run by Dr. Evelyn Frazier and recognizes research accomplishments of talented undergraduates. Read more here .
Dr. Dennis Hanisak Named 2018 Audubon Hero
Dr. Dennis Hanisak , FAU Harbor Branch Research Professor and Education Director and IB PhD program faculty member, was recently named the recipient of this year’s Environmental Educator Award by the Pelican Island Audubon Society. In particular, the award specified his hosting the Ocean Science Lecture Series (now in its 20 th year), HBOI’s major forum for local scientists to share their research with the public and the Indian River Lagoon Symposium (in its seventh year) which engages both scientists and local citizens in better understanding the Indian River Lagoon. Read more  here
In the Media
Study Shows Male Sea Turtles are Vanishing Closer to Home
Drs. Sarah Milton and Jeanette Wyneken have been studying and documenting sea turtles in Palm Beach County since 2002 and found that 97 to 100 percent of the hatchlings have been female. Using a novel experimental design with Dr. Itzel Sifuentes-Romero , a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow at FAU, they are the first to show why and how moisture conditions inside the nest affect the development and sex ratios of turtle embryos. They are also the first to estimate sex ratios using a male-specific, transcriptional molecular marker Sox9, a marker of testis development in sea turtles and freshwater turtles. Read more here .
FAU Biology Shows Big Presence at the SICB Annual Meeting
Many faculty and students from the Department of Biological Sciences attended the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting that was held in San Francisco, CA from January 3-7th. Biology faculty members including Drs. Rindy Anderson , Marianne Porter , Stephen Kajiura , and Jeanette Wyneken along with several graduate students presented their research by giving talks and poster presentations. Undergraduate researchers and Directed Independent Study students from FAU Biology research laboratories also attended the conference. Read more here .
Jake Lasala , IB PhD candidate, along with Drs. Colin Hughes and Jeanette Wyneken , published a paper evaluating breeding sex ratios of loggerhead turtles to understand how growing populations behave before extreme environmental effects are evident. Read more here .
Molecular Biotechnology
Biology graduate students Justin Kirk e, Noah Kaplan , and Paveena Vichyavichien recently published a paper with Dr. Xing-Hai Zhang investigating how gene expression is regulated in different plant tissues. Read more here .
IB PhD Candidate Wins Award at Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network
Boris Tezak , an Integrative Biology PhD candidate who works with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken , recently won the Boyd Lyon Award for best student talk at the 2018 meeting of the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network. Boris presented his work to nearly 300 attendees, which included researchers, volunteers, and people working for sea turtle conservation from all over the southeastern United States, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Read more here .
Student Spotlight
Alessandra Lezcano, senior that is pursuing a B.S. Biological Sciences degree, began work in the laboratory of Dr. Rindy Anderson in the Biological Sciences Department and assisting her Master's student Rachel Saless. Alessandra always had a passion for nature and wildlife and a career in research means that she can one day play a role in the conservation and protection of iconic wildlife species that are struggling to survive in the modern world. She says that working in the laboratory has given her the opportunity to learn practical skills, such understanding the process of writing and publishing a research paper, while conducting exciting research. Read more here .
Biology Senior Receives Everglades Student Memorial Scholarship
Congratulations to Jose Grisales , Biology senior majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology and certification in Environmental Sciences, for receiving the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society 20 th annual Greater Everglades Student Memorial Scholarship . Jose’s real entry into the field of wildlife ecology st arted last year when he began working in the
FAU Avian Ecology Lab with Dr. Dale Gawlik . After graduation, Jose plans to pursue a Master’s degree in FAU’s Avian Ecology Lab. Read more here .
Where Are They Now?
Dr. Ian Moench
Mentorship is something we often don’t think about or put enough weight on during our scientific career. It is not good enough to just get in lab and perform experiments. My time at FAU working under Dr. Howard Prentice and Dr. Herb Weissbach was an incredible learning process and prepared me for my scientific future through their mentorship. After graduating, I moved to Ann Arbor, MI to pursue my postdoc in Cardiac electrophysiology in the department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan’s medical school. I always felt a postdoc should be something that has some risk associated, so I ventured into the area of electrophysiology and started working in the lab of Anatoli Lopatin trying to better understand cardiac excitation-contraction. At Michigan, I was lucky enough to have an incredible mentor and be part of a large postdoctoral association that exposed us to life outside of academia. About 3 years into my postdoc I decided that I wanted to move into industry largely because I wanted my work to be directly involved in getting medicines to patients. After I completed my postdoc, I was recruited to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as an investigator in the heart failure discovery performance unit, a group working on developing medicines for patients with cardiac and metabolic diseases. Recently, GSK decided to move away from heart failure research and currently I work in the Target Incubator group part of GSKs exploratory discovery sciences whose remit is to investigate diseases that have large unmet medical needs. I was recently elected to the GSK fellows program which makes up only 5% of scientists in R&D with the mission to support deep technical expertise, promoting mentoring, encouraging science sharing internally and externally and catalyzing continuous change and improvement. I now manage my own scientific team at GSK and use the experiences and training I have gathered at my time at FAU to help develop new treatments for disease. I look forward to what the future holds.
Meet the Boca Raton Biology Office Staff
Michelle Cavallo , Director of Academic Programs and Support Services. Michelle administers programs and academic assessments within the Biology Department. 
Rebecca Dixon , Senior Secretary and Master of Science in Biology Program Assistant. Please contact Becky if you have questions about the Biology Master's programs.
Sharon Ellis , Secretary and Biology Honors Program Assistant. Please contact Sharon if you have questions about the Honors program in Biology or need general departmental assistance. 
Dr. Stacee Caplan , Graduate Program Coordinator for Biology PhD students across all campuses. Please contact Dr. Caplan if you have questions about the Integrative Biology PhD programs. 
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