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A Newsletter for Biochemistry, Genetics and Cell Biology, and Microbiology Alumni & Friends College of Veterinary Medicine | Molecular Biosciences News

Fall/Winter 2016-17 – Message from the Director

jonathanjones-director-letter2
Jonathan Jones, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Nick Negretti’s comments in the accompanying news item remind me of why my job is such a pleasure. Nick’s enthusiasm for his work and his excitement about his project studying how Campylobacter jejuni manipulates its host cells to cause disease in humans is undeniable. It is also a credit to his project supervisor, Dr. Konkel. It should be apparent that Nick and our other SMB students are the driving force of our research enterprise. Supporting their efforts by providing research funds and stipends will ensure that these young eager students can translate basic science into cures of disease.

Message from the Director

jonathanjones-director-letter2
Jonathan Jones, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Congratulations to all our graduates! Since coming to Pullman in 2013, I have been impressed with the undergraduate program and our exceptional students. Don’t take my word for it, please come visit us to see for yourself.

Message from the Director

jonathanjones-director-letter2
Jonathan Jones, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Summer is the time when I get a chance to review the accomplishments and changes that have occurred in SMB since the academic year began (way back in the fall of 2014!). I can tout the faculty’s success in obtaining grants, no mean feat these days. Congratulations to Drs.Pat Hunt, Terry Hassold, Jon Oatley, Susan Wang, and Eric Shelden who were awarded new or renewed funds for their research. Several of our senior faculty also retired this year. We wish John Nilson, Ray Reeves, and Nancy Magnuson the very best and thank them for their outstanding service to SMB and WSU over many years. All three now hold emeritus status so they will continue to be involved with the life of the school although, obviously, a little less directly!

Ray and Nancy were on campus in May during the events that accompanied the three day Reeves/Smerdon Symposium. This symposium was a major success and attracted internationally renowned scientists from around the world to Pullman. The scientific aspects of the symposium were focused on DNA repair mechanisms although it also celebrated the remarkable scientific and teaching careers of Drs. Mick Smerdon and Ray Reeves. Indeed, we were very fortunate to welcome back a number of Smerdon and Reeves trainees, some of whom talked at the symposium. I will add my thanks to Diane Smerdon, who not only organized the entire event, but also made sure that it went off without a hitch. The symposium success was certainly due to all of Diane’s hard work.

Last summer we welcomed two new faculty, Drs. Alan Goodman and Steven Roberts. It has been a great pleasure to see them establish their labs and get their research programs off the ground. During the year we also undertook a new recruiting cycle and successfully hired two new faculty members: Drs. Joy (Wipawee) Winuthayanon and Rey Carabeo. Dr. Winuthayanon will join us from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina as an assistant professor. Joy’s research focus is hormonal regulation in the oviduct during fertilization, pre-implantation embryo development, and embryo transport. Dr. Carabeo was recruited from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where he serves as a senior lecturer in their microbiology program. Rey is a cell biologist working on Chlamydia pathogenesis. He will be an associate professor and will bring with him several of his current lab colleagues.

As we move into a new academic year, I also wish undergraduate co-ordinator Biddy Bender well on her retirement. She has been assisting all of our undergraduates since 1999. We will miss her larger than life personality and warm welcome in our office.

 

Spring/Summer 2014: Message from the Director

Jonathan Jones, Ph.D. Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

The summer is here and Pullman is pretty quiet. However, summer is a busy time for many of us. It is an opportunity to focus on research, get that paper written or start putting together a grant, not forgetting that many of the SMB faculty have busy teaching schedules in our summer session. Over the next few months it will be a pleasure to wish a warm welcome to our two new junior faculty recruits, Alan Goodman and Steven Roberts. They will be joining us in July and September respectively. I also look forward to greeting a new batch of graduate students in July and new and returning undergraduates in August. Our annual retreat will be held August 14 at the University Inn in Moscow and I thank my colleague Susan Wang for organizing this important event in the SMB calendar. We have an outstanding keynote speaker in Dr. John Kozarich who has held senior positions in academia and in biotech. He will be telling us about his career path and outlining his translational research in drug discovery and development. He is an excellent role model for our trainees. As we look forward to the 2014-2015 academic year, we will again undertake searches for new faculty. I am very grateful to College of Veterinary Medicine and WSU for their continued support for our recruitment efforts since they are essential for the growth and development of our school.

 

Fall 2013: Message from the Director

Welcome

Jonathan Jones, Director of the School of Molecular BiosciencesFall is here already. The changes in season are reflected by changes in the leadership of SMB. John Nilson stepped down from the Directorship of SMB and I assumed that position September 1. I am grateful for the good wishes you have given my family and me during these first few weeks at WSU. In addition, on your behalf, I thank John for his tremendous and committed service to SMB. I wish John well as he goes about developing some exciting new graduate training programs here at WSU. I arrive in Pullman having spent the majority of my research career studying the biology of skin and epithelial cells. I now look forward to establishing my research program at WSU and teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs in SMB. This will be my first experience of teaching undergraduates, but I welcome the challenge! I am also excited about new scientific interactions with labs within the school, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the University. Please drop by my office for a chat. I will tell you not only about our research goals, but also plans for a new chapter in the development of the school. As part of the latter effort I have initiated a search for new faculty. A committee has been given the task of recruiting colleagues who will build in our areas of research excellence, including reproductive biology, chromatin biology and cell signaling. Although this is a difficult fiscal time for all of us in science, our efforts should focus on growing and fostering both established and new research programs within the school.

Jonathan Jones, Ph.D.

Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Spring/Summer 2013: Message from the Director

Welcome

John H. Nilson

SMB continues to thrive.  We began the 2012-13 academic year with our annual retreat held at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho.   I am pleased to report that over 130 faculty and students participated.  Basically, the retreat was divided into two parts; science presentations from faculty representing SMB and IPN (Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience [formerly the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology (VCAPP)]) and workshops that focused on professional development.  The eight science presentations were split equally between SMB and IPN faculty.  Dr. Pat Hunt also presented on effective tools for communicating science with media and general audiences.  The first workshop focused on techniques for resolving tricky lab dynamics and included the entire audience with the intent of improving communication skills between faculty and trainees, within and across peer groups.  The second workshop divided faculty and trainees into separate groups.  The faculty developed strategies for providing more effective peer mentorship.  The trainees learned skills for enhancing their effectiveness in presenting themselves during professional interviews. The retreat concluded with a working lunch where I, as Director of SMB, outlined the progress and direction of our five year strategic plan.

The awards dinner, has become a hallmark of our annual retreat.  We have found over the last 10 years that the awards banquet builds camaraderie, celebrates excellence, and creates a strong sense of group ownership. Individual awards for research, teaching, and service were presented to one faculty and one trainee in each of the three categories.   Additional individual awards were presented for staff excellence, outstanding research assistant, and excellence in postdoctoral research.  Recipients received a crystal plaque and a written testimonial.  The graduate students acted out skits and two of our talented faculty provided musical entertainment.

Indeed, the 2012-13 academic year is finishing on a high note as numerous faculty have been recognized for their accomplishments.  Two of our clinical faculty, Julie Stanton and Consetta Helmick were recognized by the WSU Access Center for providing exemplary support and service to students with disabilities.  Phil Mixter, another clinical faculty member won the WSU Student Advising Award.  Phil Mixter, Julie Stanton, and Sue Wang were also awarded Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching Learning grants that help support their educational research projects.  Bill Davis, who last year became associate dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Mary Sanchez-Lanier, associate dean of the WSU University College and Clinical Faculty member in SMB, were both independently nominated for the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award for their work in promoting human rights and social justice.  Finally, Mike Griswold, former dean of the College of Science and former director of SMB will receive the Carl G. Hartmann Award at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproductive Biology this summer.  This is the society’s highest award that recognizes a notable career of research and scholarly activities in the field of reproductive biology.

It is also important to note that Nancy Magnuson stepped up help WSU by agreeing to serve as the Interim Vice-President of Research and Dean of the Graduate School in 2012-13.  Although a new dean of the Graduate School has been named, Nancy has agreed to continue to serve as the Interim Vice-President for Research during the 2013-14 academic year.  Kudos to Nancy!

In addition to the awards noted above, two of our young faculty, Jennifer Watts and Cynthia Haseltine, were awarded tenure and promoted to associate professors.  We expect that you will hear much more about Jenny and Cynthia as they will undoubtedly play leading roles moving SMB forward.

That’s my story for highlights of 2012-13 and I’m sticking to it!

John Nilson, Ph.D.

Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Fall 2012: Message from the Director

Welcome

John H. Nilson

Educational programs in SMB remain vigorous. Undergraduate enrollment has reached a new steady-state of approximately 200 (120 certified). Thirty-five students celebrated the 2012 commencement last spring. Our PhD graduate program has also reached steady-state with 51current trainees. Seven completed their Ph.D. in 2012. Thirteen new PhD students joined our program in the fall. Our Professional Science Master’s Program, a new initiative directed by Dr. Norah McCabe, is growing rapidly with 20 students enrolled this year. Prospects for further growth and impact look promising. And, our NIH Training Grant just completed its third year of funding through the NIH. This training grant has increased the visibility of our graduate program as well as helped in take it to new heights.

Dr. Bill Davis was also recently appointed as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Bill is taking on the challenge of organizing a unified undergraduate program that crosses all of the academic units in CVM. Rest assured that existing majors in SMB and the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology (VCAPP) will remain in place; the goal is to build upon these majors making them even more innovative and exciting. It seems likely that that graduate programs of SMB, VCAPP, Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health will also be organized under a single umbrella to provide for a single portal of admission. This umbrella should enhance our ability to recruit and admit outstanding graduate students.

As we look ahead, 2012 marks the second year of our move from the College of Sciences to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Albeit there have been some growing pains, the transition has been smooth with new opportunities and collaborations beginning to develop. One new effort is the development of a joint strategic plan with VCAPP. This strategic plan will create a vision for the future development of SMB and its fuller integration into the College. We have also revamped our Website and Facebook sites and I encourage you to browse both to keep abreast of news and upcoming events. Highlights of news reported on the Facebook site include honors conferred to SMB faculty, staff and students in 2012; these were numerous and well deserved, so please take a look!

John Nilson, Ph.D.

Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Fall 2011: Message from the Director

Welcome

John H. Nilson

Educational programs in SMB remain vigorous. Undergraduate enrollment has reached a new steady-state of approximately 200 (120 certified). Thirty-five students celebrated the 2012 commencement last spring. Our PhD graduate program has also reached steady-state with 51current trainees. Seven completed their Ph.D. in 2012. Thirteen new PhD students joined our program in the fall. Our Professional Science Master’s Program, a new initiative directed by Dr. Norah McCabe, is growing rapidly with 20 students enrolled this year. Prospects for further growth and impact look promising. And, our NIH Training Grant just completed its third year of funding through the NIH. This training grant has increased the visibility of our graduate program as well as helped in take it to new heights.

Dr. Bill Davis was also recently appointed as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Bill is taking on the challenge of organizing a unified undergraduate program that crosses all of the academic units in CVM. Rest assured that existing majors in SMB and the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology (VCAPP) will remain in place; the goal is to build upon these majors making them even more innovative and exciting. It seems likely that that graduate programs of SMB, VCAPP, Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health will also be organized under a single umbrella to provide for a single portal of admission. This umbrella should enhance our ability to recruit and admit outstanding graduate students.

As we look ahead, 2012 marks the second year of our move from the College of Sciences to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Albeit there have been some growing pains, the transition has been smooth with new opportunities and collaborations beginning to develop. One new effort is the development of a joint strategic plan with VCAPP. This strategic plan will create a vision for the future development of SMB and its fuller integration into the College. We have also revamped our Website and Facebook sites and I encourage you to browse both to keep abreast of news and upcoming events. Highlights of news reported on the Facebook site include honors conferred to SMB faculty, staff and students in 2012; these were numerous and well deserved, so please take a look!

John Nilson, Ph.D.