Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Maize, a major cereal crop grown worldwide, is attacked by several insects, including chewing and piercing-sucking insects. However, little is known about maize defense responses to different feeding guilds of insect pests. The major goal of our research is to understand maize defense signaling mechanisms against insect attack and the role of insect salivary components in altering maize defenses.
David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University.
Navdeep Chandel received a BA in mathematics and Ph.D. in Cell Physiology at University of Chicago. He also did his post-doctoral work at University of Chicago. In 2000, he established his lab at Northwestern University focusing on the role of mitochondria as signaling organelles. Historically, mitochondria have been primarily viewed as biosynthetic and bioenergetic organelles. His work has elucidated that mitochondria participate in signaling by releasing reactive oxygen species which regulate distinct biological outcomes including differentiation, proliferation, and adaptation to stress.
Assistant Member, Cell Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs in a number of pathologies including Parkinson’s, cancer, bacterial infection as well as general aging. However, the cellular mechanisms in place to detect mitochondrial stress and activate protective responses are poorly understood. I’ll present a recently discovered transcription factor that “monitors” mitochondrial function and activates a mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). These studies suggest an elegant strategy employed by cells to survive mitochondrial stress and ultimately regenerate healthy mitochondria. Interestingly, recent findings indicate that the UPRmt also interacts with innate immunity pathways suggesting this signaling pathway can detect and kill those pathogenic bacteria that target mitochondria to promote infection.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Kansas State University.
My laboratory uses biochemical and genomic approaches to better understand the synthesis of triacylglycerols in seeds. In particular, we are characterizing a novel acyltransferase named EaDAcT (Euonymus alatus diacylglycerol acetyltransferase) that is responsible for the synthesis of an unusual, reduced viscosity oil found in the seeds of various plants. The unusual substrate specificity of EaDAcT makes it a useful model to understand the relationship between structure and enzyme function within the larger family of membrane bound acyltransferases, many of which are involved in lipid metabolism. We are also expressing EaDAcT in oil crops in order to produce seed oil with physical and chemical properties useful for different industrial and biofuel applications.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dr. Lai received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from California State University, Los Angeles in 1999. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 2003-2007. Dr. Lai joined the Department of Chemistry in 2007.
Dr. Lai’s research program focuses on both fundamental and applied aspects of biosensor research. The main objective of her research is the design and fabrication of folding- and dynamics-based electrochemical biosensors. She aims at developing portable real-time biosensors for environmental monitoring and point-of-care diagnostics. The sensing strategy is to link target-induced change in the conformation and/or flexibility of the biorecognition elements (e.g. peptides, nucleic acids) to a robust, electrochemical signaling mechanism. These sensors are reagentless, reusable, and insensitive to non-specific interactions of contaminants, thus enabling them to be employed directly in realistically complex media such as blood, urine, soil extracts, and a wide range of food matrices.