MB&B Department News and Notes

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Congratulations to our Phi Beta Kappa Fall 2022 inductees!

Please join the MB&B department to offer congratulations to senior majors Edrea JiangAidan Jones, and Eleanor Kaplan, elected to Wesleyan University's Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Fall 2022!


Fa’alataitaua Fitisemanu '24 was awarded for his poster presentation at the SACNAS sponsored National Diversity in STEM Conference held in October in Puerto Rico.
  • Jaime Carrazco-Carrillo was selected to participate in the 2022 SACNAS pre-conference 1st annual C.O.L.O.R. retreat in Puerto Rico
    LatinX in STEM | Hispanic Heritage Month runs September 15-October 15, 2022
    New on the Inclusion in STEM blog! A profile of MB&B graduate student Jaime Carrazco-Carrillo
    I'm the first Mexican—not even Mexican, the first Spanish speaker—in the MB&B grad school. So I didn't have anyone with a similar experience as me. SACNAS for me is really a place where I can talk with people. They have the same issues as me, pronunciation-wise, they [have trouble] understanding some sayings in English and everything. And also English in science is a little bit trickier for me compared to normal English speakers. ... I want to get enough building ground here in SACNAS when I come back after the conference, get it to grow, and when I leave, it stays growing and healthy [so it] can still help people from any background and whoever needs it.”
  • Wesleyan has a new student chapter of the Biophysical Society

    Wesleyan has a new student chapter of the Biophysical Society, with membership available to undergraduate and graduate students.biophysics-top.png

    Complete this google form to join the mailing list.


  • Michael Quinteros '24 co-author on paper published in Frontiers

    Michael is in Prof. Padilla-Benavides lab and secretary/treasurer or the newly formed Wesleyan student chapter of the Biophysical Society. 

    Surface tension of model tissues during malignant transformation and epithelial–mesenchymal transition

    Epithelial–mesenchymal transition is associated with migration, invasion, and metastasis. The translation at the tissue scale of these changes has not yet been enlightened while being essential in the understanding of tumor progression. Thus, biophysical tools dedicated to measurements on model tumor systems are needed to reveal the impact of epithelial–mesenchymal transition at the collective cell scale. Herein, using an original biophysical approach based on magnetic nanoparticle insertion inside cells, we formed and flattened multicellular aggregates to explore the consequences of the loss of the metastasis suppressor NME1 on the mechanical properties at the tissue scale. Multicellular spheroids behave as viscoelastic fluids, and their equilibrium shape is driven by surface tension as measured by their deformation upon magnetic field application. In a model of breast tumor cells genetically modified for NME1, we correlated tumor invasion, migration, and adhesion modifications with shape maintenance properties by measuring surface tension and exploring both invasive and migratory potential as well as adhesion characteristics.

  • Congratulations to our class of '22 award winners!
  • Congratulations to our Spring PBK Inductees!

    Congratulations Amy Du, Isabella Gibaldi, and Jackson Goldman elected to Wesleyan University's Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in Spring 2022! 

    Please join us in congratulating our majors! 

  • Lunch with our visiting scholar, Henry Meriki


  • Congratulations to our PBK Inductee R. Shaquille Bowie!

    Congratulations R. Shaquille Bowie, elected to Wesleyan University's Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in Fall 2021! Shaq is a double major in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and the College of Integrative Sciences. He is conducting research in Professor Olson's lab.

    Please join us in congratulating Shaq! 

  • SACNAS Creates Space for Underrepresented Communities in STEM


    Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Teresita Padilla-Benavides founded a University chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in July 2020 to provide a space for underrepresented groups involved in STEM. SACNAS is a nationwide organization that has been around for several decades, with chapters providing mentorship and volunteer opportunities for undergraduate students and professionals.

    Read the article at the Argus.

  • Undergraduate SACNAS students publish paper in the journal Frontiers in Education

    Wesleyan undergrads Lily Barnes, Joshua Grajales, and Jocelyn Velasquez Baez, along with faculty representative Teresita Padilla-Benavides and her colleague Daniel Hidalgo (UMASS Medical School), published a paper on diversity in the journal Frontiers in Education.


    Undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups (URG) in institutions of higher education with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers often lack the support, resources, and community necessary to succeed in their desired fields. Through mentoring, webinars, seminars, and various research presentation opportunities, national societies and “locally-based” institutional student chapters provide atmospheres in which URG undergraduates can develop the skills required for academic and professional careers in STEM. In addition, national societies and student chapters contribute to outreach activities aimed towards the public in order to foster interest in STEM, as well as to primary and secondary school students to help them develop competency in skills and areas that lead to successful STEM careers. While many of these societies have operated for decades, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an unexpected roadblock, creating difficulties in terms of maintaining community dynamics and overcoming limits on in-person meetings. Though the conditions were challenging, they allowed for new perspectives on problem-solving in the face of adversity. The pandemic promoted the development of creative ways by which institutions and national societies could continue to educate students virtually. In this review, we discuss the role of national societies and student chapters in providing URG students with resources and skills to succeed in STEM fields while incorporating them into a community of like-minded peers with similar experiences.

    You can read their paper here: 

    Impact of Professional and Scientific Societies’ Student Chapters on the Development of Underrepresented Undergraduate Students

  • Five MB&B Majors accepted to ASBMB Honors Society

    The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) inducted 30 new members into its Honors Society this August, including five past and present MB&B Majors:

    • Nour-Saïda Harzallah '21
    • Han Beom (Jack) Kwon '21, current BA/MA student
    • Shawn H. Lin, current senior
    • Alex Poppel '21, current BA/MA student
    • Maya Vaishnaw '21

    You can read more about their studies and accomplishments on the ASBMB webpage. Congratulations!

  • FASEB Publishes Review from Padilla-Benavides Lab

    The molecular and cellular basis of copper dysregulation and its relationship with human pathologies

    Cell development and differentiation require lineage specific mechanisms by which cells initiate programs of gene expression. In normal conditions, lineage determination involves activation of genes that are transcriptionally silent by specific transcription factors, chromatin remodelers, coactivators, and other lineage specific molecules. Skeletal muscle differentiation is an excellent model for studying fundamental principles of tissue-specific gene expression and differentiation as there is a significant understanding of mechanisms controlling myogenic-specific gene expression. However, emerging evidence shows a novel category of Copper (Cu)-binding factors that may have a previously unappreciated direct impact in the regulation of myoblast proliferation and differentiation.

    Cu is an essential trace metal that serves as a catalytic co-factor for a wide variety of enzymatic reactions that play critical roles in life. Cu deficiency and overload leads to pathophysiological conditions including Menkes and Wilson’s diseases, neutropenia, impaired iron absorption, peripheral neuropathy, mitochondrial deficiencies and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Therefore, the mechanisms for Cu distribution and usage in different tissues and organs, as well as the consequences due to dysregulated Cu acquisition, are important to human health. Limited information is available regarding Cu and Cu-binding factors and their mechanisms of action in myogenesis and most developmental processes. We propose to elucidate novel mechanisms of gene regulation that drive muscle differentiation and development and that are dependent on copper and Cu-binding transcription factors. We propose integrative studies that combine diverse molecular, biochemical and spectroscopic techniques to characterize novel molecular mechanisms by which Cu-binding factors regulate myogenic differentiation. We propose a novel model where Cu controls myogenesis by activating Cu-TFs that may act synchronously, either by acting on different promoters at the same time or by acting sequentially at different stages of differentiation, or both. Our experiments will identify new components and mechanisms for mammalian Cu-binding factors in the regulation of lineage-specific gene expression. Our studies also will establish a basis for understanding muscular diseases related to aberrant Cu biology using well-characterized mouse models for Menkes and Wilson’s diseases. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive lineage specific gene expression dependent on Cu will greatly advance our knowledge of several Cu-related diseases.
    Contact PD/PI: Padilla-Benavides, Teresita
  • Two MB&B Majors Recive ASBMB Research Award

    Two MB&B Majors Recive ASBMB Research Award

    The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology awarded Lily Barnes '22 (working with Professor Padilla-Benavides) and Amy Du '23 (wrking with Professor Mukerji) the 2021 ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award. Congratulations! You can read more about their projects below:

  • Congratulations Class of 2021!

    Congratulations Class of 2021!

    Congratutlations to all our majors! The MB&B Prize list is available here. 


  • Lin ’22 Wins Poster Awards at Two Conferences

    Lin ’22 Wins Poster Awards at Two Conferences

    During the 65th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting held virtually Feb. 22–26, 2021 Shawn H. Lin '22 was honored with an Undergraduate Poster Award for his work on "Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction." Lin, a Wesleyan Freeman Scholar, is among only six undergraduate students internationally to receive the award.

    Lin won a second award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, announced April 28, 2021, in the category of DNA, Chromosomes and Gene Regulation. 

    Lin's advisors are Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics. You can see the poster on Wesleyan's blog here.

  • Professors Mukerji and Oliver Participate in Vaccination Webinar

    Professors Mukerji and Oliver Participate in Vaccination Webinar

    The University hosted a webinar titled “Why Get Vaccinated? A Conversation and Q&A with Wesleyan’s experts” on Monday, March 15. You can watch the full presentation here.


    Read the write up on the Wesleyan Blog: Wesleyan Experts Explore Benefits of Vaccination

    Read the write up in the Wesleyan Argus: University Staff and Faculty Host Webinar to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccinations

  • Socially Distanced Science

    Curious about how a hybrid science class works? Along with teaching assistants, Professor Michelle Murolo is teaching Principles of Biology—both over Zoom and in a socially distanced lab. Hear from Professor Murolo and students about the unique way they are experiencing class this fall.

  • Welcome Professor Teresita Padilla-Benavides

    Welcome Professor Teresita Padilla-Benavides

    When Assistant Professor of Molecular Biochemistry and Biology Teresita Padilla-Benavides moved from Mexico City to the United States, one of the things that struck her most was the ‘If you see something, say something’ campaign signs.

    “For me, coming from Mexico City, it was like, no-- if you see something, you stay quiet or you get fired or something worse could happen,” she said. “You can imagine, as a teenage girl, you’d be terrified, right? We would never ever speak up.” [Profile by Sophie Wazlowski | Read More]

  • SACNAS Scholarship Awarded to Julia Kan '22

    SACNAS Scholarship Awarded to Julia Kan '22

    Please join Professor Padilla-Benavides in congratulating Julia Kan, recipient of a scholarships awarded by SACNAS to present her summer/fall project at the national conference in October

  • Congratulations Class of 2020!

    Please join us in congratulating the class of 2020!

    This Spring was like none other and we are so proud of your hard work and achievement at Wesleyan!!Zoom Chat with our Senior Majors

    Congratulations to all MB&B 2020 Majors and Graduate Program Prize Recipients!

Do you have news to share? Please contact Anika at adane@wesleyan.edu.