February Issue

Article Title                                                                                      Author

BCMB Friday Seminar:  Rick Huganir                                         Laurel Oldach

Meet Arhonda Gogos                                                                 Diedre Ribbens

Question of the Month                                                                 Saif AlQassim

Goley Lab Spotlight                                                                    Elizabeth Meier

Recent Job Postings                                                                  Diedre Ribbens

Science News                                                                             Laurel Oldach

Must-Do Around Baltimore: Glassblowing                                      Risa Burr


Science News

Science News-February

Public health workers killed in Nigeria. Eleven public health workers involved in a polio vaccination campaign in northern Nigeria were assassinated on February 8. Meanwhile, 2013’s first confirmed case of wild-type polio occurred in Karachi, Pakistan; a rash of killings of polio workers occurred in that country in the end of 2012. Poliovirus, target of a global eradication effort, remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

School of Public Health weighs in on national gun conversation. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hosted a summit on gun violence in mid-January; this week, the proceedings were published along with a list of policy recommendations.

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Goley Lab Spotlight

Lab Stats

PI Name: Erin Goley

Number of Years in BCMB: 1.5

Model System(s)Caulobacter crescentus

Research Area: Mechanisms underlying cytokinesis in bacteria

Lab Personnel: Erin Goley, PhD; Alex Hessel, Research Tech; Elizabeth Meier, BCMB student

What is your favorite thing about BCMB?

Elizabeth Meier (EM): When choosing a lab, I appreciated the large number of BCMB faculty with diverse areas of research.  I also have enjoyed recruitment weekend: ensuring that prospective students both have a good time and get a realistic idea of what it is like to live in Baltimore and be a graduate student at Hopkins.

What does your lab do for fun?

EM: Our lab does a lot of joint activities with the Margolis lab such as attending Orioles games, overeating at Indian lunch buffets, and hosting BBQs or holiday parties. Recently, we have started an informal game of Horse in the hallway between our labs using K-cups from our Keurig machine.

Where do you see your research going in the next 5 years?

EM: To understand how bacterial cells divide, we focus on the function and regulation of the highly conserved tubulin-like protein, FtsZ.  Previous work suggests that FtsZ acts as a scaffold for the assembly of the cytokinetic machinery and generates the constrictive force necessary to drive cell division.  However, molecular details of force generation on the membrane and how FtsZ superstructure and dynamics relate to its function are still areas of active research.  Of particular interest to our lab is how FtsZ interacting proteins regulate FtsZ function over the cell cycle.


Celebrating the isolation of the thousandth Caulobacter strain in December 2012.
From left to right: Alex Hessel, Erin Goley, Elizabeth Meier, Phil Cox (Fall 2012 rotation student)

Meet Arhonda Gogos, BCMB Academic Program Manager

In January, BCMB hired a new academic program manager.  Arhonda Gogos started in the position several weeks ago, so BCMB News caught up with her to see how she was settling in, and to learn a little more about how she came to be at Hopkins.

Gogos hails from Greece, completing her undergraduate work in Physics at the University of Athens.  She’s no stranger to Hopkins, though, having done her PhD in our very own Biophysics department.  She says that as an undergraduate, she took an elective course in biophysics “and that was it!”  She fell in love with the subject and decided to pursue it for her graduate degree.  Her thesis work was in the laboratory of Neil Clarke, studying DNA glycosylases.  Apparently, the Biophysics department has changed quite a bit since her time as a graduate student, as Dan Leahy is the only remaining member of her thesis committee that is still with the department, although Mario Amzel and Cynthia Wolberger overlapped with Gogos’ time as well.

New BCMB Academic Program Manager, Arhonda Gogos

New BCMB Academic Program Manager, Arhonda Gogos

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Receptors and memory: Dr. Rick Huganir’s BCMB Friday Seminar

Dr. Rick Huganir.
(Image reproduced from Department of Neuroscience website)

How do synaptic connections, made of short-lived proteins, last for the duration of a human life? That’s the question Rick Huganir, chair of the Neuroscience department, used to frame his talk, the third in this year’s BCMB Friday Seminar series. Dr. Huganir spoke on “Regulation of receptors, synapses and memory,” focusing on the regulation of AMPARs, excitatory glutamate receptors which mediate about 70% of electrical activity in the brain. Modifications to either the number or the activity of AMPARs at individual synapses can affect how information flows through neural circuits. Trafficking can add or subtract AMPARs to the postsynaptic milieu, while each receptor has dozens of phosphorylation sites that regulate activity, with phosphorylation potentially lasting for the lifetime of a receptor. However, a receptor’s lifetime is, as Dr. Huganir put it, “not [long] enough to solve the problem of a ninety-year-old woman remembering her childhood.” So, how does the increased sensitivity of a strengthened synapse last for any longer than the set of receptors that was around when the initial strengthening stimulus took place? Dr. Huganir’s talk broke down into three connected stories of molecular sleuthing in search of a “very local, self-sustaining mechanism” for tagging neurotransmitter receptors in the long term.

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Recent Job Postings

Announcing a competition to be a Nature Careers Columnist!

Nature’s Careers section is pleased to announce our latest international competition to select five young scientist columnists for 2013. All currently enrolled science graduate students and working postdocs are eligible.

Over the course of the year, each columnist will write at least one column to be published in Nature, and will be encouraged to pitch more. Columnists will also be asked to write two or more Blog entries for the Naturejobs blog, charting their ups and downs through the year and describing how their experiences have shaped their future career choices.

Contest entry deadline is March 29th.  Click here for more information.


Journals Assistant Editor – Genetics Society of America

GENETICS and G3:Genes|Genomes|Genetics, the journals of the Genetics Society of America (GSA), are seeking a Journals’ Assistant Editor to work with the Editors‐in‐Chief (EiCs), Senior Editors (SEs) and the Executive Editor to fulfill our mission to identify and communicate significant discoveries and advances in genetics.

The Journals’ Assistant Editor will be an integral part of our editorial team, working closely with the Editorial Board and staff to increase the profile and impact of the GSA Journals by helping to recruit new submissions, identify new content, and broadcast our journals to new audiences.

Candidates should be curious and on top of current topics and trends in science, appreciate the thrills and trials of discovery, and exude enthusiasm for science.

For more information and application guidelines, click here.

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Must Do Around Baltimore: Glassblowing at McFadden Art Glass

BCMB student Risa Burr participated in a Glassblowing workshop at a local artisan’s studio.  If you have done a local activity, visited an attraction, or dined at a restaurant and would like to share your experience, please Contact Us about writing a review!

What: McFadden Art Glass glassblowing “date night”

When: alternate Fridays, 7-10pm, no reservation required

Where: 6800 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at the ancient craft of glassblowing, learning to create beautiful pieces of art out of molten silicon dioxide? Then McFadden Art Glass, located right here in Baltimore, is for you. Since 2006, Tim McFadden has been delighting the greater Baltimore community with custom glass art pieces out of his studio on Eastern Ave, including swooping chandeliers and intricate vases. Even better, he has a great affinity for teaching, which he shares in classes for all interest and ability levels. I recently went to one of the “date nights” (anyone is welcome, no date required), which he puts on every other Friday from 7-10pm. They begin with a free glassblowing demonstration, in which Tim makes one of the fantastic works of art on display in the gallery. While you sit and watch the magic happen, you are invited to enjoy any libations you may have brought, either from home or the bar next door.

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