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Spring 2015 Newsletter

Greetings from your UT Campus!

Letter from the Chair

The Department of Molecular Biosciences continues to be on the cutting edge of scientific research while dedicating itself to quality and innovative education for both undergraduates and graduates. As such, I am proud to serve as Interim Chair. As one of our graduates, you are our most important ambassadors. We are pleased to send you the latest addition of the department’s newsletter.

A few highlights from this semester include:

•    The Center for Infectious Disease hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for the inaugural John LaMontagne Lecture on February 9th, 2015 on campus. Watch his talk online at Time Warner Cable News.

•    MBS has ongoing searches for two Assistant Professors, one Full Professor, and a permanent Department Chair.  We are excited about the candidates and the chance to grow our already-fantastic faculty.  Look for introductions to these new MBS members as soon as possible!

•    We also have two retiring faculty this spring, Dr. Jon Robertus and Dr. Jerry Brand.  Dr. Robertus, Professor in Biochemistry, and Dr. Brand, Professor in Molecular Cell and Development Biology, have each been researching, teaching, and serving the larger UT community for over 40 years. They will be honored at a retirement party on May 12th, 2015.  Have a memory to share about them?  Please click here to contribute to our memory book for them.

•    And finally, commencement is around the corner!  The College of Natural Sciences will hold a graduation ceremony honoring Biology majors affiliated with MBS on May 23rd.  I will be proud to shake hands with 264 MBS graduates.
Our department is strong because of you. As a stakeholder in our success, you help distinguish UT Molecular Biosciences from its peers, but we need your help financially. Please consider making a gift to MBS to help strengthen and support our legacy of excellence. Giving from alumni, parents and friends allows us to be strategic and supportive of our faculty and students in their education and research endeavors.

Thank you for being an important part of this fantastic department!

Jon Huibregtse
Interim Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences


News Stories



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Share your Story

Do you have a success story? We want to hear how you're changing the world in your community. Have you won an award or been published? Do you volunteer regularly? Have you started a new business venture? Share your story with us!

Dr. Stanley Roux Wins National Teaching Award

In the span of a few months, Molecular Biosciences Professor Stanley Roux was elected not only to the prestigious AAAS - The American Association for the Advancement of Science, he also won the national "Excellence in Education" award from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).Stan Roux

According to ASPB:

The 2015 Excellence in Education Award acknowledges the outstanding contributions of Dr. Stanley Roux. During a career spanning more than thirty years, Stan has made a considerable impact at his institution by expanding the curriculum while developing and adopting innovative pedagogical methods. Both in the classroom and in his laboratory, Stan has emphasized meaningful hands-on research for students.

The recipient of several past teaching awards, Stan was one of the first to challenge the notion that freshmen cannot conduct "real" research. The results of his efforts have been manifest in the form of peer-reviewed publications with many student coauthors, as well as conference awards and further modeling of this paradigm. Stan has offered innovative courses in the realm of plant biology while mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students and participating in various science outreach organizations, thereby making lasting impacts in the field.

Dr. Ilya Finkelstein Selected for Awards

Dr. Ilya Finkelstein, an assistant professor in the department of molecular biosciences, has been selected as a Fellow by the American Federation for Aging Research. More can be found here.

Dr. Finkelstein also was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. CAREER awards are intended to recognize promising young faculty and support their research with five years of funding. Learn more here.


Dr. Stanley Roux Elected As American Association For The Advancement Of Science Fellow

Stanley Roux, professor of molecular biosciences in the College of Natural Sciences, is among five faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin who have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS fellows are chosen annually by their peers to recognize their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Roux was recognized for his innovative experiments to elucidate the key role of extracellular nucleotides and apyrase enzymes in regulating plant growth and development. Roux is a Distinguished Teaching Professor who has received funding from the NSF and NASA for his research on how the environmental stimuli of light and gravity alter patterns of growth and development in plants.

 Four other fellows were also elected from the University of Texas at Austin. Learn more here.


Dr. George Georgiou named one of the top 20 translational researchers of 2013

Congratulations to Dr. George Georgiou was listed by Nature Biotechnology one of the top 20 translational researchers of 2013 Link.

Dr. Marvin Hackert elected president of the International Union of Crystallography

Dr. Marvin Hackert was recently elected president of the International Union of Crystallography. The objectives of the union are "...to promote international cooperation in crystallography and to contribute to all aspects of crystallography, to promote international publication of crystallographic research, to facilitate standardization of methods, units, nomenclatures and symbols, and to form a focus for the relations of crystallography to other sciences." Congratulations, Dr. Hackert!


Dr. Andrew Ellington, Dr. Stephen Trent, & Dr. Marvin Whiteley Elected 2014 AAM Academy Fellows

Congratulations to Dr. Marvin Whiteley, Dr. Stephen Tent, & Dr. Andrew Ellington for being elected 2014 American Academy for Microbiology Fellows. Fellows of the American Academy for Microbiology are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. There are over 2,400 Fellows representing all subspecialties of microbiology, including basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service. The new Fellows are as follows:



Dr. Yan Jessie Zhang receives Etter award

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Congratulations to Dr. Yan Jessie Zhang, an Assistant Professor in MBS, for receiving the Margaret C. Etter Early Career Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement and exceptional potential in crystallographic research demonstrated by a scientist at an early stage of their independent career. One awardee who obtained his/her PhD within the last 12 years is chosen from academia, industry or government laboratories within United States. Dr. Yan Jessie Zhang is invited to present her work in the Annual Meeting of American Crystallographic Association for 2015 in Philadelphia, PA.


First MBS retreat is a huge success

From Bryan Davies and David Stein, co-organizers of the MBS Spring Retreat 2014:

Thanks to everyone for making our Inaugural Molecular Biosciences Retreat a huge success. More than one hundred members of our new department met to share science from the wide range of fields that represent Molecular Biosciences. Our keynote speaker Jeff Dangl gave a great seminar highlighting how an interdisciplinary approach is shedding new light on plants, their microbiome and innate immunity. The student and postdoctoral talks were well received and the poster session went a long way to stimulate conversation between labs.

The winners for best research talk are:

Jacqueline Tabler  (1st Place)  Wallingford Lab

Logan Myler (2nd Place)  Paull Lab

Apollo Stacy  (3rd Place)  Whiteley Lab

The winners for best graduate student poster are:

Kristen Koening (1st Place)  Gross Lab

Poonam Agarwal & Gabriel Wu  (tied for 2nd Place)  Miller Lab & Marcotte Lab (respectively)

The winners for best postdoctoral poster are:

Aimee Wessel  (1st Place)  Whitely Lab

Jodi Connell  (2nd Place)  Whitely Lab

Joe Dekker  (3rd Place)  Tucker Lab

We hope for an even bigger success for our next retreat in the spring of 2015.

Shelley Payne Receives ASM Teaching Award

DSC 0229 cropCongratulations to Dr. Shelley Payne, who was awarded the 2014 Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award from the American Society for Microbiology. In an article highlighting the award in the ASM publication The Microbe, Dr. Payne was recognized for her role as a mentor to many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to have successful scientific careers. The article also noted that Dr. Payne is especially proud that most of these trainees have been women or minorities. Shelley will be presented with her award at the ASM national meeting in May. 




Photo Gallery

MBS-graduation-flickrMBS Graduates 2014


17 Aug 2020@ 04:00PM - 05:00PM
Promotion Seminar Dr. Zhang
18 Aug 2020@ 04:00PM - 05:00PM
Promotion Seminar Dr. Stone
19 Aug 2020@ 04:00PM - 05:00PM
Promotion Seminar Dr. Keatinge-Clay
20 Aug 2020@ 09:00AM - 01:00PM
Graduate Program Annual Retreat
20 Aug 2020@ 04:00PM - 05:00PM
Promotion Seminar Dr. McLellan