MARC Faculty

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Jeffrey B. Arterburn, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry
575-646-1111
E-mail: jarterbu@nmsu.edu
Chemistry Room 293

Research projects in Dr. Arterburn’s laboratory have originated from an interest in developing new methodology for organic synthesis, an appreciation for the unique chemistry of transition metal complexes containing metal-ligand multiple bonds, and a desire to synthesize new antiviral drugs and radiopharmaceuticals.

ashleyRyan L. Ashley, Ph.D.
Animal & Range Science
575-646-4135
E-mail: ryashley@nmsu.edu

Our laboratory research program focuses on the molecular interactions between fetal derived cells and the mother’s cells in the uterus to ensure pregnancy is established and maintained. Most pregnancy losses occur early during pregnancy. As such, deciphering the mechanisms involved during this critical period will help in identifying factors that contribute to pregnancy loss and other compromised pregnancy conditions that adversely affect the health of the offspring.

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Donovan Bailey , Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-1707
E-mail: dbailey@nmsu.edu
http://biology-web.nmsu.edu/bailey/

As evolutionary biologists focused on plant systems, my students and I are actively engaged in researching the evolutionary relationships among taxa, patterns of speciation and diversification, and the development of informative classifications.  Over the last ten years these interests have focused increasingly on homoploid and polyploid plant hybridization as important forms of plant-plant and plant-human evolutionary interactions in both wild and semi-domesticated plant species. The variety of topics researched in my lab are selected to engage graduate and undergraduate students in aspects of molecular biology, integrative evolutionary biology, and plant taxonomy, with primary focus on members of the mustard and legume plant families. These systems include numerous western US and Mexican representatives, important semi-domesticated crop species, and endangered species that provide well-rounded projects involving studies derived from fieldwork, molecular biology, and morphological studies.

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Wiebke Boeing , Ph.D.
Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology
575-646-1707
E-mail: wboeing@nmsu.edu

My research interests lie in the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the aquatic community and on predator-prey interactions. Furthermore, I study how various environmental parameters influence aquatic biodiversity and individual species. I have experience in both freshwater and marine systems, and have worked on every trophic level of the aquatic food web.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaria Castillo, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-7664
E-mail: mcastill@nmsu.edu

Our laboratory focuses on the study of the immunological aspects of the relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes and its beneficial partner, the luminous bacteria Vibrio fischeri

(1) The interaction between these two organisms is very specific and limited to a specialized light organ located in the ventral cavity of the squid. The bacteria find within the host shelter and nutrients, while the squid utilizes the light produced by the bacteria as counterillumination to avoid predation during its nocturnal activities

(2). Our research investigates the presence, diversity, and function of complement-like proteins in the squid E. scolopes and their potential role in beneficial symbiosis.  The complement system consists of a group of proteins that play an important role in immune processes such as cytolysis, opsonization, inflammation, and linking the innate and adaptive immune systems.  Orthologs of several vertebrate complement components were recently identified in deuterostomes, ecdysozoans, and lophotro-chozoans including tunicates, horseshoe crab, and squid respectively.  The finding of complement molecules in invertebrates suggests a more primitive origin of these immune components than previously thought and presents an opportunity to study the changes of the immune system through evolution. In addition, the specific association between E. scolopes and V. fischeri is a unique model system that allows us to study various aspects of immune interactions between organisms of different species in a context that differs from pathogenesis.

creamerRebecca Creamer, Ph.D.
Entomology Plant Path and Weed Sci.
575-646-3068
E-mail: creamer@taipan.nmsu.edu

The laboratory research focuses on two major areas of importance to New Mexico agriculture, plant viruses and a fungal endophyte of locoweed. We are currently characterizing the biology and epidemiology and beet curly top virus which infects chile in New Mexico. Research is ongoing to examine viral strain variation at the molecular level, virus transmission by insects, and host resistance, as well as documentation of the role or weed hosts and vector populations in disease epidemiology. We are also studying the role that a fungal endophyte of locoweed plays in the toxicity of this plant which is poisonous to mammals. We are characterizing the fungus genetically, assessing the toxicity of the fungus in rats, and studying the plant-fungus interactions.

CurtissJennifer Curtiss , Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-5611
E-mail: curtij01@nmsu.edu

Different organs of the head, for example the nose, eyes and ears, must develop in a regulated manner so that each organ’s size and position is proportional to the whole head and to each other. This tight coordination is mediated by interplay between the “selector genes”, which specify tissue and organ type, and signal transduction pathways, which mediate cell communication to integrate growth and patterning. Remarkably, both the selector genes and the signaling factors are well conserved in all metazoans. I am interested in a basic question in this area, namely, what are the mechanisms that localize expression of selector genes for eye, antenna and other organs of the head with respect to one another, and how is this separation maintained? My approach utilizes the powerful genetic and molecular tools available in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, which make it an ideal system for discovering the genes responsible, and for understanding their relationships to one another. One focus of the lab is to understand how the Drosophila Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (Egfr) controls the expression of the selector genes for eye and antenna. The other focus in the lab involves two genes called dan and danr, which are required for eye development and able to convert antennal precursors to an eye fate.

angusAngus Dawe , Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-4003
E-mail: dawe@nmsu.edu

My lab is interested in the molecular biology of fungi, and in particular, a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica. This organism is a plant pathogen and is responsible for a disease called chestnut blight. Back when the eastern parts of the United States were first settled by European colonists, the American chestnut tree was the dominant species of hardwood throughout the Appalachian region from Georgia to Maine (the dark green area on the map below). The tree was highly prized for its wood (very tough, great for building) and the annual crop of nuts (great for feedin’ the hogs). However, during the late 1800s species of chestnut were imported into the US from Asia and they brought with them the chestnut blight. By the 1950s, the disease had spread throughout the natural range of the American chestnut trees, effectively wiping out a vast natural resource and altering forever the makeup of the eastern woodlands. So… why do we care now? Well, it turns out that C. parasitica is a very interesting organism. In the laboratory it can be easily cultured and manipulated which allows us to ask genetic questions about its behavior and development. Also, C. parasitica can itself be infected by an RNA virus. An infected strain exhibits a number of changes from an uninfected one, the most striking of which is a reduction in the ability to cause significant damage to chestnut. Because of the reduction in fungal virulence, we call this virus a “hypovirus”.

amudhuAmudhu S. Gopalan, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry
575-646-2589
E-mail: agopalan@nmsu.edu
Chemistry Room 288B

Dr. Gopalan’s major research interests are in the area of organic synthesis and environmental chemistry. Methods for the preparation of chiral intermediates using enzymatic reactions such as baker’s yeast reductions and lipase catalyzed resolutions are being investigated. The subsequent use of the chirons generated from these studies to the synthesis of natural products is also of interest. Dr. Gopalan’s group is also involved in the design and development of specific chelators for metal ions, with special focus on actinides.

champaChampa S. Gopalan, Ph.D.
Agronomy & Horticulture
575-646-5784
E-mail: csgopala@nmsu.edu

Most of the nutritionally significant biological atmospheric nitrogen fixation is carried out by Rhizobium/ Bradyrhizobium spp. that fix nitrogen only within the nodules they form on the roots of legumes. Research in Dr. Sengupta-Gopalan’s laboratory focuses on two major aspects of symbiotic N2-fixation: (i) the initial interaction between the host and the symbiont leading to the initiation of nodule formation. The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that an internal increase in flavonoids is one of the earliest responses to Rhizobium infection and that these flavonoids are responsible for initiating nodule formation. (ii) Assimilation of fixed nitrogen with special emphasis on the key ammonia assimilatory enzymes, glutamine synthetase (GS) and glutamate synthase (GOGAT) and the genes encoding them. Because both GS and GOGAT are key enzymes in the assimilation of ammonia, an additional issue that is being addressed is how alterations in GS levels in different tissues/organs will affect the nitrogen status and the overall performance of plants. The specific objectives of this work would be (a) to understand the regulatory mechanism underlying expression of the different GS gene members in alfalfa and soybean, and (b) to modulate expression of GS and GOGAT in alfalfa in a gene member or cell specific manner and to analyze the physiological and biomechanical outcome of modulation of these enzymes.

gustafsonJohn E. Gustafson, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-5660
E-mail: jgustafs@nmsu.edu

My laboratory presently studies the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which causes a large percentage of infections that arise in hospital, as well as, excessive morbidity and mortality. Vancomycin remains the drug of choice for the treatment of serious infections caused by methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which are normally resistant to multiple antibiotics. However, the recent discovery of MRSA expressing vancomycin resistance leads many scientists/physicians to believe a public health disaster is looming on the horizon.

Herndon2James W. Herndon, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 295
575-646-2487
E-mail: jherndon@nmsu.edu

Our research focuses on the development of new reagents for the synthesis of structurally complex and medicinally important compounds. A continuing goal is to develop simple reaction processes that convert simple molecules into structurally complex molecules in an efficient and reliable fashion. Current projects targets include new syntheses of steroids, isoquinoline anticancer agents, etoposide anticancer agents, and synthetic nucleosides that are potential antiviral agents.

houde2Peter Houde, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-6019
E-mail: phoude@nmsu.edu

My interests lie in the very broad areas of the evolutionary biology of birds, and of other vertebrates to a lesser degree. My research covers several areas. (1) Phylogeny reconstruction -the genealogical relationships of organisms to one another. I concentrate on deciphering interfamilial and interordinal relationships. (2) Biogeography -the correlation of patterns of phyletic divergence and the origins of new taxa to the geographic distribution of species and the formation of geophysical barriers through time. (3) Macroevolution – the plasticity and polarity of morphological evolution within lineages. This is best understood by exploring pattern in the distribution of morphological characters that are superimposed onto a phylogenetic “tree” inferred independently from molecular genetic analysis. (4) Evolutionary rate – how rates of genetic and morphological evolution differ within and between taxa. I address these diverse problems through the combined study of fossil vertebrates, comparative anatomy (particularly osteology), DNA sequencing, and DNA hybridization.

Houston3Kevin Houston, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 371
575-646-3918
E-mail: khouston@nmsu.edu

 

The research efforts in Dr. Houston’s laboratory involve investigations regarding the molecular function of ovarian hormones such as estrogen in cancers and tumors (e.g. breast cancer, uterine leiomyoma). Uterine leiomyomas are very common benign tumors that occur in most premenopausal women.  These lesions are symptomatic in approximately 25% of affected women and require surgery for treatment.  The long-term goal of the research in my laboratory is to identify molecular therapeutic approaches to treat uterine leiomyoma and other ovarian hormone dependent lesions.  To this end, Dr. Houston uses uterine leiomyoma cells and tissues derived from the Eker rat model of uterine leiomyoma in combination with biochemical and molecular biology techniques to determine the mechanisms of ovarian hormone action in this tumor type. Specifically, his research group is interesting in understanding the role of GPR30, a recently identified, non-nuclear estrogen receptor, in the development and growth of uterine leiomyoma.

johnson2012Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 288A
575-646-3627
E-mail: johnson@nmsu.edu

Dr. Johnson’s research has two major thrusts. One involves the mechanistic investigations into the reactivity and complexation of the ferrate ion, FeO42-, where iron exists in the +6 oxidation state. His other research interest focuses on the chemical remediation of organics and heavy metals in aqueous media.

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Shanna Ivey , Ph.D.
Animal & Range Sciences
575-646-4650
E-mail: sivey@nmsu.edu

Dr. Ivey’s role is related to Objective 5 of the proposal dealing with the development of valuable coproducts. The Department of Animal and Range Science will play a key role in evaluating the commercial value of algal biomass; the economic value of this high-protein algal biomass is compelling and because it can be developed quickly it will be an early coproduct and accelerate creation of this industry. From the start of the proposal process she has represented NMSU on the co-products team and will continue to do so in the future. Specifically, Dr. Ivey will supervise and guide the research conducted at NMSU dealing with coproduct utilization by ruminants. In this role she will work with collaborators Clint Lst and Sergio Soto to carry out the objectives for this area of research as outlined in the project proposal. She will be in charge of the administration of the grant funds in her department. Additionally, two graduate students will be advised (1 in the rumen microbiology laboratory and 1 in the ruminant nutrition group) during the course of the research.

loestClint Loest , Ph.D.
Animal & Range Sciences
575-646-1714
E-mail: cloest@nmsu.edu

My research program focuses on optimizing nutrient utilization by livestock in an effort to improve production and health while reducing nutrient excretion (waste) and its impact on environmental pollution.  Whole farm nutrient balance and recycling, and optimization of the efficiency of nutrient utilization are approaches to optimize production efficiency and to address the needs for more environmental friendly animal feeding operations.  My research goals are to enhance the nutrient utilization by the animal by evaluating and developing feeding programs that better meet the animal’s requirements, evaluating the ideal nutrient composition concept, and improving digestibility, bioavailability, and metabolism of nutrients through nutritional and management strategies.  Specific research activities include the evaluation of mechanisms controlling nutrient utilization (digestion and absorption) and metabolism, and their biological regulation in the whole animal.  One major area of research is to investigate the ideal amino acid patterns for cattle and factors (e.g. energy source) that affect the efficiency with which each amino acid is used for production purposes.

slusettiShelley Lusetti , Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 370
575-646-6016
E-mail: slusetti@nmsu.edu

The cellular genome maintenance processes of DNA replication, recombination, and repair are highly interconnected, sharing multiple pathways and common enzymes. For example, the major pathway for repair of common, but potentially lethal, chromosomal double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) is homologous recombination. While integration of replication, repair, and recombination pathways offers an elegant means of regulating cellular DNA metabolism, it also presents an
Achilles heel: mutations that inactivate components of recombinational DNA repair pathways lead to gross chromosomal instability that can cause birth defects, cancer, and premature aging. A physical understanding of the function of key enzymes that link genome maintenance processes is thus critical both for elucidating the basic DNA metabolic strategies of  cells and for understanding the etiology of several crippling diseases. The broad interest of the lab is to define the cellular processes underlying chromosomal maintenance by studying the enzymes and regulatory mechanisms that control it using biochemical methods.

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Barbara Lyons , Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 372
575-646-6702
E-mail: blyons@nmsu.edu

Our laboratory is interested in determining the three-dimensional structures of small proteins in solution by multidimensional multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Current projects underway in the laboratory focus on relating structure to function and specificity in the Grb7 protein family. Members of this protein family have all been implicated in an increased occurrence of cancer. Specifically, Grb7 expression is up-regulated in 20-30% of breast cancers and these patients have a poor long-term survival rate. Our research is focused on unraveling the structural basis for the propensity of this protein family to bind only to specific up-stream and down-stream signaling partners. Study in this field spans a wide breadth of experimental approaches, including molecular biology, expression, and purification of proteins of interest, knowledge and implementation of data acquisition techniques using the NMR spectrometer, extensive data analysis and interpretation using available software on Unix based computers, and calculation and refinement of three-dimensional structures derived from NOE distance constraints.

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William Maio, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 287
575-646-4017
E-mail: wmaio@nmsu.edu

My current research projects focus on the development of new synthetic methods with immediate application to short, efficient natural and natural product-like total syntheses. Targets include of secondary metabolites, of marine origin, which possess interesting molecular architecture as well as promising biological activity.

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Karen E. Mabry, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-2633
E-mail: kmabry@nmsu.edu

I am broadly interested in how ecological and mechanistic factors interact to produce behavioral variation within species. How might the social and ecological environments that an animal experiences affect its behavior, and what implications does behavioral variation have for ecological and evolutionary processes?

milliganBrook Milligan, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-7980
E-mail: brook@nmsu.edu

Research in my laboratory focuses on the interface between population genetics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Specifically, we are interested in quantifying the rates at which evolution proceeds and in elucidating the rules governing evolutionary change of ecological and molecular traits. Ongoing population studies address such questions as 1) at what rate does neutral evolutionary change proceed and how does that determine the balances between genetic drift, migration, and natural selection, and 2) how do population size, mating system, and the demographic characteristics of populations interact to determine the rate of evolution? At a larger evolutionary scale we are concerned with such questions as 1) at what rate do large-scale evolutionary changes occur, and 2) are changes in one trait influenced by changes in others? One common theme in our research is the interest in quantifying the demographic properties of natural populations-population size, mating system, and migration rate, for example-that determine the rate of evolutionary change. A second major theme is the interest in using quantitative models of evolution to test alternative evolutionary or biogeographic hypotheses. Finally, we are interested in applying our research to practical concerns such as those arising in conservation biology.

nishMichelle Nishiguchi, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-3721
E-mail: nish@nmsu.edu

My research interests are mainly focused on the evolution and molecular specificity between marine organisms and their bacterial symbionts. Presently, I am working on a system that encompasses the interactions between a sepiolid squid host (Family Sepiolidae) and their bioluminescent bacterial symbionts (Genus Vibrio). This association is an ideal model system because unlike other marine symbiotic associations, both host and symbiont can be cultured separately, allowing the study of molecular signaling and physiological responses in a mutualistic interaction. In the sepiolid/Vibrio system, both squid and bacteria have been studied extensively, allowing the manipulation of different strains of symbiotic bacteria in different host squid.

oconnellMary O’Connell, Ph.D.
Agronomy & Horticulture
575-646-5172
E-mail: moconnel@nmsu.edu

The phenylpropanoid pathway is significant because it is a major pathway in plant secondary metabolism, the products of this pathway are diverse, they provide a multitude of functions in the plant, and it provides a multitude of pharmaceutical agents. An example of one of these agents is capsaicin, the pungent principle in chile fruit. Capsaicinoids are used as analgesics, in modern medical formulations, and chile has been used for centuries in mesoamerican cultures as a remedy for a wide variety of ailments. Individual capsaicinoids differ in the degree of heat, the location of perception in the mouth and throat, and the duration of their burn. There are also cultivar specific differences in the composition of capsaicinoids. Recent investigations on the structure/activity relationships or different capsaicin analogues have determined the essential structural components for interaction with nociceptive receptors. However, virtually nothing is known about the genes that control the synthesis of individual capsaicinoids, or that control the abundance of total capsaicinoids. Isolation and characterization of cDNA clones for capsaicinoid biosynthetic enzymes can be achieved using heterologous probes for steps on the pathway common to other plans, and using differential hybridization strategies for capsaicinoid-specific steps. Isolation of the capsaicinoid-specific steps will utilize a collection of genetically well described Capsicum spp. Pungent and non-pungent lines. The regulation of the phenylpropanoid pathway will then be investigated using selected cDNA clones and gene-specific probes for these cDNAs to monitor transcript accumulation.

raysonGary Rayson , Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 289
575-646-5839
E-mail: garayson@nmsu.edu

Dr.Rayson’s research interests pertain to the investigation of metal atoms and ions in complex chemical environments. These studies involve the elucidation of atomization, ionization, and excitation mechanisms occurring within the high temperature systems of inductively coupled argon plasma discharges and resistively heated graphite furnace atomizers. Alternately, studies of the chemical moieties on the cell walls of plants which are responsible for the selective binding of heavy metal ions from contaminated waters and soils are also pursued in the Rayson laboratory. The elucidation of these complex chemical processes necessitates the implementation of numerous, independent techniques. These “tools” have included the use of temporally and spectrally resolved atomic emission and absorption spectroscopies, laser excited luminescence measurements in both time and wavelength domains, multi-nuclear NMR spectroscopy, and frontal affinity chromatography.

rowlandAaron Rowland, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 380
575-646-5839
E-mail: aaronrow@nmsu.edu

The overall objective of our laboratory is to understand the fundamental mechanisms involved in regulating expression of extrahepatic drug metabolism enzymes (specifically cytochrome P450s) and the consequences of their misregulation in human disease.  Currently, the laboratory is pursuing two areas of interest:  1) understanding the role of CYP2S1-mediated metabolism in hyperproliferative disease (epithelial-derived cancers and psoriasis), and 2) evaluating the potential role of circadian rhythm in the regulation of extrahepatic drug metabolizing enzymes.

jillJill Schroeder, Ph.D.
Entomology Plant Path and Weed Sci.
575-646-2328
E-mail: jischroe@nmsu.edu

Meticulous New Mexico homeowners squat and pull weeds for hours. While they dream of winning the “best lawn in the neighborhood” award, some researchers at New Mexico State University actually spend their summers growing weeds. To study how best to rid weeds from the Southwest, scientists like Jill Schroeder with NMSU’s Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) must first grow a healthy crop of invaders. With the care gardeners give their rosebushes, weed scientists nurture their weeds.

shusterCharles B. Shuster, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-1325
E-mail: cshuster@nmsu.edu

My laboratory studies how the process of cytokinesis is coupled to chromosome segregation in animal cells. Though intensely studied for over a century, little is known regarding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the initiation of cytokinesis, and almost nothing is known regarding how the actomyosin-containing contractile ring is properly positioned in a dividing cell. In an effort to answer these questions, we are combining the power of yeast genetics with live cell imaging in large sea urchin eggs to identify and evaluate the roles of several cell cycle genes in the regulation of cytokinesis. From these lines of experimentation, we hope to understand how the final events of cell division are regulated in space and time during development and disease.

???????????????????????????????Brian J. Schutte, Ph.D.
Entomology Plant Path and Weed Sci.
575-646-7082
E-mail: bschutte@nmsu.edu

My laboratory focusses on management, physiology and ecology of weedy and invasive plants in New Mexico.  Our over goal is to make weed management systems more reliant on manipulating interactions between weeds and their environment.  Currently, we are studying: 1) physiological and ecological factors affecting persistence and mortality of weed seeds in agroecosystems, and 2) edaphic factors influencing germination and early growth of invasive plants in rangeland ecosystems.

smirnovSergei Smirnov, Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 202
575-646-1547
E-mail: snsm@nmsu.edu

Electron transfer processes play a fundamental role in chemistry, physics and biology. Such processes can be initiated by light or, instead, result in a formation of electronically excited species able to emit optical photons. Dr. Smirnov’s research program involves investigations of the photoinduced electron transfer reactions in solutions and at interfaces. Transient displacement current technique, fluorescence spectroscopy and kinetics as well as scanning probe microscopy and magnetic resonance spectroscopy are primary tools in these studies. Specific research projects include study effects of symmetry on electron transfer process, influence of electric and magnetic fields on ion-radical reactions, surface self-assembly and surface modification, and others.

smith_gGeoffrey Smith, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-6080
E-mail: gsmith@nmsu.edu

I am researching the bacteria, enzymes and genes involved in the microbial biodegradation of environmental contaminants such as benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE) and the trihalomethane compounds such as chloroform. Samples from environments such as contaminated aquifers and wastewater treatment plants are being studied. Biodegradation activity (as monitored by gas chromatography) is monitored under conditions which represent aquifers in situ, that is under low-carbon, anaerobic conditions. Selection for biodegradation activity is carried out in laboratory aquifer columns which mimic many of the conditions found in contaminated aquifers. I am using genetic probes in these biodegradation studies to track particular genes of interest in environmental samples. I have developed a gene probe specific for the bacteria which reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas (denitrifying bacteria).

 

JoeSongJoe Song, Ph.D.
Computer Science/Bioinformatics
575-646-4299
E-mail: joemsong@cs.nmsu.edu

My long-term research goal is to develop statistically effective and computationally efficient algorithmic framework to detect, represent, and manipulate functional, temporal, and statistical associations among random variables, to account for causal interactions in dynamic biological networks. I call this the three-association framework (3AF). Broadly, my research interest is concerned with the interface at computer science, statistics, and applied mathematics. Based on principles of summarizing observations, statistics determines a quantity to be computed from observed data and evaluates how significantly a hypothesis is supported by the quantity. Computer science pursues efficient algorithms to compute the quantity. That quantity in my research is often formulated as fitting errors of dynamic models typically studied in applied mathematics. Challenging problems often involve all. I develop effective and efficient statistical modeling algorithms to compute dynamic models of the underlying mechanism that generates the observed data. I aim at mathematical representations that delineate the underlying mechanism by the functional, temporal, and statistical associations among the many variables in the observations. Due to personal experiences and the quantitative research trend in life sciences, I am intrigued by computing applications in biological and medical sciences. This attachment started when I first participated in a research project on creating a single photon emission computer tomography machine in my junior year in college. Since then, I have designed a variety of algorithms and applied them in bioenergy, cancer research, microbiology, plant sciences, and neuroscience.

unguezGraciela Unguez, Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-7963
E-mail: gunguez@nmsu.edu

A fundamental question in developmental biology is how intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence the phenotype expressed by individual cells. This issue is particularly pertinent to excitable cells like muscle fibers, which express an extreme diversity of biochemical, morphological, and physiological characteristics. Currently, my lab studies the electromotor system of electric fish. In all electric fish, some skeletal muscle fibers lose their contractile apparatus and convert their phenotype into non-contractile electrocytes, i.e., electrogenic cells of the electric organ (EO). How the genes coding for a select number of muscle-specific proteins are down-regulated while others are maintain and novel genes are up-regulated, is an intriguing problem in the control of muscle and EO phenotype. My lab uses a multi-disciplinary approach that combines a range of molecular, anatomical, microscopical, and in vitro techniques to address these research goals.

uncAdrian Unc , Ph.D.
Entomology Plant Path and Weed Sci.
575-646-3405
E-mail: aunc@nmsu.edu

Dr. Unc’s interests are in the area of understanding and managing the impact of human activities on environmental quality with a special focus on contaminant microbiology of soil and water.

HWangHaobin Wang , Ph.D.
Chemistry & Biochemistry room 296
575-646-3473
E-mail: haobin@nmsu.edu

Dr. Haobin Wang’s research is theoretical/computational study of chemical reaction dynamics.  The work is mainly carried out along two directions: the development of rigorous theoretical methods and practical computational techniques to study quantum dynamics in complex reactive processes;  and the application of these methods to important ultrafast photochemical reactions in condensed phases and nano-materials.  His research provides fundamental understandings
of the photoinduced charge and energy transfer processes in various chemical and biochemical systems, which can be used to help control specific reactions as well as design new materials for solar energy conversion, molecular electronics, and other practical purposes. The study of photochemical processes, especially photoinduced damages of biological cells,  also gives valuable insights to radiation and medical sciences.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJiannong Xu , Ph.D.
Biology
575-646-7713
E-mail: jxu@nmsu.edu

1. Malaria-mosquito interaction (funded by NIH) Malaria is a devastating tropical diseases caused by malaria parasite Plasmodium and transmitted by mosquitoes.  Understanding mosquitoes-malaria interactions will help to develop a strategy to disrupt parasite development in the mosquito vector and thus reduce malaria transmission. Mosquito gut represents an ecosystem accommodating dynamic symbiotic microbial communities essential for mosquito life traits including malaria competence.

Research interests in my lab include:

  • Functional genomics of mosquito-malaria interactions
  • Mosquito gut microbiome and its impact on mosquito life traits, especially vector competence.
  • Co-evolution of gut microbiome and mosquito host in a perspective of systems biology

2. Algae and Biofuel (funded by the US Air Force) Understanding algal lipid metabolism is critical for the downstream biofuel production. We are interested in:

  • Functional genomics and metagenomics of algal metabolism for biofuel application

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