In collaboration with undergraduate students, Natural Sciences faculty members conduct innovative research that advances scientific knowledge in diverse areas of inquiry. Here is a sampling:
Benjamin Allen, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
I study evolution as a mathematical process. I use mathematical models to answer questions regarding the evolution of cooperation, the rate of evolution, and cancer as an evolutionary process.
Relationship with outside institution: Collaboration with the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University; 2014-2015 Visiting Scholar at the Center for Mathematical Sciences and Applications at Harvard University.
Padraig Deighan, Assistant Professor of Biology
We want to understand how bacteria cause infections. In particular, we discover and characterize the protein-protein interactions that determine the “attack status” of E. coli. We are also developing an undergraduate research-based course centered on mining for bacteriophage proteins that kill bacteria.
Relationship with outside institution: Collaboration with the Hochschild Lab at Harvard Medical School and with the Science Education Alliance at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Yulia Dementieva, Professor of Mathematics
My research interest is in the area of Applied Statistics, including Statistical Genetics. I collaborate with researchers from many different fields on performing statistical analyses of their data.
Aren Gerdon, Associate Professor of Chemistry
My group works on analytical and biomaterials chemistry, focusing on the formation of minerals in bones and dental enamel. We are also developing point-of-care biosensors for the detection and diagnosis of malaria in developing regions.
Relationship with outside institution: We have a long standing collaboration with the Center for Biomineralization at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, MA and a more recent collaboration with Prof. David Wright in the Chemistry Department at Vanderbilt University.
Michael Jarvinen, Associate Professor of Psychology
I am interested in brain plasticity, specifically how the nervous system responds to vision loss. We are in the process of determining the role of two molecules that are produced by distinct populations of cells that reside in the vision processing area of the brain.
Relationship with outside institution: Ongoing collaborations with the University of Michigan as well as in Boston at area core facilities.
Jaworek-Lopes, Associate Professor of Chemistry
My research interests include determining the concentrations of toxic metals in tattoo inks as well as exploring the ink degradation products upon exposure the laser irradiation.
Jason Kuehner, Assistant Professor of Biology
My lab investigates the connection between RNA processing factors and two different cell stress pathways, including the yeast DNA damage response and cell wall stress response. We aim to uncover novel stress response mechanisms that are shared across species and may ultimately contribute to anti-cancer and anti-fungal therapeutics.
Relationship with outside institution: Ongoing collaboration with Dr. Claire Moore at Tufts University School of Medicine; Visiting Assistant Professor at Tufts University during summer 2015.
Josef Kurtz, Associate Dean of Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology
My research interests include the mechanisms of immune tolerance and skin-specific immunobiology for application toward hand and face transplantation. In addition, in collaboration with Dr. Todd Williams, I investigate the interaction between the immune system and the central nervous system following bone marrow transplantation.
Relationship with outside institution: Appointment at the Center for Transplantation Sciences at the Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School.
Melanie Leussis, Assistant Professor of Psychology
My research interests center around animal models of psychiatric disease. I am particularly interested in the impact of gene-environment interaction in disease ontogeny, and developmental trajectories of disease.
Relationship with outside institution: Research consultant in the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital collaborating with Dr. Tracey Petryshen.
Paul March, Professor of Biology
My research is aimed at studying the structure and function of signaling proteins that regulate growth in bacteria. We focus on a class of regulatory GTPases and how they regulate ribosome function and protein synthesis.
Allen Price, Associate Professor of Physics
My research explores how to use physics to understand the fundamental molecules of life. Specifically, I use biophysical techniques to understand how proteins can find and cut specific sites on single molecules of DNA.
Relationship with outside institution: In collaboration with Dr. Joseph Loparo, Harvard Medical School, I have also studied the mechanical properties of individual DNA molecules.
Faina Ryvkin, Professor of Chemistry
My research is aimed at elucidating the structure and function of the copper–containing enzyme lysyl oxidase that plays a crucial role in the biogenesis of connective tissues using a variety of spectroscopic techniques and computer modeling.
Christine Sample, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
I develop mathematical models to understand the importance of specific habitats on the survival of a migratory species. I also use mathematics to study the evolutionary consequences of spatial structure in collaboration with Dr. Ben Allen and Dr. Yulia Dementieva.
Relationship with outside institution: Collaboration with the “Habitat for Migratory Species” Working Group at NIMBioS (National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis).
R. Bryan Sears, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
My research aims to improve the synthesis, formulation and delivery of light-activated therapies used alone, or in combination with traditional chemotherapies, for the treatment of cancer. In particular, my lab explores how nanotechnology, cellular response and photochemistry can improve treatment outcome, minimize toxicity and prevent metastasis.
Relationship with outside institution: Ongoing collaboration with Dr. Tayyaba Hasan, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Anupama Seshan, Assistant Professor of Biology
My group investigates the mechanisms by which the process of cell division is executed correctly using a budding yeast model. This research has implications for understanding how human cancer cells develop and continue to grow and divide.
Relationship with outside institution: Collaboration with Dr. Angelika Amon at MIT Koch Center for Integrative Cancer Research.
Brendan Sullivan, Lecturer, Mathematics
I am interested in tiling/coloring problems in combinatorics—for example, How many ways can we color each square of a 1 x n chessboard strip either white or red such that there are no more than 3 reds in a row? I also study pursuit-evasion games on graphs, particularly “Cops & Robbers” and its variants.
Todd Williams, Associate Professor of Biology
In collaboration with Dr. Josef Kurtz, we study the immune cells of the central nervous system. We want to further understand the functioning of cells that originate in the brain during development compared to cells that migrate from the peripheral immune system into the brain during times of stress or disease.