Mapping the burden of cholera in sub-Saharan Africa

Author: Gene Stowe

Moore 700

Sean Moore, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Eck Institute for Global Health, has coauthored a paper mapping the incidence of cholera in Africa, a critical step in the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing cholera deaths by 90 percent over the next decade.

“Mapping the burden of cholera in sub-Saharan Africa and implications for control: an analysis of data across geographical scales” appeared in The Lancet on March 1, 2018.


The mapping enables targeted application of cholera elimination strategies to high-incidence areas for most immediate and effective control. Reports often aggregate cases for a whole country and do not identify high-incidence areas within the country.

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As climate changes, so could the genes of the Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Author: Jessica Sieff

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Feature

The reality of climate change poses a significant threat to global biodiversity. As temperatures rise, the survival of individual species will ultimately depend on their ability to adapt to changes in habitat and their interactions with other species.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examines movement of the Eastern (Papilio glaucus) and Canadian (Papilio Canadensis) tiger swallowtail butterfly over a 32-year period within the geographic region where the two species mate, called the hybrid zone. The findings highlight the impact of changing climates and provide critical information for the protection and management of biodiversity.

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Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Zach Schafer And Mark Hawk 1200 Feature

To stop the spread of cancer, cancer cells must die. Unfortunately, many types of cancer cells seem to use innate mechanisms that block cancer cell death, therefore allowing the cancer to metastasize. While seeking to further understand cancer cell death, researchers at the University of Notre Dame discovered that the activation of a specific enzyme may help suppress the spread of tumors.

The findings, published in Nature Cell Biology, demonstrate that the enzyme RIPK1 decreases the number of mitochondria in a cell. This loss of mitochondria leads to oxidative stress that can potentially kill cancer cells, though researchers speculate the cancer cells could find ways to shut down this effect.

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Theology and science faculty to speak at Vatican conference on Laudato si’

Author: Amanda Skofstad

Jennifer Tank 300

Two University of Notre Dame faculty members will participate in a Vatican conference titled “Radical Ecological Conversion after Laudato si’: Discovering the Intrinsic Value of All Creatures, Human and Non-human.”

Sponsored by the embassies of Georgia, Germany and the Netherlands to the Holy See, this gathering will be held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome March 7-8. Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will deliver the opening address.

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Notre Dame among top producers of Fulbright students for fourth straight year

Author: Erin Blasko

Fulbright 2017 Feature

Twenty-nine University of Notre Dame students and alumni were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants during the 2017-18 academic year, second among all research institutions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Established in 1964, The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, providing more than 380,000 students with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns based on academic merit and leadership potential.

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In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Morton S. Fuchs

Author: John Duman and Tammi Freehling

In Memoriam Feature

Morton S. Fuchs, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, died Dec. 31 in Surprise, Arizona, after a long illness. His career at Notre Dame spanned more than four decades and his influence can still be felt in the department.

From 1981 to 1984, Fuchs served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and in 1984 he accepted additional responsibilities as chair of the Department of Biology. The following year, Fuchs was instrumental in guiding the merger of the two departments into one, unified Department of Biological Sciences. In 2001, Fuchs earned emeritus status.

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Growing Beauty: Tree survey marks 175 years of natural beauty at Notre Dame

Author: Provided


After trekking through the biting South Bend cold on Nov. 26, 1842, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., first laid eyes on the 524 acres bequeathed to the Congregation of Holy Cross to build a Catholic university, admired its two lakes and surrounding forest, and started planning his ideal landscape.

He may have encountered a young sycamore tree that grows behind what is now Corby Hall. Currently one of the largest trees the University of Notre Dame’s campus, it is 80 feet tall and has thick, finger-like limbs that curl toward heaven in apparent angst. And certainly Father Sorin appreciated the ash trees, oaks, hickories and maples that surrounded St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s lakes. But taming this “savage wilderness,” as one newspaper account in 1844 described the property, was necessary in order to create the pedestrian-friendly, academic utopia Father Sorin envisioned.

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Little Giants: A closer look at a tiny bug with a big role to play

Author: Provided

Little Giants

Michael Pfrender sits facing a whiteboard in his lab at the Galvin Life Science Center. He’s discussing the genomics of Daphnia – water fleas, found in every standing body of water in the world – and has a tendency to sketch when he speaks.

“You want to see some of them?” he asks. “That’s the fun part, right?”

At the back of the lab, two beakers sit on a table near a microscope. There isn’t much to see at first glance. Even leaning in, Daphnia are so small they look like bouncing flecks in the water, frantically trying to keep afloat.

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New study finds mycobacteria can sense presence of proteins that cause disease

Author: Jessica Sieff

Patty Champion Feature

Tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria use a select group of proteins known as virulence factors to transmit the disease, which infects roughly one third of the world’s population and causes 1.7 million deaths annually. Those proteins are cargo transported by molecular machinery, a microscopic gateway that promotes the survival of bacteria in the host.

A new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that mycobacteria can sense when this molecular machine is present.

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In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Harald E. Esch

Author: Provided

Harald Esch

Dr. Harald E. Esch, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, passed away peacefully on October 7, 2017, at the age of 85 in Farragut, TN. Dr. Esch was born in 1931 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Originally trained as a physicist and mathematician at the University of Bonn and Free University, Harald shifted to biology for his doctoral studies. At the University of Würzburg, Harald studied with Dr. Karl von Frisch, the 1973 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine best known for his pioneering work on the ‘waggle dance’ of the common honeybee, Apis mellifera. Under von Frisch’s tutelage, Harald earned a doctorate in 1960 in Zoology and Mathematics for his work on insect chemosensory physiology. Harald remained in Germany until 1964 as an Assistant Professor in the Radiation Research Laboratory at the University of Munich Medical School, where he worked on the effects of ionizing radiation on cell membranes.

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Biology professor’s textbook nominated for prestigious PROSE Award

Author: Cliff Djajapranata

700x466 Lamberti

In 1996, biological sciences professor Gary Lamberti published the first edition of his textbook to fill a major need in aquatic science. Twenty-one years later, Methods in Stream Ecology, now in its third edition, is up for consideration for a prestigious PROSE Award, an annual accolade that recognizes the best in professional and scholarly publishing.

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Fighting Mosquito-borne Diseases

Author: Provided

Achee Grieco

“In general, cases of Zika have definitely decreased in most of Central and South America, but the virus is not gone. The mosquitoes carrying Zika and other diseases are still there, and the risk for another infection outbreak is still quite prevalent,” says Elitza Theel, director of the Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory and co-director of the Vector-Borne Diseases Service Line at Mayo Clinic.

Though Zika virus was identified in 1947, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it was largely localized for 60 years. In 2007, the first recognized outbreak of Zika affected 5,000 people on Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia. From there, it moved to French Polynesia and then in 2015 to Brazil, where an outbreak quickly devastated South America.

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Top researchers and graduate students come together during first Life Sciences Symposium

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Biology Symposium

Notre Dame’s first Life Sciences Symposium brought together leading biomedical researchers for a day of lectures and poster presentations, drawing about 200 students and scientists from across the area.

The event, “Bridging the Gap from Bench to Bedside,” was held Oct. 11, 2017, at the Morris Inn and was organized and hosted by students in the Department of Biological Sciences graduate program. Attendees came from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio to hear researchers present topics from stem cells in cancer to neurobiology and regeneration.

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Undergraduate students spend summer conducting cancer research at MD Anderson

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Colin Sheehan

Research took precedence over relaxation for several College of Science students this summer who spent 10 weeks completing undergraduate research projects at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Two students from biological sciences, Colin Sheehan and Shane Davitt, were among the participants.


The University of Notre Dame Summer Undergraduate Research Program at MD Anderson is a competitive program designed for outstanding and highly motivated undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in cancer research. Students participated in various types of research in different labs, attended lectures and presentations, and collaborated with others as they fostered their interest in a research career path.

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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship students thankful for new experiences

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Gabrielle Mungcal

From studying Fragile X Syndrome to understanding algorithms for artificial intelligence, 47 students participated in a summer’s worth of research, thanks to the College of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF).


The program is made possible through donors and in collaboration with the Center of Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, Indiana University School of Medicine–South Bend, and the Glynn Family Honors program.


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ND-LEEF to debut new “In-Nest” Eagle Cam

Author: Alex Gumm

In Nest Cam Eagle Head Feature

The Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) will debut its new “in-nest” livestreaming camera, mounted above the bald eagle nest located at St. Patrick’s County Park during the 5th Annual Science Sunday event Oct. 22.

While the previous camera was popular, with 100,000 live feed views, its low angle prevented viewers from seeing eagles when in the nest and made it hard to see them when leaves were present in summer.

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