The clever escape of Inky the octopus from a tank at the New Zealand National Aquarium had the world wondering about the intelligence of this 8-tentacled creature. MBL scientist Roger Hanlon, an expert on octopuses and other celphalopods, weighed in Inky’s disappearing act on NPR-WBUR.

An octopus (not Inky) photographed by diving biologist Roger Hanlon.

An octopus (not Inky) photographed by diving biologist Roger Hanlon.

 

As described in this new video by iBiology, about 600 white people received a PhD in neuroscience in the United States in 2012, compared with 59 Hispanics, 33 African-Americans, and 0 Native Americans. Changing this imbalance in the field is the goal of SPINES (Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics and Survival) at the MBL, which provides underrepresented minorities with training in research techniques as well as career survival skills. (Deadline to apply for 2016 SPINES is February 25!)

In the video, SPINES Co-Director Keith Trujillo, Professor of Psychology and director of the Office for Training, Research and Education in the Sciences (OTRES) at California State University San Marcos, discusses the course’s approach.

 

 

By Jim McIlvain

A group of MBL researchers gathered recently to celebrate the birthday of Ernst Abbe (1840 – 1905), the physicist credited with discovering the resolution limit of the light microscope. Abbe-birthday-cake-webAbbe published the formula (known as Abbe’s diffraction limit, and inscribed here on the birthday cake) in 1873, while he was research director at Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany. This new understanding of optical theory, along with many of his other inventions, heralded the modern era of microscopy.

Today, the MBL continues its long tradition of exploration at the forefront of microscopy. Ongoing research seeks to circumvent Abbe’s resolution limit by a combination of optical and computational manipulation in image space. In 2014, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry recognized “super-resolution” imaging technologies that get around Abbe’s resolution limit.

MBL researchers celebrating Abbe’s birthday are, from left, Jim McIlvain, Carl Zeiss Microscopy senior application specialist at MBL; Jessica Mark Welch, associate research scientist; Rudolf Oldenbourg, senior scientist; Kasa Hammar, microscopy technician (seated); Shane Jinson, research assistant; Eric Edsinger, research fellow; Louie Kerr, director, Microscopy & Research Services. Behind the camera: Shalin Mehta, postdoctoral fellow.

Celebrating Abbe’s birthday are, from left, Jim McIlvain, Carl Zeiss Microscopy senior application specialist at MBL; Jessica Mark Welch, associate research scientist; Kasa Hammar, microscopy technician (seated); Rudolf Oldenbourg, senior scientist; Shane Jinson, research assistant; Eric Edsinger, research fellow; Louie Kerr, director, Microscopy & Research Services. Behind the camera: Shalin Mehta, assistant research scientist.

 

One of the past decade’s mysteries in the field of cell biology has been, “Who is ‘Labby,’ the beloved and popular career advice columnist in the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Newsletter?”

Pederson thoruAt the society’s annual meeting last month, the mystery was solved as Thoru Pederson of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a longtime affiliate of the MBL, was honored with ASCB’s Distinguished Service Award and – to the audience’s delight — identified as having the nom de plume “Labby.”

In accepting the award, Pederson said penning the Labby column was “a profound privilege,” not only in sharing whatever seasoned advice he may have for young scientists trying to navigate their careers, but “on a more personal level, to perhaps be a friend in a situation where there wasn’t someone in your lab or department that could be that friend.”

An alumnus of the 1965 Embryology course, Pederson has been affiliated with the MBL in various capacities ever since, including seven years on the Physiology course faculty. At UMass Medical, Pederson is the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, and Associate Vice Provost for Research.

Pederson’s research is currently focused on the live-cell dynamics of CRISPR gene-editing machinery, as well as its potential applications to myotonic dystrophy and ALS. He has longstanding interests in the functional significance of specific protein-RNA interactions in eukaryotic gene expression, with an emphasis on RNA traffic and processing, as well as specialized domains within the cell nucleus.

What happens when 18 or so scientists from all around the U.S. jam into an MBL lab for the hot summer months — and proceed to tackle a very hard research problem that could take years in an individual lab? An intense collaboration that works “shockingly well,” says Michael Rosen of the University of Texas, one of the investigators leading the HHMI Summer Institute at MBL. Here’s an article about the unusual collaboration in the fall issue of the HHMI Bulletin.

 

The HHMI Summer Institute in the MBL's Whitman Center in 2014. The group, which is led by three HHMI Investigators (Michael Rosen, Ron Vale, and Jim Wilhelm) is funded to return to the MBL each summer through 2017. Credit: Tom Kleindinst

The HHMI Summer Institute in the MBL’s Whitman Center in 2014. The multi-institutional group is led by Michael Rosen of University of Texas, Ron Vale of UC-San Francisco, and Jim Wilhelm of UC-San Diego. It is funded to return to the MBL each summer through 2017. Credit: Tom Kleindinst

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