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Monday, February 20, 2017

Biology competes in Science's 3MT heat

3MTPhoto

The annual Faculty of Science Three Minute Thesis heat returned this week.  More than twenty graduate students from all six units gathered to compete and describe their research in less than three minutes, using only one slide.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

New online edition of BIOL 240 aims to inspire future students

Josh Neufeld standing in front of a CEL course banner.

Josh Neufeld is anything but an ordinary professor of biology at the University of Waterloo. His use of clickers, twitter, and art for student engagement are pioneering. His Halloween costumes are legendary. And he’s somehow discovered a connection between microbiology and The Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Manipulating microbes: Biology grad student joins research team’s efforts to turn a microbe into a genome engineering tool

Ola Matysiakiewicz looks at a solution in the lab.

Byline: Emilie Spasov, Biology MSc. student

Sometimes life gives you unexpected opportunities. For University of Waterloo grad student Ola Matysiakiewicz, that opportunity was the chance to work on engineering a bacterium’s genome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waterloo’s winning iGEM team recruiting for the 2017 competition

Waterloo iGEM logo

There’s nothing like a winning tradition: last year’s Gold Medal standing at the 2016 International Jamboree was Waterloo’s fourth straight annual win at a competition that attracts more than 270 teams from 42 countries.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Landfill treasure hunts: Novel microorganisms could be the key to more efficient waste management

Pile of garbage, paper and plastic in landfill.

Byline: Navin Asokumar, Biology MSc. student

Landfills, a way of safely disposing waste, are now considered to be breeding grounds for novel, never before identified microorganisms. Biologists at the University of Waterloo believe these microorganisms have special metabolic abilities that can be harnessed to recycle plant waste.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farewell fossil fuels: Biologists aim to increase biofuel production output to aid waning fossil fuel reserves

Silhouette of oil pump jack

Byline: Amrit Mehta, Biology MSc. student

The decline in reserves, rising cost of fossil fuel extraction and export, and the environmental impacts of their continued use are making alternative fuel more appealing. The push now is to be able to convert cellulose-containing waste into biofuels.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Phragmites Problem: Aggressive invasive reed threatens wetland ecosystem processes

Phragmites

Byline: Sarah Kim, Biology MSc. student

Wetlands in North America are home to a very diverse set of native plants. But an invasive reed called common reed (Phragmites australis) has been expanding rapidly and could potentially threaten the ecosystem processes in the wetlands it inhabits.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Missing Piece: Understanding the hothead protein’s role in plant cuticle formation

Eric Le Dreff-Kerwin looks at a protein structure on a laptop.

Byline: Quinn Abrams, Biology MSc student

Missing a single protein can have lethal consequences for plants. Cuticles are the waxy wall that protects plants from sunlight, pesticides, and dehydration. But damage to the cuticle, like when the Hothead protein is missing, causes the wall to fall down.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A chilling immune system: Low temperatures slow down fish immune response to infection

Fumehood with glassware and samples

Byline: Éric Le Dreff-Kerwin, Biology MSc student

The sudden decrease in sporting fish is leading to a potential ecological disruption, if not an economical loss. Due to a lowering in water temperatures, walleye are doing more than wish they could wrap themselves up in a warm blanket.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wastewater treatment upgrades result in major reduction of intersex fish

Aerial photo of the  Kitchener Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2016 (Credit: Region of Waterloo).

Upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant along Ontario’s Grand River, led to a 70 per cent drop of intersex fish within one year and a full recovery of the fish population within three years, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo.

Aerial photo of the  Kitchener Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2016 (Credit: Region of Waterloo).

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