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  • GDCB seeks to hire assistant professor in plant systems biology

    The Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology seeks to hire an assistant professor in Plant Systems Biology. 

  • The Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) recognized several faculty, students and postdocs with awards in spring 2023. 

    Faculty receiving awards include Raquel Espin Palazon, Dior Kelley, Karri Haen Whitmer, Carly Manz and Erica Unger-Wallace. Postdoctoral research associates receiving awards included Radwa Barakat and Stephanie Klein, while GDCB graduate student Xiaoyi (Chelsea) Cheng also received an award.

    Faculty awards

    Raquel Espin Palazon, assistant professor, received a GDCB Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching for her “outstanding contributions to the educational mission of GDCB and to the success of our students.”

  • Several graduate students affiliated with the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) received Research Excellence and Teaching Excellence awards from the Graduate College in fall 2022 and spring 2023. 

    In fall 2022, Abesh Bera and Sahiba Siddiqui received Teaching Excellence Awards and Ching-Yi Liao and Chang-Yong Oh received Research Excellence Awards. Trevor Burh, Jodi Callwood and Zakayo Kazibwe received TEX Awards and Linkan Dash and Ha Vu received REX Awards in spring 2023.

    Research Excellence Award recipients

    Ching-Yi Liao received a REX Award through her major program, plant biology, for her work in the lab of Distinguished Professor Diane Bassham. Liao, who earned her Ph.D. in fall 2022, is described as “creative and enthusiastic” and “full of ideas.”

  • Several Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) graduate students received travel awards in spring 2023 and fall 2022 to partially offset the cost of attending conferences in Washington, D.C.; Evanston, Ill.; Woods Hole, Mass.; St. Louis; Savannah, Ga.; Chicago; Istanbul, Turkey; Iowa City; and Ames.

    Spring 2023

    Sui Tong Chan Fung Fund Award recipients include Ankur Kumar, Sahiba Siddiqui and Ha Vu.

  • The Maize Genetics Cooperation recently honored two Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB)  faculty, Carolyn Lawrence-Dill and Marna Yandeau-Nelson.

    Lawrence-Dill, GDCB and agronomy professor and CALS associate dean for research and discovery, received the 2023 Maize Genetics Cooperator Award.

    According to the Maize Genetics Cooperation, “The Maize Genetics Cooperator Award recognizes maize cooperators who have dedicated their careers to service by supporting community resources, organizing collaborative efforts, or enabling maize research.” Eligible cooperators “must have shown dedication to service that has led to broad impact or advanced the spirit of cooperation within the community; and has been an active member of the maize genetics community for at least 10 years.”

  • After serving over 127 years combined at Iowa State University (ISU), four Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) faculty retired in the 2022-23 academic year. 

    Faculty retiring include Professor Emeritus Eve Wurtele (retirement date: July 31, 2022); and Professor Emeritus Thomas Peterson, Professor Emeritus Steve Rodermel and retired faculty Michael McCloskey (retirement date: Dec. 31, 2022).

    Eve Wurtele
    Wurtele joined ISU in 1988. She organized the first Plant Science Institute symposia series at ISU in 1999. She received the Pioneer DuPont Award for Iowa Women of Research Innovation and Leadership in 2012.

  • Jodi Callwood, a Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology (GDCB) graduate student in the bioinformatics and computational biology major at Iowa State University (ISU), received the Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship. 

    Callwood is studying bioinformatics and computational biology in the lab of GDCB Assistant Professor Dior Kelley, with a focus in protein interaction prediction and phonemics. Her co-major professor is Oliver Eulenstein, professor in the Department of Computer Science. About the award, Callwood said, “I am honored to receive this opportunity and look forward to supporting and conducting great research.”

  • More than 80 faculty, staff and students from the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) enjoyed a day of science by attending the 2023 GDCB Research Day held in Reiman Gardens in mid-January.

    Graduate students, postdocs and faculty shared their research presentations via posters and talks. Split into three sessions, the day-long event included flash talks and poster presentations. In addition, the department recognized two faculty who retired at the end of December 2022: Professor Emeritus Thomas Peterson and Professor Emeritus Steve Rodermel.

  • Maura McGrail, associate professor in genetics, development and cell biology, received the 2023 Outstanding Achievement in Research Award from the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Her research combines zebrafish functional genomics and developmental genetics to examine cellular processes in normal brain development and disease. McGrail is an established and highly respected leader in the field of gene editing and genome engineering. She has been awarded approximately $10 million in grant funding and established fruitful research collaborations at numerous institutions. 

    McGrail earned her bachelor of science in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and genetics from the University of Minnesota.

  • Marna Yandeau-Nelson, associate professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) at Iowa State University, received the 2023 Rossmann Manatt Faculty Development Award. 

    The award recognizes tenured faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences or the College of Human Sciences who have demonstrated an exceptional level of creativity and productivity in scholarship, teaching and service, and who show great promise continuing those achievements. 

    Yandeau-Nelson became an assistant professor in GDCB in 2014.   

    Learn more about Yandeau-Nelson in the complete College of Agriculture and Life Sciences article, "Yandeau-Nelson receives Rossmann Manatt Faculty Development Award."

  • Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) faculty member Hua Bai received a promotion to associate professor, effective during the 2022-23 academic year. 

    Bai joined Iowa State University and GDCB in January 2016. He received his bachelor of science in biology from East China Normal University, and his master of science in aquatic biology from Shanghai Ocean University. He earned his Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Kentucky. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University from 2009-2015.

    A complete list of faculty promotions for academic year 2022-23 can be found on the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost website.

  • Brian Zebosi, Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) graduate student in the lab of GDCB Professor Erik Vollbrecht, received the George Knaphus College Teaching Fellowship in spring 2023. As a Knaphus Fellow, Zebosi taught one section of Biology 101 during spring 2023. 

    The Knaphus Fellowship is a mentored teaching experience intended for graduate students in the departments of ecology, evolution and organismal biology (EEOB) and GDCB. To be eligible, students must plan to include college-level teaching as a significant part of their future career.  

    The departments of GDCB and EEOB, with financial support from the Knaphus family, jointly offer this college teaching fellowship “commemorating one of our finest-ever biology teachers, Dr. George Knaphus.”

  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named Yanhai Yin and two other Iowa State University (ISU) professors earlier in 2023 to its 2022 class of AAAS Fellows. Yin is chair and a professor in the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology (GDCB).

    The AAAS recognized Yin “for distinguished contributions to the field of plant signal transduction, particularly for discovering the transcriptional mechanisms and network for the plant steroid hormone brassinosteroid in regulating plant growth and stress responses."

  • Hua Bai, Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) associate professor, and his Iowa State University research team discovered a method for modifying the function of an enzyme crucial to fat production, which could lead to more effective treatments for childhood obesity and cancer.

    While the research was in fruit fly larvae, being able to speed up or slow down lipid metabolism could have significant implications for human health, said Bai. 

    Learn more about Bai and his team's research in the ISU News Service article, "Discovery of metabolic switch could lead to targeted treatment of obesity, cancer." 


  • The Graduate College named Abesh Bera a runner-up in the Seventh Annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held in November 2022 for graduate researchers. 

    Bera, a Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology graduate student, conducts research in the lab of GDCB Associate Professor Mohan Gupta. Bera was a runner-up in the 2021 3MT. 

    Learn more about Bera in the Graduate College’s “Meet our 2022-23 3MT finalists: Abesh Bera” article. 

    View Bera’s presentation and more on the Graduate College 3MT page.   

  • Faculty: graduates motivated, creative and problem-solvers

    The June 2023 BioCY News reflects on the 2022 genetics, development and cell biology graduates.

  • Student research provides momentum for discovery, professional growth

    A powerhouse of undergraduate student research, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) expands student opportunities by funding a select group of student researchers each fall, spring, and summer.

    Since 2018, the LAS Dean’s High Impact Awards for Undergraduate Research have awarded over $500,000 to students who conduct important research alongside faculty mentors. Supported by generous alumni donations, the awards help students gain experience for their future careers and prepare successful applications to graduate school and professional programs. The awards can also give students the financial freedom to choose research over a part-time job.

  • Changing course

    When Caitlin Gonzales (’23 genetics) enrolled as a genetics major at Iowa State in the fall of 2019, she was on track to become a physician assistant. She even became a certified nursing assistant while still in high school to get a jump start on her medical career. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed Gonzales’ perspective, and she decided a profession in medicine was no longer for her. Now, she plans to use her genetics degree and undergraduate research experiences to inspire young minds through teaching.

    Learn more about Gonzales and her future plans in the LAS News article, "Changing Course." Gonzales conducts research in the lab of Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology Assistant Professor Dior Kelley.


  • Plant scientist prepares emerging researchers for success in the lab and beyond

    AMES, Iowa – Mentoring young scientists is a career priority for Dior Kelley, assistant professor of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State University.

    “I always like to have undergraduates in my lab when we have grants or work study to support them,” she said. “Working with undergraduates gives our graduate students and postdocs the chance to act as mentors, too.”

    This year, Kelley is especially proud of the achievements of two of her former students, spring 2022 graduates Melissa Draves, who majored in genetics with minors in agronomy and biology, and Rebekah Muench, an agronomy major.

  • Inaugural recipient of Harl Opportunity Scholarship aspires to become biomedical researcher

    The broad range of research opportunities available to undergraduate students at Iowa State University is what drew Elliana Fahey to Ames.

    Fahey, a freshman in genetics from Belle Plaine, Minn., was selected in 2022 as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Neil E. Harl Opportunity Scholarship offered to incoming Iowa State University freshmen.

    Fahey is the subject of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences article,


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