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  • 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,


  • ISU lab aims to repair severed nerves, foster undergraduate research

    Undergraduate students at Iowa State University are part of a research team testing different structures that could be used to help patients recover from traumatic nerve injuries. The team is led by Don Sakaguchi, a Morrill Professor of genetics, development and cell biology.

    Learn more about Sakaguchi and his team's research in ISU News Service's article, "ISU lab aims to repair severed nerves, foster undergraduate research."


  • Researchers test hybrid, soft/hard nanocarriers to deliver drugs to the brain

    Iowa State University and Nanovaccine Institute researchers, including Morrill Professor Don Sakaguchi from genetics, development and cell biology, are working to develop nanocarriers that deliver drugs across the blood brain barrier, a high hurdle created by the body to protect the brain from pathogens. Successful nanocarriers could lead to treatments for brain disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease, ischemic stroke, epilepsy and seizures.

    Learn about this research in the ISU News Service article, "Researchers test hybrid, soft/hard nanocarriers to deliver drugs to the brain."

  • The Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology's Spring 2023 GDCB Seminar series flyer is available. 


  • Designing a plant cuticle in the lab could yield many benefits

    Scientists are working to bioengineer a common defense mechanism that most plants develop naturally to protect against drought, insects and other environmental stresses.

    The goal is to identify the genetic structure of a plant cuticle and create a roadmap for breeding plants with designer cuticles that can respond to changing climates. The cuticle is a thin, waxy layer that provides a physical barrier between the plant and its environment. The work also has potential biorenewable applications for developing value-added chemicals with industrial functions.

  • Depth of Knowledge

    Don Sakaguchi, Morrill Professor and director of Iowa State University's undergraduate biology and geneitcs programs, co-led the spring 2022 semester course (Biology 394, a Caribbean marine biology field course) and traveled with the class to Roatan last spring break. Roatán is located off the coast of Honduras to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world's second largest barrier reef system. This dive destination is also home to the Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences, a research and teaching destination. 

    The 2022 trip was Sakaguchi's 11th time leading the unique, hands-on learning experience.

  • Lawrence-Dill joins Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research board of directors 

    Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, associate dean of research and discovery for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Iowa State University, has joined the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) Board of Directors. FFAR is a national organization focused on building public-private partnerships to fund bold research initiatives addressing challenges in food and agriculture.

    Lawrence-Dill is a professor in agronomy and in genetics, development and cell biology.

    An in-depth article, "Lawrence-Dill joins Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research board of directors," is available on the CALS webpage.

  • Kelley, Yandeau-Nelson members of 2022-23 Research Collaboration Catalysts cohort

    Two Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) faculty members and 24 other Iowa State University (ISU) researchers join the ISU Office of the Vice President for Research 2022-23 Research Collaboration Catalysts (RCC) cohort. Joining the RCC cohort from GDCB are Dior Kelley, assistant professor, and Marna Yandeau-Nelson, associate professor. The RCC is "designed to train the next generation of research team leaders."

    Discover all members of the 2022-23 RCC and learn more about the program by reading the entire VPR article, "OVPR welcomes 26 campus resesarch leaders to 2022-23 cohort" by Dan Kirkpatrick.

  • 3 GDCB, other ISU faculty receive Miller undergrad education grant

    An Iowa State University (ISU) student-focused research project led by three Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) faculty and other ISU faculty received $19,191 in funding from the F. Wendell Miller Faculty Fellowship Awards program for the 2022-23 academic year. This project is one of 13 ISU projects that received funding this year.

    The faculty team includes Clark Coffman, Mohan Gupta and Hua Bai, GDCB; Corinna Most and John Pleasants, EEOB; Mollie Appelgate, School of Education; and Tom Neppl, landscape architecture.

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