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  • Vaishali Todi, genetics, development and cell biology graduate student, GDCB Associate Professor Mohan Gupta's lab, discusses the internship she participated in during summer 2023 at Elanco in the Indianapolis area. 

    Q. Tell us briefly about the company you worked for and your role in your internship.

    A. Elanco is an animal pharma company; they develop and manufacture therapeutics for both farm animals as well as pets. They used to be a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, but they are now starting out on their own. I was a R&D intern with the Cell Line Development group where my role was to genetically engineer cells to produce recombinant proteins of interest. 

    Q. What drew you to apply for this internship?

  • The future by degrees

    One of Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology Teaching Professor Karri Haen Whitmer's bionics students was featured in the fall 2023 issue of Forward Magazine in "The Future by Degrees" article. Learn more about Kaylee Herrig in "The bionics making woman." Herrig is also featured in the article's accompanying video.



  • Building a DNA nanoparticle to be both carrier and medicine

    AMES, Iowa — Scientists have been making nanoparticles out of DNA strands for two decades, manipulating the bonds that maintain DNA’s double-helical shape to sculpt self-assembling structures that could someday have jaw-dropping medical applications.

    Study of DNA nanoparticles, however, has focused mostly on their architecture, turning the genetic code of life into components for fabricating miniscule robots. A pair of Iowa State University researchers in the genetics, development and cell biology department – professor Eric Henderson and recent doctoral graduate Chang-Yong Oh – hope to change that by showing nanoscale materials made of DNA can convey their built-in genetic instructions. 

    Visit ISU News Service's article, "Building a DNA nanoparticle to be both carrier and medicine," to read the complete article.

  • ISU researchers discover crucial step in creating blood stem cells

    A microbial sensor that helps identify and fight bacterial infections also plays a key role in the development of blood stem cells, valuable new insight in the effort to create patient-derived blood stem cells that could eliminate the need for bone marrow transplants.

    The discovery by a research team led by Raquel Espin Palazon, an assistant professor of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State University, was published last month in Nature Communications. It builds on prior work by Espin Palazon showing that the inflammatory signals that prompt a body’s immune response have an entirely different role in the earliest stages of life, as vascular systems and blood are forming in embryos.

  • Shannon Harris, '95 zoology, of St. Paul, Minn., received an Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) in late 2023. Harris was recognized for the award at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors and Awards Ceremony on Nov. 2. 

    As an undergraduate at Iowa State, Shannon Harris, MD, began her studies in chemical engineering but quickly realized that she was more drawn to the life sciences. Scientific research did not seem to be a good fit, which then pushed her to explore a career in applied science. Harris has a medical degree from the University of Iowa (a hard adjustment from Cyclone Country!) and completed her residency training at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

  • 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.”

  • Article features Espin lab

    The Conversation article, "Zebrafish are a scientist's favorite for early-stage research — especially to study human blood disorders," features Raquel Espin Palazon, genetics, development and cell biology assistant professor, and her lab. 

  • 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

  • Tuteja, Wu to serve in new collaboration, mentorship role

    The Office of the Vice President for Research has appointed two faculty members to part-time Research Faculty Fellow positions. Supported through Iowa State’s Strategic Plan success funding initiatives, these positions are intended to:

  • 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.”

  • GDCB faculty mentor LAS Dean's High Impact Award for Undergraduate Research recipients

    Several Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology faculty mentored 2023 recipients of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Dean's High Impact Award for Undergraduate Research. Learn more about these students and the research projects in the LAS News article, "A summer of discovery." 

    GDCB faculty mentoring the students in 2023 include GDCB Professor Jeffrey Essner, Morrill Professor Don Sakaguchi, GDCB Associate Professor Mohan Gupta, GDCB Assistant Professor Hongqing (Michelle) Guo, GDCB Associate Professor Geetu Tuteja and GDCB Associate Professor Hua Bai.


  • 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."

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