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November 14, 2016
IGBB FACULTY AFFILIATE'S RESEARCH FEATURED IN "SCIENCE" ARTICLE

Adapted from article by Vanessa W. Beeson, Agriculture & Natural Resources Marketing, Mississippi State University

The unexpected findings of a two-nation research team including a Mississippi State scientist are featured in a recent edition of a leading academic journal.

Genetic adaptations of hummingbirds to life at high altitudes where oxygen is less available are the focus of the recent report in SCIENCE authored by Federico G. Hoffmann, in collaboration with academic partners in the U.S. and Denmark.

Hoffmann is an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Plant Pathology and an affiliate of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology. Hoffman said the team’s findings could have further implications in the field of evolutionary biology.

“This work helps us to better understand that there are multiple ways in which evolution solves problems,” the specialist in bioinformatics said.

The research project was funded by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Danish Council for Independent Research. The article may be read here.

Hoffman’s colleagues included Chandrasekhar Natarajan and Jay F. Storz from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Roy E. Weber and Angela Fago from Aarhus University in Denmark, and Christopher C. Witt from the University of New Mexico.

SCIENCE, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is devoted to the weekly presentation of research papers “that are most influential in their fields or across fields, and that will significantly advance scientific understanding.” For more, visit the Science website.

Hoffman explained that the team successfully gained insight into the evolutionary process of natural selection by studying hummingbirds and several other avian species that live at both low and high altitudes. Weighing less than a nickel but having the highest metabolic rate of any vertebrate, hummingbirds have adapted over time to surviving in mountainous regions.

A Texas Tech University doctoral graduate, he said the research “shows that we can predict how species with similar starting points are going to adapt to each environment. If the starting points are dissimilar, the process of natural selection becomes much more difficult to predict.”

In their study featured in the journal’s Oct. 21 issue, Hoffman describes how team members focused on hemoglobin in 28 pairs of high- and low-altitude lineages of bird species to determine how different species evolve. Hemoglobin is a red blood cell protein that carries oxygen throughout a body.

While hemoglobin from species adapted for life at high altitudes had a higher affinity for oxygen, researchers found that genetic paths leading to those hemoglobin adaptations varied. Using computational methods, they were able to travel back in time 100 million years by reconstructing protein present in the birds’ ancestors.

Jeffrey F.D. Dean, professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, said the study is significant and a “powerful piece of work that contributes to our fundamental understanding of evolutionary biology.”

“By focusing on a key component in adaptation – hemoglobin and its role as an oxygen carrier – Dr. Hoffmann and his colleagues were able to infer the ancestral form of this protein despite the random nature of the evolutionary process,” Dean said.

Hoffmann also is part of the research team at the MSU-based Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He is an alumnus of the Universidad de la Republica Uruguay, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees completed, respectively, in biology and zoology.

His post-doctoral fellowships in molecular evolution and bioinformatics were completed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Instituto Carlos Chagas, Brazil’s equivalent to the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.


July 8, 2016
IGBB WELCOMES TWO NEW TEAM MEMBERS

The IGBB is pleased to welcome two new individuals to its ranks.

Dr. George Popescu (left) has been hired as an IGBB research assistant professor. He is the first IGBB faculty member whose primary discipline is computer science. Dr. Popescu received his B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering in his home country of Romania before moving to the U.S. He obtained a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University, and did postdoctoral research in bioinformatics at Yale University. "Our research at the IGBB has become increasingly focused on bioinformatics and computational biology," notes Dr. Daniel G. Peterson, IGBB director. "We have been looking to grow our computational research endeavors and are thrilled to have George join the IGBB team. He adds tremendous depth to the institute and has an impressive record of conducting inovative research in collaboration with biologists."

Dr. Ramey "Cal" Youngblood (right) joins the IGBB as a research associate. Dr. Youngblood will be stationed in Stoneville, MS where he will work closely with the USDA ARS's Genomics & Bioinformatics Research Unit (GBRU). The IGBB and the GBRU have built a synergistic relationship based on their shared interest in crop genomics, and Dr. Youngblood's presence at the GBRU will strengthen the GBRU/IGBB partnership. Dr. Youngblood is a recent Ph.D. graduate of MSU's Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences. He conducted his dissertation research under the guidance of Dr. Peter Ryan, MSU Associate Provost. "We are extremely excited to have Cal joining the IGBB team," notes Peterson. "Cal has a wide range of skills and a proven track record." Dr. Youngblood will primarily conduct genomics research on plants and animals of importance to Mississippi.

For Dr. Popescu's description of his research objectives, see below:

DR. GEORGE POPESCU

My research focuses on the use of computational approaches to study biological networks and processes in order to understand evolution and dynamics at the molecular and cellular levels. Using system analysis methods, I seek to analyze the properties of biochemical networks, infer plant protein interactions, and to study the dynamics of signaling networks. My research interest is in developing high-throughput assays for performing large-scale genome and proteome analyses and in designing novel computational modeling and simulation tools for genomics and proteomics studies. One of my key contributions is the discovery of the complex structure of the MAPK signaling networks. I am now pursuing a system analysis approach that combines high-throughput experimental data, mathematical and computational modeling for a comprehensive study of cellular signaling networks.

My recent research has focused on gaining a predictive understanding of cellular decisions during a plant's response to stress. Using high-throughput assays I have recently identified key proteins involved in plant's response to biotic and abiotic stressors, including peptidases, trafficking proteins, and transcription factors involved in immune responses. By developing models of cellular circuits responsive to plant stress factors. I am uncovering the cellular functions of these key cellular components and exploring their roles in redox and immune response pathways.

Another direction of my research concentrates on generating new computational methods for the analysis of genome methylation patterns and the study of chromosomal variations leading to developmental diseases. I have discovered small copy number variations in the human genome and mapped large deletions and duplications associated with developmental diseases. These discoveries were enabled by the genomics tools I have developed: efficient genome sampling methods, whole-genome tilling microarrays, and analytical tools for genomics data analysis.

I am now designing methods for inference of gene regulatory networks by integrating expression variation, transcription factor binding and interactome data with predictions from comparative analysis of conserved sequences of several plant genomes. I am working on developing new analytical tools to infer cis-regulatory networks from conserved sequences, to identify control structures (network motifs) from genomics and proteomics data and to study perturbation of cellular dynamics associated with copy number variations. Looking forward, I would like to focus my research on the study of cellular networks in order to understand their structure, dynamics and evolution.


May 17, 2016
IGBB HELPS FUND 2016 SOUTHEASTERN PNEUMOCOCCAL SYMPOSIUM, MAY 19-20

By Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Nearly 60 senior research scientists, postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate and graduate students from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee institutions of higher learning are gathering Thursday-Friday [May 19-20] at Mississippi State for the 2016 Southeastern Pneumococcal Symposium.

Bringing together nearly one quarter of all of the major pneumococcal research laboratories in the U.S., this year's two-day scientific conference is designed to facilitate discussion and foster new collaborations between labs in an effort to increase funding opportunities for the institutions involved.

Topics of discussion will include host-pathogen interactions, epidemiology, antimicrobial therapies, bacterial physiology, vaccine research and polymicrobial infections.

Occurring in the respiratory tract, pneumococcus is a spherical bacterium that is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia and also is associated with pericarditis, meningitis and other infectious diseases.

Serving as keynote speaker for this year's symposium is David Briles. A world-renowned Streptococcus pneumoniae biology and pathogenesis researcher, he also is the symposium's founder.

In addition to the American Society for Microbiology, support for this year's event is provided by the university's Institute for Genomics, Biotechnology & Biocomputing, College of Arts & Sciences and its Department of Biological Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine and its Center of Biomedical Research Excellence.

For more information on the MSU-hosted 2016 Southeastern Pneumococcal Symposium, contact biological sciences assistant professor Justin Thornton at 662-325-8020 or thornton@biology.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi's leading university (see www.msstate.edu).

The image shows Streptococcus pneumoniae in spinal fluid (FA stain; digitally colorized). Photo Credit/Content Providers(s): CDC/Dr. M.S. Mitchell - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL).


April 22, 2016
KELLIE MITCHELL…SUPERSTAR!

Kellie Mitchell's scientific prowess and communication skills have distinguished her among her peers. Recently, Ms. Mitchell - a senior in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology & Plant Pathology (BCH-EPP) - won first place honors at three different events; specifically, the Biology Undergraduate Research Program Symposium (click here for article), the Judy and Bobby Shackhouls Honor College's MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium (best oral presentation), and best undergraduate oral presentation in the Cellular, Molecular & Developmental Biology Section at the 2016 Meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (click here for more information). Ms. Mitchell has been mentored by Dr. Yuhua Farnell, BCH-EPP faculty member and IGBB affiliate, Dr. James A. Stewart, Jr. of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Chuan-Yu Hsu, the IGBB's chief genomics scientist. "It takes a 'perfect storm' of events for an undergraduate student to have so much research success," notes Dr. Daniel G. Peterson, IGBB Director. "In this case you had a very bright, well-spoken, and creative young lady with a phenomenal trio of advisors. This is great undergraduate education...great undergraduate research...great mentorship."

The title and authors listed on Ms. Mitchell's winning presentations are as follows:

"Altered clock gene oscillations in cardiac fibroblasts from obesity and diabetic mice"
Kellie Mitchell, Jamie Stewart, Chuan-Yu Hsu, Yuhua Farnell

Ms. Mitchell will graduate in May and will start medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the fall.

Funding for the research performed by Ms. Mitchell and her advisory team was provided, in part, from awards from the MSU Office of Research & Economic Development and the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station. Further support was provided by the IGBB.


March 30, 2016
IGBB AFFILIATE RECEIVES NIH FUNDING TO STUDY MALARIA

Dr. Diana Outlaw, a faculty member in the Department of Biology and an IGBB affiliate, has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct some innovative studies on malaria and its transfer and adaptation to new host species. The IGBB has worked with Dr. Outlaw for several years and is currently providing funding to support another of her malaria-based projects. For more information about Dr. Outlaw's NIH award, click here.


March 15, 2016
NEW IGBB GRADUATE STUDENT, SELENE PERALES, IN KAZAKHSTAN

In fall 2016, Ms. Selene Perales will begin Ph.D. research at the IGBB. Ms Perales is currently finishing up a master's degree in bioinformatics at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU). Selene's last semester at MVSU has not actually been spent in Mississippi, but rather in Kazakhstan. Through a study abroad program offered by MVSU, Ms. Perales is attending classes and conducting research at Kazakh State Women's Teacher Training University (KSWTTU) in the city of Almaty. The experience has been a positive one for Selene, who was recently featured in an article/slide show on the KSWTTU website .


February 24, 2016
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLANT BIOLOGISTS REITERATES ITS SUPPORT FOR GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

The February 18, 2016 issue of SCIENCE magazine contains a letter from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). In the letter, the ASPB states its opinion that decisions regarding the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), specifically genetically modified (GM) plants, be based on science. There are a number of organizations that oppose GMOs, yet there is no scientific evidence that GM plants pose any threat to humans or the environment. Indeed, greater than 90% of corn, cotton, and soybeans harvested in the U.S. come from GM plants. A plethora of scientific studies support the conclusion that GM plants pose no greater risk to consumers than non-GM plants. The ASPB letter has been signed by more than 1700 supporters (as of Feb. 24, 2016) including the IGBB's Dr. Daniel G. Peterson. Peterson, a member of the ASPB's Science Policy Board, included the following statement in support of the ASPB letter: "It is easy to fear the unknown. GMOs are no longer an unknown. The fear being propagated today comes from those who have chosen to believe GMOs are dangerous despite decades of scientific evidence to the contrary."

To read the ASPB letter, click here.


February 9, 2016
SUPER BOWL 50 MVP INSPIRED BY IGBB COLLABORATOR MORGAN FARNELL

Super Bowl 50 MVP, Von Miller (Denver Broncos), discusses how MS State's Dr. Morgan Farnell got him interested in chicken farming.

Click here for story from MODERN FARMER magazine.


December 16, 2015
PECHANOVA JOINS IGBB'S "BIG THREE"

The Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology (IGBB) welcomes Dr. Olga Pechanova as its principal proteomics research associate. Dr. Pechanova has B.S. and M.S. degrees in biochemistry/enzymology from Comenius University (Slovak Republic) and a Ph.D. in molecular biology (specialty: proteomics) from Mississippi State University. After two postdoctoral fellowships at MSU, Dr. Pechanova joined the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory in 2010. "Olga brings outstanding scientific credentials and a wealth of practical knowledge to the IGBB," notes IGBB director Daniel Peterson. "Additionally, her work with the State Chem Lab has given her considerable experience in service and customer relations. I think Olga is the perfect fit for this job, and I am so glad that she has joined the IGBB team!"

Dr. Pechanova joins fellow research associates Dr. Chuan-Yu Hsu (Genomics) and Mr. Tony Arick (Biocomputing) to form what Dr. Peterson refers to as the IGBB's 'Big Three.' "Dr. Hsu, Dr. Pechanova, and Mr. Arick are the IGBB's primary genomics, proteomics, and computational biology experts, respectively," Peterson notes. "They are the institute's 'free' advisors to MSU scientists, its research 'guns for hire,' its lab and technology experts, and its primary service providers. Their importance to the infrastructure of the modern IGBB cannot be overstated."

For more information on the IGBB and its operations, see www.igbb.msstate.edu.


July 22, 2015
IGBB FELLOW MATTHEW W. BROWN NAMED ARTS & SCIENCES RESEARCHER OF THE MONTH

Dr. Matthew Brown, a faculty member in Biological Sciences and an IGBB Fellow, was recently honored as the College of Arts & Sciences Researcher of the Month. In July 2014 Dr. Brown published a paper describing a new species of protist, and on June 1, 2015, Dr. Brown received a grant from the National Science Foundation for his proposal "Examining The Macroevolutionary Trajectories in Amoebozoa, A Major Lineage of Eukaryotes." Dr. Brown's successful NSF proposal was submitted through the IGBB and involves use of the High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC²) supercomputers. The IGBB is an HPC² Member Center.

For more information click here.


April 21, 2015
MSU INSTITUTE CONTINUES HIGH-IMPACT COTTON GENETIC RESEARCH

The Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology (IGBB) continues its run of high profile publications with an April 20, 2015 paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The article “Sequencing of allotetraploid cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L. acc. TM-1) provides a resource for fiber improvement” is co-authored by IGBB director Dr. Daniel G. Peterson (click here for article). Of note, Nature Biotechnology has a Thomson Reuters journal impact factor of 39.080. Of the 8539 journals that Thomson Reuters indexes, only twenty (i.e., 0.23%) have impact ratings greater than 30. The IGBB’s cotton Nature Biotechnology paper represents the eighth time the institute has had a publication with an impact factor over 30 since 2009.

As for the scientific value of the research described in the Nature Biotechnology paper, Peterson says, “Gossypium hirsutum, commonly known as upland cotton, is the cotton species grown commercially in Mississippi and throughout most of the cotton-growing regions of the world. It is the upland cotton DNA sequence that will ultimately be of most use to cotton breeders, farmers, and scientists looking to keep cotton plants healthy and productive." Peterson notes that the importance of cotton genetic resources is especially relevant today with climate change and invasive pest species jeopardizing the productivity of the cotton industry.

In addition to his role as IGBB director, Peterson is a professor in the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences.

The IGBB is a university-wide institute jointly governed by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, and the Office of Research and Economic Development. Additionally, the IGBB is a member of MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory. For more on the research, contact Peterson at peterson@igbb.msstate.edu or visit the IGBB website at www.igbb.msstate.edu.


January 30, 2015
MSU GENOME RESEARCH REPUTATION GROWS, GRABS NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

From Mississippi State University News--Recent findings that shed new light on ancient and modern connections between dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds have Mississippi State scientists playing important roles as the research moves forward.

Publication of three reports in the Dec. 12 issue of Science describing work of the university researchers is drawing international attention. The investigations focused on the evolution of birds, dinosaurs and their closest living relatives, the Australian saltwater crocodile, American alligator and Indian gharial.

Science, a weekly report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is considered the world's leading journal of original research, global news and commentary.

"Comparisons between species were made at the genome/DNA level affording unprecedented insight into how crocodilians and birds have diverged," explained Daniel G. Peterson, director of MSU's Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, or IGBB, for short.

The genome is the genetic material of an organism.

The crocodilian genome initiative is led by David Ray, a former MSU assistant professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, plant pathology and entomology who also holds the rank of IGBB Fellow.

The genome research is made possible by a National Science Foundation grant proposed by Peterson and Ray.

Ray is senior and corresponding author of the Science article titled "Three crocodilian genomes reveal ancestral patterns of evolution among archosaurs." Peterson and Federico Hoffman, an IGBB researcher and MSU assistant professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology, are co-authors.

A second article dealt with avian evolution made possible through comparative genomics. Titled "Comparative genomics reveals insights into avian genome evolution and adaptation," it is co-authored by Hoffman and Ray.

Ray, now an associate professor of biological sciences at Texas Tech University, wrote the third article, titled "Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds." In it, he uses genome-scale analysis to determine the history of modern birds.

Peterson said he and his colleagues take great pride that MSU is "represented on three genome papers in a single issue of Science." He also noted that previously "we have had papers on the genomes of sorghum, cotton, butterfly and green anole publish in Nature, a journal that is every bit as prestigious as Science."

The professor of plant and soil sciences said the string of publications "in two of the highest impact scientific journals illustrates Mississippi State's growing footprint in genomics and computational biology research."

For the complete article, click here.


October 24, 2014
AN MSU PLANT VIROLOGIST EARNS MAJOR RECOGNITION

A Mississippi State University plant virologist has been invited to join the prestigious executive committee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, or ICTV.

Sead "Sejo" Sabanadzovic, a professor in the MSU Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, was elected to the elite group of 18 international experts who serve as the leading authority on describing, identifying, naming and classifying viruses. Sabanadzovic is one of only three plant virologists on the executive committee.

This recognition is the result of Sabanadzovic's long-term contribution to virus taxonomy initiated during his tenure in Italy and continued over the past decade at MSU. Most recently, as a member of four ICTV study groups, he contributed to classifying and naming microorganisms that belong to four families of viruses that cause disease in cultivated plants.

Daniel G. Peterson, director of the MSU Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, said Sabanadzovic's designation is testament to the researcher's contribution as an international authority in plant virology.

"The majority of molecular biodiversity falls within the realm of viruses. Since only a tiny fraction of viruses have been characterized, Sejo's service on the ICTV places him in a position to have a major influence on the field of virology," Peterson said. "Genomics have opened up a new frontier in viral identification and classification, and we are very proud that Sejo is at the forefront of this revolution."

For more information, click here.


October 13, 2014
UNIVERSITY NAMES COMPUTING CENTER FOR PORTERA

To honor Mississippi State University's 16th president and his emphasis on computer research, institution leaders dedicated the Malcolm A. Portera High Performance Computing Center last Friday [Oct. 10].

During the West Point native's tenure from 1998 through 2001, Portera continually advocated for the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation on campus. Eventually, that facility evolved to become the High Performance Computing Collaboratory named for the veteran administrator at the dedication in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Portera's emphasis on research, learning and service -- MSU's trifold mission -- made a variety of positive impacts at MSU, and his influence continues to benefit the institution.

"Probably no university president ever hit the ground running faster or harder than Dr. 'Mac' Portera did when he came to Mississippi State," Keenum said. "All of our collective centers that are here at Mississippi State University tie into this wonderful high performance computing laboratory. It is a wonderful asset for the entire state of Mississippi, and it's right here on our campus."

Annual research expenditures grew to $160 million during Portera's administration, and faculty salaries increased, said Trey Breckenridge, director of the center. Enrollment increased as MSU's research and development capabilities expanded, and key aerospace and automotive development activities contributed to billions of dollars in capital investment in Mississippi and Alabama.

MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw moderated the ceremony. He said he was particularly proud to participate because he worked closely with Portera as MSU assumed its position as the premier research university in the state.

"The incredible vision that Dr. Mac Portera had for Mississippi State University is unparalleled," Shaw said. "He was able to assess where we were and where we wanted to be."

The center has become central to MSU's research enterprises, Portera said. He emphasized his appreciation of having the opportunity to lead at MSU, and his spouse Olivia's support was instrumental to his success as MSU president.

"This is a celebration about an awfully fine group of people inside and outside who compose the Mississippi State family. They simply want their school to be the best that it can be; Olivia and I just came at the right time to be part of that," Portera said.

Along with his administrative tenure, Portera completed his bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively in general science and political science, at MSU. He completed his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Alabama.

In addition to his years of leadership at MSU, Portera formerly chaired the Council of Presidents of the Southeastern Universities Research Association. He has also served on the boards of the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Science and Technology Commission and Mississippi Technology Inc. Additionally, Portera worked with Regional Technology Strategies Inc. of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, participated in Japan's Foundation for Advanced Information and Research and co-founded the International Business Advisory Board.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Portera's emphasis on research, learning and service -- MSU's trifold mission -- made a variety of positive impacts at MSU, and his influence continues to benefit the institution.

"Probably no university president ever hit the ground running faster or harder than Dr. 'Mac' Portera did when he came to Mississippi State," Keenum said. "All of our collective centers that are here at Mississippi State University tie into this wonderful high performance computing laboratory. It is a wonderful asset for the entire state of Mississippi, and it's right here on our campus."

Annual research expenditures grew to $160 million during Portera's administration, and faculty salaries increased, said Trey Breckenridge, director of the center. Enrollment increased as MSU's research and development capabilities expanded, and key aerospace and automotive development activities contributed to billions of dollars in capital investment in Mississippi and Alabama.

MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw moderated the ceremony. He said he was particularly proud to participate because he worked closely with Portera as MSU assumed its position as the premier research university in the state.

"The incredible vision that Dr. Mac Portera had for Mississippi State University is unparalleled," Shaw said. "He was able to assess where we were and where we wanted to be."
The center has become central to MSU's research enterprises, Portera said. He emphasized his appreciation of having the opportunity to lead at MSU, and his spouse Olivia's support was instrumental to his success as MSU president.

"This is a celebration about an awfully fine group of people inside and outside who compose the Mississippi State family. They simply want their school to be the best that it can be; Olivia and I just came at the right time to be part of that," Portera said.

Along with his administrative tenure, Portera completed his bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively in general science and political science, at MSU. He completed his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Alabama.

In addition to his years of leadership at MSU, Portera formerly chaired the Council of Presidents of the Southeastern Universities Research Association. He has also served on the boards of the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Science and Technology Commission and Mississippi Technology Inc. Additionally, Portera worked with Regional Technology Strategies Inc. of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, participated in Japan's Foundation for Advanced Information and Research and co-founded the International Business Advisory Board.


April 15, 2014
MISSISSIPPI STATE CLIMBS SUPERCOMPUTING RANKS

STARKVILLE, Miss.--The state's premier research university is again ranked as a leading academic supercomputing site, according to an international organization dedicated to cataloging the world's most powerful computer systems.

Named "Shadow," Mississippi State's newest Cray supercomputer is the 11th fastest academic system in the United States with an overall ranking of No. 185 on TOP500.org's latest Top500 Supercomputer Site list.

"Dating back to 1996, MSU has had a computer system on 19 of the last 37 Top500 lists," said Trey Breckenridge, director of high performance computing at the land-grant institution.

"We have a long-standing commitment to providing powerful, technologically-advanced resources for our researchers," he said.

Located at MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory, Shadow is the primary high-performance computing asset for shared research at the university, and supports the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, Center for Computational Sciences, Geosystems Research Institute, Center for Battlefield Innovations, Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology and Distributed Analytics and Security Institute, as well as the MSU-led Northern Gulf Institute.

The Cray system runs a broad set of applications, including fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, materials modeling, astrophysics, molecular modeling, transportation modeling and planning, weather and ocean modeling, geographic information systems, genomics and bioinformatics.

Shadow is 10 times faster than the university's previous fastest system, but consumes far less energy, Breckenridge said.

The system features an innovative, liquid-cooled design that uses warm water heat exchangers instead of chillers to directly cool the computer's processors and memory, allowing for a more efficient removal of system heat, he explained.

"The water used to cool the system is the temperature of the outside air, up to 104 degrees, with almost no additional air conditioning required," Breckenridge said.
There are four other systems in Mississippi on the new Top500 list. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg placed systems at No. 31 and No. 381, while two U.S. Navy systems at Stennis Space Center were at No. 125 and No. 126.

"The supercomputing power we have in Mississippi is becoming more important as the state and region develop an economy where research and technology fuels economic development and job growth," Breckenridge said.

"The economic impact of Shadow and our other resources is significant now, and we expect that to grow in the coming years," he added.
Of note, Shadow was also on the June 2014 Green500 list at No. 16, making it the 16th most energy efficient supercomputer in the world, and the highest ranking system on the list utilizing Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, Breckenridge said.

The complete Top 500 Supercomputer Site list may be viewed at www.top500.org.

For more about MSU's HPC2, visit www.hpc.msstate.edu.

For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.


January 30, 2014
IGBB CO-SPONSORS MSU'S DARWIN WEEK CELEBRATION

The Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology (IGBB) is co-sponsoring Mississippi State's Darwin Week 2014, a celebration of Charles Darwin, the famed naturalist whose theory of evolution by natural selection has been the cornerstone of biological science for 150 years. For a complete listing of Darwin Week events, see http://www.igbb.msstate.edu/NewsEvents/…/2014/DarwinWeek.pdf.

Of particular note, Darwin Week 2014 will feature a performance by rap artist Baba Brinkman whose show The Rap Guide to Evolution has garnered praise from a wide array of sources including The New York Times, Science, The Guardian, and Scientific American (to name a few). Brinkman's concert is scheduled for 7:00 PM on February 8th at McComas Hall Auditorium. For details, please see https://www.facebook.com/bababrinkman

Other co-sponsors include the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, and the College of Forest Resources.


November 7, 2013
IGBB AFFILIATE DISCOVERS PROTIST

STARKVILLE, Miss.--From Massachusetts to Mississippi, a unicellular protist is hinting at answers about the evolution of multicellularity while raising a whole new set of questions.

Matthew Brown, assistant professor of biological sciences at Mississippi State University, recently led a research team that identified the protist as a new organism and classified its genomics.

Jeffrey Silberman collected sediment specimens in Marstons Mills, a village in Barnstable, Mass., and the University of Arkansas associate professor isolated an organism he found. Since Brown had begun post-doctoral work in genomics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Silberman offered his former UA doctoral student the opportunity to name and classify it on the evolutionary tree of life.

Brown headed the investigation that discovered the unicellular organism's proteins and genes are similar to those found in multicellular life-forms. The protist Pygsuia biforma belongs to a newly identified group they named "Obazoa," which is closely related to animals and fungi.
"We then looked for specific multicellular toolkit genes, and we found genes that scientists had believed to be animal-specific," Brown said. "Integrins and the whole suite of proteins that work with integrins were thought to be something innate to multicellularity and used only for cell-to-cell communication.
"This discovery shows that these genes have been co-opted for a different use. We don't know what it does in unicellular organisms, but we can now place the origin of genes that are associated with multicellularity in unicellular organisms."

Additionally, the anaerobic protist has mitochondria, energy factories that produce adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Brown said ATP production typically requires oxygen, but the protist lives in oxygen depleted environments. As a result, Pygsuia biforma raises questions related to the presence and function of mitochondria in anaerobic unicellular organisms.

These discoveries and new research questions they raise are important because they offer new insights into the science of evolution, Brown explained.

"By tracking the evolutionary history of these particular organisms, we're able to look at ancestral states of certain gene suites, and that's the really important thing -- we need a better understanding of protist diversity and protist genome evolution to understand how organisms like animals evolved," Brown said.

Evidently, the international scientific community agrees: The team's research paper detailing these discoveries, "Phylogenomics demonstrates that breviate flagellates are related to opisthokonts and apusomonads," was recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the leading United Kingdom biological research journal.

Because of Brown's bioinformatics expertise in genetic and protein sequencing, as well as his leadership role in documenting the protist's morphology, he was the paper's lead author.

His work continues in the MSU biological sciences' Evolutionary Protistology Laboratory, also known on campus as Brown's Lab. Work there examines the evolution of eukaryotic lineages with comparative genomics and developmental transcriptomics.

Learn more about the lab at http://mwb250.biology.msstate.edu, or visit http://msstate.edu to discover more about MSU.


October 7, 2013
IGBB'S PETERSON ACCEPTS MAJOR LEADERSHIP ROLES

Dr. Daniel G. Peterson, director of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology (IGBB) and professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (PSS), has taken on leadership roles in two prominent plant biology societies.

Peterson was elected to serve on the Steering Committee of the International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI; see http://www.cottongen.org/icgi/home). During his two-year appointment (2013-2015), Peterson will serve as co-chair of the ICGI's Functional Genomics Workgroup. The mission of the ICGI is to increase knowledge of the structure and function of the cotton genome for the benefit of the global community.

Dr. Alan Jones, president-elect of the American Society for Plant Biologists (ASPB), has asked Dr. Peterson to serve on the ASPB's Science Policy Committee (ASPB; click here for more information). Peterson will serve a four-year term on the committee (2013-2017). The ASPB is one of the largest societies devoted to the promotion of excellence in plant biology research and education. The ASPB is particularly well known for publishing the journals The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.


October 7, 2013
MSU RESEARCHERS SECURE MAJOR NIH GRANT

STARKVILLE, Miss.-- Mississippi State University has been awarded a $10 million grant for five years of support from the National Institutes of Health to further research focusing on diseases that affect animal and human health.

NIH's Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, provides competitive grants in support of multidisciplinary centers that strengthen institutional biomedical research capacity. MSU researchers started the planning process for competing for the grant in 2010. The research will be conducted among three core centers at MSU: the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Institute of Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, and the Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies. The MSU-CVM will administer the grant and research activities.

"It is an extremely competitive process," said Stephen Pruett, MSU-CVM's head of basic sciences and principal investigator on the COBRE grant. "Most of the applicants are human medical colleges, so we were in the minority as a veterinary college. We have great leadership and a talented group of researchers that helped us achieve this."

The unique nature of the grant establishes a mentoring program for a core group of researchers. The MSU researchers in this group include Janet Donaldson, associate professor in biological sciences; Mariola Edelmann, assistant research professor with the Institute of Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology; Bindu Nanduri and Keun Seok Seo, both MSU-CVM assistant professors in basic sciences; and Henry Wan, an MSU-CVM associate professor. Over the course of the five-year grant, the researchers will work on projects that promote a greater understanding of animal and human health. The success of the grant will be measured by the researchers' ability to get additional NIH-funded grants to further research in infectious diseases that impact both animal and human health.

"Dr. Seo is leading the way in Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, research. What he's studying is leading to vaccines that could protect cattle and humans from dangerous staph infections." Pruett said. "Dr. Donaldson is providing important research on how listeria behaves in the gall bladder. Her discoveries are paving the way for new methods to control or prevent dangerous listeria outbreaks."

The researchers also will work collaboratively to design new infectious disease research projects and compete for further NIH funding as a team.
"Mississippi State has a tremendous amount of expertise in infectious disease," said Greg Bohach, vice president for MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine. "We are honored to have NIH recognize this and provide the funding and the trust to take our research to the next level. The talent and focus is here, and we will continue to provide research that protects the safety of animals, humans, and the food supply."

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM103646. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on NIH COBRE grants, click here.


October 2, 2013
HPC2 BOOSTS MSU SUPERCOMPUTING POWER

The state's premier research university is boosting its high-performance computing capabilities with the installation of a new supercomputer. Mississippi State's High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2) will soon be home to a CS300-LC cluster supercomputer -- a liquid-cooled system manufactured by Cray Inc. (Nasdaq: CRAY).

Named "Shadow," the new system will serve as the primary high-performance computing asset for shared research, according to an MSU official. "This investment is the latest example of Mississippi State's commitment to providing powerful, technologically-advanced resources for our researchers," said Trey Breckenridge, director of high performance computing. The installation is expected to be completed by December. Once operational, Shadow will be 10 times faster than the university's previous fastest system, but consume far less energy, Breckenridge said.

According to the company, the CS300-LC system features an innovative, liquid-cooled design that uses warm water heat exchangers instead of chillers to directly cool the computer's processors and memory, allowing for a more efficient removal of system heat. "This new cooling technique is revolutionary. The water used to cool the system is the temperature of the outside air, up to 104 degrees, with almost no additional air conditioning required," Breckenridge said. "There are a few systems doing this in Canada and northern Europe, but as far as I know, we are the first to ever try this in a subtropical environment," he added.

Shadow will be housed at the HPC2 facility in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park adjacent to the MSU campus in Starkville. "Shadow achieves its tremendous computing power largely due to the use of 260 new Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors. They are so powerful that two of them, which combined are smaller than a loaf of bread, are as fast as our fastest computer just 10 years ago -- and that system was the size of six refrigerators," Breckenridge said.

The supercomputer will support research for the land-grant institution's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, Center for Computational Sciences, Geosystems Research Institute, Center for Battlefield Innovations and Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, as well as the MSU-led Northern Gulf Institute.

For more information, click here. To see an additional article, click here.


April 30, 2013
PETERSON RECEIVES 2013 RALPH E. POWE RESEARCH EXCELLENCE AWARD

STARKVILLE, Miss.--More than 40 Mississippi State faculty, students and staff are 2013 selections for university research and leadership honors.

Honorees, their guests and senior administrators were in attendance at a campus awards banquet Monday night [April 29].

Before an audience of friends and colleagues gathered at the Palmeiro Center, plant and soil sciences department professor Daniel G. Peterson received the night's top honor -- the 2013 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award.

Peterson's research is focused on exploring the structure and evolution of plant and animal genomes using genomic, cytogenetic, molecular biology and computational biology techniques.

Peterson is a member of an international research team analyzing cotton genes, chromosomes and their evolution. Last December, their work was published in the prestigious journal Nature. Recently, he and the team received the 2012 Cotton Biotechnology Award from the National Cotton Council of America and Cotton Incorporated.
Peterson is also director of Mississippi State University's Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, and a scientist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

"Dr. Peterson's work on the cotton genome has garnered national and international attention," MAFES Director George Hopper said earlier this year. "This research will lead to the development of plants more resistant to pests, diseases and the effects of rapid climate change."

The Powe Award is a memorial to the MSU alumnus and longtime research vice president who died in 1996. It is selected at the university level from nominations received from the MSU community.

The annual research awards program honors individuals who contribute significantly to MSU's mission of research. In addition to faculty, it recognizes and rewards students and staff for accomplishments and creative endeavors, as well as for increasing awareness of the university's many research programs and capabilities.

The program and banquet are co-sponsored by the offices of the vice presidents for Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. "Our research enterprise is growing in a number of different areas because of the collaboration between our two divisions," said David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development.

Greg Bohach, vice president for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine, echoed Shaw's assessment. "Mississippi State research is making a difference thanks to the excellence of our university's scientists, staff and students, and their collaborative efforts that have led to MSU's recent designation by the Carnegie Foundation as a very high research activity university," he said. "We are here tonight, in part, to celebrate these efforts," Bohach added.


April 12, 2013
BUILDING LONG-TERM SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATIONS WITH CENTRAL EUROPE

Tibor Pechan, an assistant research professor at the IGBB, grew up in what is now known as the Slovak Republic or Slovakia. He left Slovakia in 1995 to conduct postdoctoral research at MSU, and roughly 14 months later managed to bring his wife and children to Mississippi. Starkville has been home to the Pechan family ever since. However, Dr. Pechan and his family still visit the Slovak Republic and its surrounding Central European nations frequently. It is important to Pechan to keep in touch with his Slovakian family and friends while keeping himself and his family connected to their heritage.

Over the years, Dr. Pechan has become renown for his expertise in mass spectrometry and its use in exploring important questions in biology, chemistry, and physics. Since 2008, he has used his expertise as a bridge through which he has increased the range and scope of MSU's international research collaborations. Of note, Dr. Pechan has developed grass-root international collaborations with scientists from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Slovak Republic. Dr. Pechan has worked to create synergistic research partnerships with accomplished Central European research groups that lack mass spectrometry instrumentation and expertise. To date, his international collaborations have resulted in four peer-reviewed publications, three invited presentations, and two travel grants; one of these travel grants from the European Union allows multiple exchange visits over the span of three years. In 2012, Pechan and his colleagues were awarded the prestigious Arnold Beckman Prize by the Czech Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The award recognized the group's 2011 publication as the best proteomics publication involving Central European scientists. Of note, all the proteomics work was performed by Pechan at the IGBB and paid for by his Central European collaborators, i.e., these collaborations have brought financial resources to MSU.

Dr. Pechan and his colleagues in Central Europe have several more publications in preparation. Moreover, Dr. Pechan has invitations to visit several additional Central European universities that are eager to work with him.


January 28, 2013
PETERSON WINS 2012 COTTON BIOTECHNOLOGY AWARD

A Mississippi State University genetic researcher recently won a national award for his collaboration with a team of scientists to map a cotton genome.

Daniel Peterson, director of MSU’s Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology and scientist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, received the 2012 Cotton Biotechnology Award from the National Cotton Council of America and Cotton Incorporated.

Peterson, with colleagues Andrew Paterson from the University of Georgia, Jonathan Wendel from Iowa State University, Jeremy Schmutz from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, and Daniel Rokhsar from the University of California – Berkeley accepted the honor at the Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego. Scientists from 31 international institutions contributed to the project.

The award recognized the team’s pioneering efforts over the past 12 years to map the genetic structure of the ancestors of upland cotton. Their work culminated in developing a “gold standard” genome sequence of Gossypium raimondii. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

“Dr. Peterson’s work on the cotton genome has garnered national and international attention, and he is very deserving of this award,” said George Hopper, MAFES director. “This research will lead to the development of plants more resistant to pests, diseases and the effects of rapid climate change.”

Industry professionals said the sequence will have a positive impact on the cotton fiber industry, which generates about $6 billion annually in the United States.
“This gold standard sequence will be a meaningful foundation for all future genetic and biotechnological improvements of cotton,” said Josh Udall, professor at Brigham Young University, in a Cotton Incorporated press release.

Peterson said the sequence allows researchers to learn about the differences between individual plants and between species and how these differences affect the plants’ structure and function.

"It gives us an entirely different and much more comprehensive approach when we try to make plants that are better adapted to certain environments," he said. "Essentially it is a quantum leap forward -- now we can do things in cotton that we could not have done before," he said.

MSU’s Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, or IGBB, is jointly governed by MAFES, MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the Office of Research and Economic Development, and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. The IGBB is a member of MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory. The cotton research was funded, in part, by MAFES.


December 20,2012
IGBB DIRECTOR'S RESEARCH PUBLISHED IN NATURE

STARKVILLE, Miss.-- A Mississippi State University researcher is part of an international team that has described the first "gold-standard" genome sequence for cotton.

Published in the Dec. 20 issue of Nature -- one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals -- the research is the culmination of a 20-plus year effort in the analysis of cotton genes, chromosomes and their evolution, according to Daniel G. Peterson, director of Mississippi State's Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology.

The research consortium includes representatives from most of the world's major cotton producing countries, and is led by Regents Professor Andrew Paterson of the University of Georgia.

The effort gained momentum in 2007 when a proposal from Paterson, Peterson and others was approved by the United States Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute Community Sequencing Program. A "gold-standard" sequence was produced for Gossypium raimondii, chosen by the worldwide cotton community to be the first of 50 cotton species to be sequenced as the best model for the New World progenitor of commercially important Upland and Pima cottons.

The IGBB, with funding support from the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES), at MSU and the USDA-ARS augmented the scope and impact of the research by producing "draft" sequences of a model for the other Upland and Pima (Old World) progenitor, G. herbaceum, as well as the commercially important Upland cotton (G. hirsutum) cultivar 'Acala Maxxa,' and a wild relative, G. longicalyx.

The cotton genome sequence will be invaluable both on the farm and in the biotechnology laboratory, Peterson said.

On the farm, the identification of key cotton genes and their importance will accelerate understanding and provide data crucial to increasing cotton production, quality and sustainability.

In the lab, the comparison of an elite cotton cultivar to its wild ancestors provides new insights into how a "polyploidy" becomes "more than the sum of its progenitors."

All flowering plants have experienced polyploidy, a process by which the entire hereditary blueprint of an organism is doubled. This is the first time that a polyploid plant has been compared to its progenitors over the entire genome, illuminating evolutionary processes salient to all plants and providing a strategy to better understand the genome of many other crops such as canola, wheat and peanut.

Peterson has been involved in the project from its inception.

In 2000 while a postdoc at the University of Georgia, he constructed one of the key molecular resources used in mapping the G. raimondii genome. As a faculty member in Mississippi State's Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Peterson co-authored the successful 2007 Department of Energy proposal that resulted in initiation of G. raimondii genome sequencing.

As IGBB director, Peterson, in partnership with Brian Scheffler of the USDA-ARS at Stoneville, used an existing IGBB/USDA cooperative agreement to conduct targeted DNA sequencing critical in assembly of the G. raimondii genome. Additionally, the IGBB/USDA team sequenced the three Gossypium genomes to which the G. raimondii reference was compared.

"With a high-quality Gossypium reference sequence in hand, we can quickly assay DNA diversity within and among cotton species. This diversity is the key to generating cotton cultivars suited to various and variable environments, something that is particularly important in light of increasing climate instability," Peterson noted.

Other IGBB co-authors on the paper were research associate Kurt Showmaker and postdoctoral associate William S. Sanders, both of whom were involved in DNA sequencing, data management, and identification of sequence differences between species.

The cotton sequence is among the highest-quality flowering plant sequences yet produced. Ironically, the sequence revealed it to also be among the most complex of flowering plant genomes, experiencing at least 30-fold multiplication of its genetic complement since its origin from an ancestral flowering plant.

Critical to understanding this complexity was information accumulated over more than 20 years of research funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cotton Incorporated, the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Bayer Crop Science, and other public and private agencies.

"This cotton data will help accelerate the study of gene function, particularly cellulose biosynthesis, the understanding of which is fundamental to improved biofuels production," said Jeremy Schmutz, head of the DOE JGI Plant Program and a faculty investigator at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, who led the effort to sequence and assemble the genome for the JGI.

"In addition, the unique structure of the cotton fiber makes it useful in bioremediation, and accelerated cotton crop improvement also promises to improve water efficiency and reduce pesticide use," he added.

Cotton production contributes substantially to economies around the globe. The value of cotton fiber grown in the U.S. exceeds $6 billion per year. Cottonseed oil and meal byproducts adds another $1 billion annually.

More than 200,000 domestic jobs are related to cotton production and processing, with an aggregate influence of $35 billion on the annual U.S. gross domestic product.

Don Jones, director of agricultural and environmental research responsible for biotechnology research at Cotton Incorporated, said this Gossypium raimondii sequence will be the foundation for improving commercial cotton.

"This sequencing effort demonstrates that wise investment of grower and importer supplied funding produces cutting-edge research which benefits the entire cotton community. The accomplishment is a cornerstone that will enable us to more thoroughly understand the biology that leads to higher yield, improved fiber quality, and better stress tolerance while reducing inputs used in producing the crop," Jones said.

To see the Nature paper, click here.


May 24, 2012
PETERSON NAMED DIRECTOR OF IGBB

Dr. Daniel Peterson has been appointed director of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing, and Biotechnology (IGBB) at Mississippi State University.

A professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Peterson earned his bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from Colorado State University. He has been a faculty member at Mississippi State since 2002.

Peterson's research is focused on exploring the structure and evolution of eukaryotic genomes using genomic, cytogenetic, molecular biology and computational biology techniques.

IGBB was formed in 2011 through the merger of the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Institute and the Institute for Digital Biology. Peterson has led the newly merged institute as interim director since last fall. IGBB is a member of the High Performance Computing Collaboratory at Mississippi State which is located in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.


May 1, 2012
IGBB CROCODILIAN RESEARCH FEATURED IN NSF VIDEO AND POPULAR PRESS ARTICLES

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a short video and an accompanying article on the research of Mississippi State University's Dr. David A. Ray (Biochem. & Mol. Biol.) and his collaborators including Dr. Fiona M. McCarthy (CVM Basic Sci.) and Dr. Daniel G. Peterson (Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology or IGBB). Dr. Ray is PI on two NSF awards on crocodilians and co-PI on an award to study bat mobile elements. These awards are managed by the IGBB. Of note, investment by the IGBB has been critical in turning the first crocodilian award into the nucleus of a full-blown international effort to sequence the genomes of the American alligator, Australian saltwater crocodile, and Indian gharial.

NSF Science Nation video and article

The same video and a slightly shorter article focused on Dr. Ray's research program was also featured on the PBS Newshour.


April 6, 2012
PREVENTING HEARTBREAK

What does James N. Warnock do when he's not playing the guitar like Jack White? You might be surprised to learn that this rock-n-roller from the U.K. is one of Mississippi State's leading biomedical researchers. While he can play you Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" without batting an eye, his research program in the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering is focused on studying heart valve structure and the development of heart valve disease. This is an important area of research as heart valve disease accounts for >23,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. Of note, Dr. Warnock's research group is particularly interested in exploring how mechanical forces influence tissue remodeling. Heart valve remodeling is a natural part of growth, but aberrant remodeling is associated with heart valve disease. Dr. Warnock's lab is thus not interested in breaking hearts so much as keeping hearts from breaking...literally. Dr. Warnock utilizes a combination of molecular, physiological, and computational tools in his research, and he works closely with the IGBB in studying genes pathways involved in heart valve remodeling.

Click here for Dr. Warnock's biography and research articles.


August 3, 2011
IGBB HOSTS INTERNATIONAL GROUP FOCUSING ON CROCODILES

Members of the International Crocodilian Genome Working Group gathered recently at the HPC building to discuss collaborative research papers and plans for genome annotation and databasing. A field trip to the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge allowed participants from around the globe to experience first-hand the ever-growing presence of alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitats on the 48,000-acre national park in Northeast Mississippi.