November 1, 2014

Annual Brown-MBL Retreat Nov 7th and 8th at Brown University

The annual Brown-MBL Partnership Program Retreat and Symposium will take place on Friday and Saturday November 7 and 8, 2014 at Brown University in the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT) .

The retreat will feature a cocktails and a poster session Friday evening and a Saturday morning session on “Land Use, Agriculture and Globalized Change” that will include science talks from faculty, postdocs and students involved across Brown and MBL. On Saturday afternoon a Lunch Career Panel Discussion sponsored by the Brown-MBL IGERT Program will take place featuring scientists and their paths to careers working in industry, government, non-profits, teaching colleges and research universities.

For more information on the event see the Brown-MBL Retreat Agenda

For more information on registering for the event contact, Alison Maksym, by email at: amaksym at

Informational Session on Brown-MBL Internships Oct 21st at Brown U


Want a Summer Internship at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA next summer?

The Brown-MBL Graduate Partnership Program and Brown University CareerLAB and Science Center will host an informational session on internships at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA on Tuesday, October 21st at 6 pm at Brown University. Summer internships will be available for Brown University undergraduate rising seniors or juniors.

Research faculty and scientists from MBL and former Brown-MBL undergraduate interns will be present to discuss future opportunities and experiences in the laboratory and field sites at MBL. Representatives from the Brown CareerLAB will be available to share information and application procedures on the Brown LINK Award & Internships. For information on former Brown-MBL interns’ experiences click here.

In addition, information will be available on the MBL Ecosystems Center Off-Campus Immersion Program the Semester in Environmental Science.

See our flier for this event:  Brown-MBL Info Session Flier



Tuesday, October 21 at 6pm

Brown University Science Center, General Study Room 315

201 Thayer Street, Sciences Library


Refreshments and pizza will be served


Brown-MBL PhD Student Akash Srivastava Defends PhD in August 2014

Akash Srivastava at Brown University thesis defense, August 18th.

Akash Srivastava at Brown University PhD thesis defense on August 18th, 2014.

On August 18th 2014, at Brown University Sidney Frank Hall, Brown-MBL PhD candidate Akash Srivastava successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Transdifferentiation of Liver to Pancreas”. Akash, a PhD student in the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Department (MCB) at Brown University conducted his research at MBL’s Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Marko Horb and committee members Dr. Rich Freiman, Dr. Kristi Wharton, and Dr. Eric Morrow from the MCB Department. In 2008, Akash started his PhD at McGill University in Canada then transferred to Brown University entering the Brown-MBL Program in the fall of 2011. He holds a B.S (Biology) from Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University in India and a M.S. (Biochemistry) from Bundelkhand University also in India.

Akash’s PhD research focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in transdifferentiation of liver to pancreas in Xenopus laevis. He identified a previously unknown role of a highly conserved beta-catenin inhibitor protein Chibby in transdifferentiation of liver to pancreas and in normal pancreas development. His research also provided a better understanding of the function of Wnt/beta catenin signaling in pancreas development. Funding for his research came from the Marko Horb lab at MBL with grant support from the National Institutes of Health.

After completing his final manuscripts, Akash plans to work as a Validation Consultant in the pharmaceutical industry this fall.

Brown-MBL Student Will Daniels Receives Brown University ISES Fellowship

Will Daniels Lake Ice Core

Will Daniels holds an archive of 10,000 years of Alaskan climate and environment data from one deep lake sediment core in northern Alaska. Photo by Will Longo.

Will Daniels will be entering his fourth year in the Brown-MBL Program in the fall of 2014. He is a PhD candidate in the Brown University Department of Geological Sciences recently renamed in July 2014 to the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (DEEPS). He is co-advised by Anne Giblin at the Ecosystem Center at MBL and James Russell at Brown. In May, Will received a one-year graduate student fellowship with the Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES) at Brown University. The fellowship will continue to support his paleoclimate research in remote Arctic lakes in northern Alaska.

In May, Will and fellow researchers from Brown University traveled to remote regions of the Alaskan Arctic to collect sediment cores from Arctic lakes including Upper Capsule Lake. The expedition was sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The goal of the project and field work is to retrieve deep lake bottom sediment cores and use novel and traditional paleolimnologic proxies to study the past climate of the region. Coupling this study with modern studies of sediment deposition, lake ecosystems, and meteorology will help provide a robust interpretation of the paleoclimate records. He will spend the summer and fall analyzing and interpreting the mud samples. To see more photos and read more about Will’s Arctic travels and research follow his blog.







MBL Ecosystems PhD Student Xi Yang Defends Dissertation and Receives A Postdoc at Brown University

Jack Mustard (Brown), Joe Berry (Stanford/Carnegie Institute for science), Xi Yang (Brown-MBL), Jung-Eun Lee (Brown), Meredith Hastings (Brown), and Jim Tang (Brown-MBL).

Jack Mustard (Brown), Joe Berry (Stanford/Carnegie Institute for Science), Xi Yang (Brown-MBL), Jung-Eun Lee (Brown), Meredith Hastings (Brown), and Jim Tang (Brown-MBL).

Brown MBL PhD candidate Xi Yang defended his dissertation “The Times They Are A-Changin’: Scaling Seasonality of Plant Physiology from Leaf to Satellite and Implications for Terrestrial Carbon Cycle” on April 28th at Brown University. Xi, a former geography and geosciences student from Beijing began his PhD in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown University in 2009. He is co-advised by Professor Jack Mustard from Brown University and Jim Tang, Assistant Scientist, at MBL.

Xi combined a detailed study of leaf optical properties with remote sensing and modeling techniques to understand the seasonality of plant physiology and its environmental drivers. First Xi used digital repeat photography to estimate the budburst date of trees in New England. Then he up-scaled a species-level phenology model to the New England area that reconstructed and predicted the changes of budburst dates. By collecting weekly sampled leaf traits such as chlorophyll concentration to interpret the data from digital repeat photography, he found a temporal mismatch between greenness index and chlorophyll concentration in the spring. In the fall, the redness index was a good indicator of vegetation senescence.  Xi used vegetation spectroscopy to successfully capture the seasonal variability of leaf traits and developed a system to continuously measure solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) over a temperate deciduous forest for the first time. His research found a strong correlation between SIF and vegetation photosynthesis, and absorbed photosynthetically active radiation.

Remote sensing studies such as Xi’s research can provide spatially explicit estimates of properties which are related to key ecological processes, while the mechanistic understanding of how environmental factors control these processes can help to understand how terrestrial ecosystem will respond to climate change.

Xi’s work was financially supported by the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences and the lab of Dr. Jim Tang, a Stanley Watson Fellowship from MBL and a Hartnett Fellowship from Brown University, the Brown–ECI phenology working group, and a Brown University Office of International Affairs seed grant.

In June, Xi will start work as a Post-doc with Dr. Jung-Eun Lee at Brown University in Providence, RI, and Dr. Joe Berry at the Carnegie Institute for Science using fluorescence to understand the response of tropical ecosystems to water stress.

List of Citations:

Yang X, Tang J, Mustard J (2014). Beyond leaf color: comparing camera-based phenological metrics with leaf biochemical, biophysical and spectral properties throughout the growing season of a temperate deciduous forest. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, DOI:10.1002/2013JG002460.

Yang, X., J. Mustard, J. Tang, and H. Xu (2012), Regional-scale phenology modeling based on meteorological records and remote sensing observations, Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, 117(G3), G03029.

Brown-MBL Alumni Gillian Galford Attends White House NCA release

Former Brown-MBL PhD graduate student Dr. Gillian Galford attended the release of the National Climate Assessment at the White House on May 8th. Gillian was a Brown-MBL student in the Geological Sciences Department at Brown University working with Professor Jack Mustard at Brown and Dr. Jerry Melillo at MBL. Gillian graduated in 2009 and is currently a fellow at the GUND Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont.

Read her story on the release on the National Climate Assessment and a related story on how the climate predictions will affect Vermont.

Brown-MBL Neuroscience Student Justine J. Allen Defends Dissertation

Justine Allen with her adviser Dr. Roger Hanlon

Justine Allen with her adviser Dr. Roger Hanlon

Justine J. Allen, a Brown-MBL graduate student in the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University and the Program in Sensory Physiology and Behavior at the MBL successfully defended her PhD dissertation entitled ‘Adaptive edge design for visual camouflage: Biomechanics of morphing 3D skin papillae in cephalopods and changeable cryptic body patterning in the slender filefish’ on Monday March 24th, 2014 at Brown University. She is advised by Dr. Roger T. Hanlon, Senior Scientist, at MBL.

Justine studied the functional morphology of the changeable, 3-dimensional skin papillae in several species of octopus and cuttlefish and found that most types of papilla are muscular hydrostats where movement and structural support are provided by muscles. One type of papilla was found to function by a buckling mechanism. Justine also performed a comparative study on the fixed, 3-dimensional dermal flaps of the slender filefish. This work contributes to our understanding of soft tissue actuation and the use of complicated skin projections for camouflage.

Justine’s research was supported by grants from the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Brown University – MBL Graduate Program.

Several publications have already been published on Justine’s research. For more information on her work see the following three citations:

Allen JJ, Bell GRR, Kuzirian AM, Hanlon RT. (2013) Cuttlefish skin papilla morphology suggests a muscular hydrostatic function for rapid changeability. Journal of Morphology. 274: 645-656.

Allen JJ, Bell GRR, Kuzirian AM, Velankar SS, Hanlon RT. (2014) Comparative morphology of changeable skin papillae in octopus and cuttlefish. Journal of Morphology. 275: 371-390.

Allen JJ, Akkaynak D, Hanlon RT. (In Review) Adaptive camouflage body patterning and dermal flap morphology in the cryptic slender filefish, Monacanthus tuckeri, on a coral reef. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Brown MBL Alumni Lindsay Brin Publishes Research in L&O

Brown-MBL alumni Dr. Lindsay Brin recently published her PhD research on denitrification and anammox potential rates in estuarine and continental shelf coastal sediments in the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Journal of Limnology and Oceanography.  The paper entitled  ‘Environmental controls of anammox and denitrification in southern New England estuarine and shelf sediments’ was co-authored by her advisors Anne Giblin of MBL’s Ecosystems Center and Assistant Professor Jeremy Rich, Brown University, and conducted in research labs at MBL and Brown.  Lindsay was a student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University and graduated in September 2013. Her publication can be found on the ASLO website.

Citation:  L. D. Brin, A. E. Giblin, J. J. Rich (2014). Environmental controls of anammox and denitrification in southern New England estuarine and shelf sediments’ Limnol. Oceanogr., 59(3), 2014, 851–860.

New Research by Brown MBL Graduate Student Published in JGR

Xi Yang, Brown MBL graduate student, collects leaf data on seasonality on Martha's Vineyard, MA

Xi Yang, Brown MBL graduate student, collects leaf data on seasonality on Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Xi Yang, a fourth year graduate student advised by Jim Tang at the Ecosystems Center at MBL and Jack Mustard in the Geological Sciences Department at Brown University, recently published his work on plant phenology in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.  Xi and the scientists from MBL and Brown University set up a digital camera in a deciduous white oak dominated state forest on Martha’s Vineyard in the spring of 2011 to discover more about the relationship between canopy level camera phenological metrics and leaf properties and the relationship between remote sensing data and camera phenological metrics.

Digital repeat photography has become a popular tool to track the seasonality of tree canopy color. Yet how this technique can be used for the studies of ecosystem functioning is unclear. Yang et al. (2014) found that there is a mismatch between the canopy greenness and the leaf biochemical content such as chlorophyll concentration. While in the fall, the canopy redness can be used as an indicator of fall senescence.

For more information on his research and findings go to the MBL Blog or read about his work in the Vineyard Gazette and in his recent publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

Citation: Yang X, Tang J, Mustard J (2014) Beyond leaf color: comparing camera-based phenological metrics with leaf biochemical, biophysical and spectral properties throughout the growing season of a temperate deciduous forest. J. Geophys. Res. DOI:10.1002/2013JG002460

2014 Neuroscience Practicum Course at MBL

Brown University graduate students participate in the 2014 NeuroPracticum Course at MBL

Brown University graduate students participate in the 2014 NeuroPracticum Course at MBL

On January 9-17, 2014 at MBL, Professors Anne Hart and Christopher Moore of Brown University organized an intensive practical neuroscience course for twelve first year Brown University graduate students from the Neuroscience and the MCB departments. The goal of the course was to provide an intense hand-on practical lab experience in neuroscience experimental design, methodology and interpretation. This year, the course was taught by three faculty members from Brown University (Professors Carlos Aizenmann, David Berson and Diane Lipscombe) along with Dr. Hart and Dr. Moore. Also included in the course was a writing workshop for students run by Professor John Davenport from Brown University. The MBL lab experience was preceded by a series of lectures held at Brown University, where students were introduced to basic principles of logical/experimental inference, discussion of the techniques that were available to them in the MBL laboratory, and readings in a specific neuroscience topic.

The course provided students with training in multiple leading methods in neuroscience research, including electrophysiology (in vivo extracellular and in vitro intracellular recording studies), molecular biology (PCR genotyping, electrophoresis, restriction digests), genetics and behavior (sleep in C. elegans), imaging (2-photon microscopy, GFP/RFP imaging), and immunohistochemistry, along with in-depth data and image analysis.  Students, faculty and teaching assistants were at the bench all day and late into the night, reminiscent of MBL’s renowned summer courses.