Perspectives in Biology 2015

For the past 30 years, the Department of Biology has hosted the annual Perspectives in Biology Symposium in early November. This program brings three eminent biologists to Winston-Salem for an intensive and collegial series of scholarly presentations for faculty from colleges and universities in the region. The speakers present state of the art information on a diversity of topics, information which many of the faculty attendees can immediately apply to their own teaching and research. The PIB program is routinely attended by 60-80 biology faculty representing 30-35 institutions from NC, SC, VA, TN and MD, together with Wake Forest University professors and graduate students. So, mark your calendars! We look forward to seeing everyone on November 6-7, 2015.

Featured Speakers for 2015:


Overview of PIB 2015

The Wake Forest University Department of Biology looks forward to welcoming old friends and making new friends at PIB 2015, November 6 & 7, 2015. You’ll find the same basic schedule as in past years. The Friday afternoon seminar begins at 4 PM. We regret that increasing costs of catering on our campus have required us to increase the registration fee to $90 per attendee. We still think that six seminars, a reception, a banquet, and lunch, PLUS Krispy Kreme, make us one of the best values in science.

Sheila Patek, Professor of Biology, Duke University

Sheila Patek, Duke University

Dr. Patek studies sound in the sea and the mechanics of movement. Her favorite study animals are mantis shrimp, spiny lobsters, and ants. Honors she has received include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the George A. Bartholomew Award for distinguished contributions to comparative physiology, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a NSF CAREER award, and the Brilliant 10 award from Popular Science magazine. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Hellman Family Foundation, Armstrong Fund for Science, Army Research Office MURI, and others. This is her first time speaking at Wake Forest University.

You might be interested in viewing Dr. Patek’s Ted presentation: The shrimp with a kick

The titles of Patek’s talks are:
How organisms move: inspiring tales of discovery and application
From fast to ultrafast: the evolutionary dynamics of extreme movements

Doug Emlen, Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana

Doug Emlen, University of Montana

Doug Emlen, University of Montana

Research in the Emlen laboratory focuses on the development and evolution of animal weapons such as the enormous horns and exaggerated mandibles of scarab beetles. Emlen’s research combines approaches from behavioral ecology, genetics, phylogenetics, and developmental biology to understand how evolution has shaped these bizarre structures. Current projects (include an examination of how altered expression of appendage patterning genes contributes to species differences in the shape of horns, and how the insulin receptor (InR) pathway modulates the size of male weapons in response to the larval nutritional environment. Emlen and collaborators are also generating a phylogeny for the rhinoceros beetles (Dynastinae) using next-generation sequencing, and plan to use this tree to reconstruct the evolution of exaggerated weapons in this rich, diverse, and stunning clade of large and charismatic insects. Awards received by Emlen include the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, multiple research awards from the National Science Foundation, and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists. Emlen is the author of two important books: Evolution: Making Sense of Life (2012), which was co-authored with Carl Zimmer and Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle (2014). In 2014 Professor Emlen’s teaching was recognized with the University of Montana’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

The titles of Emlen’s talks are:
Mechanism(s) of extreme growth
Extravagant weapons: The story behind arms races in animals and people

Sue Kinnamon, Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology


Sue Kinnamon, University of Colorado

Sue Kinnamon, University of Colorado

Professor Kinnamon heads the Chemosensory Transduction Laboratory at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In addition to her primary appointment in the Department of Otolaryngology, she also holds joint appointments in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of taste transduction and signaling. She is a world expert on taste transduction and has published widely on this topic. In 2001, she was awarded the Association for Chemoreception Sciences Award for Outstanding Achievement. She and her collaborators have also published ground breaking studies on the solitary chemoreceptor cells in our airways that allow us to detect dangerous chemicals and bacteria and trigger protective responses such as sneezing.

The titles of Kinnamon’s talks are:
Taste signaling: From tongues to lungs
Afferent signaling in taste buds: ATP and beyond