Recap of Geronimo Villanueva’s visit to CU on 4/4 – 4/5!

On April 4-5, CU Café and the Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences (APS) Department hosted two accomplished and well distinguished scholars, researcher Dr. Geronimo Villanueva from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and graduate student Hannah Kerner from Arizona State University (ASU).

Dr. Geronimo Villanueva’s research highlights include mapping the “heavy water” (deuterated water, D/H) content on Mars and the first detection of “heavy water” in a comet. He is also the group leader for future Mars studies by the James Webb Space Telescope, a co-investigator of the Exo-Mars Trace-Gas-Orbiter 2016 and has experience with three major space agencies, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), the German Aerospace Agency. Dr. Villanuava obtained his PhD from Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensytemforschung and Freiburg University in Germany, his Master’s Certification from Clausthal Technical University in Germany and M.S.T.E in Atmospheric Radiometry from the Universidad Mendoza in Argentina.

During his visit, Dr. Villanueva met with APS and Geology faculty and students, researchers at the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), including members of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN) satellite team. Dr. Villanueva hosted an informal lunchtime discussion with APS grad students and CU Café members about the basics goals of his research and his career path. He depicted his initial interests in science, how he started his own business, left Argentina to pursue a PhD in Germany and eventually ended up in the United States of America. He has had a fascinating journey thus far! One main takeaway was that while initially he had issues as a young Argentinian supervisor of German elders, they eventually developed great relationships after they got to know him. His point was that no matter where you come from or your background, we can all get along, work together, and eventually develop strong personal bonds. Dr. Villanueva gave a captivating APS Colloquium talk that articulated the importance of a significant methane (CH4) detection on Mars and how heavy water (HDO) to normal water (H2O) ratios can be used to extrapolate the water loss rate of Mars. Dr. Villanueva finished each of his two day visit with dinners with APS and CU Café members.

Dr. Villanueva and Hannah Kerner before her talk.

Dr. Villanueva brought along Hannah Kerner, a first year PhD graduate student at Arizona State University (ASU) who studies exploration systems design. Hannah is the current Executive Director and former NewSpace Conference Program Manager for the Space Frontier Foundation, former Chair of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and former instructor for a computer science course at her undergrad institution of University of North Carolina (UNC).

During her visit, Hannah presented her recent research on machine learning for autonomous image artifact recognition for future space exploration missions, the LunaH CubeSat mission and on gender bias in STEM. Hannah also led a lunch discussion on the various actions that can be taken to educate people on and to prevent future gender bias offenses. Topics ranged from small scale day-to-day lab work environment actions, to the university wide level. The discussion included professors and students in the CU Aerospace Engineering Sciences, APS students and CU Café members.

CU Café members with Dr. Villanueva and Hannah Kerner!

All in all, the visit went great! CU Café would like to thank everyone who contributed to making these series of events a tremendous success!

Did you miss the talk(s)? Never fear! Videos of both Dr. Villanueva’s and Hannah’s talks are below:


Kalai Mathee is coming to CU on Thursday 4/28!

Hi everyone! Are you ready for another great series of talks? Dr. Kalai Mathee is visiting campus next Thursday April 28th!
Dr. Mathee is a leader in her field; she has established an interdisciplinary research program focused on molecular pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen that is responsible for the high morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. She is very passionate about her research and how it might contribute to increasing CF patient quality of life. She is well respected nationally and internationally by researchers in multiple fields, including microbial and comparative genomics, Pseudomonas pathogenesis, alternate therapy using botanicals, microbial biofilm development, and regulation of microbial transcription.
In recent years, she has become increasingly interested in developing a holistic approach for a sustainable global health in lower and middle income countries as she strongly beliefs that health is the number one determinant for a healthy, prosperous and secure nations. Following a sabbatical in Pan American Health Organization-World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and Sabin Vaccine Institute, she returned to FIU to become the Founding Director of Global Health Consortium. Dr. Mathee is currently professor of Molecular Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Florida International University.
Dr. Mathee readily admits that she derives strength and inspiration from her mentees that number more than 120. In 2011, she received the Mentor of the Year award. In addition, she was bestowed the highest honor of her career in FIU, the 2011 President’s Council Worlds Ahead Faculty Award in recognition of outstanding achievement as a student-centered professor who makes an impact and exceeds expectations. In 2014, she was one of the inaugural winners of the New England BioLabs Inspiration in Science Award. During her visit she will be joined by her postdoc Dr. Diansy Zincke, who will also be giving a talk.

Dr. Diansy Zincke is a postdoc in Dr. Mathee’s lab.

Details about all the talks are below:

  • Seminar One: Dr. Diansy Zincke will be talking about antibiotic resistance in JSCBB B432 at 10:30 am. Her talk is titled: “Characterization of a class D β–lactamase in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.”
  • Seminar Two: Dr. Kalai Mathee will give her informal talk in Porter B121 at 12:15 pm. There will be free lunch provided! The title of her talk is: “A 10,000 mile journey from a small town in Malaysia to Miami.”
  • Seminar Three: Dr. Kalai Mathee will give a research talk as part of the MCD Biology seminar series at 4:00pm in Gold A2B70. The title of her seminar is: “Genes, Genomics, Greens and 65 Roses: The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Connection.”

We hope to see you at all of these talks next week! They’re going to be great!

Geronimo Villanueva is coming to CU on 4/4!

Hi everyone! We hope you are enjoying your spring breaks! Our next seminar is just around the corner! On April 4th and 5th, we will be cohosting Dr. Geronimo Villanueva with the Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences department here at CU! NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and Catholic University of America (CUA) Research Assistant Professor, Dr. Geronimo Villanueva brings experience as a bilingual science communicator (Spanish and English). Dr. Villanueva’s recent research highlights include mapping the “heavy water” (deuterated water, D/H) content on Mars and the first detection of “heavy water” in a comet. He also is the group leader for future Mars studies by the James Webb Space Telescope, a co-investigator of the Exo-Mars Trace-Gas-Orbiter 2016 and has experience with three major space agencies, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) the German Aerospace Agency. Geronimo will giving the Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Department/CU Café Seminar Series colloquium talk on Monday, April, 4 2016 at 4 PM in the JILA Auditorium. This talk will focus on Mars’ evolutionary and habitability discoveries. Dr. Villanueva will also be discussing his career path over lunch (free food!) on Monday, April 4, 2015 at 12:30 – 1:30 PM in the Gamow Tower Reading Room (Duane Hall).

Dr. Villanueva is also bringing Hannah Kerner as his mentee for this trip. Hannah is a PhD graduate student at Arizona State University (ASU) with a focus on exploration systems design. Hannah is the current Executive Director and former NewSpace Conference Program Manager for the Space Frontier Foundation, former Chair of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SED) and former instructor for a computer science course at her undergrad institution of University of North Carolina (UNC). Hannah will be giving a talk on machine learning for future planetary exploration and her experiences as a woman in science and engineering on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 11 AM – 12 PM in JILA X317.

Mark your calendars for these three exciting seminars and stay tuned for more details as we get closer to April! We hope to see you there!

Recap of Enrique De La Cruz’s visit to CU on 2/17!

Hello everyone! CU Café and the Molecular Biophysics Training program recently hosted Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, Dr. Enrique De La Cruz. Also, we were privileged to host Dr. Eric Johnson-Chavarria, an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Enrique’s lab and WOW! what a great time we had. Here are a few of the highlights.
The day started with a seminar given by Eric about work he did for his PhD at Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and now under Enrique’s mentoring. Eric brought enthusiasm and knowledge to the room as he explained microfluidics and future implications of this technique in a talk titled: “Automated microfluidics for measuring single bacteria gene expression and actin cytoskeleton force dependence”. Following his talk, Eric talked about his current outreach efforts toward school-age children in which he hopes to instill a passion and curiosity for the sciences through the use of 3D printing technology.
Enrique gave a superb and inspiring career talk titled: “Was I supposed to make it here?” It was here that students and faculty got to know Enrique and hear about his journey to being a professor and scientist. Enrique kept it real, honest and unfiltered, as he explained how to make it in the science/academia game. His advice: succeed and don’t commit too far into the future. That is, don’t make a career decision until you have to. Enrique encouraged students to keep pushing forward and to not lose hope in their career endeavors. He brought it home by discussing frustrations and set-backs he had faced during his career journey, which allowed listeners to know that they are not alone.
Enrique’s engaging lay talk was a precursor to the warm and collaborative approach to his formal seminar titled: “How cells use chemistry and physics to break the bones that power their movement”. Enrique’s seminar proved to not only be engaging and informational; but was interdisciplinary and fun, with Enrique poking fun of and referencing the relevance (and sometimes irrelevance) of all scientific fields and using props to explain complex theories for everyone to understand. Enrique’s work is complex and dynamic, just like him! We would like to thank Enrique and Eric for coming to CU and inspiring young scientists to stay the course, to laugh and have some fun, and to sometimes think and remember why you started that journey in the first place. For more information on Enrique, check out the video below.

Enrique De La Cruz seminars on Wednesday 2/17!

Dr. Enrique De La Cruz will be visiting campus this Wednesday February 17th and will be giving two talks! Dr. De La Cruz is a world expert in cellular biophysics. His work focuses on molecular motors and cytoskeletal protein dynamics. His interdisciplinary research studying the kinetics and thermodynamics of enzymes and polymers that span the central dogma of molecular biology has provided insights of pathology of diseases in muscle, kidney, heart and brain. He has taken leadership positions in several scientific societies, where he sparked several initiatives for diversity in STEM; headed many outreach activities that focus on minority participation in research; and is an active SACNAS member. For this visit, Dr. De La Cruz is also bringing a postdoc, Dr. Eric Johnson Chavarria, who will be speaking about his research in the De La Cruz lab. Details about all talks below:

  • Seminar 1: Eric Johnson Chavarria will kick off the talks at 10:30 am in B115 (JSCBB). His talk is titled: “Automated microfluidics for measuring single bacteria gene expression and actin cytoskeleton force dependence.”
  • Seminar 2: Enrique De La Cruz’s informal seminar will be at 12:00 pm in B121 (Porter). His talk is titled: “Was I supposed to make it?”
  • Seminar 3: Enrique De La Cruz’s research seminar will be at 3:30 pm in Butcher Auditorium (JSCBB). His talk is titled: “How cells use chemistry and physics to break the bones that power their movement.”

Special CU Café Seminar TOMORROW 2/12

Tomorrow Dr. Gabriel Lopez from the University of New Mexico will be giving a talk sponsored by CU Café and BioFrontiers. Dr. Lopez is an accomplished professor of Biomedical Engineering. He founded the NSF’s Research Triangle Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in North Carolina and the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Mexico. His research in biomaterials and bioengineering has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed articles and 32 U.S. patents. In 2006, the editors of Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology selected him as one of the “100 most important Hispanics in technology and business.” He was recently appointed Vice-President of Research at the University of New Mexico. More information about his research can be found on his website!

His talk is titled: “Genetic Level Programming of Molecular Assembly of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins” and he will be speaking at 4:30 pm in JSCBB A104 TOMORROW 2/12/16. We hope you can make it!

Welcome back!

Hi everyone! Welcome back for spring semester! We hope you had great winter breaks and are well-rested and ready to dive back into school!

So far, CU Café is hosting three events this semester (see below for details) but we might be adding more so make sure you check here/our Twitter feed often for more updates as the semester progresses. Here’s what we have planned so far:

  1. February 17, 2016 – Enrique de la Cruz seminar
    Dr. Enrique De la Cruz is a world expert in cellular biophysics. His work focuses on molecular motors and cytoskeletal protein dynamics. His interdisciplinary research studying the kinetics and thermodynamics of enzymes and polymers that span the central dogma of molecular biology has provided insights of pathology of diseases in muscle, kidney, heart and brain. He has taken leadership positions in several scientific societies, where he sparked several initiatives for diversity in STEM; headed many outreach activities that focus on minority participation in research; and is an active SACNAS member.
  2. April 4, 2016 – Geronimo Villanueva seminar
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and Catholic University of America (CUA) Research Assistant Professor, Dr. Geronimo Villanueva brings experience as a bilingual science communicator (Spanish and English). Dr. Villanueva’s recent research highlights include mapping the “heavy water” (deuterated water, D/H) content on Mars and the first detection of “heavy water” in a comet. He also is the group leader for future Mars studies by the James Webb Space Telescope, a co-investigator of the Exo-Mars Trace-Gas-Orbiter 2016 and has experience with three major space agencies, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) the German Aerospace Agency.
  3. April 28, 2016 – Kalai Mathee seminar
    Dr. Kalai Mathee leads a multi-faceted research group focused on molecular pathogenesis in the model organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is responsible for the high mortality and morbidity in cystic fibrosis patients. She is as passionate about her research as she is about mentoring students of all backgrounds.

Stay tuned for more details about these seminars and for more information regarding other events. In addition, if you would like to be involved in CU Café, please do not hesitate to send us an e-mail!

Recap of Ahna Skop’s visit to CU on 12/1!

On Dec 1st, CU Café and the Signaling and Cellular Regulation (SCR) Training Grant program hosted Dr. Ahna Skop and her undergraduate student Alex Villarreal at CU Boulder.

Dr. Ahna Skop is an associate professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did her undergraduate at Syracuse University and her PhD work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Dr. John White. She then moved to a post-doc at the University of California Berkeley with Rebecca Heald and Barbara Meyer, after which she returned to UW-Madison as a faculty member. Dr. Skop has won a number of awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the AAAS Remarkable Women in Science Award, and in addition to several other professional associations she has been a longstanding member and now is a board member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

During her visit to CU Boulder, Dr. Skop met with faculty in a variety of departments across campus (MCDB, Biochemistry, Physics, and Film Studies) and gave two talks: an informal talk to graduate students and postdocs about her career path and creativity in science and a formal talk about research in her lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex toured the CU Boulder campus and the CU Light Microscopy Core Facility in MCDB, shadowed graduate students and postdocs in three MCDB labs, and gave a talk to interested graduate students, postdocs, and faculty about his project in the Skop lab. After Dr. Skop’s formal talk, Dr. Skop and Alex attended a dinner with students and postdocs associated with CU Café, the SCR Training Grant, and IQ Biology. The dinner conversation had a few main themes, including knowing your passions and staying true to yourself (instead of following “typical” career paths because that’s what you think is expected of you) as well as how to market yourself for your dream job.

This visit was put together by Sarah McQuate and Lynn Sanford, who are both CU Café members. Lynn is currently funded by the SCR training grant and Sarah was previously funded by SCR.

Ahna Skop seminars tomorrow 12/1!

Dr. Ahna Skop from University of Wisconsin-Madison will be visiting campus tomorrow and giving two talks! Dr. Skop studies the molecular machinery behind cytokinesis and cell polarity in C. elegans. Her lab has defined key links between the endosomal pathway, the cytoskeleton, and membrane trafficking in both cytokineses and cell polarity, particularly in respect to anterior PAR protein complexes. Her lab uses functional genomics, proteomics, and microscopy to identify key proteins and their roles in these two phenomena. Additionally, Dr. Skop is a proponent of deriving art from science and scientific outreach via art. More information can be found at her research website. Finally, her undergraduate student, Alex Villarreal will also be giving a talk about his research in the Skop lab! Details below:

  • Seminar 1: Ahna Skop Informal Seminar for students and postdocs – “Too creative for science” in Porter B121 at noon. Bring your lunch!
  • Seminar 2: Alex Villarreal will be speaking about his research in JSCBB B331 at 3:15! His talk is titled “RNA regulation during mitosis.”
  • Seminar 3: Ahna Skop Formal Seminar – “The mystery and beauty of asymmetric cell division” in Butcher Auditorium at 4 pm.