May 4 – 8

Monday, May 4

MSCS Colloquium: Estimating Velocity for Processive Motor Proteins with Random Detachment
John Hughes, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Biostatistics
Processive motor proteins are ATP-powered biological nanomachines that drive many forms of movement in living organisms. The existence of eukaryotic organisms depends on these tiny motors because the passive process of diffusion is not sufficient to transport unwieldy payloads within the cell in a timely fashion. A motor protein overcomes these difficulties by hydrolyzing ATP in order to tow a cargo rapidly and in a directed path along a suitable substrate. Knowledge of these motors
could lead to important biomedical applications, e.g., anti-tumor technologies; treatments for neurodegenerative diseases; devices for blood testing and genetic screening; and treatments for diseases caused by motor protein defects.
We show that, for a wide range of models, standard t-distribution based inference about the velocity of processive motor proteins is sub-optimal. We develop a method that gives more precise inference regarding motor velocity in a one-sample case and significantly increases power to detect differences in velocity between two groups. These results should be of interest to experimentalists who wish to engineer motors possessing specific functional characteristics.
3:30pm, RNS 310

Biology Seminar: RNS 410 4:00 PM

Big Magnets, Metabolism and Small Mice

(or Metabolic Dysfunction in Huntington’s Disease Mouse Brain)

Janet M Dubinsky, PhD

Increasing evidence suggests that brain metabolic function is compromised in Huntington’s Disease. Defects in glycolytic and mitochondrial function are both implicated. However in vivo evidence is scarce. We used the magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) technique on mouse models of HD to examine brain metabolites as biomarkers for disease progression and to probe ATP generation and oxygen consumption. What we find depends upon when, where and how we look.

Tuesday, May 5

No Seminar:

Wednesday, May 6

No Seminar 

Thursday, May 7

Science Conversation Seminar: The Evolution of Beauty: From Warblers to Warhol
Richard Prum, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

Abstract:  Sexual ornaments are biological features that evolve through sensory/cognitive mating preferences of other organisms. Most biologists propose that such mating displays evolve through forms of natural selection for honest indicators of mate quality. I propose that adaptive mate choice mechanisms are intellectually insufficient to explain the complexity and diversity of sexual ornaments. I expand on Darwin’s original view of mate choice as a mechanism of aesthetic evolution. A fundamental feature of mate choice is the coevolution of mating displays and aesthetic mating preferences. Broadly, the coevolution of ornaments and their evaluations provides a framework for a “post-human” aesthetic philosophy that spans all biology and human culture. The goal of this aesthetic research program is not a reductive science of art, but rather a shared, intellectual tool box for the interconnected investigation of aesthetic phenomena across human and non-human species.

3:30 pm, RNS 150;  reception to follow outside of the classroom

This seminar is free and open to the public

Friday, May 8

No Seminar