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Bacteria in the Human Vagina that Produce D-Lactic Acid Promote Resistance to Chlamydial Infections

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Dr. Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland, recently published a paper entitled “The cervicovaginal microbiota-host interaction modulated Chlamydia trachomatis infection” in the journal mBio that detailed their most recent study of the vaginal microbiome. Their research revealed mechanisms by which D-lactic acid produced by bacteria in the vagina might help protect women against Chlamydia trachomatis. These findings may enable the development of novel microbiome-based therapeutic strategies to protect women from infections and improve vaginal and cervical health. This avenue of study is important given that Chlamydia trachomatis causes the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in developed countries.

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Polymorphic Games Receives Grant for Evolutionary Mobile Game

Professor Barrie Robison recently received a $74,700 IGEM grant from the Idaho State Board of Education. He and co-PI Terence Soule will use the grant to create a mobile version of the first game produced by the Polymorphic Games Studio, entitled “Darwin’s Demons”. The new version of Darwin’s Demons, will bring evolutionary procedural content generation into the world of mobile gaming. This technique uses evolutionary models to evolve original game content as the game progresses rather than relying on pre-programmed content—an innovative programming approach developed by Polymorphic Games. The studio has released two commercial games so far that utilize evolutionary procedural content generation, and both games get more difficult over time as the opponents’ appearance, behavior, and traits adapt to the choices and strategy of the player. Bringing this new type of game into the mobile market creates a unique and replayable mobile gaming experience, as well as an opportunity for Polymorphic Games to expand its market reach and continue to move towards becoming an independent company. Polymorphic Games is a student-centered game studio that functions through the collaboration across multiple disciplines and builds real-world experience for the students involved. The team of students currently working on the Darwin’s Demons mobile game come from a wide range of academic programs all across campus. Lily Mason and Graeme Holliday, both Computer Science majors, are the game’s programmers; Parker Piedmont, a Computer Engineering and Music double major is composing the music for the game; Aaron Yama is a Virtual Technology and Design major is one of the game’s artists, and Savanna Estey, a Journalism and Mass Media major, is the project’s Social Media Coordinator.

Polymorphic Games 
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Paul Rowley Interviews with IDH About Novel Antifungal Proteins

Dr. Paul Rowley of the Biological Sciences department was recently interviewed by the Infectious Diseases Hub about his work exploring novel antifungal proteins. With rising resistance to antifungals, there is a need for new approaches and new drugs to treat fungal infections. In his interview, Rowley speaks about his research identifying novel antifungal proteins from Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts and whether these could be translated into the medications of the future. He discusses in detail 'killer yeasts' and the toxins they produce, as well as reason behind the the growing need for antifungals. He also references his previously published paper about a sequencing technique they developed. Moving forward, Rowley wants to focus his research next on the different strains of proteins, and variability in their ability to inhibit the growth of pathogenic yeasts.

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One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.

Stephen Hawking
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Graduate Brings Ear Cancer in Channel Island Foxes to Light

Sarah Hendricks spends her days analyzing white rhino genomes at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research as part of a program aimed at keeping the animals from extinction. She uses ground-breaking genetic techniques to assess, observe, and manage endangered species and prevent species extinction. It's the perfect job for Hendricks, who graduated from the University of Idaho in spring 2019 with a PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. As a U of I student, Hendricks went to Paul Hohenlohe, associate professor of evolutionary biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, and asked him if she could research the genetics of the foxes. Hohenlohe, who does similar work with Tasmanian devils, readily agreed. "While studying facial cancer in Tasmanian devils, my team found individual devils with tumor regression," Hohenlohe said. "The DNA sequencing of these individuals identified a gene that could play a role in that. Sarah and I believed that there might be something comparable happening with the foxes."

Full Story 
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DARPA Visits the University of Idaho on October 9th

U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program officials from the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) and the Information Innovation Office (I2O) will be on the U of I Moscow campus Wednesday, Oct. 9, for an all-day event where faculty members and others can learn about research funding opportunities. The event will include poster sessions and opportunities for faculty to meet one on one with the directors of each of the represented programs. One-on-one meetings (five meetings per program office) will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis and the development of a quad chart will be required prior to the scheduled meeting (a template will be provided). Interested faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students are invited to attend this event organized by the Office of Research and Faculty Development. All participants are strongly encouraged to present a poster. Additionally, if you are interested in giving a DARPA official a tour of your lab during this visit, please email Carly Cummings at ccummings@uidaho.edu, providing the name of your lab and a 2 or 3-sentence description of the research that happens there.

Register DARPA Offices 
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Faculty Success Seminar Schedule Announced

The Research and Faculty Development team is pleased to announce the academic year schedule for our Faculty Success Seminars! These one-hour seminars will deliver information to enhance the competitiveness of proposals seeking funding to support research and scholarly efforts. These will take place from 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. PT in IRIC 305, and will also be connected to other UI centers via Zoom. All seminars are open to faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students, and they will be recorded. We invite you to attend our first event, HERC IGEM Info Session, taking place on September 4. Jeremy Tamsen, JD, the UI Director for Technology Transfer, will provide an overview of the HERC-IGEM program - Higher Education Research Council Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission - a grant program administered by the Idaho State Board of Education. These funds are to be used as seed funding for strengthening Idaho's future by strategically investing in the development of expertise, products, and services which result in state economic growth.

Seminar Schedule 

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Isaac Newton

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.

Galileo

The saddest aspect of life right now is that gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Isaac Asimov

We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.

Stephen Jay Gould