MultiSTEPS trainee Renee Pietsch featured in VT News

High school biology students learn about the physics of flying by studying flight paths of animals and microbes

A flight lab for biology students at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School was developed by Renee Pietsch, a MultiSTEPS trainee in biological sciences, while working with Dr. David Schmale, an associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, during one of her MultiSTEPS research rotations.

BSE Seminar on earth systems modeling

Please join the BSE Department for the following seminar, presented by Dr. Matteo Convertino, candidate for a BSE assistant professor position in earth systems modeling.

Speaker:  Dr. Matteo Convertino
Research Faculty, Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Affiliated Faculty, Climate Institute, & Water Institute
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Title:  “Models as Technology for Complex Natural-Human Systems’ Analysis and Design”
Monday, April 29, 2013
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 am
Location: 108 Seitz Hall

2013 Summer Graduate Workshop on Connecting Biological Data with Mathematical Models

The 2013 Summer Graduate Workshop on Connecting Biological Data with Mathematical Models will be held June 17-28, 2013, at NIMBioS on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The workshop is co-sponsored by NIMBioS, MBI and the Centre for Applied Mathematics in Bioscience and Medicine (CAMBAM). The workshop features instructors from across North America whose research expertise is mathematical modeling in biological systems using real data. Some of the techniques to be covered include Maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches to inference, parameter estimation, model identifiability, uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, and data assimilation. Applications of connecting data to models will come from epidemiology, ecology (including global change biology), evolution, microbiology, physiology, pharmacokinetics, and systems biology.

Graduate students from the mathematical, physical and life sciences are encouraged to apply. There are no fees associated with this workshop and most meals are included. If needed, the math institutes can provide some support (transportation, lodging) for Workshop attendees.

Dates: June 17-28, 2013

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Co-sponsors: NIMBioS, MBI, and Centre for Applied Mathematics in Bioscience and Medicine (CAMBAM).

Application Deadline: January 15, 2013

For more information about the workshop and a link to the online application, go to

VT Interdisciplinary Research Symposium on November 2

Registration is open for the Second Annual Interdisciplinary Research Symposium, held at Virginia Tech on Nov 2nd, 9am-3pm,  in the Graduate Life Center (GLC) Multipurpose room!

The Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society (ΙΔΡ) organizes this symposium to promote interdisciplinary work being performed at Virginia Tech by graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Bill Newell, a leading scholar on interdisciplinary research, will be the keynote speaker and host an interactive panel discussion.

Additionally, undergraduate and graduate students will present their research in poster sessions and compete for poster awards in their respective categories. Coffee and lunch break provided. Registration is free! To register go to

IEEE Life Sciences Grand Challenges Conference

The IEEE Life Sciences Grand Challenges Conference will be held October 4-5, 2012 at the National Academy of Sciences Auditorium in Washington DC

The Conference will conduct strategic discussions and debates on grand challenges facing the scientific community in the interface of engineering and life sciences. The anticipated outcome of conference shall be identified grand challenges on how engineering can be better interfaced with life sciences to understand the mechanisms of biological systems and major diseases, and to lead to improved healthcare.

The Conference will consist of a series of plenary presentations by thought leaders in academia, government and industry, and interactive panel discussions and small group discussions by all meeting participants. Plenary sessions include: Brain Disorder and Nervous Systems; Heart Diseases and and Cardiovascular Systems; Cancer; Education and Training; Translation – From Bech to Bedside.

Due to room capacity, participation is limited and interested participants will be first come first served. To reserve your seat, please register ASAP.

July 31 deadline: Applicants sought for Interdisciplinary Curriculum Development workshop


Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Approximately 40 faculty members and future faculty (including IGERT fellows!) are sought as participants for a 2-day workshop on developing and sustaining interdisciplinary graduate programs.  Registration, lodging and meals will be covered by an NSF grant; participants need only pay their travel to and from the venue.

At this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to develop an idea for an interdisciplinary graduate program by considering learning outcomes, faculty team members, administrative challenges, program growth and sustainability, and funding opportunities. Workshop sessions are designed to be highly interactive, encouraging discussion and networking.

Full announcement and call for participants:

Participant application:

Direct questions to

Harvard post-doctoral position in fungal biology & biomechanics


Fungal Network Architectures


We are looking for a full-time postdoctoral fellow to partner with us in research on the biology and physics of fungal networks. The fellowship is funded by the Human Frontiers in Science Program. Experiments aim to understand how fluid flows within indeterminate, modular organisms enable foraging. Fungi can easily reach several square meters in size. Despite lacking a central coordination center (a brain), individuals are able to reshape their morphology in response to local cues, including food sources. How are local signals integrated across a network, and coordinated to mount a global response? Applicants must be genuinely fascinated by basic research. Brenner is an applied mathematician and the Pringle laboratory focuses on the evolution and ecology of fungi. We are housed at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, a vibrant intellectual community near myriad cultural resources.  The fellow will work collaboratively with Professors Brenner and Pringle, and physicist and post-doctoral fellow Karen Alim, to grow fungi, manipulate networks using drugs and physical stimuli, and implement a range of image-processing and analysis tools. A collaboration with Mark Fricker (Plant Biology, Oxford University) will start this Fall. This position requires an independent, organized, and motivated individual with demonstrated skills and experience in experimental techniques. Biologists interested in quantitative approaches to biological problems are strongly encouraged to apply. Above all, we are looking for someone who is personable, motivated and enthusiastic about working in a group environment.

Information about the Brenner group can be found at Information about the Pringle laboratory can be found at

Informal inquiries can be directed to either Michael Brenner ( or Anne Pringle (

Formal applications should be made to the administration, by emailing Nikki Hughes ( Please send a letter describing your research interests and experience, a C.V., and contact information for three references.

Applications will be reviewed beginning July 1, 2012 and will be accepted until the position is filled.

Harvard University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action, non-smoking workplace.

Seminar: Microfluidic Tools for Cellular Engineering and Analysis

Speaker: Dr. Chang Lu, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Time: 2:45-3:45 pm
Location: 310 ICTAS, 325 Stanger St.

Microfluidics provides a versatile platform for manipulating and analyzing cells down to single cell level. In this talk, I will discuss microfluidic devices we developed for genetic modification and cellular analysis. We developed a simple microfluidic flow-through technique that conducts electroporation under constant voltage for gene delivery. We showed that hydrodynamics such as Dean flows could be introduced to dramatically influence gene uptake and its distribution on the cell surface. We also developed a set of microfluidic cytometric tools for studying the subcellular localization of proteins and the cell surface events with high throughput and single cell resolution. Finally, I will briefly discuss our recent work on analyzing epigenetics of cells using chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. These tools may find applications to cell-based therapies, molecular biology studies, drug discovery, and clinical diagnosis/staging.