Title: “Regulation of the Motor Protein Myosin in the Cell”
Presenter: David Altman, Assistant Professor of Physics
Generation of force is critical for many processes in the cell. Central to these processes are molecular motors, biomolecules capable of creating directed motion. My lab studies myosins, a molecular motor family with members implicated in processes including muscle contraction, trafficking of cargo in the cell, and cell motility. Specifically, we seek to understand how the complex cellular environment regulates these motors. To this end, we study both purified myosins outside the cell as well as myosin motors within their cellular niche. This approach requires us to probe myosin activity at a variety of sizes and in systems of varying complexity. For example, we study both the small-scale motions (one-billionth of a meter) of individual motors, as well as the relatively large motions (one-thousandth of a meter) of ensembles of myosins in muscle fibers. In this talk, I will describe some of these studies and discuss how our results are beginning to reveal important factors in the regulation of myosins in the cell.
Please join us for the first colloquium of the Spring semester with Seth Cotlar (History) who will present his talk titled: “When I was your age…”: Nostalgic Representations of the Recent Past in American Children’s Literature, 1830-1850
This talk is part of a book project on “The Cultural History of Nostalgia in Modernizing America, 1776-1860.” I delivered this talk last summer and over the next few months I need to transform it into an essay for inclusion in a collection of essays on children’s literature in the nineteenth century. I focus primarily on Samuel Goodrich, one of the most widely-read children’s authors of the antebellum period. I pay particular attention to how he depicts the environmental destruction that has accompanied the rapid economic development of the 1820s and 30s, and I also discuss his surprisingly sympathetic depictions of displaced Native Americans.
The talk will take place on Friday February 1 at 3 pm in the Hatfield Room. As usual, cookies and refreshments will be served.
Please join us on Friday, November 30th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for this week’s Faculty Colloquium being presented by Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, Professor of Psychology.
Why have all the boys gone? Gender differences in prosecution acceptance of child sexual abuse cases.
Cases of child sexual abuse (CSA) referred to the District Attorney (DA) are not necessarily accepted for prosecution. Two pilot studies sought to investigate whether there were gender differences in whether cases of CSA referred to the DA’s office were accepted by the DA and, if they existed, what might account for gender differences in decisions to accept cases and file charges. The results of the first study indicated that cases involving male victims were significantly less likely to be accepted for prosecution than cases involving female victims. Comparisons of acceptance rates were based on expected frequencies given CSA prevalence rates by gender in the literature and on the proportion of males and females seen at a Child Abuse Assessment Center (CAAC) from where the DA referrals were obtained. The second study assessed both disclosure-related variables (assessed by content analyses of disclosures made at a CAAC) and abuse-related variables (that occurred at or near the time of the abuse) that might explain these differences. Few variables were found to significantly differentiate males’ and females’ cases; these were the relationship of the child to the perpetrator, whether the child was offended by a juvenile, whether the child told someone of the abuse, pornography exposure, whether the child displayed concerning behaviors, and whether the child was questioned about possible abuse. Implications of these results are discussed.
Please join us on Friday, November 16th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for this week’s Faculty Colloquium being presented by David Gutterman, Associate Professor of Politics.
Title: Obama Fought the Battle of Jericho
Abstract: In his first campaign for President, Barack Obama described himself not just as part of the Joshua Generation, but as the American Joshua – prepared, able, and destined to lead the nation beyond the place of Moses on the mountaintop down into the promised land. In part, this portrayal was indicative of Obama’s determination to write himself into the American story, but this story of Joshua is also an effort to tell the nation a story about itself. From his March 5, 2007 speech in Selma, Alabama where he positioned himself figuratively as a son of the civil rights activists to his November 4, 2008 acceptance speech where he answered Sam Cooke’s plaintive hopes by declaring that “change has come to America,” Obama consciously framed his mission as fulfilling the promise of the “Moses generation.”
But this story largely disappeared once Obama began governing. Indeed, one of the remarkable – and for many disappointing – aspects of Obama’s first term in office is that despite the powerful tales he told on the campaign trail, we are still waiting for him to be, as Matt Bai wrote recently in The New York Times, the “narrator in chief.” Even on the campaign trail in 2012, Obama rarely ascended to the heights of his power as storyteller that he demonstrated in the previous campaign – and he never returned to the story of Moses and Joshua. In this essay I address the disappearance of this political narrative during Obama’s term as President and in his campaign for re-election. Is this failure to tell this resonant political narrative indicative of a problem in the story itself – or in the storyteller?
Please joins us on Friday, November 9th at 3 p.m. in Cone Chapel for this week’s Faculty Colloquium. Me (Brenda Ueland), a song cycle for piano and voice composed by Libby Larsen and published in 1994; performed by pianist, Marva Duerksen and soprano, Christine Elder.
Brenda Ueland (1891-1985), an American journalist, editor, freelance writer, and teacher of writing, is best known for her book If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. Carl Sandburg liked it so much that he claimed “it was the best book ever written on how to write.” In the unrelated field of Arctic exploration, Brenda is famous for her letter exchange with the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen. Only his letters to her survive, but they are so explicit in their sexual details that one must be over 18 to read them at the Minnesota Historical Society!
All of this brings us to our presentation for Friday’s faculty colloquium. Here, you will encounter Brenda Ueland through the words of her autobiography, Me: A Memoir (1939), excerpts from which comprise the text for American composer Libby Larsen’s marvelous song cycle for soprano and piano. Ueland was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota into a relatively progressive family in which her father was a prominent lawyer and judge and her mother a suffragette and first president of the Minnesota League of Women Voters. After completing her baccalaureate at Barnard College, Ueland spent some years in New York and its environs working as a staff writer, composing scripts for radio broadcasts, and eventually teaching writing classes. She married three times, had one child and, by her own account, numerous lovers. Her autobiography details elements of her childhood, time in college, life in Greenwich Village, and various love affairs. In our reading of Ueland’s autobiography, we have found Ueland to be engagingly self-confident, witty, insightful, and wise, but never preachy. As Libby Larsen explains in a note to the published score of her cycle: “Ueland’s gist is to confirm in us the true art into which we are all born, the art of living.”
Dr. Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In this slide-illustrated lecture, we survey Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, and consider the archaeological and literary evidence for the burials of Jesus and his brother James. The lecture includes a discussion of the claims surrounding the so-called “James ossuary” and the “Talpiyot tomb” (recently said to be the tomb of Jesus and his family).
Thursday, November 8th 7:30 PM
Rogers Music Center
The Lane C. McGaughy Lecture in Ancient Studies
Sponsored by Willamette University’s Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (CASA).
Faculty Colloquium: James Friedrich, Professor of Psychology
Title: What is QR? Quantitative Reasoning: “As If Your Life Depended on It”
Mathematics and science requirements have long been standard components of the undergraduate curriculum, and specific applications of mathematical tools and scientific reasoning permeate work in many disciplines. Recent discussions of liberal education goals have begun to reframe some of the justification for these courses in terms of the importance of “quantitative reasoning” (QR) and “quantitative literacy,” and yet the significance of the broader meaning behind these new labels is not widely understood. If QR is not simply “math” or “science,” then what is it? In this faculty colloquium, I hope to take up the conceptual issues underlying the recent changes in terminology and discuss their implications for general education (including Willamette’s current revision efforts). In doing so, I will be drawing examples and illustrations from health care and medical decision making as a way of illustrating why your life might, indeed, depend on QR.
Details: Friday, November 2 at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room
Please join us on Friday, October 12 at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for this week’s Faculty Colloquium being presented by Gary Tallman, Professor of Biology.
TITLE: Always more to NO: Heat blocks nitric oxide accumulation required for plant growth hormone function
ABSTRACT: Nicotiana glauca (Graham), tree tobacco, is an equatorial perennial plant with a high tolerance to heat stress. One particular type of cell in this plant, the guard cell (GC), is useful for studying the effects of heat stress on fate-determining hormonal signaling. At lower temperatures (< 32ºC) two plant hormones, auxin (1-naphthalene acetic acid; NAA) and cytokinin (6-benzylaminopurine; BAP), cause GC to expand 20-30 fold, regenerate cell walls, dedifferentiate, re-enter the cell cycle, and divide. At higher temperatures (> 34ºC) GC expand only 5-6 fold; they do not regenerate walls, dedifferentiate, re-enter the cell cycle, or divide. Heat (38ºC) suppresses activation of an auxin-responsive gene “switch” (promoter) in GC suggesting that inhibition of cell expansion and cell cycle re-entry at high
temperatures is due to suppressed auxin signaling. A molecular gas, nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in auxin signaling in other plant systems. During my sabbatical my lab showed that heat stress
inhibits NO accumulation by GC and that L-NG-monomethyl arginine (L-NMMA), an inhibitor of NO production in animals and plants, mimics the effects of heat by limiting cell expansion and preventing cell wall regeneration; inhibiting cell cycle re-entry, dedifferentiation, and cell division; and suppressing activation of the auxin-responsive promoter. We also showed that heat and L-NMMA reduce the mitotic indices of primary root meristems and inhibit lateral root elongation similarly. These data link reduced NO levels to suppressed auxin signaling in heat-stressed cells and seedlings of thermotolerant plants and suggest that even plants that have evolved to withstand sustained high temperatures may still be negatively impacted by heat stress.
Robert Gottlieb from Occidental College is the scheduled speaker for this week’s Faculty Colloquium. Robert is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban Environmental Studies and Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute and will deliver his talk on Friday, September 7th at 3:30 pm. in the Hatfield Room.
Robert is also the co-director of Occidental’s LIASE (Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment) program,and is therefore a very appropriate speaker to help Willamette launch its own LIASE program. He is the author of over 11 books, and considered one of the major founders of modern environmental studies in the United States, with a specific interest in urban sustainability and related questions of social and environmental justice.
A reception will follow the talk across the Mill stream in the Smith Gallery.
Please join us on Friday, April 13th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. This week’s Colloquium will be presented by Alison Fisher, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. The title of the talk is: “How do plants determine when to flower? A molecular perspective”.
Abstract: Spring has finally sprung, and Salem is awash in a beautiful pallet of colorful spring blossoms. Of course, we all know that many plants and trees flower in the spring, but have you ever wondered how these plants actually “know” when to flower? In this talk I will discuss the myriad ways that environmental factors regulate the timing of plant flowering, focusing on our understanding of these processes at the molecular level. I will also share some of my lab’s research on the role of the plant hormone ethylene in promoting the floral transition in plants.