MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow Melody Swartz on 'Immunoengineering: A New Approach to Cancer Research and Beyond'

2014-08-27 by News, Sports, and Art

Melody Swartz, Ph.D. is a swartz closeup2012 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow and currently a professor at the University of Chicago Institute of Molecular Engineering.

Dr. Swartz’s research focuses on how lymphatic vessels, and their transport functions, contribute to adaptive immunity. Biomedical scientists currently regard the fluid-drainage function of the lymphatic system as mostly important for maintaining tissue fluid balance. The cell transport functions, which regulate immunity, are considered separately. She is trying to build a new picture of the lymphatic function—namely, that not only are fluid and cell transport functions of the lymphatic vessels strongly coupled, but that the fluid transport functions are very important in regulating immune responses. Swartz’s team also is trying to target lymphatic vessels for improved cancer immunotherapy because this is one aspect of the tumor microenvironment that seems to contribute to therapeutic failure.

She has received many honors including being awarded a Career Award from the National Science Foundation, an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award, and the Wenner Prize—Switzerland’s largest prize for cancer research. Other recognition includes being named one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in 2006. Dr. Swartz also is an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and a two-time recipient of prestigious $3 million single-investigator grants from the European Research Foundation.

In 2003 Dr. Swartz joined the faculty of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and was a professor in the Institute of Bioengineering and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research until 2014 when she moved to take a professorship at the University of Chicago in the Institute of Molecular Engineering. Her prior affiliations include Northwestern University (1999–2006), and her scientific articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, and PNAS.

Melody Swartz received a B.S. (1991) from Johns Hopkins University in chemical engineering. As a Watson Foundation Fellow she then conducted a year of independent research in Micronesia on the “Use and Societal Impact of Western Technologies in Undeveloped Nations.” She earned a Ph.D. (1998) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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For More Information:

UAA Honors College
Convocation event details
Melody Swartz
Bio page, Unversity of Chicago Institute of Molecular Biology

'Generations at Risk: Toxic Chemicals and Effects on Children, Reproductive Health and Future Generations"

2014-03-27 by

Join distinguished scientist and speaker Dr. Tracey Woodruff, director of the University of California at San Francisco’s Program on Reproductive Health & the Environment, for a talk about chemicals and their effect on younger and future generations.

This event is sponsored by Alaska Community Action on Toxics, and co-sponsored by the UAA Department of Biological Sciences and UAA Department of Health Sciences.

The event was podcast on March 25, 2014.

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For More Information:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics
UAA Department of Biological Sciences
Department of Health Sciences
SB 151
Toxic-Free Children's Act Fact Sheet (PDF)

Complex Systems: 'Are Humans Just Another Predator? The Roles of Human Foragers in North Pacific Marine Food Webs'

2014-03-03 by News, Sports, and Art

Most studies of humans and ecosystems present human impacts on ecosystems. However, our ability to understand and mitigate such impacts depends on the roles humans play in ecosystems. Food webs provide a useful way to quantify ecological roles of species including humans. By synthesizing 6,000 years of biological, archeological, ethnographic and other data from marine ecosystems in the North Pacific, in particular the Sanak Archipelago in the Eastern Aleutian Islands, we can characterize how Unangan/Aleut hunter-gatherers fit into complex marine food webs, how they compared to other predators and how their behaviors might have affected long-term ecosystem sustainability.

About the speaker: Jennifer Dunne’s research is in analysis, modeling and theory of organization, dynamics and function of complex species interaction. Much of this work focuses on the basic architecture for the flow of energy and resources in ecosystems that play a central role in ecological and evolutionary dynamics, and seeks to identify fundamental patterns and principles of ecological network structure. She is extending the scope and impact of this research with interdisciplinary collaborations in archaeology, art, computer science, economics, evolutionary theory, microbiology, paleobiology, parasitology, physics and social science. She received a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, held a National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellowship in biological informatics, and has been on the faculty of the Santa Fe Institute since 2007.

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For More Information:

Complex Systems
UAA Complex Systems Website

Professor Lil Alessa presents surprising findings on climate change in Alaska, proposes a future water economy for the state

2011-02-11 by

The UAA Department of Biology featured Dr. Lil Alessa speaking about some surprising climate change findings on Feb. 3, 2011. Her talk is in two parts. The first half deals with what data tells us about climate change in Alaska. The second half proposes a future water economy for Alaska. She reports that water is so valuable that Canada is building a water pipeline to the Four Corners area of the U.S., and China and France are buying up Alaska’s water rights now. Dr. Alessa is with the RAM Group, The Resilience and Adaptive Management Group, described as “a highly interdisciplinary and multi-cultural effort at the University of Alaska Anchorage.” Their focus is “developing social adaptation strategies in the face of rapid global change.”

This podcast was recorded on Feb. 4, 2011 at UAA.

Download MP3 (52:33min, 48MB)

For More Information:

RAM homepage
Gateway into research, publications, personnel and upcoming workshops
Dr. Lil Alessa bio page
Current research interests
Epscor home page
Information on Living on Earth II upcoming social-ecological conference
KSKA Alaska World Affairs Council archive
Dr. Alessa's Feb. 5, 2009 AWAC, 'Water and the Arctic: The End Game'