Author Archives: BSA

Dr Nolan English joins our efforts to accelerate drug discovery

This summer, EMRLab was delighted to welcome Nolan English as a postdoc in our Oak Ridge National Lab team. Nolan comes to us with an undergraduate training in Chemical Engineering from Howard University and graduate training in the Quantitative Biosciences Program at Georgia Tech.  With expertise spanning chemistry, biology, computer science, and a systems-thinking foundation from process engineering, Nolan is wonderfully positioned to make our goals a reality. His long standing interest in the science of therapeutics means we are particularly lucky to have recruited him. During his time at ORNL, Nolan will be helping to drive the systems modeling component of our molecular design strategy as part of the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine Consortium.

Postdoc Charles Hodgens selected as ASPB Ambassador!

Congratulations to Dr. Charles Hodgens for being chosen as an American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Ambassador! Charlie is a key member of our team, bridging our interest in model-driven scientific inquiry with his expertise in plant cell and molecular biology.  This Ambassador experience will enable him to develop outreach resources that engage the general public in the mission of ASPB. Look out for the resources he will create as he explores new ways to communicate the roles of systems thinking and computational science in plant biology!

ASPB Ambassadors are early career scientists (students and postdocs) and industry employees enlisted to communicate the mission and vision of the Society to other plant biologists and to the general public, to help ensure the ongoing vitality of the Society. These young leaders engage their campus communities in outreach activities, represent ASPB at section conferences, and contribute articles to the ASPB News. They also provide a voice for early career members in the Society, often lending input on key issues.

EMRLab welcomes Ghizelle Abarro!

We’re delighted to welcome Ghizelle Abarro to our team! Ghizelle is in her first year in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering PhD Program at UT-Knoxville. She comes to us with an academic background and research experience in Materials Science & Engineering from her time at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Returning to school after 5 years of industry experience, Ghizelle brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the lab. She will be joining the subset of EMRLab team members working on our new NSF-funded research project on the systems physiology of Fe homeostasis.

Model-driven experimental strategy will accelerate discovery in plant systems biology

EMRLab has been awarded NSF funding for a new interdisciplinary project with the Long Lab at NC State University! We’re expanding our team to carry out this iterative, integrative research effort over the next few years. Between the TN and NC labs, we will be onboarding 2 PhD students, 2 postdocs, and multiple undergraduate researchers to help us Solve the Puzzle of Fe Homeostasis. Interested? Read on and reach out!

Awards #2138342 & 2138243 Living on the edge: Quantitative Systems Physiology of Iron Homeostasis 
“This project will delineate how BRUTUS (BTS), an iron-binding protein confined to the plant vasculature, controls iron (Fe) handling throughout the plant – dynamically responding to changes in Fe levels by regulating other proteins that are able to move through the plant root and shoot. As in mammals, Fe is a critical nutrient and essential for several cellular processes. Unfortunately, it is also potentially toxic to cells. Thus, cells must tightly regulate Fe availability. By revealing how BTS acts as a master regulator of Fe status in plants, this work will provide new molecular targets for generating crops with increased nutrient content or tolerance to pervasive alkaline soils, in which Fe is poorly available. […]

The proposed work will provide new perspectives on how nutrient sensing in a multicellular organism orchestrates changes in protein-protein interactions in a tissue- and cell-specific manner and demonstrate how the details of a complex, multiscale regulatory phenomenon can be uncovered more efficiently by adopting a model-driven research strategy. Over the course of this project, the investigators will also collaborate with NC and TN 4-H Youth Development programs to create experiential learning modules for youth in rural and minority communities to gain awareness of plant biology fundamentals through activities designed to promote systems thinking.”


Plants, iron, and systems models! Our new pub with Dr Terri Long

Solving the puzzle of Fe homeostasis by integrating molecular, mathematical, and societal models. Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Congrats to postdoc Dr Charles Hodgens for his new lead author publication in Current Opinion in Plant Biology! In this paper, we outline recent findings in the area of iron homeostasis and highlight the complexity of the multiscale regulatory events underlying Fe stress responses. We describe briefly how known and hypothesized regulatory mechanisms can be integrated into formal models whose validity can be explored via simulation-based inference — even in the absence of abundant quantitative data. Finally, we discuss how the interdisciplinary conversations that help drive this kind of work can be fostered through inclusive scientific teams.  

Did you miss out on Finding Your Inner Modeler?

If you missed out on attending the Finding Your Inner Modeler workshop this year, you can catch the presentations and discussions on the new FYIM YouTube channel. You’ll find collaborative project presentations, 3 keynotes, a presentation from an NSF program manager and more.  Look out for opportunities to engage with this community of modelers and cell biologists at next year’s event.