Biology Series Exposes Students to Current Research and the Structure of Scientific Seminars

September 7, 2018 at 10:30 am

Spartanburg, S.C. –  The Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering at the University of South Carolina Upstate will host a Biology Seminar Series to teach students about current research in various fields of biology, as well as the methods scientists may use to report out on original data or research findings. Two seminars, which are open to the USC Upstate community and the public, will be held each semester.

“Hosting a seminar series provides an excellent opportunity to expose our students to current biological research and the structure of scientific seminars,” said Dr. Ginny Webb, assistant professor of biology at USC Upstate. “This series will also allow our students to network and learn about careers in biology.”

“Seminar series such as this one demonstrate to students what conducting science, not just learning it, looks like,” said Dr. Jeannie M. Chapman, interim dean of the College of Science and Technology at USC Upstate.  “To hear a scientist speak about their work, both the successes and the failures, is an invaluable experience for students who are studying the natural sciences.  I applaud Dr. Webb and her colleagues in NSE for attracting scientists of such high caliber to come speak to students and faculty at Upstate.”

The first of the seminars will feature Dr. Jason Rawlings, associate professor of biology at Furman University. Rawlings will present “Control of Chromatin Decondensation in the Epigenetic Regulation of Lymphocyte Proliferation” on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 3 p.m. in the Health Education Complex, Room 2037.

Rawlings earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Furman University and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. His research focused on the regulation of cytokine signal transduction during development in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where his focus shifted to the regulation of cytokine signaling in the context of the development and function of the immune system using the laboratory mouse Mus musculus as a model organism. He incorporated genetic, molecular, and biochemical techniques to study the epigenetic mechanism(s) that regulate T lymphocyte activation and proliferation. These studies were published in The EMBO Journal. Shortly after publication, The Scientist Magazine ranked it sixth in the world in the field of molecular biology and named it the Editor’s Choice in Immunology.

On Friday, Nov. 9, Dr. Robert Sargis, visiting assistant professor of clinical medicine in the department of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will present “The Paradox of Progress: Environmental Drivers of Diabetes Risk and Disparities.” His lecture will be held at 3 p.m. in the Health Education Complex, Room 2037.

Sargis is a physician-scientist with an interest in how the environment may contribute to obesity and diabetes. His research has focused on understanding how endocrine-disrupting chemicals and pollutants play a role in the development of metabolic diseases. His laboratory has found that tolylfluanid, a common agricultural fungicide and component of marine paints, contributes to obesity and insulin resistance. His most recent work examines the consequences and mechanisms by which exposure to fungicides and arsenic disrupt metabolism. He hopes his findings will serve as a foundation for public policy changes that will help mitigate the impact of these environmental toxins on vulnerable populations

Sargis earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carleton College, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Rush University, and a M.D. from Rush University. He did his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology at the University of Chicago. Sargis’ clinical interests include metabolic and endocrine diseases associated with chemical exposures, obesity, diabetes, and general endocrinology.

For more information about the Biology Seminar Series, please contact Dr. Ginny Webb, assistant professor of biology at USC Upstate, 864-503-5976.