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BioBits Newsletter
University of Delaware
October 2011
In This Issue:
Out of the Attic
Faculty News
Research News
Student News
Alumni News
Department Pic
Welcome to the BioBits
E-Newsletter from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware.   We are excited to share our news with you in this new format!  
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Walter's Wolfs 
Out of the Attic

Years ago faculty and students played intramural softball behind Carpenter Gym as Walter's Wolfs (at the time Walter Vincent was department chair).  Recognize anyone?  Please let us know at
Skopik PhotoFaculty News

Professor Steven Skopik, seen here with his grandson, retired in September 2009 after a 42-year career at UD.  He now holds the title of Professor Emeritus. Professor Skopik still teaches BISC 207 Introductory Biology I during Winter Session, and during the summer, he teaches BISC 207 in UD Summer College and a section of BISC 208  Introductory Biology II. He continues to co-author the laboratory manual for BISC 207 with Professor Jennifer Nauen and Ms. Susan Campbell, and he is a member of the departmental Alumni Relations Committee. Since retirement, he and his wife Linda have been spending a lot of time traveling and visiting friends and family in Ohio where they are from originally.  They spend most of their time in Santa Fe, NM, where their daughter and only grandchild (Jonny - age 9) live.  Although Professor Skopik participated in all areas of academic life during his career at UD (teaching, research and service, including administrative assignments), his fondest memories are those that involve classroom teaching, especially introductory biology. We imagine that many of our alums affectionately remember his superb teaching and commitment to excellence that was recognized by multiple teaching awards. Although we miss his daily contributions and inspiring presence, we are pleased that he is enjoying a well-deserved retirement and grateful that he continues to teach and participate in departmental activities.


 vanGolen Photo
Research News
Dr. Kenneth van Golen, Associate Professor, joined the department in 2006. The main focus of the van Golen laboratory is the study of a rare but extremely deadly breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). His laboratory is one of a handful around the world dedicated to understanding IBC biology. Dr. van Golen has been studying IBC since a postdoctoral fellow in 1996 when he performed the first comprehensive gene expression study on IBC. From this work he found a unique gene signature for IBC that distinguished it from other types of breast cancers. Specifically, he found high levels of the protein "RhoC GTPase" a molecule responsible for the spread of the IBC cancer. The study of the function of RhoC has also provided the basis for his work in prostate and pancreatic cancers. Currently, his laboratory is working on the development of novel therapeutics to treat IBC. Dr. van Golen is on the board of two breast cancer advocacy groups, the Wilmington-based Sisters on a Mission and the national group The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation. He also serves as scientific director of the International IBC Consortium.   Read more...



Lyana PhotoStudent News

Senior undergraduate student Lyana Labrada, a Biological Sciences major, is this year's recipient of the Milton Stetson Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Ms. Labrada currently is working with Professor Kenneth van Golen, an expert on cancer metastasis. Her project, entitled "Expression of hyaluronidases in prostate cancer metastasis," seeks to determine if prostate cancer cells in a three dimensional culture system release hyaluronidases to break down matrix proteins to enhance the metastatic behavior of these cells. Completion of these studies could lead to significant insight into the metastasis of prostate cancer from the primary tumor. The Stetson Fellowship is a memorial to Milton Stetson, a former Professor of Biological Sciences, department chair, and highly regarded researcher in physiology. Applicants for this award are evaluated on their GPA, research experience, written research proposal and recommendations. Preference is given to students working on an aspect of animal or cell physiology. In August, Ms. Labrada presented a poster on her project at UD's Undergraduate Research and Service Celebratory Symposium.

Oct Alumni ScottAlumni News

Scott Saracco (class of 1995) is currently a scientist at Monsanto in St. Louis, MO working to improve yield in corn. At the University of Delaware, Scott spent two years in Dr. Robert Hodson's laboratory, including a summer supported by a Science and Engineering Scholars' Grant. Scott spent one post-graduate year doing plant biology research at DuPont before heading to Cornell University to earn his Ph.D. in Genetics and Development. He accepted a position at Monsanto after post-doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In reflecting on his early career at UD, Scott said he learned that, "in addition to academic knowledge, one needs a clear plan that you can communicate clearly, networking skills, and the ability to be an effective team player. The earlier you start honing these skills, the more successful you will be!" He attributes his opportunities at UD with preparing him for the challenges of his career. Congratulations to Scott for capitalizing on his undergraduate experiences and becoming a successful researcher at Monsanto. 
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Contact Info

Pamela Vari 

Department of Biological Sciences