ASU named top producer of Fulbright scholars

November 8, 2011

Arizona State University has been named one of the top producers of Fulbright award scholars, to research and teach abroad, by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This year, eight faculty members will travel to six different countries to carry out their work. The grants placed ASU third in the nation for Fulbright Scholar awards, behind Pennsylvania State University at University Park and the University of Kansas. Download Full Image

The Fulbright Program is the premier fellowship program of the U.S. State Department. Its aim is to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries, while helping develop creative responses to problems as serious as climate change and pandemics.

The winners are:

• James Elser, whose specialty is in environmental sciences, will lecture and research in Argentina on advancing ecological stoichiometry in South America.
• LaDawn Haglund will be conducting research on Law, Courts and the Human Right to Water in Brazil.

• Paul Hirt will be lecturing in Slovenia on American History and American Studies.

• Glenn Hurlbert will use his knowledge in mathematics to lecture and research on external set theory and network optimization in Argentina.

• Chris Iheduru will travel to Ghana to research and lecture on the topic of private authority and regional integration in West Africa.

• Keith William Kintigh will be identifying productive contexts for digital humanities in Ireland.

• Mary Stokrocki will travel to Taiwan to lecture on cross-cultural explorations in second life.

• Victor Teye will be lecturing and conducting research in Ghana on motivations, expectations and experiences of study abroad students in Ghanaian Universities.

ASU has also been named a top producer of students who win Fulbright awards. This year 19 students won awards to study in 15 different countries.

Related story:

Protein love triangle key to crowning bees queens

November 8, 2011

A honey bee becomes a royal queen or a common worker as a result of the food she receives as a larva. While it has been well established that royal jelly is the diet that makes bees queens, the molecular path from food to queen is still in dispute.

However, scientists at Arizona State University, led by Adam Dolezal and Gro Amdam, have helped reconcile some of the conflicts about bee development and the role of insulin pathways and partner proteins. Their article "IIS and TOR nutrient-signaling pathways act via juvenile hormone to influence honey bee cast fate" has been published in the December issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. Bee larvae raised in the Amdam laboratory Download Full Image

Central to the dispute within the scientific community about “who would be queen” has been a groundbreaking study published in the journal Nature by Japanese scientist Masaki Kamakura in 2011. He found that a single protein in royal jelly, called royalactin, activated queen development in larval bees through interaction with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Kamakura’s work suggested that insulin signals do not play a role in queen development, despite previous studies suggesting otherwise, including work pioneered with the insulin receptor protein by Amdam’s group.

Undeterred by Kamakura’s findings, Dolezal, a doctoral student, and Amdam, a Pew Biomedical Scholar and professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, looked for ways to resolve the disparity between the research studies. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Amdam’s team’s first step involved taking control of the insulin receptor’s partner protein, IRS, which the insulin receptor relies upon for signaling.

The scientists found that by blocking IRS, they caused a central developmental hormone to crash, which forced larval bees into the worker mold despite their diet of royal jelly. Amdam’s team then “rescued” the now worker-destined bees. They found that by giving the bees hormone treatments, the bees could then develop along the queen trajectory.

However, while Dolezal and Amdam’s studies showed that they could block queen development, and then rescue it, and clarified the role of IRS in the queen-making process, their work could not resolve the remaining conflict with Kamakura’s results. 

Taking a new tack, the Amdam group, which also included Navdeep Mutti, Florian Wolschin, and Jasdeep Mutti, and Washington State University scientist Kulvinder Gill, turned to mathematical modeling, combining their results with approaches that analyze potential partner interactions.

These models, developed to understand and clarify complex relationships in physics and biology, allowed the ASU researchers to build a model of consensus – explaining how the IRS partner protein could partner to both epidermal growth factor receptor and the insulin receptor.

And while the insulin receptor itself may play no role – as Kamakura’s findings suggest – Dolezal and Amdam’s findings show that the IRS partner protein may in fact be key to a molecular love triangle, interacting with both receptors, and with the bond to epidermal growth factor receptor being the crowning feature in queen development.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost