Megan Dobro, assistant professor of human biology, received her B.S. from Bridgewater State University and her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Her work has focused on the structural biology of protein complexes involved in HIV infection and cell division. Her research interests include microbiology, molecular biology, microscopy, and biological illustration/animation. She is also passionate about diversity issues and traveling.
When the HIV virus was first identified as the cause of AIDS, people never imagined there would still be no cure 30 years later. In this seminar, we will read about the milestones of HIV research and discuss why finding a cure or vaccine has proven to be very difficult. Students can expect to learn about the life cycle of the HIV virus, methods of transmission, current tools for research, and social and political issues associated with the epidemic. We will examine different approaches to studying HIV and assess what is still unknown about its biology. At the end of the course, students will use what they have learned to develop their own ideas for curing AIDS.
This course will examine the structures and processes that contribute to the inner-workings of the cell. This knowledge helps to inform many other fields, and is vital in understanding our bodies. We will develop this knowledge through paired seminar and laboratory sections. Students will complete independent research projects to examine one aspect of the cell, and will communicate the results in oral and written formats. Much of the lab work will take place in smaller groups outside of the scheduled class time, so students should expect to spend more hours outside of class compared to other courses. There will be frequent readings and problem sets required to keep up with the material.
Viruses are fascinating entities that wreak havoc on every living organism on the planet, and yet they are not classified as living! We will study various types of viruses and the illnesses they cause. We will also try to purify bacteriophage viruses from Hampshire's soil and analyze them in the laboratory. Using genomics techniques and microscopy, students will identify and classify the particular bacteriophage they isolated through the course of the semester. Students will also adopt a "pet virus" to become the topic of a major literature review they will write by the end of the semester.
The cutting edge of biology and technology is headed in the direction of microscopes. Microscopes provide beautiful data about complex systems in a variety of mechanisms. However, the results can often be difficult to interpret. In this course, we will study microscopy examples that have contributed greatly to our understanding of biology. We will use a few different types of microscopes and study the physics behind the image. Additionally, we will process and analyze new microscopy data from real research laboratories to contribute to the cutting edge of research.
Disease has influenced our civilization, and our civilization has influenced disease. How have the food industry, the media, politics, and technology affected our health? How have different races, genders, sexual orientations, and geographic locations been affected by modern disease? In this course, we will examine the relationship between disease and culture and how life as we know it has been affected. This course is designed to accommodate new pre-med requirements to consider culture as a part of health. Students will read case studies and have debates about selected topics, and are invited to bring in news articles and primary literature to discuss. Students will choose a topic of interest to research throughout the semester, which will accumulate into a final project.
Assistant Professor of Human Biology
Mail Code NS
Cole Science Center 204
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002