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March 8, 2013
Kathryn defended her dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. Kohl!
February 14, 2013
Noelle passed her oral examination. Congratulations, Noelle! (Now comes the hard part...)
February 7, 2013
Kathryn was awarded the Harold Weintraub Graduate Student Award. She will travel to and speak at the symposium at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA in May.
December 7, 2012
Greg celebrates Greg passed his oral examination. Congratulations, Greg!
November 13, 2012
Nicole's application for an NRSA postdoctoral fellowship was funded! Nicole has been a trainee of on the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center's Basic Sciences training grant since April. The new award will fund her continued research from April 2013 - March 2015.
October 17, 2012
Jeff was named Director of the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology PhD program. This program, which has ~85 students and ~85 faculty spread across 13 departments, is one of the most highly ranked programs in genetics and genomics in the country.
October 5, 2012
Kathryn publishes in Science
Kathryn's paper was accepted for publication in Science! Her work, titled "Evolution of an MCM Complex in Flies That Promotes Meiotic Crossovers by Blocking BLM Helicase", with co-author Corbin Jones, will appear in print on Dec. 7, 2012.
March 30, 2012
Devin Talks
Devin gave a great talk at the John K. Koeppe Undergraduate Research Symposium. She was awarded Honors in Biology for her research.
October 12, 2011
Devin was awarded a Senior Honors Thesis Research Grant from Honors Carolina to support her research this spring.
September 18, 2011
Kathryn celebrates
Kathryn shined at the GMB/Genetics Retreat at the Beach. On Saturday, she gave an outstanding talk about her research. On Sunday, she received the Kenan-Hobgood Dissertation Award for outstanding student in the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology!

At right, Kathryn celebrates receiving the ceremonial hat.
August 3, 2011
Sabrina's paper titled "Three structure-selective endonucleases are essential in the absence of BLM helicase in Drosophila." was accepted for publication in PLoS Genetics. Please see our Publications page for the full citation.
Summer, 2011
Several lab alumi continue to impress:
  • Former undergraduate Sumreen Hussain received her M.D. from UNC School of Medicine.
  • Former undergraduate Kim Baxter Decker received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Former postdoc Mitch McVey was promoted to Associate Professor and granted tenure at Tufts University.
  • Former graduate student Jan LaRocque accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant
Congratulations to all!
April 22, 2011
Matt's paper explaining how P elements cause hypomormphic mutations was accepted for publication in Genetics Please see our Publications page for the full citation.
April 8, 2011
Amber thesis
Amber presented her research on the Fanconi anemia pathway for interstrand crosslink repair at the Department of Biology's Undergraduate Research Symposium. Amber was awarded Honors in Biology for her thesis.
April 6, 2011
Matt aims
Matt has successfully defended his PhD dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. LaFave!

At right, Matt aims a champagne cork at the ceiling, while others take cover.
April 5, 2011
Noelle was awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The NSF GRF provides stipend, tuition, and travel money for the next three years.
March 26, 2011
Jeff was inducted into the Superior Academic Hall of Fame, an honor conferred by his high school in Superior, WI. Last year's inductee was a Nobel Laureate.
December 1, 2010
Sabrina's review article comparing meiotic and mitotic recombination was published in Bioessays. This article was derived from the Chapter 1 of Sabrina's dissertation. Please see our Publications page for the full citation.
September 17, 2010
Matt was selected to give a talk about his fragile site project at the annual Genetics and Molecular Biology Retreat at the Beach. Matt acquitted himself admirably. Rumor has it he was just shy of winning the award for best student talk, but the competition was pretty fierce.
August 24, 2010
We've been awarded a grant from the University Cancer Research Fund, administered by the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The funding will allow us to complete Matt's studies of common fragile sites in Drosophila, and also take the project into human cells.
May 20, 2010
Noelle Romero has returned for the long haul. Noelle spent the summer of 2008 doing research in our lab, then went back to Ursinus College for her senior year. Last fall she returned to UNC in the BBSP graduate program. She did her third rotation here, and decided to stay...sort of - her PhD research will be done as a joint project with Steve Matson, whose laboratory is across the hall. Noelle joined the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology graduate program and will receive a second year of support from the GMB training grant.
March 8, 2010
Sabrina defends
Sabrina has successfully defended her PhD dissertaion. At right, she prepares for a question from Mark Peifer (note the beer in the hand). Congratulations, Dr. Andersen!

This summer, Sabrina moves onward and upward to Tom Petes' lab at Duke.
September 27, 2009
Sabrina cranks
At the Retreat in the Mountains, Sabrina received the Kenan-Hobgood Dissertation Award for outstanding student in the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology.

Well deserved, Sabrina!
September 1, 2009
We got stimulated! Our NIH grant proposal titled "Mechanisms of mitotic recombination" scored a bit outside the fundable range on the first submission. A revised submission was due to be reviewed in a few weeks, but NIH decided to fund the original proposal as a two-year RO1 using funds from the American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA). This replaces non-renewable funding from the American Cancer Society and allows us to retain a research technician and hire a postdoctoral fellow.
June 9, 2009
Our paper titled "Drosophila MUS312 and the vertebrate ortholog BTBD12 interact with DNA structure-specific endonucleases in DNA repair and recombination" has been accepted for publication in Molecular Cell. Sabrina and Dan are co-first authors. This paper is a follow-up to the first paper from our lab, also published in Molecular Cell.

When this paper came out on July 10, it was a Featured Article. Cell published a Preview by Hannah Klein and Lorraine Symington to accompany our paper and three related papers from other labs.
May 28, 2009
Stephanie Bellendir has succumbed to our relentless recruiting efforts and joined the lab for her doctoral research. Stephanie also joined the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology graduate program and was awarded a competitive slot on the GMB training grant.
April 3, 2009
Lewis at the symposium
Lewis gave an excellent presentation of his honors research in talk title "The Roles of Common Repair Pathways in Resolving Formaldehyde-Induced DNA-Protein Crosslinks", at the John K. Koeppe Undergraduate Research Symposium. Lewis will graduate next month with Honors in Biology.

At right, Lewis expertly answers questions from the audience.
March 17, 2009
Sushmita's paper, "DNA damage responses in Drosophila nbs mutants with reduced or altered NBS function", was just accepted for publication in DNA Repair. Matt is a co-author.
March 13, 2009
Matt wrote a perspective article that was published today in PLoS Genetics: Mitotic recombination: Why? When? How? Where?. Matt's article accompanies a nice paper from Tom Petes' lab on mitotic recombination in S. cerevisiae.
November 14, 2008
Lena gave an outstanding presentation at the Department of Biology Undergraduate Honors Symposium. Lena will graduate with Highest Honors next month.
September 30, 2008
Matt won a slot on the Cell and Molecular Biology training grant. Competition was intense, but Matt was an obvious choice.
September 14, 2008
Sabrina won the award for best talk by a graduate student at the annual Genetics and GMB Retreat. The competition was intense, because there were many excellent talks (Colin Lickwar from Jason Lieb's lab shared the best talk award). The faculty judges recognized Sabrina's ability to take a complex story and present it in a way that was easy to understand.
August 1, 2008
Sushmita signing the ceiling
Sushmita has successfully defended! After her defense, she demonstrated her creative thinking by devising a new method for the ritual signing of the ceiling tile (at right, rotated closup below).
Congratulations, Dr. Mukherjee!
arch 7, 2008
We've been selected to receive a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. This is an unsolicited grant given by the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research to stimulate research into basic mechanisms of aging.
January 15, 2008
An Opinion piece that Dan wrote for Trends in Genetics is now online: "Interstrand crosslink repair: can XPF-ERCC1 be let off the hook?", explores the role of the XPF-ERCC1 nuclease in repairing DNA interstrand crosslinks and questions whether the prevailing view is correct. Please see our Publications page for for the full reference.
November 11, 2007
Our two most recent PhDs are getting their props:
  • Jan got a priority score of 117 on her NRSA fellowship application. That's on a scale of 100 (best) to 500 (worst), making it the best score her postdoctoral advisor, Maria Jasin, and I have ever seen! (Yes, she got the grant.)
  • Sarah was awarded a pretigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation!
Congratulations to both on their well-deserved honors.
August 28, 2007
Kirsten accepted a teaching position at Bennett College for Women. She is teaching introductory biology, evolution, and a laboratory course.
July 1, 2007
Dan was awarded a position on the Basic Research Training Grant from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dan was also appointed to to a two-year term on the Postdoctoral Committee.
May 18, 2007
Jan signing the ceiling
Jan defended her doctoral dissertation. Both the seminar and the thesis received rave reviews from the committee and the audience. We knew she was ready, because she looks like a scientist (below left). The lab orchestrated a fun celebration after the defense. At right, Jan's father steadies her as she signs her champagne-cork dent.
April 26, 2007
Jan's 3rd paper, "Reducing DNA polymerase α in the absence of Drosophila ATR leads to P53-dependent apoptosis and developmental defects", was accepted for publication in Genetics, pending minor reviews. Jan is now all set for her thesis defense on May 18. This is definitely the year of Genetics for the Sekelsky lab - this is our 6th for 2007. April 30 update: revisions are done and the final acceptance has been granted. A link to the published paper is available on our Publications page.
April 12, 2007
Sumreen and Rob gave outstanding talks today at the Department of Biology Undergraduate Honors Symposium. Rob earned Honors, and Sumreen earned Highest Honors.
March 27, 2007
Lena was named a 2007 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar! The award provides a generous scholarship for her senior year of study.
February 7, 2007
This is Sarah's last day in the lab. She's going out with a bang: "Meiotic recombination in Drosophila Msh6 mutants yields discontinuous gene conversion tracts" was accepted to Genetics (pending minor revisions). Update (Mar. 4): The revisions were accepted. Links to the published papers are available on our Publications page.
January 31, 2007
We're on a roll: "Heteroduplex DNA in meiotic recombination in Drosophila mei-9 mutants" was accepted to Genetics (pending minor revisions). This paper and it's partner (which we should hear about next week) contain much of Sarah's data...just in time for her to finish changes before leaving next week. Links to the published papers are available on our Publications page.
January 22, 2007
Double acceptance today! "Multiple functions of the Drosophila Blm helicase in maintaining genome stability" and "Synthetic lethality between mutations in the Drosophila mus81 and mus309 genes" were both accepted to Genetics (pending revisions). The former is Mitch's last paper from this lab (many more to come from his own lab at Tufts); Sabrina and Yuri are co-authors. The latter is Kirsten's first paper, and has our co-conspirators. . . errr. . . collaborators Kim McKim and Steve Brill, from the Waksman Institute, as co-authors. Links to the published papers are available on our Publications page.
December 20, 2006
Jan's second paper, Drosophila ATR in double-strand break repair, was accepted for publication in Genetics. Yeah, Jan! This ends what felt like a long drought. We have a backlog (see March 9, 2006) of things to get out - just submitted two more papers, with two more ready to go within a week or two, and two more in the pipeline for this spring. A link to the published paper is available on our Publications page.
November 10, 2006
Sarah before and after
Sarah defended her dissertation. It was a great seminar, a stimulating discussion with the thesis committee, and a rousing celebration organized by the students she leaves behind. Sarah passed with flying colors. Well, she did fail one part: trying to pop the champagne cork into the ceiling and having it go off in her hand. Twice. She recovered by signing an unclaimed dent in the ceiling.

Right: Sarah before and after her defense.
July 25, 2006
Sarah won the Graduate Fellow Award from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. This is awarded to several outstanding graduate students in their final year.
July 20, 2006
NSF funded a collaborative grant between me, Greg Copenhaver (P.I.) and Corbin Jones. We're going to study meiotic gene conversion frequency along chromosomes and role of gene conversion in shaping linkage disequilibrium in Drosophila and Arabidopsis. Unfortunately, the grant does not fund our periodic "beer and sex" evenings, where we go to a brewery and discuss recombination.
April 7, 2006
It was a great day for undergraduate research in the Sekelsky lab. Sumreen was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from the Office of Undergraduate Research. This competitive award will support Sumreen's research this summer. She is working with Jan to understand the function of Drosophila ATR (MEI-41) in responses to replication stress.

Mathilde presented her poster at the Department of Biology Spring Honors Symposium. Her presentation, along with the thesis she wrote, secured her Research Commendation in Biology.

Jan and Sarah won Graduate Student Mentor Awards for their work with Sumreen and Mathilde, respectively.
March 9, 2006
Jeff's brain Jeff's surgery to install neural upgrades seems to have gone well. The images at right (more on this page) indicate the approximate area removed (two walnuts worth, according to the surgeon), and show off the fine stitching available at no extra cost. The area removed was judged to harbor a dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor. The upgrade installed in its place should allow Jeff to read minds (useful when talking to competitors). Also, when students are slacking, he will be able to set them on fire (figuratively speaking, of course) just by looking at them.
October 26, 2005
Hunter Blanton has just added Ph.D. to her credentials, after successfully defending her thesis. For her doctoral work, Hunter cloned the recombination-defective (rec) gene and showed that it encodes a divergent member of the MCM family of proteins. She went on to conduct a detailed study of the role of REC in meiotic recombination, in addition to searching for possible functions outside of meiosis.
August 12, 2005
Hunter's paper on Drosophila rec was accepted to PLoS Genetics. This paper was rated a must read on Faculty of 1000 for being a new finding.
July 11, 2005
Our funding from NIH got renewed, with a priority score of 132, which is 3.8 percentile! Four more years! Four more years!...
March 14, 2005
Mitch accepted a job! After an agonizing for a couple of weeks during which he weighed his various options, Mitch has decided to accept a tenure-track position at Tufts University in the Department of Biology. Check out his lab website. Congratulations, Mitch!
September 24, 2004
Heather got a fellowship from the American Cancer Society!
September 20, 2004
Mitch made the front page (above the fold) of the Raleigh News and Observer, in an article that highlighted his mad virgining skills. Read the full story:

front page inside page
August 1, 2004
Özlem Yildiz, graduate of the Sekelsky lab, was awarded an Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship.
May 21, 2004
Mitch McVey and Melissa Adams tied for second place in the annual Joseph S. Pagano Award for best paper by a postdoctoral fellow, for their paper in Science last year.
March 27, 2004
Jan LaRocque won an award for her talk at the fly meeting! The prize, for shortest talk in the workshop (i.e., she stayed on time) was a bottle of Johnny Walker whiskey. It didn't last the night.
May 30, 2003
Sekelsky lab t-shirts have arrived. Below, two lab members proudly display their shirts.
May 6, 2003
We've produced our first PhD! Özlem Yildiz successfully defended her thesis, "The functions of two interacting proteins, MEI-9 and MUS312, in DNA repair and recombination pathways". After getting married just four days later, Özlem will head to the University of Chicago to do a postdoc.

At right, Özlem pops a bottle of champagne, then inscribes the ceiling dent with the event information.
April 4, 2003
Jan LaRocque was awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, based on her academic record and a research proposal she wrote while doing her fall rotation here!
April 4, 2003
Ben Kramer presented his research at the Spring Undergraduate Honors Symposium. He will graduate with Highest Honors in Biology. Ben has done research in the lab since spring of his sophomore year. This fall he will begin medical school at Washington University School of Medicine. The photo on the left is Ben on the big day. The one on the right was taken a year ago, when Ben spoke at the UNC Undergraduate Research Symposium.
October 8, 2002
Our first two publications of work begun in this laboratory were accepted today, to Molecular Cell and Science:

"Drosophila MUS312 interacts with the nucleotide excision repair endonuclease MEI-9 to generate meiotic crossovers", by Özlem Yildiz, Samarpan Majumder, Ben Kramer, and Jeff Sekelsky, was accepted to Molecular Cell

"Drosophila BLM in double-strand break repair by synthesis-dependent strand annealing", by Melissa Adams, Mitch McVey, and Jeff Sekelsky, was accepted for publication in Science. Please see our Publications page for abstracts and reprints. Left: Team mus312      Right: Team RecQ