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Academy Fellows Speaker Series: Joan Bennett [Pathology]

April 16 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am CDT

| Free


Presented by the Presidential Task Force on Research Excellence

In partnership with the President and Academic Affairs, our office has launched a series of lectures by prominent Academy Fellows who will visit campus throughout our 50th anniversary year. They represent a variety of disciplines including Climate Studies, Advanced Materials, Life Sciences, Computation, and more.

Becoming a member of a national or international academy solidifies a faculty member’s scholarly and research accomplishments, celebrating not only the scholar’s accomplishments but also the institution in being recognized as a premier academic and research university.

April 16, 2019 || 9a—10:30a
Location:  JPL 4.04.22 Assembly Room

akp_6649-jb_pp-5x7Dr. Joan W. Bennett
Distinguished Professor of Plant Biology & Pathology
Rutgers University

“The molds that ate my house: A living lab for “sick building syndrome” in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

When levees in New Orleans failed after Hurricane Katrina, 80% of the city flooded.  Water logged buildings and their contents became an ideal substrate for molds, resulting in astronomical concentrations of mold spores inside of flooded structures.  Thus, New Orleans became a living laboratory for studying the possible link between mold growth and a controversial medical condition usually known as “sick building syndrome.” Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by fungi cause familiar musky odors and have been theorized to cause or contribute to the symptoms associated with sick building syndrome.   This presentation will review the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and present relevant findings on molds, mold toxins, VOCs and sick building syndrome.  Our laboratory has pioneered the use of genetic model systems to study the physiological effects of VOCs and demonstrated that some fungal VOCs cause toxicity in Arabidopsis thaliana and Drosophila melanogaster.  In particular, low concentrations of “mushroom alcohol” (1-octen-3-ol) causes movement deficits and loss of dopaminergic neurons in Drosophila.  On the other hand, some fungal volatiles have shown unexpected beneficial effects on plant growth and as safe fumigation agents.

Biography: Joan W. Bennett is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.  From 1971-2006, she was a faculty member at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.   She is trained as a fungal geneticist and during much of her career studied the genetics, biosynthesis and molecular biology of mycotoxin production in fungiAfter Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she was hired by Rutgers University as an associate vice president in order to establish an office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.  Throughout her career, Joan has had taken a special interest in the advancement of women and minorities in science and she continues to work on behalf of women’s issues at local, national, and international levels.

Professor Bennett is a past president of both the American Society for Microbiology and the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, as well as past vice president of the British Mycological Society and the International Union of Microbiological Sciences.   She is a past co-editor-in-chief of Advances in Applied Microbiology and past editor-in-chief of Mycologia.    She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and is currently chair of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine for the National Academies.

**Registration is not required.** These lectures are open to the UTSA campus as well as the general community. We encourage all who are interested to attend!


April 16
9:00 am - 10:30 am


JPL 4.04.22 | John Peace Library
1 UTSA Circle
San Antonio, United States
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