Edwin Oh

We are a research group that thrives on collaboration. Through our interactions with collaborators, public health labs, and patients we have developed a research program that interrogates the following themes:

1) Wastewater genomics and COVID-19

Wastewater testing has been used for years to investigate viral infections, to study illicit drug use, and to understand the socioeconomic status of a community based on its food consumption. While tools are in place in many states to evaluate the presence of specific viral strains, the community has not needed previously to collaborate on a global scale to standardize procedures to detect and manage COVID-19 transmission. In response to this challenge, our laboratories in Arizona, Nevada, and Washington have developed collection techniques and genomic and bioinformatic approaches to harmonize and visualize the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral mutation rates in communities populated by local citizens and international tourists. Our findings will contribute to the development of best practices in sampling and processing of wastewater samples and genomic techniques to sequence viral strains, an area required for environmental surveillance of infectious diseases, and has the strong potential to improve the clinically predictive impact of the viral genotype on patient care and vaccine utility.

2) Rare neurological conditions

An association between the 16p13.2 copy number variation deletion and seizures has suggested that a) systematic suppression of each of genes in the loci might yield similar neurological phenotypes seen in the 16p13.2 deletion; and b) such genes might be strong candidates for harboring rare pathogenic point mutations. Through these studies, we discovered USP7 as a message capable of inducing abnormal neurological activity in brain organoids, cultured neurons, and loss-of-function mouse models. Together with collaborators at the Foundation for USP7-Related Diseases (www.usp7.org), our studies are centered on the mechanism by which USP7 gene dosage and rare variants can induce pathology. In addition, we have also identified other gene loci that mimic USP7-related disorders in human and animal models.

3) Ciliary biology and neurodevelopmental conditions

Large-scale studies have begun to map the genetic architecture of Schizophrenia. We now know that the genetic contribution to this condition arises from a variety of lesions that include a) rare copy number variants (CNVs) of strong effect; b) common non-coding alleles of mild effect; and c) rare coding alleles that cluster in biological modules. The challenge that has emerged from these studies is the requirement for large sample sizes to detect significant genetic signals. These findings intimate that SZ is genetically heterogeneous and manifesting potentially as a clinically heterogeneous group of phenotypes with discrete physiological drivers. To address this challenge and to complement the ongoing sequencing effort of cross-sectional SZ, we propose to sample individuals with extreme phenotypes (i.e., resistant to treatment: TRS) to potentially discover an enrichment of causal rare variants which would have otherwise not been observed or been difficult to detect in a large, random sampling of SZ. In addition, we will focus on the role of a specific biological module, the pericentriolar material (including the centrosome, basal body, and primary cilium) and how it relates to the development of the brain and behavior through the genomic and functional dissection of PCM1.

Edward Ester

My research examines how people store and manipulate information over short intervals to solve problems and make decisions – what we typically call short-term memory. We use behavioral methods combined with non-invasive measurements of brain activity (primarily EEG and fMRI) to examine many basic questions about short-term memory: how does the brain represent information that’s no longer present in the environment? How are memory representations created, accessed, updated, and deleted when no longer necessary?

Donald Price

A major theme in my research is to understand how species adapt to diverse environmental and biological factors and diverge into new species. The evolutionary changes that permit species to survive and reproduce across a wide range of environments has resulted in a remarkable range of biological complexity.

My research group studies the interplay of behavior, ecology, genetics, and physiology to determine how species adapt to environmental changes and how diversification of populations leads eventually to the formation of new species. One focus of my group is the amazing Hawaiian Drosophila, which boasts up to 1,000 species in several taxonomic groups. Using genome sequencing and gene expression analyses coupled with detailed behavioral and physiological measurements we have identified genes that are involved in temperature adaptation between two species and between two populations within one species along an environmental gradient. We have also identified genes and epicuticular hydrocarbons that are involved in behavioral reproductive isolation and hybrid sterility between species. Initial studies have begun on the interaction with microbes, (bacteria and yeasts) that are important for food, internal parasites/symbionts, and possibly host-plant associations. In collaboration with others, we are also investigating the genetics of Hawaiian bats and birds, Drosophila melanogaster, the invasive Drosophila suzukii, and Hawaiian Metrosideros trees.

Ehsan Vahidi

Dr. Ehsan Vahidi is an interdisciplinary researcher who has crossed traditional boundaries between metallurgical engineering and sustainability sciences. His research takes fundamental environmental engineering and translates this into applied settings, primarily in the mining and metallurgical industries. Dr. Vahidi received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology and the University of Tehran, respectively. After earning his second master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida, he obtained his Ph.D. from Purdue University in Environmental & Ecological Engineering. Prior to joining UNR as an Assistant Professor in 2020, Dr. Vahidi was a Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Paul Verburg

I am a broadly trained soil scientist with an interest in applying fundamental knowledge about soils to assess effects of natural and anthropogenic perturbations such as climate change, acid rain and land management on terrestrial ecosystems. I have worked in a variety of ecosystems including boreal forest, tallgrass prairie, Mojave deserts, and Sierra Nevada forests. In my research I use a combination of field, laboratory and modeling approaches to obtain a better mechanistic understanding of how soils and ecosystems function and respond to external stressors.

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh joined the University of Nevada, Reno in July 2019 as an assistant professor. Dr. Sarmazdeh was a senior research fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology at Mayo Clinic, Florida from 2017 to 2019 at Dr. Radisky’s lab, during which her work was focused on engineering novel protein-based therapeutics based on natural enzyme inhibitors. Prior to her appointment at Mayo Clinic, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Delaware at Prof. Wilfred Chen’s lab for 2.5 years. Dr. Sarmazdeh earned her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville under Prof. Eric Boder’s supervision. There, her research was focused on generating site-specific protein immobilization on the surface and protein engineering using yeast surface display and directed evolution.

Allen Gibbs

My lab uses experimental evolution in the laboratory to study how physiological systems evolve. We subject populations of fruitflies (Drosophila) to stressful conditions and investigate how they evolve in response to stress over many generations. Our current major projects involve flies that have been selected for resistance to desiccation and starvation stress for >100 generations. To understand the relevance of this laboratory research to nature, we have also studied several other types of insects and their relatives, including grasshoppers, ants, desert fruitflies, scorpions, etc.

Shichun Huang

I study the elemental and isotopic compositions of basalts, peridotites, meteorites, and samples returned by NASA missions, and use them to understand the origins and the evolution of the solid Earth and the early Solar System.

Sid Pathak

https://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/spathak/

Marian Berryhill

My research falls in the domain of cognitive neuroscience. I study how we hold on to a few items in working memory and use them for immediate task demands. My lab investigates what factors matter in getting information into working memory, how we maintain and manipulate information, and how well we retrieve it. For example, we are currently investigating the consequences of familiar and unfamiliar distractor items on older adults’ working memory performance. We use a range of experimental techniques in human participants, some with brain lesions. These include fMRI, fNIRS, tDCS/tACS, and HD-EEG.