COVID-19 Researcher Kicks Off Lecture Series

Two female biology students examining a slide

The Biology Program is moving full steam ahead with its Fall semester lecture series. Held Mondays from 12:30 to 1:20 in the social-distance-friendly lecture hall, Dana 107, or simultaneously by Zoom, this series focuses on trailblazing biological research by experts in their fields.

These lectures give the students in the Biology program and beyond a window into the current research today. “We want to present a broad spectrum of what is going on in the disciplines,” says Biology Chair Kathleen Engelmann. Fortunately, UB’s central position between New England and New York gives us access to some of the world’s most cutting-edge biological research, all within a few hours’ drive.

This is particularly evident in the first lecture of this fall semester’s series, featuring Dr. Alina Baum of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. “She is a very big deal,” says Engelmann. “She is getting requests from all over the world and we are very lucky to have her.” Regeneron recently received a $450 million federal contract to produce and distribute an anti-viral antibody “cocktail” to prevent infection by COVID-19. That combination of two potent, non-competing, virus-neutralizing antibodies is moving through trials right now.

The following lectures are open and available to everyone who registers.

Friday, September 4, 2020, 12:30 to 1:20, Dana Hall 107

“Drug Development at Warp Speed: The History of a COVID-19 Antibody Program” by Dr. Alina Baum

Alina Baum is a Senior Staff Scientist at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where she is leading the COVID-19 spike antibody program currently in clinical trials. She received her PhD in molecular virology from the lab of Adolfo Garcia-Sastre at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and performed postdoctoral studies with Charlie Rice at Rockefeller University. Her virology research group has developed novel therapies for many viral infections, including emerging pathogens such as Ebola and SARS-CoV-2, as well as developing oncolytic viruses and therapeutic vaccines for cancer immunotherapy.


Monday, September 21, 2020, 12:30 to 1:20, Dana Hall 107 

“Functional Biomaterials for Tissue Regeneration” by Treena Livingston Arinzeh, PhD

Treena Livingston Arinzeh is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Dr. Arinzeh received her B.S. from Rutgers University in Mechanical Engineering, her M.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Her most notable work to date has been in the use of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with bioactive ceramics to induce bone formation in a large bone defect without the use of immunosuppressive therapy. She will be discussing the fascinating methods scientists are working to regenerate tissue. She will be presenting studies examining the influence of biomaterials on stem cell behavior with an emphasis on identifying biomaterial properties and designs that impart appropriate cues to stem cells to affect their behavior both in vitro and in vivo. 


October 19, 2020, 12:30 to 1:20, Dana Hall 107

“Pharmacological Targeting of Osteoblast-induced MDS and AML” by Dr. Ioanna Mousialou

Ioanna Mosialou is an assistant research professor at Columbia University where she traces the identity of stoma cells, how their functions change, and how they can be targeted for therapeutic purposes. She earned her Ph.D., Molecular Basis of Human Disease from the University of Crete School of Medicine where she worked on mechanisms of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of human apolipoprotein genes that participate in the metabolism of High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL). She will be speaking on new treatments for cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.


Monday, November 02, 2020, 12:30 to 1:20, Dana Hall 107

“Dragonfly and Damselfly Evolution: Understanding Odonates through Space and Time” by Dr. Jessica Ware

Jessica Ware is an assistant curator in invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. She holds a BSc from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a PhD from Rutgers, New Brunswick. She will be speaking about her primary area of research, which focuses on the evolution of behavioral and physiological adaptations in insects, with an emphasis on how these occur in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and Dictyoptera (termites, cockroaches and mantises).


Monday, November 16, 2020, 12:30 to 1:20, Dana Hall 107

“Adventures in New England Botany: Conservation, Taxonomy, Plant Breeding, and Cannabis Programs” by Dr. Bryan Connolly

Bryan Connolly holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont, earned a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, and is currently an Assistant Biology Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. In this talk Dr. Connolly will discuss several of his research projects, including travels throughout New England, to the Galapagos Islands, and to Costa Rica. He will discuss his work on conservation, taxonomy, plant breeding, and the starting of a Cannabis program.


For more information, please contact Kathleen Engelmann at or 203 576-4253.