A note from the chair, Vicky Meller, Feb. 2023

I am delighted to let you know that campus life has returned to a near-normal pace. Most classes are in person and students are filling the resident halls, fitness and student center. But the reverberations of the pandemic will course through Wayne State for years. And, while students are eager to be back face-to-face, they are deeply marked by years of remote learning.

Some undergraduates in upper-level laboratories never have taken an in-person laboratory class before, and some incoming graduate students never had the opportunity to do independent research - challenges shared by universities across the nation. Also, like most universities across the country, Wayne State is seeing lower enrollments. Falling numbers of college-age students in Michigan and abundant opportunities for full-time employment lead many to delay college for a few years. Our faculty and classrooms will be ready when they decide to return.

They will find a number of renovations on and around campus. State Hall has been closed for several months for extensive renovation and remodeling. We expect it to reopen in the fall of 2023. The historic Hilberry Theater is closing and a new performance space, the Hilberry Gateway, will open nearby soon. The Hilberry Theater will be remodeled to create the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center and linked to the Hilberry Gateway by an outdoor performance space. And, by the time you read this, the new Second Avenue bridge over I-94 will be open to traffic.

We are pleased to bring you the research profiles of two young scientists. Dr. Hanaa Hariri joined our department in 2021. Her laboratory studies the regulation of lipid metabolism from a genetic and cell biology perspective. Research in Dr. Jared Schrader's laboratory is profiled. His group discovered that bacteria use phase separation to optimize critical cellular functions. Both of these laboratories are engaged in basic research that will help us understand disease, and may even contribute to treatments!

Please consider donating to the Biological Sciences Research Development Fund. We use these funds to repair equipment, send graduate students to meetings and offer matching funds for the purchase of major equipment. We also bring you stories about student accomplishments and outreach efforts, including the SciPol-Detroit initiative to connect scientists, community members and policymakers and Ali Shakoor's efforts to promote Great Lakes environmental preservation. Sadly, we lost two cherished emeritus professors this year, Anthony Hough and Robert Arking. An appreciation of their long and distinguished careers at Wayne State University can be found in our 2022 faculty news and notes update.

I am stepping down as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in August of 2023, and so this will be the last issue of BioRhythms that I write and edit. I have enjoyed putting out this newsletter and thank everyone who contributed over the years. As always, alumna Leslie Mertz wrote the exceptionally interesting research profiles. Students Katie Dwyer and Emma Fidler wrote about SciPol-Detroit, Maggie Sneideman contributed photos and wrote about our new food delivery robots. Dr. Lori Pile wrote articles about the NIH MARC program and the Wayne State running community. Many thanks to Jessica Archer for cleaning up the layout, proofreading and supplying photos.

Please update your alumni information so that you continue to receive BioRhythms.

Vicky Meller
Chair of Biological Sciences

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