ACUMEN Spring 2022

Teaching by Example Studying an ancient tooth found in Spain to identify a path and timeline of human migration, examining the impact of state censorship in China, exploring the social movements behind protest and tracking eye movement to understand how people perceive art and space are examples of research forged by faculty members of Lehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences. These experts in the core disciplines of math and the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences and the arts are leading undergraduate and graduate students into new territories, inviting them to join investigations that cross disciplines, and are fostering lifelong intellectual practice. “The foundational structure of Lehigh’s liberal arts education is built around the values and scholarly and specialized expertise of the faculty that comprise the institution,” says Robert A. Flowers II ’91G, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean, Danser Distinguished Faculty Chair of the department of chemistry, and principal investigator of the Flowers Research Group. “Whether it is in the lab, in the field or on the stage, our faculty are pioneers in discovery and creativity, and students are included in their intellectual and professional explorations along the way.” Providing an intimate setting where relationships are built one on one with faculty, the college also offers the resources of a major research university. Faculty and student funding for inquiry, travel, materials, conference fees and more is supported by institutional grants such as the Dale S. Strohl ’58 Awards for Research Excellence and the Creative Inquiry Faculty Fellowship. Highly prestigious, competitively awarded grants are also won from organizations including the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Program. Regardless of the discipline, illustrations can be found in every department of CAS faculty making an impact through examination and professional collaboration and by bringing discussions back to where they matter most—the students. Groundbreaking Discoveries in the Babcock Lab Science has shown that almost every neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s, stems from the death of neurons. Once the disease has been diagnosed, it is often too late to reverse because neuron loss is underway and considered permanent. To better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, the Babcock Lab team, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow, is making discoveries in the neuromuscular junction where a motor neuron is connecting to a muscle. “What we’re trying to do is to understand what are the very first problems that happen in those diseases before the cells even start to die,” says Daniel Babcock, assistant professor of biological sciences and principal investigator. “If we can fix those earliest problems instead of trying to fix the diseases that come later, could we just prevent them from happening in the first place?” By studying the fruit f ly, the team is examining synapse dysfunction where neurons make a connection with another cell and dopaminergic neuron loss when exposed to Parkinson’s Disease. Neuroscience Ph.D. candidate Jacinta Davis has identified neurons in the brain of the Drosophila melanogaster fruit f ly that either consistently die or thrive in models of Parkinson’s. By using RNA sequencing, the team can compare genes transcribed within individual neurons that are either vulnerable or resistant to the disease. Behavioral sciences Ph.D. candidate Jessica Sidisky published her research with a new fruit f ly, which she bred, that loses its ability to f ly as it ages because of a mutated gene. Named Drosophila mayday by Sidisky, she is studying the motor neurons in their healthy state through decline. She demonstrated that bone morphogenetic protein signaling pathways between the motor neuron and the muscle don’t suddenly become dispensable. To keep those synaptic structures healthy, DAWN THREN ’ 2 1 P Faculty scholarship makes transitions to the classroom, creating real-world explorations ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN S. DYKES COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES 15