W.M. Keck Science Department Professor Selected for US Department of Energy Research Program

Claremont, Calif. (March 2, 2012) — Assistant Professor of Biology Bryan Thines was one of 26 scientists selected to participate in the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute's Undergraduate Research Program in Microbial Genome Annotation.

The DOE's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) is spearheading an effort to sequence thousands of microbial genomes. Students in JGI's Undergraduate Research Program in Microbial Genome Annotation get hands-on experience annotating and studying these genomes. Students in Thines' class Genomic and Bioinformatics will be directly involved in a research project that focuses on how the circadian clock influences the ability of plants to respond to heat stress.

Thines describes the circadian clock as "an internal molecular timekeeper" that creates circadian rhythms, such as the sleep-wake cycles in humans. In plants, the clock controls responses to light and to cold temperatures, making plants more responsive to light during the day and more responsive to cold at night. Thines' research will explore whether plants respond in the same way if they experience warm temperature at nighttime versus daytime.

"Plant responses to warm temperature is an especially timely topic to study, as climate change and attendant temperature variation have already influenced natural plant populations and agricultural productivity worldwide," Thines said.

Thines teaches biology at the W.M. Keck Science Department, a program of Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College and Scripps College.

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