Department News

"Biology ... In the News"



A Fish That Pushes in the Wrong Direction Solves a Mystery of Animal Locomotion

For nearly 20 years, Professor Eric Fortune has studied glass knifefish, a species of three-inch long electric fish that lives in the Amazon Basin. In his laboratory he tries to understand how their tiny brains control complex electrical behaviors. But he could not help but be intrigued by the special "ribbon fin" that knifefish use to swim back and forth. The fin oscillates at both ends, allowing the fish to move forward or backward. Biologists have long wondered why an animal would produce seemingly wasteful forces that directly oppose each other while not aiding its movement.   

But in the Nov. 4-8 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Fortune and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers report that these opposing forces are anything but wasteful. Rather, they allow animals to increase both stability and maneuverability, a feat that is often described as impossible in engineering textbooks.

To conduct its study, the team used a combination of careful observations of the fish, mathematical modeling and an analysis of a swimming robot. Working in his NJIT lab with students and in collaboration with his colleagues at Johns Hopkins, Fortune used slow-motion video to film the fish to study its fin movements: What the videos revealed was startlingly counterintuitive. Read More....



Listen to NJIT's Gareth Russell on WAMC's "Academic Minute"

Gareth Russell, associate professor in the department of biological sciences, will discuss metapopulation theory on WAMC's "Academic Minute," a weekday radio program that features a different professor each day, drawing experts from top research institutions.  The program is scheduled to air on Oct. 18 at 7:34 a.m (during "Morning Edition") and 3:56 p.m. (during "Northeast Report").  Click here to listen to the program.



NJIT Biology Professor's Research on Robotic Swarms Cited in Science Publication

Assistant Professor of Biology Simon Garnier's research on robotic swarms was cited in an article about using robots to understand animal behavior in the October 1, 2013 issue of The Scientist. Garnier, an expert in animal behavior, has been recently featured in several major media outlets for his work on bio-inspired robotic swarms. He joined NJIT as part of its cross-disciplinary faculty initiative and has created the Swarm Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab that studies the mechanisms underlying the coordination of large animal groups, such as ant colonies or human crowds, and their applications to complex problems such the organization of pedestrian traffic or the control of robotic swarms.



NJ Governor Christie Visits NJIT to Spotlight $86m Building Renovation

~ September 3, 2013

New Jersey Governor Christopher J. Christie today visited the NJIT campus to spotlight the ongoing renovation of NJIT's Central King Building (formerly Newark’s Central High) into a state-of-the art technology center. Once completed in 2016, the renovated 220,000 square-foot Central King Building, built in 1911, will become a campus and community landmark that houses a Center for Innovation and Discovery, a Biological Sciences Education and Research Center and teaching and learning centers.  This building will overflow with spaces to facilitate hands-on application of science and technology, spur innovation and encourage cross- and multi-disciplinary collaboration.  NJIT’s Central King Building will embody a convergence of engineering, technology, and the life sciences—three of the most rapidly growing areas of workforce demand and economic development for New Jersey.



NJIT Expands With New Faculty Members Starting This Fall

Dirk Bucher, associate professor (appointed with tenure) biological sciences, has previously served as an assistant professor at Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, University of Florida and the Department of Neurosciences at the University of  Florida College of Medicine.  Bucher's primary research focuses on understanding information transfer in animal motor control systems.


Gal Haspel, assistant professor, biological sciences, is a former research fellow at the National Institute of Neural Disorder and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.  His research focuses on the mechanisms of locomotion generation, as well as regeneration of locomotor activity after nervous system injury.  He applies an interdisciplinary approach utilizing molecular biology, genetics, genomics, neuroanatomy, optogenetic, in-vivo imaging, analysis of behavior and computational techniques, using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans.



NJIT Salutes Students with Highlander Awards

Winners of the 2013 Highlander Student Achievement Awards were recently announced at the annual ceremony which recognizes student leaders and organizations for their talent and work to enhance the NJIT student experience. Biological Sciences major, Kevin Ly was awarded the Presidential Leadership Award, undergraduate category.



"More at-risk bird species in Brazilian forest than previously thought, study says"

~, May 29, 2013

This article also appears on, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and



Biology Researchers Learn by Observing Animal Behavior

Researchers in NJIT's Department of Biological Sciences pay close attention to the birds and the bees – as well as to the ants, schools of fish, and even dung beetles. Their research is uncovering new insights into human behavior, as well as a greater understanding of climate change, urbanization and other ecological issues. Associate Professor Eric Fortune studies the mechanisms of animal behavior, how their brains work, and what can be learned from them about how creatures, including humans, cooperate.



Joint Lab Demonstrates Student Concepts
Jorge Golowasch, Chair and Professor in the Federated Department of Biological Sciences, and Farzan Nadim, Professor in the Departments of Mathematical and Biological sciences, presented a joint lab demo earlier this month in collaboration with Rodolfo Haedo (former undergraduate and MS student from NJIT), and Joerg Oestreich, who both work for Nanion Technologies Inc



Animal Behavior Expert Eric Fortune Appointed to NJIT Faculty
A high school vacation with grand-parents to the Galápagos Islands led to his eventual career studying the mechanisms of animal behavior, and has brought him repeatedly back to Ecuador and the Galápagos.  He has now escorted some 250 students to the Galápagos, and conducts research at sites in the Amazon basin and cloud forest habitats of eastern Ecuador.


Simon Garnier Appointed Assistant Professor at NJIT: Research Focus is Bio-Cellular Sensing
Garnier is interested mainly in the emergence of intelligent collective behaviors in groups of social animals.




NJIT Junior Wins a National Fellowship for Community Service
Kevin Ly, a junior majoring in biology, has won a Pearson Prize National Fellowship for demonstrating leadership in community service.Ly was one of 20 college students from across the nation -- other winners are from Harvard, Stanford and Cornell -- to win the coveted fellowship, which includes a $10,000 award. Pearson, an education publishing company, will also offer Ly guidance and resources to foster his work in community service.




NJIT Biology Professor, Farzan Nadim, Who Researches Neural Oscillations To Chair NIH Committee
Farzan Nadim, PhD has been appointed chairperson of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Sensorimotor Integration Study Section from July of 2012 to June of 2014.




TED Talking at NJIT

A New York Timesblogger recently wrote about Anthony Sorgi, an NJIT senior who created the New Earth Archive, a compendium of great books for college students.





NJIT Nurtures Student Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Working in teams and pooling their talents, NJIT students are inventing technologies that could improve the quality of life for millions.  They are also forming start-up companies to market their potentially revolutionary technologies.





Women STEM the Tide of Male Dominance in Engineering and Science

The percentage of women studying engineering in colleges is low -- just 19 percent. But at the Albert Dorman Honors College, the number of women studying science, technology, engineering and math... read more!

Medicine + Humanity = Matthew Deek

During his three years at NJIT, Matthew Deek merged his love of science with his affinity for the humanities.  He came to NJIT unsure of what to study, so he studied a bit of everything --... read more!

Hail the Class of 2013, a Remarkable Group of Freshmen

The class of 2013 -- with nearly 1,000 students -- is the largest freshman class ever to enter NJIT.  But it’s not just class size that’s impressive.  What’s more... read more!

Googlewhacks for Fun: Recent Grad Gives a Google Talk

Just one week after graduating from NJIT, Jonathan Lansey (2008) was invited to give a talk at Google’s Manhattan office. While an NJIT student, Lansey studied the probabilities of... read more!

Jasneet Kaur - Biology

Jasneet Kaur, a biology major at NJIT, is doing research that could one day help scientists understand how cancer spreads. Kaur studies how a protein -- RhoA -- changes the shape of cells. These... read more!

Nick Kintos - Mathematics and Computational Biology

Nick Kintos uses the language of math to describe the science of biology.Kintos, a graduate student of math, writes equations that help biologists interpret their research. His field is known as... read more!


Naranyan Viswanadhan, '03, received his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree at the 2007 commencement of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is currently completing the Radiology Diagnotic Residency Program at Albert Einstein Medical Center in York, Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Tyler was selected to participate in the Mississippi State University Research Experience for Undergraduates. She will be working in the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems conducting tension and torsion tests on canine femurs, tendons, and ligaments.

Samin Nawaz and Roshan Prabhu won first and second place honors for undergraduates at the Third Annual Research Showcase on Wednesday, April 11, 2007.

Roshan Prabhu was selected an Outstanding Undergraduate student at the CSLA Annual Awards Reception, held on April 4, 2007.

Biology students Swetha Basani, Krystian Jarosz, Jasneet Kaur, Olga Khorkova, Samin Nawaz, and Roshan Prabhu were selected to participate in the Third Annual Research Showcase on Wednesday, April 11, 2007. Read their abstracts.

Professors Farzan Nadim and Amit Bose wrote an article for the March 2007 Edition of SIAM News (Vol. 40/No. 2) entitled Dynamics of Central Pattern Generating Networks: Locus of Control. Read the article.

Samin Nawaz andMaryam Sheikh presented their work, entitled “Structural Insights into Hydrolytic Mechanism of Antibiofilm Agent Dispersin B" at the 85th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research. The conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 21-24, 2007.

Swetha Basani presented her work “The Effect of Mercuric Ion APTT on PT Clotting Tests” at the 33rd Annual Northeast Bioengineering Conference from March 10-11, 2007.

Ani Chintalapani, Matthew Hanna and Natasha Pandya were selected to participate in the NSF funded Undergraduate Biology Math Training Program (UBMTP). They will be conducting their research this coming summer.

Diana Martinez presented her work entitled "Exploring Gap Junctional Location and Strength using Mathematical Modeling and Experimental Methods Exploring Gap Junctional Location and Strength using Mathematical Modeling and Experimental Methods" at Moravian College on February 18, 2006.  The talk was part of the Moravian College 20th Annual Student Mathematics Conference.  Diana was mentored by Professors Amit Bose, Jorge Golowasch, and Farzan Nadim.

Murtuza Jaffari presented a poster at the Laboratory Robotics Interest Group March 2006 Meeting.  His poster was titled, "Development of a High-Throughput Screen for Increased Redox Potential in Laccase."  His mentor was Professor Edgardo Farinas.

Shawn Abraham and Supreet Bindra presented work they performed at the 58th Annual Intercollegiate Council of Student Affiliate Chapters of the American Chemical Society Research Conference, on April 28, 2006.  Their posters were titled respectively, "Conformational Analysis of a GBR 12909 Analog;"  and "Singular Value Decomposition of Analogs GBR 12909."  They were mentored by Professor Carol Venanzi.