August 21, 1997......Volume 27, Issue 1

News . . . . Arts . . . . Calendars . . . . Letters . . . . Links . . . . Deadlines . . . . Archive


Search the contents of the Intercom archives and
news releases issued by the Department of Public Information.


Employees gear up for onslaught
Spanier's annual address
Partnership to provide bus service
Penn Staters
Promotions
Mowing 'em down
Intercollegiate Athletics
Obituaries
Proud moment
News in Brief
New at Penn State
For the Record
Lectures
Carpoolers
Private Giving
Newspaper program
Visiting research assistant sought
Faculty/Staff Alerts
Staff Focus Committee
Administrative Fellows appointed
Olympic diver honored
Partings
From the experts
Research

 

Penn State news bureau

Faculty/Staff Alerts

Preparing graduates

Higher education's efforts to prepare graduates for the global economy and community of the 21st century are the subject of the next edition of "To the Best of My Knowledge," Penn State President Graham B. Spanier's monthly call-in program on public radio station WPSU-FM (90.1, 91.5 & 106.7), airing tonight at 7 p.m.

Joining President Spanier for a discussion of how best to infuse an international perspective into the academic programs of the nation's colleges and universities will be Beverly Lindsay, dean of the University Office of International Programs.

Listeners with opinions or questions about the internationalization of higher education are invited to call (800) 543-8242 during the one-hour program. Internet users worldwide will be able to link to sound and pictures from the program at http://www.psu.edu/ur/tech/tech.html; and they will be able to submit questions and comments via e-mail to response@psu.edu.

Dollars for Scholars

The fourth annual Dollars for Scholars golf classic, sponsored by the College of Communications Alumni Society, will be held on Friday, Sept. 5, at Toftrees Resort. Net proceeds from the tournament will be contributed to the College of Communications Alumni Society Internship Fund. Awards from this fund provide financial aid to students in approved internships for academic credit. Whether participants choose to sponsor golfers or play in the classic, they will help build the student internship endowment. Proceeds from the last three annual events added more than $40,000 to scholarship and internship funds.

For more information on registration or sponsorship contact Kristen Kaminski, alumni relations and special events, College of Communications, at (814) 865-8801; e-mail klk104@psu.edu.

Scholarship applications accepted

Applications for the Edward L. and Dessa B. Keller Memorial Scholarship are being accepted until Oct. 17. Established by Edward W. Keller to honor his father and mother, the scholarship is open to Penn State graduate and undergraduate students enrolled full time or part time in either regular or extended degree courses. Additional consideration will be given to Continuing and Distance Education staff members enrolled in adult education doctoral programs or those participating in an internship at the Washington, D.C., office of the University Continuing Education Association. One or more scholarships of at least $400 may be awarded each year.

Scholarship selection criteria include the applicant's academic record, letter of reference, written statement, contributions to Continuing and Distance Education, relevance of the applicant's educational program to his/her work and financial need.

Application forms are available from Sandra Rothrock, 507 Keller Building, University Park, Pa. 16802; phone (814) 863-7752.

Library hours

University Libraries on the University Park campus will maintain the following schedules during fall semester, Aug. 27-Dec. 12:

* All areas of Pattee Library will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon to midnight with the following exceptions:

-- Historical Collections and Labor Archives, Interlibrary Loan, Pattee Copy Center and the Rare Books Room will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

-- University Archives/Penn State Room will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and closed Saturday and Sunday.

-- The Music Listening Room will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 11 p.m. -- The Architecture Library, Earth and Mineral Sciences Library, Education Library, Engineering Library, Mathematics Library and Physical Sciences Library will be open Monday through Thursday 7:45 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.

* Pollock Library will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On Labor Day, Sept. 1, Pattee Library will be open from noon to midnight, and branch libraries will be open from noon to 11 p.m.; Pollock Library will remain open 24 hours.

Extended hours

Three floors in West Pattee Library will remain open an additional two hours for the fall semester, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 27. Students can continue studying from midnight to 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday evenings, on the ground, first and second floors of West Pattee. Included in this section of the building are the Periodicals Room, the Reserve Reading Room and a computer lab.

For more information on all hours of library service, call (814) 865-3063, type HELP HOURS when using the Library Information Access System (LIAS), or visit the Libraries' home page at http://www.libraries.psu.edu/

Standard 'A' (third-class) Bulk Mail

The U.S. Postal Service has increased its investigation of all Standard 'A' Bulk Mail they receive from non-profit organizations across the country. Penn State's bulk mail also is being closely monitored for "content based restriction" violations. Six months ago, the State College post office had only one bulk mail technician verifying Penn State's mail. They now have three. If you have any questions about the validity of the contents of your mail piece, please call Beth Catherman or Gregg Asciutto at (814) 865-7544.

First-Class Endorsement Survey

Recently, Addressing and Mailing Services sent out a survey to the campus asking which first-class endorsement it should use on all outgoing one-ounce to two-ounce first class letters. New U.S. Postal Service regulations force us to choose one and only one endorsement. We received an excellent response to that survey. Overwhelmingly the campus chose to use "Return Service Requested" instead of "Address Service Requested." We will begin using this endorsement effective Sept. 1. Addressing and Mailing Services would like to thank all who participated in this survey.

Tax exemptions

The Pennsylvania State Legislature recently enacted a tax exemption for employee contributions for certain types of flexible benefits plans. This state tax exemption applies now to Contribution Conversion Accounts (which pay group premiums for medical, dental, vision coverage and the first $50,000 of life insurance with pre-tax dollars) and Health Care Reimbursement Accounts. It does not apply, however, to Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts, which receive only a federal tax exemption. Federal tax exemptions continue to apply to all three types of accounts.

This state law makes the exemption for the two accounts retroactive to Jan. 1, 1997. Steps are being taken to make the necessary adjustments in the University payroll system. Until these adjustments are complete, the state tax deductions will continue as in the past. These amounts will be adjusted before the end of 1997, and W-2 forms for 1997 will reflect the accurate tax amounts so that employees can recover the excess tax amounts when tax forms are filed.

Statistical consulting

The Statistical Consulting Center is a team of faculty, staff and graduate students in the Department of Statistics that can provide a limited amount of short-term consulting advice to Penn State faculty and graduate students. You will meet with a statistics graduate student who is taking a practicum in statistical consulting. There is no charge for this assistance and the sessions are supervised. However, participants are asked to fill out a "Request for Statistical Consulting" form and to schedule an appointment for assistance.

To obtain a "Request for Statistical Consulting" form, do any of the following:

* Telephone the center at (814) 863-0281 and a form will be mailed or faxed to you;

* Come to 323 Thomas Building anytime Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and pick up a form;

* Visit the Web at http://www.stat.psu.edu/~scc and download a form; or

* Contact the center by e-mail at scc@stat.psu.edu.

If the statistical needs of your research project are more extensive, please contact the center to discuss available options.

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New member appointed
to serve on Staff Focus Committee

The Staff Focus Committee, an advisory group which meets quarterly to discuss staff issues and concerns, has appointed a new member. Robin Anderson, senior information systems consultant in the Office of Administrative Systems, has been named a member of the 18-member committee. More appointments are expected in the near future.

Anderson, who served as an Administrative Fellow during the 1995-96 academic year, also is a member of the Commission for Women and will serve as the commission's liaison to the Staff Focus Committee.

"This appointment establishes an ongoing, much-needed link to the Staff Focus Committee from the Commission for Women," said Nancy L. Herron, chair, Commission for Women.

In her role as senior information systems consultant, Anderson provides technical direction, guidance and training for using information technology to improve productivity in administrative units. She also manages the Administrative Training and Support Center staff. She holds an M.A. in education from Michigan State University and a B.S. in education from Eastern Michigan University.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, Sept. 10.

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Administrative Fellows


Terri L. Dowdy

 
Susan Shuman

 
Gail Gilchrest

Appointees come
from varied backgrounds

By Meredith McKeon
Public Information

Three Administrative Fellows have been appointed for the 1997-1998 academic year.

* Terri L. Dowdy, financial officer for Computer and Information Systems, Development and Alumni Relations and Student Affairs, will serve under the mentorship of Gary C. Shultz, senior vice president for finance/treasurer.

* Susan Shuman, senior research project manager in the Office of Marketing and Research in Continuing and Distance Education, will serve under the mentorship of John A. Brighton, executive vice president and provost.

* Gail Gilchrest, admissions officer at Penn State Shenango, will serve under the mentorship of Robert E. Dunham, senior vice president, dean, Commonwealth College.

The Administrative Fellows Program provides women and minorities with an opportunity to enhance their administrative talents and qualifications by involving them in mentorship experiences with top-level administrators at the University.

Dowdy achieved a B.S. in accounting and currently has six credits toward her M.B.A. at Penn State.

After pursuing an undergraduate education at Penn State, Dowdy started her career here as an auditing assistant in the auditing department and in 1988 became assistant accountant in the Corporate Controller's Office. In 1988, she also worked as an accounting consultant at Gregory Hill Custom Tailoring, and served as assistant accountant and acting financial officer for the College of Communications, and later as financial officer I. In 1992, she was promoted to financial officer III in the University Libraries and currently holds the position of financial officer IV, responsible for multiple administrative areas and fund types, as well as providing complex financial analysis, coordinating audits, managing contracts and a host of other duties. Dowdy chairs the University Libraries Task Force for Innovation and its Task Force for Publications. She is a member of the Financial Officer Development Team and a mentor for the Multicultural Business Society of The Smeal College of Business Administration. Dowdy is also a member of the supervisory committee of the Penn State Federal Credit Union and the 1995-96 Class of Leadership Centre County.

Shuman first came to Penn State in the mid-1980s in pursuit of her Ph.D. in sociology. She already held an M.A. (1978) and a B.A. (1977) in sociology from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Shuman began her career as a research analyst at the Applied Gerontological Research Center of The Benjamin Rose Institute. While pursuing her Ph.D., which she earned in 1988, Shuman worked as a research and planning analyst in planning studies (now part of Continuing and Distance Education) for the Commonwealth Educational System and currently holds the position of senior research project manager in the Office of Marketing and Research, C&DE. She is responsible for the design, implementation and management of market analysis plans.

Schuman has written numerous reports, several book chapters, a planning abstract series, and co-edited the third edition of Professional and Occupational Practice Requirements. She has made more than 15 presentations across the country and abroad and is a member of the Commission for Women and various Continuing and Distance Education committees. She is the sexual harassment resource person for Continuing and Distance Education and was awarded the Staff Support Award for the department. She is a volunteer for Keystone Legal Services and is involved in Leadership Centre County.

After earning an M.S. in education from Youngstown State University, Gail Gilchrest came to Penn State in pursuit of her D.Ed. in counselor education, which she was awarded in 1993.

Gilchrest began her career at Penn State as an adviser/counselor in the Division of Undergraduate Studies at Shenango, then advanced to career development and placement counselor where she initiated the first Penn State regionalized placement service with four western Penn State campuses. Currently, Gilchrest is the admissions officer at Shenango and is responsible for all admissions, recruitment and marketing initiatives for the campus.

Gilchrest has given numerous professional and community presentations to audiences including the National Adult Learner's Conference, the New England Conference of the College Board and the Penn State National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. She serves on the campus marketing team and the Commonwealth College Strategic Planning Committee. She is the liaison to the Commission for Women and is the campus contact person for sexual harassment and child care issues. Gilchrest is also the founder and adviser to the campus Adult Student Support Group and is the chair of the Integrating Marketing Team for Shenango.

She serves on the board of directors for the local Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Mercer County Commission for Women and a board member of the Kiwanis Club of Sharon.

The Fellows will participate in a wide-range of decision-making processes, learning activities and program management to better equip them for the challenges which accompany higher education administration. The Fellows program also will help create a pool of qualified women and minorities for potential administrative vacancies, both inside and outside the Penn State community.

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Olympic medal-winning diver
honored as an Alumni Fellow

Mary Ellen Clark, who won Bronze Medals for 10-meter platform diving in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, has been named a Penn State Alumni Fellow. She will receive the award at a ceremony to be held on the University Park campus on Sept. 4.

Clark received her bachelor of science degree in health and physical education from the College of Health and Human Development in 1985. Recruited as the first "full scholarship" diver to attend Penn State, she led the swimming and diving team to unprecedented regional and national honors. She was seven-time Eastern champion and six-time All-American while at Penn State and represented the University throughout the country. She served as captain of the diving team in 1985.

Already an accomplished springboard diver when she came to the University, Clark tried "the tower" for the first time at the encouragement of her Penn State coaches and teammates. She later described that first 10-meter dive (from the height of a three-story building) this way: "My first time on the platform, it took me a half-hour standing at the edge before I got up the nerve to dive. I've never looked back."

Clark's success has required her to overcome bouts of vertigo which first plagued her in Australia in 1988, briefly again in 1990, and then more severely a year before the 1996 games when she took time off from training to find some relief. Her break in training, coupled with her age, cast her in the role of underdog in Atlanta, where, at 33, she became the oldest diver to win a medal in the 10-meter event.

A native of Newtown Square, Pa., Clark was first encouraged to dive by her father, who had been captain of the diving team at the University of Pennsylvania. She dedicated her Barcelona medal to her father, who suffered from ill health during her Olympic career.

Now retired from diving and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Clark is a corporate spokesperson for Speedo and other companies and tours the country as a motivational speaker at colleges and corporations. Among other honors, she is a member and athletic representative for the U.S. Diving Board of Directors and a member of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. She was named Woman Athlete of the Year in Diving in 1992, 1993 and 1994.

The Alumni Fellow Award, presented by the Penn State Alumni Association, is administered in cooperation with the academic units. The Board of Trustees has designated the title of Alumni Fellow as permanent and lifelong.

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Partings

Statistics professor
taught for 30 years

Robert A. Hultquist, professor of statistics, has retired from the Eberly College of Science after 30 years of service.

After receiving degrees from Alfred University, Purdue University and Oklahoma State University, he joined the faculty of Penn State in 1966 as an associate professor of mathematics and statistics. He became full professor in 1971.

Hultquist concentrated on being a good teacher and adviser to his students during his career. "I was blessed in that I had wonderful teachers myself," Hultquist says, recalling, in particular, the basketball and football coach who sparked his interest in experimental design and started him on his career in statistics by asking him to design the sequence of rotation and order of events of a large sports tournament.

"I developed good study habits myself because I didn't ever want to get embarrassed during class, and this experience carried over to my teaching methods because I made sure the students were there and turned in their assignments," Hultquist says. "I just wanted to continue going to school and that's what I did for my entire life."

During his career at Penn State, Hultquist consulted with Kodak; Westinghouse; IBM; Eagle Picher; the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and the U.S. Army. He was a visiting professor at Cornell University, a statistical consultant at the University of New Hampshire, and a visiting professor for the National Science Institutes at New Hampshire University, Southeastern Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University.

He has coauthored several articles and reviews, authored several book chapters, and is the author of the instructional book, The Introduction to Statistics (Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston).

Staff assistant plans to
have active retirement

Edie Johnson, staff assistant in the Workforce Education and Development Program in the College of Education and the Center for Professional Personnel Development in Vocational Education, has retired after 30 years of service at the University.

She began her career at Penn State in 1967, working as a clerk/typist in the Air Environment Center in the College of Engineering. A year later she moved to the College of Education and worked in the School of Psychology Program in the Department of Special Education as a staff assistant. She joined the staff of the Workforce Education and Development Program (formerly vocational education) in 1975.

A graduate of State College High School, Johnson was born and reared in Centre County. She and her husband, Gig, live in Port Matilda. They have two children, a daughter, Melanie Warrender, who lives in Tyrone, and a son, Brian Johnson, a junior at Penn State majoring in kinesiology.

In her retirement, Johnson plans to drive a school bus, volunteer for the American Red Cross, and work as an emergency medical technician with her local ambulance service. She also will continue as a part-time student to complete an associate degree in letters, arts and sciences from Penn State.

Several retire from University
after earning emeritus rank

Parris H. Chang, professor of political science in College of the Liberal Arts, retired July 1, after 26 years of service.

Sidney Cohn, professor of urban design in College of Arts and Architecture, from Sept. 1, 1975, to June 30.

Samuel M. Curtis, professor of agricultural education in College of Agricultural Sciences, from July 1, 1965, to June 30.

Juris G. Draguns, professor of psychology in College of the Liberal Arts, retired June 30, after 29 years of service.

William J. Duiker, professor of East Asian studies in College of the Liberal Arts, retired June 30, after 29 years of service.

Patricia A. Farrell, associate professor of leisure studies in College of Health and Human Development, retired July 1, after 29 years of service.

David H. Fowler, senior extension agent in College of Agricultural Sciences, from Nov. 15, 1971, to July 1.

Glenn F. Gerhard, associate professor of engineering at Penn State Schuylkill, from Sept. 1, 1968, to June 30.

Albert L. Guber, professor of geology in College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, retired June 30, after 33 years of service.

Wendell V. Harris, professor of English and Fellow of the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies in College of the Liberal Arts, from July 1, 1979, to July 1.

Donald W. Johnson, associate professor of education in College of Education, retired Aug. 1, after 33 years of service.

Melvyn S. Klein, senior director of Student Affairs, retired June 28, after 29 years of service.

George B. Kleindorfer, professor of quantitative business analysis in The Smeal College of Business Administration, from Dec. 17, 1973, to June 30.

Audrey K. Korman, administrative assistant IV in Research and Graduate Education, from Aug. 13, 1979, to June 28.

Kenneth E. Landis, food preparer A in Housing and Food Services, from Sept. 16, 1962, to June 28.

Joseph H. MacNeil, professor of food science in College of Agricultural Sciences, retired June 30, after 33 years of service.

Peter D. Morris, associate professor of mathematics in Eberly College of Science, retired July 1, after 30 years of service.

Charles T. Morrow, professor of agricultural engineering in College of Agricultural Sciences, retired June 30, after 30 years of service.

Ralph O. Mumma, distinguished professor of environmental quality in College of Agricultural Sciences, retired June 30, after 36 years of service.

Dr. Nicholas M. Nelson, professor of pediatrics in College of Medicine at The Hershey Medical Center, retired July 1, after 26 years of service.

Stanley J. Nowak Jr., associate professor of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese in College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State Allentown, retired June 30, after 29 years of service.

Robert W. Ott, professor of art education in College of Arts and Architecture, retired July 1, after 28 years of service.

Patricia C. Peterson, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, retired June 30, after 29 years of service.

Dr. Arthur J. Schneider, professor of anesthesia in College of Medicine at The Hershey Medical Center, retired July 1, after 16 years of service.

Herbert S. Siegel, professor of poultry science in College of Agricultural Sciences, retired June 30, after 13 years of service.

Jack J. Stein, associate professor of electrical engineering in College of Engineering at Penn State Great Valley, retired July 1, after 29 years of service.

Theresa T. Strauss-Noll, associate professor of English in College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State New Kensington, retired July 1, after 22 years of service.

Alfred D. Talvola, associate professor of engineering in College of Engineering at Penn State Beaver, retired July 1, after 29 years of service.

Robert T. Tauber, professor of education in College of Education at Penn State Erie, Behrend College, retired July 1, after 25 years of service.

Donald E. Thompson, senior research associate/head in the Applied Research Laboratory, retired July 1, after 30 years of service.

Jiri Tichy, professor of architectural engineering in College of Engineering, retired July 1, after 28 years of service.

Nancy Tischler, professor of English and humanities in College of the Liberal Arts, retired May 1, after 30 years of service.

Edward V. Trunk, associate professor of engineering in College of Engineering at Penn State Harrisburg, retired July 1, after 27 years of service.

Arthur L. Welsh, professor of economics in College of the Liberal Arts, retired July 1, after 10 years of service.

Harry H. West, professor of civil engineering in College of Engineering, retired June 30, after 36 years of service.

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Research


This is a scanning electron microscope image of a fruit fly's eye. Research using these eyes done by Zhi-Chun Lai, asistant professor of biology, biochemistry and molecular biology,
and others has increased understanding of the
nervous system and brain.

Gene finding may aid cancer research

By Barbara K. Kennedy
Eberly College of Science

Scientists, some from Penn State, have discovered how three genes work together to regulate the development of nerve cells -- fundamental new knowledge that could boost efforts in other areas, including cancer research.

In the Aug. 8 issue of Cell, two teams of researchers report that they made the same discovery independently. One team was led by Zhi-Chun Lai, assistant professor of biology, biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, and Richard W. Carthew, assistant professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Gerald M. Rubin of the University of California at Berkeley led the other team. The research is expected to contribute to the understanding of the nervous system and brain.

Lai and Carthew's team studied fruit fly eyes to determine which genes regulate the development of photoreceptor neurons -- cells that convert light signals into chemical signals the brain can understand.

"The fly genes we are studying are amazingly similar to their corresponding human genes. At the very fundamental cellular level, there is no difference between the human cell and the fly cell," Lai said. "Plus, flies are a very good organism for genetic engineering."

On about the fourth day of a fly's life, certain proto-eye cells receive instructions from the fly's genes to become either light-filtering cone cells or photoreceptor neurons. "That's when we dissect the eyes to look at them under the microscope," Lai said.

External signals tell the developing cells what kind of cell to become by initiating a cascade of internal molecular reactions called the "signal transduction pathway."

"Cancer can result if errors occur in the signal-transduction pathway, giving a cell the signal to divide instead of becoming a neuron," Carthew explained. "These signal-transduction pathways are indispensable for life because they are critical for neural development. They also can be a threat to life if a harmful error occurs somewhere along the pathway, resulting in uncontrolled cell division rather than controlled cell differentiation."

Last year Lai discovered an important clue about how a special kind of cell-growth regulator, known as a neural inhibitor, works genetically. He found that proto-eye cells could become neurons only when the gene for making a protein known as Tramtrack was inactivated.

"Tramtrack is a kind of 'gatekeeper' protein that prevents the cell from differentiating into a neuron," Carthew said. "When the cell receives a signal to become a neuron the signal-transduction pathway is activated, which induces the production of proteins that somehow get rid of Tramtrack."

With that discovery pointing the way, Lai, Carthew and the research team searched to discover exactly which proteins were responsible for destroying Tramtrack. They genetically engineered strains of fruit flies to test a number of genes whose protein products they suspected would be good candidates.

"There are two genetic directions you can take," Lai said. "If you want to show that a gene is important for some function, you take it away and see what happens. You can also cause genes to over-produce their protein product in a cell and see what happens then."

Using this approach, the researchers narrowed down their list of candidate proteins to just two, Phyllopod and Sina, and demonstrated that the two work together to target Tramtrack for destruction. In the process, they also discovered the first known biochemical function of the Phyllopod and Sina proteins.

"Our test-tube experiments demonstrated that Sina and Phyllopod bind to each other to form a partnership and that they also bind to Tramtrack to form a triad," Carthew said.

Using genetically engineered flies with either no Sina or with no Phyllopod proteins, Lai and Carthew discovered that the Tramtrack protein was able to be produced in the photoreceptor precursor cells, later transforming into cone cells. They also found that overproduction of Phyllopod alone prevented accumulation of the Tramtrack protein as long as the Sina protein also was available in the same cell.

"We consider that to be a dramatic change," Lai said. "It tells us, as do our corresponding studies in cell culture, that together Phyllopod and Sina proteins are essential for targeting the Tramtrack protein for destruction."

"We are pretty confident that together Phyllopod and Sina bind to the gatekeeper protein, Tramtrack, which is the kiss of death that marks it for destruction by the cell's garbage-disposal enzymes," Carthew said. "Once the gatekeeper Tramtrack protein is removed, the cell is free to become a neuron.

"Up until a few years ago, everyone thought developing cells always received positive signals, but now evidence is building at a rapid rate that the message often carried by the signal-transduction pathway is 'kill the gatekeeper,'" Carthew said.

Many vertebrate proteins, some known to be involved in cancers, carry a structural feature similar to the Tramtrack protein, according to Lai, who said, "We are now searching for other biological systems where genes for Tramtrack-like proteins prevent cell development."

Lai's research was supported by the National Science Foundation and by a March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award. Carthew's research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the Pew Foundation.

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From the experts

Perennials that bloom in fall help make gardens last

You live with your landscape 365 days a year. Why not get the most of it?

"By using fall-blooming perennials you can keep your landscape and garden interesting even during the cold months," said Dan Stearns, associate professor of landscape contracting in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Most fall-blooming perennials are hardy, long-lived and come in vivid colors. They can be planted from spring until mid-October. The dried flowers and stalks also can remain in the garden during winter, adding beauty to the landscape and providing a feeding place for birds.

"Fall is a good time to purchase and plant these perennials because you can see what the flowers look like," Stearns said. "It's best to visit many nurseries so you can see a variety of fall-blooming plants. You're also more likely to find some unusual ones."

Before buying perennials, prepare your soil by adding fertilizer, bone meal and organic matter. Plant the perennials in holes the same depth and width as the pots they come in and gently tamp the dirt around them. Mulching will hinder weeds and retain moisture.

"Perennials are hardy and can take a lot of weather extremes once they're established," Stearns said. "But they do need some care. Potted plants usually come with tags that give instructions about shade and watering requirements. It's important to water deeply or the roots will grow next to the soil surface and the plants will dry out quickly."

For more information on gardening, see the Web at http://www.aginfo.psu.edu/news/psp/index.html

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