New molecular biologist researches insect communication at University

Marina MacLean joins the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources

Marina MacLean

Marina MacLean hopes to increase outreach and interest in biochemistry fields. Photo by Robert Moore.

New molecular biologist researches insect communication at University

Marina MacLean joins the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources

Marina MacLean hopes to increase outreach and interest in biochemistry fields. Photo by Robert Moore.

Marina MacLean

Marina MacLean hopes to increase outreach and interest in biochemistry fields. Photo by Robert Moore.

Marina MacLean has joined the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources as a lecturer for molecular biology labs in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.

MacLean has a background in investigating how insects communicate with each other, with her most recent research focusing on collecting and presenting information that could lead to new ways to manage pine bark beetles, which are extremely destructive forest pests. She is investigating insect lipid metabolism, which is how insects turn their food into energy and cells. Specifically, she’s studying the enzymes involved in creating an oil that covers the insect’s skin and acts as a communication signal.

In 2018, MacLean presented her work at the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America Conference and published her work in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 2019, she completed her doctorate degree in biochemistry at the University. In addition to her research, MacLean has taught general chemistry at Sierra College and has supervised undergraduate and biotechnology students at the University.

“As a student, I was grateful for the willingness of all the professors I had to help with experimental design and problem-solving. As a member of the teaching faculty in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department, I am excited to pay that forward to my future students and help them gain confidence while conducting molecular biology research.”

    As a lecturer with the University, MacLean aims to use her experience as a chemistry instructor and researcher to increase interest in science among college and high school students through outreach and curriculum development. She also wants to continue her research into insect biochemistry as part of the College’s Experiment Station.

    “MacLean is an integral part of the department,” said Bob Ryan, department chair. “Along with her assigned duties as a lecturer, she manages the laboratory and has stepped in when we were short on instructors. She’s a terrific resource and overall great person to have in the department.”

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