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Biomedical engineering senior gives talk at prominent biology conference

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering senior Amirali Monshizadeh

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering senior Amirali Monshizadeh attended the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference in Seattle this semester to give a talk.

The SICB Conference is considered the most prominent biology conference in the field and is regularly attended by almost 4,000 people each year.

Monshizadeh was encouraged to give a talk by Department of Biological Sciences Professor Alexander Shingleton. Shingleton’s lab focuses on researching how the environment influences body and organ size, using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism.

He said that fruit flies are model organisms for biological research because their genetics are very well-known.

Based on research done in Shingleton’s lab, Monshizadeh’s talk was about their fly puberty research, when flies decide to stop growing, and how the switch that causes growth happens. More specifically, he and his team developed a mathematical model to link fly growth with its internal hormones. This research resulted in a groundbreaking discovery about exactly when the fly decides to stop growing.

“Traditionally, most researchers would use sort of growth measurement of a fly’s hormones to come up with an idea of what’s happening, but we took a more nontraditional approach,” he said.

Monshizadeh feels that the computational work he does for his biomedical engineering degree helps create a non-traditional approach to biology.

Shingleton and Monshizadeh’s research was published in the Proceedings of the National Sciences Academy journal in late November 2023. Monshizadeh is the second author.

“Shingleton is a fantastic mentor who’s exceeded my expectations in terms of what we can achieve together, and he was pushing me to do more,” Monshizadeh said. “It’s really unprecedented for an undergraduate student to give a talk at a conference, but from day one, he insisted that I give a talk because it would be a really good educational opportunity and it would also help me make these connections for future work.”

He noted that science conferences are interesting because they’re a way for scientists to socialize and be inspired by others’ work.

Monshizadeh received funding from the biomedical engineering department, the Shingleton lab, and the UIC Honors College.

After graduating this spring, Monshizadeh will begin a master’s program studying molecular engineering at the University of Chicago.