Press Release: March 2012

Harvard Undergraduate Honors Thesis Research Published in the Journal of Human Evolution

John (JP) Zermeno

JP Zermeno in the ID 19 beamline experimental hutch at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France)

John (JP) Zermeno’s cutting-edge thesis research on dental enamel microstructure has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution. JP (class of 2009) worked closely with HEB Professor Tanya Smith and Dr. Paul Tafforeau (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) to develop an approach to isolate enamel prisms (long thin rods that constitute vertebrate tooth crowns) using state-of-the-art synchrotron micro-computed tomography. This non-destructive method allowed the team to isolate individual prisms (see video 1) and follow tooth development in 4-dimensions (see video 2). This represents a significant advance in fundamental knowledge of how teeth grow, and will be of particular interest to anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, and oral biologists. JP, a former Human Evolutionary Biology concentrator, is currently in his second year of Dental School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study was funded by the Harvard College Research Program, the Harvard University Milton Fund, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

Tafforeau, P., Zermeno, J.P., Smith, T.M. (2012) Tracking cellular-level enamel growth and structure in 4D with synchrotron imaging. J. Hum. Evol. 62:424-428.