News & Announcements

Maple syrup jars

As maple sugaring season approaches, plant ecologist Kristina Stinson recently received a two-year, $149,800 grant to study the impact of climate change on the quantity and quality of sugar maple sap, including its chemical composition, and of sap from red maples, a species less sensitive to climate change.

TLDG schedule for spring

The theme for the 2016 Thursday Lunch Discussion Group (TLDG) is once again Interesting papers by upcoming seminar speakers. The group will meet in the French Library (205 French) at noon on Thursdays and lunch is provided. On weeks without a seminar speaker, there will be no TLDG. Links to pdfs of each week's paper are posted here: TLDG website. Thanks to Grace Pold and Daniel Petersen for organizing this spring.

Peterson's collections-based research gaining attention

Daniel Peterson's recent Evolution paper "Phylogenetic analysis reveals positive correlations between adaptations to diverse hosts in a group of pathogen-like herbivores" is discussed under "Research highlights" in the current issue of Evolutionary Applications. Peterson is an OEB PhD candidate in the Normark lab.

Skye Long Dissertation Defense

11:30 a.m.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
209 French Hall
Dissertation Title:  Spider Brains and Behavior
Advisor: Beth Jakob

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Honors Margery Coombs

At the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s (SVP) 75th annual meeting in October in Dallas, professor emeritus Margery Coombs, Biology and OEB, was awarded honorary membership, one of the three major academic career awards given by the society, to recognize her long career of “distinguished contribution to vertebrate paleontology.”  The society is the premier international body for the interdisciplinary field of vertebrate paleontology. Coombs is internationally known for her research on fossil perissodactyls. News Release

Gilman and colleagues investigate springy mechanics of gecko toe pad adhesion

Gecko composite

Geckos employ dry adhesion, using a combination of microscopic hairs on their toe pads, as well as other aspects of internal anatomy, to climb vertical walls and run across ceilings, a skill that has long fascinated scientists. In particular, it’s a mystery how some species as much as 100 times heavier than others can use adhesion so effectively. Casey Gilman, OEB doctoral candidate, and colleagues have found that geckos have a spring-like mechanism in their bodies to enhance adhesion as they become larger. Gilman is first author on Geckos as Springs: Mechanics Explain Across-Species Scaling of Adhesion in PLOS One. In 2012, four of the authors, including Gilman's advisor Duncan Irschick, invented the flexible adhesive Geckskin. It mimics a gecko’s ability to strongly yet easily attach and detach their feet to walk on walls and ceilings.

Stengle Leading Nine-State Study of Fungus Deadly to Snakes

Rattlenake in den

OEB Ph.D. candidate Anne Stengle, is overseeing a federal grant in nine states that studies a mysterious fungus killing snakes in the Northeast. In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it's especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. According to Stengle, the fungus has been found in all five rattlesnake populations in Massachusetts, but it doesn't appear to have had the high mortality rate reported elsewhere. Stengle's dissertation research is on habitat selection, connectivity and viability of the timber rattlesnake metapopulation in southwestern Massachusetts.

Evan Palmer-Young Awarded DDIG

Evan Palmer-Young, OEB doctoral candidate in Lynn Adler's lab, has been awarded a $20,735 Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from NSF's DEB for his project "Inter-strain variation and evolution of resistance to phytochemicals in the bumblebee trypanosome parasite, Crithidia bombi." Congratulations to Evan and Lynn!

Curtis recieves NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

OEB Ph.D. Candidate Caroline Curtis has been awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for her proposal Using Time Series of Remotely Sensed Imagery to Understand Invasive Pine Dispersal. The $30,000 fellowship, renewable for up to three years, allows Curtis to study the temporal patterns of pine invasion in South America. Congratulations to Caroline and her advisor, Bethany Bradley.

Andrew Smith awarded DDIG

Andy Smith, OEB doctoral candidate in Betsy Dumont's lab, has been awarded a $20,131 Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from NSF's DEB for his project "The role of integration in driving the morphological diversity of mammalian jaws." Congratulations to Andy and Betsy!

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