News & Announcements

Normark receives Fulbright to study ancient native plants, invasive insect threat

Ben Normark in Gabon

Benjamin Normark, OEB & Biology faculty, was recently selected as a Fulbright scholar and will spend the fall 2016 semester in Mexico documenting the spread of the insect, cycad aulacaspis scale. It is an invasive species that threatens the country's cycads, plants sometimes called "living fossils" because they have changed little in the last 280 million years. Globally, says Normark, "Cycads are under unprecedented assault from armored scale insects and from the global nursery trade that sees cycads as commercially valuable ornamentals." Mexico is home to 55 of the world's 300 cycad species. Most of these are vulnerable or endangered, and many are culturally important, valued for stems that can be pounded into an edible meal, and for their foliage, still used for traditional religious ceremonies.  Read more

Marjadi wins AFS Best Student Presentation Award

Meghna Marjadi (OEB MS student) won the Best Student Presentation Award for her talk, "Evaluating reproductive strategies in alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) using pedigree reconstruction" (co-authored by Adrian Jordaan, Allison Roy, Benjamin Gahagan, and Andrew Whiteley) at the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society's Winter Science Meeting on January 14th, 2016 in Groton, Connecticut.

Sarah Goodwin Dissertation Defense

Chipping sparrow

9:00 a.m.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
209 French Hall
Dissertation Title:  Song perception in communication networks
Advisor:  Jeff Podos

Scott Schneider Dissertation Defense

Melissotarsus ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and armored scale insects (Hemiptera: Diaspididae)

9:30 a.m.
Monday, March 28, 2016
209 French Hall
Dissertation Title:  The meat-farming ants: Predatory mutualism between Melissotarsus ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and armored scale insects (Hemiptera: Diaspididae)
Advisor:  Ben Normark

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.

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