News & Announcements

Yi-Fen Lin awarded NSF DDIG

Congratulations to Yi-Fen Lin, a doctoral candidate in the Dumont lab, who has received a NSF DDIG to fund her dissertation research on Burrowing Behavior of Eastern Moles.

April Science Cafe:  Oddball Science

Brennan with duck

April's Science Café is on Monday, April 7th at 6:00PM Esselon Cafe. Dr. Patty Brennan will discuss Oddball Science – Why do We Study Weird Things?.

Brennan studies the evolutionary consequences of interactions between behavior, morphology and the environment. Recently, some of her work on sexual conflict in duck genitalia made headlines (in mostly conservative media, but see her response here) on whether this research constituted wasteful spending. Come out and hear why basic science, such as Patty’s, is worth funding.

Goodwin's 'team of rivals' paper getting press

Sarah Goodwin's paper in the February 2014 issue of Biology Letters is featured in Science Daily and in the New York Times: Wimpy Sparrow Welcome Here The study of territorial songs used by chipping sparrows to defend their turf reveals that sometime males will form a "dear enemy" alliance with a weaker neighbor to prevent a stronger rival from moving in. The paper, co-authored with advisor Jeff Podos, is the first to demonstrate birds' use of a stereotyped, specialized signal to establish brief periods of cooperation among neighbor birds who are otherwise rivals.

Del Toro awarded NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship

OEB doctoral candidate Israel Del Toro has been awarded a 3-year NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to start in September 2014. Del Toro will study the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the sky-islands of southwestern US and Northern Mexico. He will also look at the political ecology of the border region between the US and Mexico and how different management strategies impact the biodiversity of keystone arthropods. Del Toro will split his time between the University of Copenhagen's Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (CMEC), New Mexico State University (NMSU) and the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research Station.

March Science Café:  Dietary Habits of Black Holes

March's Science Café is on Monday, March 3rd at 6:00 pm at Esselon Cafe. Dr. Daniel Wang from the UMass Astronomy Department will talk about his work with black holes. He tells us there is a super massive one at the center of our galaxy, and it doesn’t suck. Join us for a fun discussion!

The Science Café series is organized by graduate students in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) program at UMass. We strive to bring engaging conversations about science to broad audiences by hosting Science Café events throughout the year.

Cox has success at SICB meeting

Suzanne Cox, PhD Student in the lab of Gary Gillis, had a successful time at this January's Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting. Not only was she runner up in this year's Best Student Paper contest in the Division of Comparative Biomechanics, she also received the best Oral Presentation Award by The Crustacean Society. Congratulations!

February Science Café: Mortal Combat

Black throated blue warbler

Mortal Combat: Bird Song and Territory Defense

This month's Science Café will be Monday, February 3rd at 6:00 pm at Eseslon Cafe. Dave Hof, a PhD candidate in OEB, will talk about his work investigating song function and aggression in songbirds, and how they use song to settle conflicts.

For information on the spring Science Café series, see or click on the Science Cafe mug.

Lin's work on mole locomotion featured in NY Times


Yi-Fen Lin, a doctoral candidate in Betsy Dumont's lab, reported at a recent meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology that moles seem to swim through the earth, and that the stroke they use allows them to pack a lot of power behind their shovel-like paws. Lin has collaborated with researchers at Brown University to record x-ray videos of moles tunneling. Her work is featured in Uncovering the Secrets of Mole Motion, New York Times.

Cleared: The Art of Science

Butterfly Ray

The Seattle Aquarium is currently hosting Cleared: The Art of Science, an exhibit of photographs by Adam Summers. The show features mesmerizing images of fish that have been specially treated to make the stained skeletal tissues visible through the skin and flesh. The technique, developed by Dr. Summers, uses dyes, hydrogen peroxide, a digestive enzyme and glycerin to make the flesh seem to disappear. Adam Summers was one of OEB's first PhD recipients, receiving his degree in 1999. He is currently a Professor at the University of Washington and Associate Director at Friday Harbor Laboratories. Between 2000 and 2008, he wrote columns on biomechanics for Natural History magazine.

2014 Darwin Fellow Search

A search for a new Darwin Fellow is underway. The Darwin Fellow Program, founded in 1995, brings promising young postdoctoral researchers to UMASS Amherst. The two-year position provides a unique combination of teaching and research responsibilities and is excellent preparation for academic positions. The fellowship program embodies the interdepartmental collaboration that characterizes the OEB Graduate Program. Darwin Fellows are active participants in OEB, acting as mentors to graduate students, conducting research, leading seminar courses, and teaching courses in the Biology Department. The position will start in August 2014. Details on the position and the application procedure can be found here.

Search update: four candidates have been invited for interviews in February.