News & Announcements

Katie Schroeder's Latest Findings about Zebra Finch Nestlings

OEB student, Katie Schroeder's latest findings have been published in Developmental Neurobiology showing that zebra finch nestlings have auditory neurons that can already process and store songs like adults. Katie is a member of the Healey Lab at UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst Life Sciences Junior Fellows Seminar with Dr. Jeffrey Karp

The Junior Fellows program has invited Dr. Jeffrey Karp to give a talk on Thursday, November 12, 2020. 

Title: Towards Accelerated Medical Innovation.
Time: 5-6PM

To register to attend, please click HERE

Michelle C Gilbert wins FASEB’s 2020 BioArt competition! 

Michelle C Gilbert

PhD candidate, Michelle C Gilbert, has won the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology's BioArt competition for a photograph of a skeletal preparation of the cichlid fish, Cauqetia spectabilis. All winning entries can be found here. This is the second consecutive year that Michelle has earned this award! 

UMass Amherst's Blanchard Lab Leads National Soil Microbiome Investigation

Students from the Blanchard Lab

In a new national effort, UMass Amherst scientists led by Jeff Blanchard, biology, have received a two-year, renewable resource grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to apply – for the first time – new genomics and omics-related techniques to microbial communities at 15 to 20 established NSF research sites across the United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The new soil data will be integrated with older soil sample data to assess how these communities are responding over time to climate change and their role in respiring carbon dioxide from soil, which is the major repository of terrestrial carbon, Blanchard says. Read more

Evelyn Beaury Wins Outstanding Presentation and NSF Internship Awards 

Eve Beaury (PhD Candidate) has had a busy and productive 2020! She won the 2020 Simberloff Award for Outstanding Presentation at this year's Ecological Society of America conference, and was awarded a spot in the NSF Graduate Research Internship Program to do an internship with the U.S. Geological Survey in the spring of 2021.

Amy Strauss and Mariamar Gutierrez Ramirez Receive Recognition at Ornithological Conference

Amy Strauss (OEB PhD Candidate) was awarded the Association of Field Ornithologists' 'Best Student Poster Presentation Award' at the 2020 North American Ornithological Conference, held virtually this summer. This award recognizes 'outstanding student presentations', and her poster on vocal communication in song sparrows was described as, "an excellent presentation of a well-designed study". Mariamar Gutierrez Ramirez's (PhD Candidate) talk on the ecology and physiology of long-distance migration received honorable mention. 

Kadambari Devarajan Selected As OEB 2020-2021 JEDI Fellow

Kadambari Devarajan

We are thrilled to announce that PhD candidate Kadambari Devarajan ("KD") has been selected as this year's OEB Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Fellow. This new position is in response to the recent events in our country that have called attention to the urgent need to address systemic racism in our science and our society. OEB is undertaking a review of all aspects of our program to identify ways that we can do better. This effort will require involvement of all OEB members, and the JEDI Fellow will help to coordinate some of these actions, including gathering JEDI resources to share with the OEB community, co-creating JEDI curriculum material for the Fall proseminar, and assisting the OEB leadership with evaluating the effectiveness of initiatives that aim to enhance JEDI in the program. Welcome KD!

Laura Figueroa Assumes Position As OEB Darwin Mentoring Fellow

Laura Figueroa

It is our great pleasure to introduce Laura Figueroa as the newest OEB Darwin Mentoring Fellow! She will be replacing former Fellow, John Rowan, who accepted a faculty position in the Anthropology Department at SUNY Albany. Laura will assist with teaching the proseminar for incoming OEB students and serving as a near-peer mentor more generally in OEB. We are thrilled that Laura is able to serve in this role. Laura completed her PhD in 2020 from the Dept of Entomology at Cornell University. She is joining UMass remotely this Fall as she begins a combined NSF Postdoc Fellowship and Postdoctoral Pathway Fellowship in the ECo department. Welcome Laura!

UMass Amherst Biologists Zero in on Cells’ Environmental Sensing Mechanism

R. Craig Albertson

Evolutionary and developmental biologist Craig Albertson and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have identified a molecular mechanism that allows an organism to change the way it looks depending on the environment it is exposed to, a process known as phenotypic plasticity.

In addition to lead investigators Albertson and Rolf Karlstrom, the team includes recently graduated doctoral students Dina Navon and Ira Male, current Ph.D. candidate Emily Tetrault and undergraduate Benjamin Aaronson. Their paper appears now in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

Statement from OEB Program Leader, Paige Warren

I echo the sadness and concern expressed by our Chancellor and others about the recent acts of violence and intimidation against Black people and other marginalized groups. I know that we in the OEB community reject racism and violence, and we send our condolences and support to the families and friends of those who have been killed. I also recognize that some of our community members are currently feeling devastated by recent events, and may be finding it hard to focus on their work. I encourage advisors and peers to be kind, patient, and generous; ask if your students and colleagues need help. While diversity in OEB has increased over the time I have been at UMass, our community still has no Black graduate students and very few Black faculty members. Among the important actions that we can take going forward is to consider why that is and how we can change it. I will be talking with our newly formed Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee about other actions that we can take to continue fostering the inclusive community we aim to be. I welcome and encourage others to contribute to this effort. The Ecological Society of America has shared a message that provides some helpful suggestions for becoming a positive force for change in our communities, our disciplines, and in the wider world:

One article I'd like to highlight provides a call for graduate advisors to openly discuss the impacts of racism with our lab groups:

Every member of our community is responsible for creating a safe, inclusive work environment. I encourage everyone to consider steps that they can take to help achieve this, both within OEB and at UMass Amherst. Individual actions matter, even small ones.