2020

I Am A Scientist

July 23, 2020

A project called "I Am A Scientist" is connecting middle and high school students with modern-day researchers with the goal of breaking down barriers like race, gender, and personal interests. Nabiha Saklayen, PhD '17, and Stephanie Fine Sasse, founder and director of educational design studio The Plenary, founded the project in response to the challenges they faced in their fields.

Twelve...

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Spring Cutting by Daniel Flynn

Predicting Shifts in Nature's Lifecycles

October 19, 2020

In nature, the timing of recurring annual lifecycle events affects many aspects of the ecosystem and ecology. In trees the timing of a leaf’s developing bud dictates the length of the growing season and carbon cycling, it mediates competition among plants and controls interactions with pests and pathogens.

The timing of spring buds developing in woody plants – trees, shrubs – is mainly controlled by environmental cues...

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Liming Cai

Liming Cai Receives Dorothy M. Skinner Award

November 20, 2020
Congratulations to Liming Cai, PhD ‘20 (Davis Lab) recipient of the Dorothy M. Skinner Award from the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology for her presentation, “Deeply altered genome architecture in the iconic endoparasitic flowering plant Rafflesiaceae”. The award recognizes women Ph.D. students and/or postdoctoral fellows who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship and show high potential for continued excellence in research.
CAPTURE Artist Interpretation

CAPTUREing Whole-Body 3D movements

December 18, 2020

In the last decade, Neuroscientists have made major advances in their quest to study the brain. They can assemble complete wiring diagrams and catalogue the brain's many cell types. They've developed electrode arrays for recording electrical activity in individual neurons and placed itty bitty microscopes on the heads of mice to visualize their brain activity. However, almost shockingly, there are no tools to precisely measure the brain's principal output -- behavior - in freely moving animals.

Animal behavior is important to a broad range of disciplines, from neuroscience and...

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Micrograph showing Rothia cells (light blue) in their native habitat, a bacterial biofilm scraped from the human tongue.  Photo credit: Jessica Mark Welch, Marine Biological Laboratory.

The Incredible, Variable Bacteria Living in Your Mouth

December 16, 2020

Bacteria often show very strong biogeography – some bacteria are abundant in specific locations while absent from others – leading to major questions when applying microbiology to therapeutics or probiotics: how did the bacteria get into the wrong place? How do we add the right bacteria into the right place when the biogeography has gotten ‘out of whack’? These questions, though, have one big obstacle, bacteria are so tiny and numerous with very diverse and complicated populations which creates major challenges to understanding which subgroups of bacteria live...

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Thin section of a partial gorgonopsian canine under polarized light. Serrations are evident on the right side of this specimen. Courtesy of Megan Whitney

Researchers discover surprising connection between prehistoric dinosaurs and mammals in their teeth

December 15, 2020

When most people think of ferocious, blade-like teeth on prehistoric creatures they picture Smilodon, better known as the saber-toothed tiger. But in the world of dinosaurs, theropods are well known for having blade-like teeth with serrated cutting edges used for biting and ripping their prey. And until recently, the complex arrangement of tissues that gave rise to these terrifying teeth was considered unique to these meat-eating dinosaurs.

In a paper published December 16 in ...

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Spectacled Tyrant, Hymenops perspicillatus. Brazil. Image courtesy of C. Albano

1300 species, 2400 genes, 21 museums, and 40 years

December 10, 2020

Tropical regions contain many of the world's species and scientists consider them hotspots due to their immense biological diversity. However, due to limited sampling our knowledge of tropical diversity remains incomplete, making it difficult for researchers to answer the fundamental questions of the mechanisms that drive and maintain diversity.

In a paper published December 10 in Science, an international team of scientists has produced the first complete,...

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Life Reconstruction. Original artwork created by scientific illustrator Davide Bonadonna.

Water-to-land transition in early tetrapods

November 25, 2020

The water-to-land transition is one of the most important and inspiring major transitions in vertebrate evolution. And the question of how and when tetrapods transitioned from water to land has long been a source of wonder and scientific debate.

Early ideas posited that drying-up-pools of water stranded fish on land and that being out of water provided the selective pressure to evolve more limb-like appendages to walk back to water. In the 1990s newly discovered specimens suggested that the first tetrapods retained many aquatic features, like gills and a tail fin, and that...

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OEB Darwin Shield

Congratulations November Graduates!

November 16, 2020

Congratulations to our PhD candidates who successfully defended and earned their doctorate November 2020!!

  • Meghan Blumstein (N. Michele Holbrook Lab), "The plastic and adaptive potential of sugar storage in temperate trees under climate change"
  • Liming Cai (Charles Davis Lab), "Phylogeny and genome evolution of the flowering plant clade Malpighiales"
  • Blake Dickson (Stephanie Pierce Lab), "Evolution of the tetrapod forelimb and functional morphology of the humerus...
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