Postdoc News

Still image from Joystick Angle Task Trial courtesy of Ölvecsky and Dhawale

Predicting Evolution

November 13, 2019

New research by Bence Ölvecsky and Postdoc, Ashesh Dhawale, suggests errors resulting from variability in motor function is a feature, not a bug, of our nervous system and play a critical role in learning. The study published in Current Biology addresses the issue of how the brain regulates variability, which is necessary for learning, but not useful when a successful...

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Figure 2: Time-calibrated phylogeny of sampled synapsid taxa.

How Does Biological Complexity Arise?

November 7, 2019

Stephanie Pierce and Postdoc Katrina Jones tackle the question of biological complexity using the complex mammalian spine as an evolutionary example. Using phylogenetic modeling, Pierce and Jones were able to discover why the mammalian vertebral column became more complex over time. The data published in Nature Communications shows major shifts in spine complexity are associated with increases in aerobic capacity, thus supporting the hypothesis for...

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Rosella Gabriellus fossil

Javier Ortega-Hernández and Rudy-Lerosey Aubril Awarded William F. Milton Fund

July 15, 2019

Congratulations to Javier Ortega-Hernández and Rudy-Lerosey Aubril (Research Associate, Ortega-Hernández lab) awarded the William F. Milton Fund for their project, "Revealing the nearshore cradle of animal evolution: a new exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossil biota from the early Cambrian of British Columbia.

The award will support the study of a new...

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southern cassowary Luke Seitz

Convergent Regulatory Evolution and Loss of Flight in Paleognathous Birds

April 5, 2019

Species from widely divergent taxa can experience similar changes in traits. What underlying genetic drivers cause these parallel changes remains an open question. Scott Edwards, Tim Sackton (Director of Bioinformatics and former Postdoc) and PhD student Phil Grayson used a new method developed by collaborators in the Harvard Statistics Department to look across groups of birds that have repeatedly lost flight. The team showed there is convergence in the regulatory regions associated with genes related to flight, but not within the protein coding regions.

In the...

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Derek Bok Center

Fall 2018 Derek Bok Certificates of Distinction and Excellence in Teaching

March 12, 2019

Congratulations to OEB graduate students, postdocs and associates awarded the Fall 2018 Derek Bok Certificates of Distinction and Excellence in Teaching!

Certificates of Distinction for TFs, TAs and CAs: Alyssa Hernandez (OEB 10), Sang Il Kim (OEB 10), Inbar Maayan (OEB 10), Kira Treibergs (OEB 10), Benjamin Goulet (OEB 50), Benjamin Rice (OEB 50), Brock Wooldridge (OEB...

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Skate Cartilage courtesy of Valentina Di Santo

Ocean Acidification and Warming Affect Skeletal Mineralization in a Marine Fish

February 22, 2019

Postdoc, Valentina Di Santo (Lauder Lab) examined the effect of ocean acidification and warming on mineralization of fish skeleton. Previous studies have focused on the effect of these climate-related stressors on calcification rates of the exoskeleton, or shell of marine invertebrates, as well as the ear stone of fishes. However, Di Santo's study, published in Proceedings of the...

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Lungless Salamander by Dave Huth on Flickr

Lungless Salamanders’ Skin Expresses Protein Crucial for Lung Function

January 30, 2019

Scientists have long assumed that the hundreds of species of salamanders that lack lungs breathe instead through their skin and the lining of the mouth. However, a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B led by postdoc Zachary Lewis (Hanken Lab) and Prof. Jim Hanken provides the first concrete evidence for how the lungless salamanders do "breathe".

The...

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Echidna by Mark Gillow Flickr

Researchers Look to Echidnas to Shed Light on Forelimb Evolution in Mammals

November 14, 2018

Mammals use their forelimbs for many activities including swimming, jumping, flying, climbing and digging. But how they evolved to do so is a mystery for scientists. Postdoc, Sophie Regnault (S. Pierce Lab) and Prof. Stephanie Pierce studied a highly-detailed musculoskeletal model of an echidna forelimb to shed light on how extinct mammals might have used their forelimbs. Echidnas are egg-laying mammals with many anatomical features in common with earlier mammal ancestors and can help bridge the gap between extinct and other...

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