Postdoc News

The animals sampled in the analysis. Colors indicates rates of evolution: warm colors high rates and cool colors low rates

Did Adaptive Radiations Shape Reptiles?

July 3, 2020

Some of the most fundamental questions in evolution remain unanswered, such as when and how extremely diverse groups of animals – for example reptiles – first evolved. For 75 years, adaptive radiations – the relatively fast evolution of many species from a single common ancestor – have been considered as the major cause of biological diversity, including the origins of major body plans (structural and developmental characteristics that identify a group of animals) and new lineages. However, past research examining these rapid rates of evolution was largely constrained by the methods...

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Shayla Salzman in field with zamia

An ancient push-pull pollination mechanism in cycads

June 12, 2020

Pollination is often a mutual relationship between flowering plants and insects. Understaning how these plants entice diverse insects to pollinate has major implications across evolutionary, ecological, organismal and conservation biology. One mechanism that can provide a window into ancient insect pollination, before the rise of flowering plants, are Cycads. Cycads are primary seed-producing plants and represent one of the oldest lineages of seed plants. These plants rely on insect pollination, yet do not display the colorful visuals that signals to pollinators, which is...

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The blue regions are oil palm plantation, while the forest regions (yellows and greens) are colored by tree height, which is a proxy for carbon. Image courtesy of Global Airborne Observatory, ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science

Deforestation in Tropical Forests Contributing to Carbon Decline

April 1, 2020

Postdoc, Elsa Ordway (Paul Moorcroft Lab) teamed with Greg Asner, Director of Arizona State University's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science to investigate the impact of edge effects on forest structure and tree canopy characteristics along boundaries between lowland rainforests and oil palm plantations in Malaysian Borneo. One of the many consequences of tropical deforestation includes forest fragmentation, a process that involves dividing forests into smaller and smaller pieces, creating new borders between habitats. These borders are exposed to different...

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Exhibit specimen of Edaphosaurus, a pelycosaur synapsid, from the collections at the Museum of Comparative Zoology

Spinal Changes in Mammalian Evolution

February 3, 2020

Postdoctoral Researcher Katrina Jones and Prof. Stephanie Pierce teamed with researchers at the Field Museum of Natural History to find how and when changes happened in the spine of mammals during evolution. First author Jones says the study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, tries to answer a fundamental evolutionary question, "How does a relatively simple structure evolve into a complex one that can do lots of different...

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

Predicting Evolution

November 13, 2019

New research by Postdoc, Ashesh Dhawale and Bence Ölvecsky suggests errors resulting from variability in motor function are 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...

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

How Does Biological Complexity Arise?

November 7, 2019

Postdoctoral Researcher Katrina Jones and Stephanie Pierce tackle the question of biological complexity using the complex mammalian spine as an evolutionary example. Using phylogenetic modeling. Jones and Pierce 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...

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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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