Congratulations to the following PEEC students for receiving 2022 SIB Graduate Student Awards:
Robert Emerson Memorial Award: Joseph Edwards
Isabel Norton Award:
Sarai Stuart - I am studying microRNA regulation of behavior-related gene expression in adult workers of the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera). I found that a single microRNA influences the expression of over one thousand genes in the brain, and this summer, I am using a cell culture based molecular assay, called a luciferase reporter assay, to determine which individual genes interact with this microRNA to better understand the molecular basis of social behavior.
Lebus Graduate Scholar Awards:
Lauren Otoloski - This summer, I’m processing initial samples from a tropical wood decomposition experiment I set up in Panama. I’m interested in how wood chemistry and soil nutrients impact decomposer communities, and how all of these factors impact overall decay.
Harley J. Van Cleave Research Awards:
Facundo Fernandez-Duque - I'm interested in better understanding the evolution of parental care and the mechanisms that give rise to the diversity of parental care strategies we see in nature. I spent this summer studying the environmental and internal mechanisms that drive Red-winged Blackbirds to be good parents. We found over 350 nests and monitored chick feeding in order to look at the hormones and genes that might be mediating these behaviors.
Neal Benjamin - Neal’s summer research involves sequencing porcine endogenous retroviruses (P-ERVs), which are retroviruses that permanently integrated themselves in the genomic DNA of pigs and their relatives in the distant past. Neal is looking across adiverse set of pig samples at the prevalence and sequence identity of P-ERVs, which can also provide information on the geographic origins of pig species.
Derek McFarland - Thirty-one sites are sampled across the human land-use gradient in St. Louis, MO to investigate changes in the abundance and pathogen infection rate of lone star ticks, and the abundances of key reservoir hosts such as white-tailed deer. Findings will be compared to measurements taken a decade prior to understand how ongoing changes in land-use have influenced human disease risk.
Francis M. and Harlie M. Clark Summer Fellowship:
Sarah Winnicki-Smith - I study the relationship between the hormones and other resources in bird eggs and the growth of the babies that hatch from them! Over the summer, I measured hundreds of baby American Robins!
Francis M. and Harlie M. Clark Research Support Grants: Jeannette Cullum and
Sana Saboowala - Taking an interdisciplinary approach, my project uses a historical trauma framework to see if and how historical trauma and/or other stressors impact methylation and gene expression in South Asian immigrants to the USA from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Through analysis of DNA, RNA, and survey data in conjunction with in-depth life history interviews I ask questions about the impacts of historical trauma stemming from histories of displacement on methylation and gene expression, the ways self-perception may impact methylation and gene expression, the relationship between historical trauma and the conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) and themethods used to measure CTRA.
Mary F. Willson Graduate Research Fund:
Kevin Neumann - This summer I conducted a mark-recapture study across multiple lakes in Alaska to quantify the dispersal and movement of three-spined stickleback across different microhabitats. I ended up marking 6,345 fish and recapturing 1,182 fish across four lakes and two microhabitats per lake.
Graduate Students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Symposium Awards: Fahren Zackery, Joseph Edwards and
Ratna Karatgi - My research this summer is focused on examiningthe influence of microhabitat variationin lighting environmenton the development of blue anal fin coloration in male bluefin killifish. The is a step towards our goal of understanding the influence of different environmental factors on the plasticity in phenotypes. We are rearing offspring of males with blue anal fins in different lighting environments, and at different depths in the water column, and will examine the number of sons from these crosses with blue anal fins once the hatchlings reach adulthood.
PEEC Summer Research Grant:
Kat Soto - The common coquí frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is an ideal species to examine the role of behavior in invasion. I conducted behavioral trials in the field on the island of Hawai’i during the summer of 2022. Latency to emerge, activity, exploration, and response to audio stimuli (coquí calls) were evaluated across four site types of density and elevation. Kat's travel expenses were covered by the UIUC Graduate College Master's Project Travel Grant, PEEC Summer Research Grant, and external funding from the Animal Behavior Society Student Research Grant.
Congratulations to Sulagna Chakraborty for being awarded a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the UIUC Graduate College:
Sulagna Chakraborty - My research focusses on understanding the ecological and epidemiological factors of vector-borne disease (VBD) transmission and implement measures that can be used to prevent the spread of these VBDs. I am working on a variety of projects that evaluate the environmental and social drivers behind VBD transmission.