Records 21 to 30 of 296
Crumsey awarded Brower Fellowship
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Jasmine Crumsey is the 2013 recipient of the Helen Olsen Brower Memorial Fellowship in Environmental Studies from EEB, awarded annually to a graduate student working in applied sciences for the conservation of natural resources.
Crumsey’s research looks at carbon (C) dynamics in a northern U.S. temperate forest. She is assessing the long-term impacts of above-ground leaf litter inputs and exotic earthworm activity on soil at the U-M Biological Station. Her advisor is Professor Knute Nadelhoffer.
“Because of its importance in C storage, alteration to the pool size or turnover time of C in soil organic matter may have large implications for the overall C dynamics of forest ecosystems,” said Crumsey.
“In northern temperate forests, aboveground leaf litter inputs function both as a key source of C inputs to soil organic matter and a driving factor of earthworm abundance and biomass. Soil organic matter processing is catalyzed by microbe-produced enzymes, whose activity can shift dramatically following earthworm invasions into temperate forests. Correlating soil C chemistry with measurements of enzymatic activity and earthworm biodiversity along a leaf litter gradient will highlight more precisely factors driving soil organic matter mineralization. I am studying shifts in soil C properties and microbial enzyme activity in response to earthworm community activity and long-term leaf litter input manipulations within the Detritus Input Removal and Transfer [DIRT] Experiment.
“Biological invasions have both ecological and economic consequences evident in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Great Lakes region. Many studies have focused on aboveground terrestrial invasions, while belowground invasions have received notably less attention. The study of belowground invasions, however, is equally important for our larger understanding of how forest ecosystems respond to disturbance. Further, the UMBS DIRT experiment is one of five DIRT sites established across diverse ecosystems in the U.S. and abroad. Insights generated from this work will facilitate comparative studies linking above- and belowground ecosystem processes. Receipt of this award will thereby support research addressing a critical issue facing the Great Lakes region, and facilitate collaborations beyond the University of Michigan.
The prestigious award provides one semester of fellowship funding for stipend, tuition and benefits. Sally and Caspar Offutt, Jr., endowed this fellowship in tribute to Sally's mother who graduated in biology in 1917 from the University of Michigan. Brower led a vigorous public life touching on wide-ranging endeavors from politics to war relief. She invariably found her greatest satisfaction with projects involving the outdoors.
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Sheehan's dissertation wins honorable mention
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Michael Sheehan’s dissertation was awarded a ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards honorable mention from the Rackham Graduate School. He presented his defense, “The evolution of individual recognition in paper wasps,” April 13, 2012. Sheehan’s mentor was Professor Elizabeth Tibbetts.
“While all graduating Rackham students produce dissertations of quality, some students write dissertations that are truly exceptional for the high caliber of their scholarship and for the significance and interest of their findings,” states the Rackham Graduate School website. “We recognize these exceptional dissertations with the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards.”
Dissertations are nominated for the award by university faculty members who have served as chairs of dissertation committees of outstanding students. The nominations are then read by a review panel composed of members of the Michigan Society of Fellows, with assistance from other members of the university faculty and research community.
The awards are cosponsored by ProQuest, which publishes nearly 80,000 dissertations and theses annually, including more than 700 by U-M authors.
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Five more years for UMBS Director Nadelhoffer
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Professor Knute Nadelhoffer has agreed to continue his role as director of the U-M Biological Station for a five-year term through June 30, 2018.
There was a six month review process that included input from faculty, staff and students and review by the LSA Dean's Office.
Nadelhoffer's reappointment is good news in many respects. It provides stability in the leadership of the station through current and future budget challenges and the university's next fundraising campaign. It maintains funding continuity for the station's grant-funded research on which he is an investigator. And, not insignificantly, it keeps his friendly and enthusiastic presence engaged with alumni, friends, and potential partners around the world.
"It has been a pleasure to work with Biological Station students, faculty, researchers, and staff during the past 10 years," Nadelhoffer said. "I look forward to working with all of these groups and with those who will be joining us as we build our programs and improve our infrastructure to advance understanding of natural systems both within the Great Lakes region and globally."
Nadelhoffer first came to the Biological Station in 2003. Before that, he spent nearly 20 years at the Marine Biological Laboratory's Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Mass. In the year immediately preceding his arrival at UMBS, Nadelhoffer served as co-director of the National Science Foundation Ecosystem Studies Program.
Nadelhoffer's decade-long tenure at the Biological Station puts him in notable company. Only three past directors have held the position longer: David Gates (1972-1986); George LaRue (1917-1939); Alfred Stockard (1940-1966).
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Welcome to Schmidt, first joint EEB-Medical School appointment
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Professor Tom Schmidt joined EEB in January 2013, after 10 years as a professor at Michigan State University. He is jointly appointed with EEB and the Departments of Internal Medicine, and Microbiology and Immunology.
“Tom is a great addition to the department, bringing his expertise and leadership in microbial ecology, as well as a bridge to the medical school and the growing group in microbial ecology there and across the rest of the campus,” said EEB Professor and Chair Deborah Goldberg.
Schmidt is currently seeking graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows to work with him in his lab. Research in the Schmidt laboratory is focused on the physiology and ecology of microbes. “We routinely develop and apply nucleic acid-based methods to explore and understand patterns of diversity and function of microbial communities, and to guide cultivation efforts,” he said. “Our research is currently focused on two microbial communities: those found in terrestrial environments and are involved in the flux of greenhouse gases, and microbes that constitute the mammalian microbiome. As we develop a better appreciation for the relationship between the structure and function of these microbial communities, we are conducting research to uncover fundamental principles that explain distribution patterns of microbial populations.”
He researches microbes from soil environments to the mucosa of the human gut. These research projects have practical implications for the engineering of microbes and their maintenance in artificial and natural microbial communities.
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Myers' NSF grant seeks to improve undergrad biology education
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Professor Phil Myers has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will bring together technical and education leaders, who are critical in expanding student access to authentic science experiences. A two-day workshop on U-M’s Ann Arbor central campus is being planned for July 25 – 26, 2013.
“We think that engaging students in research is a critical part of science education, and one that we often don't do very well,” said Myers. “This is an important step in finding ways to get authentic data streams into classes and presented in a way that lets students ask and answer real, current questions."
Representatives from at least 16 national organizations, including the U-M Animal Diversity Web, will participate to discuss strategies for enhancing data discovery and usability, to propose standards for data sharing, and to make recommendations for incorporating authentic data in inquiry-based teaching in biology.
The grant is from NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure. Myers is the principal investigator, curator of the U-M Museum of Zoology, and creator of the ADW. Tanya Dewey, research program officer for ADW, co-authored the grant with Myers and is the workshop coordinator. This is a Research Coordination Networks for Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) project. The one year grant began December 31, 2012.
"We look forward to this very valuable and timely conversation about how best to bring authentic, data-driven activities into undergraduate biology classrooms,” said Dewey. “This meeting brings together many of the groups that are most experienced and innovative in this field."
Following the meeting, a set of recommendations will be published online for community feedback then compiled as a published resource for data management and education communities. Other outcomes include a coordinated network to continue exploring solutions for improved accessibility of real data in education, data sharing across organizations, further publications reflecting resolutions reached by participants, and research on automated solutions for sharing data.
“This is an ideal time to bring undergraduate biology education organizations together,” states the project proposal. “The demand for innovative and engaging data inquiry opportunities in undergraduate biology is growing as the majority of faculty have come to recognize its value in their teaching. We anticipate that specific collaboration projects and a broader sense of community among these projects will result from this meeting.”
The workshop will not be open to the public but a mixer will be scheduled the evening of Thursday, July 25 so that EEB faculty and students can meet with the participants. Further information will be forthcoming.
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Tumblr. blog makes science visible
Monday, March 25, 2013
Flying squirrels, Snowy Owls, lizards, snakes, beetles, and more welcomed students from the Making Science Visible class to the U-M Museum of Zoology.
The class, offered by the U-M Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, explores drawing, photography, radiology and illustration of biology.
The undergraduate students recently held class at the Museum of Zoology and they’ve posted many fascinating images of their experiences on tumblr., their blog called Making Science Visible 2013.
“Direct access to biological specimens is essential for student artists interested in scientific and biological illustration,” said Professor Brad Smith, who teaches the class.“Bringing my students to the collections at the U-M Museum of Zoology provided a wealth of material for these young illustrators to study up close and allowed them to draw directly from the specimens and investigate them using a variety of imaging devices. I could see my students develop genuine curiosity for the animals they were studying which led to closer observations and more research than I would ever find in students working from photographs and text books.”
The students will return to the museum periodically to conduct research in order to understand a behavior, evolution, metabolism, genetics, or a complex characteristic about their specimen for an illustration, according to Smith. More photos will be posted to tumblr. in the future, so check back.
The following collection managers assisted the class: Janet Hinshaw, Bird Division, Greg Schneider, Reptile Division, Mark Obrien, Insect Division, Steve Hinshaw, Mammal Division, and Douglas Nelson, Fishes Division. The U-M Department of Radiology was also part of the learning experience.
Cryptic clams: ÓFoighil and Li find species hiding in plain view
Friday, March 22, 2013
Cryptic comments have an ambiguous, obscure or hidden meaning. In biology, cryptic species are outwardly indistinguishable groups whose differences are hidden inside their genes.
Two U-M EEB marine biologists have identified three cryptic species of tiny clams, long believed to be members of the same species, which have been hiding in plain view along the rocky shores of southern Australia for millions of years.
The unusual convergence of a climate-cooling event and the peculiarities of local geography caused the three cryptic species to split from a common ancestor more than 10 million years ago, the U-M researchers propose in a paper published in the April 2013 journal Molecular Ecology.
The U-M scientists conducted a genetic analysis after collecting thousands of the crevice-dwelling, rice grain-sized clams from hundreds of miles of southern Australia coastline over the past decade. Their findings provide insights about the forces that shape evolution and solve a puzzle that has stumped marine biologists for decades.
"This study provides important clues about how marine regional biotas can evolve, including our observation that these processes can involve major global climate change modulated by local geography," Jingchun Li, an EEB graduate student and lead author of the report.
Li conducted the research as part of her dissertation with co-author Professor Diarmaid O'Foighil, Li's adviser and director of the U-M Museum of Zoology.
"You cannot tell them apart physically, but their genes indicate that their evolutionary divergence predates that of humans from chimpanzees," O'Foighil said of the three clam groups, which are currently classified as members of the same species, Lasaea australis.
Read more to find out the answer to the riddle that has perplexed biologists for decades: How did these three distinct biogeographic provinces evolve along a continuous coastline?
U-M News Service press release
Caption: A closeup of L. australis clams from the southern Australia coast. Each clam is about the size of a rice grain. Photo by Denis Riek.
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Early Career Scientists Symposium 2013 in review: identifying field's cutting edge
Friday, March 22, 2013
U-M EEB presented seven outstanding scientists early in their careers and two keynote speakers as part of an international symposium on macroevolution: fossils, frameworks and phylogenies.
The ninth annual Early Career Scientists Symposium was held at East Hall on the U-M campus in Ann Arbor, Saturday, March 16, 2013. The presenters addressed cutting-edge approaches for revealing large-scale patterns and processes of evolution, using methods and data from fields as diverse as paleobiology, genomics, systematics, mathematical modeling, ecology and developmental biology.
“This kind of symposium helps identify the cutting edge of a field, by giving early career researchers a prominent platform that may not otherwise be available,” said Professor Lauren Sallan, Michigan Fellow and ECSS co-chair. “New blood means new ideas, and these can change the course of scientific endeavor.
“The speakers showed how novel and established methods in paleontology, systematics, developmental biology and other fields are helping to resolve questions about the large-scale mode and tempo of evolution and the history of life on Earth,” said Sallan.
“Bringing seemingly disparate macroevolutionary fields together, such as paleontology and molecular systematics, was one of the main goals of this meeting, and it will hopefully lead to new collaborations and further interactions,” Sallan continued. “Combining approaches should lead to even greater discoveries.”
“It was an absolute pleasure to experience the amazing work that everyone presented,” said Prashant Sharma, National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, American Museum of Natural History, one of the symposium speakers. “ECSS was quite a unique experience for me, because symposia like this are not common. The representation of a diverse array of research topics – paleontology, phylogenetics, comparative methods, and ecology, among others – was especially beneficial for conveying some of the exciting approaches and emerging trends in macroevolution.
“I thought some of the greatest advantages for holding such a symposium were the opportunity to share ideas and develop collaborations and the interactions with, and feedback from, the U-M faculty, researchers and graduate student body,” Sharma said.
“The model-based and comparative approaches to inferring patterns of morphological evolution in fossil groups, particularly trilobites, was especially exciting. I think such approaches add a new dimension to arthropod paleontology,” he continued.
“I think the most important addition to the field will be the integration of functional genomics. With the advent of increasingly cost-efficient sequencing technologies, genomic tools are becoming broadly accessible for studying the genetic mechanisms that underly macroevolutionary processes – it is becoming more difficult now than ever to distinguish "model," "emerging model," and "non-model" systems. Beyond research, I hope to see the integration of functional genomics in teaching evolutionary biology at the secondary school level. For example, in addition to illustrating the classic image of Darwin's finches juxtaposed with a molecular phylogeny, the inclusion of the second part of the story – the activity of the genes involved in achieving the morphological diversity incurred by an adaptive radiation – would make for a particularly compelling textbook example.”
“The symposium was a wonderful opportunity to meet other biologists addressing macroevolutionary questions from markedly different angles,” said Paul Harnik, postdoctoral fellow, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a symposium speaker.
“Many of us attend different conferences, and may even have our academic homes in different departments (e.g., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Geosciences, etc.), which inhibits work on interdisciplinary questions. The ECCS was a great forum for such synthetic discussion and interaction,” Harnik said.
“One of the common themes that emerged from many of the talks was the importance of integrating data from fossils and species alive today. These different sources of data have their respective strengths and by analyzing them in concert we stand a greater chance of reconstructing the evolutionary patterns and processes of interest.
In terms of where he thinks the field of macroevolution is heading, Harnik replied, “Greater integration between fields! In recent years, many of the core questions being addressed in comparative biology and paleontology have converged (e.g., what are the factors that promote or inhibit diversification? how do traits evolve over time?) and integrating approaches and insights from these fields (as has been done quite fruitfully in evodevo) will, I think, really mark the next phase in macroevolutionary research.”
Nearly a third of the 175 event registrants hailed from other institutions including Tel Aviv University, University of Toronto, University of Illinois at Chicago, Earlham College, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University and Schoolcraft College. There was great interest across disciplines with registrants from epidemiology, paleobiology, evolutionary anthropology, geology, physics, natural resources and environment, plant biology and pathology, anatomical sciences, zoology, human computer interaction, bioinformatics, and more. A lunchtime poster session provided graduate students from U-M and other universities a chance to present their research and gain valuable feedback from a diverse audience.
Symposium funding is provided by the generous support of alumna Dr. Nancy Williams Walls, who received her doctorate in microbiology. The organizing committee included: Professors Dan Rabosky and Lauren Sallan (co-chairs); Professor Yin-Long Qiu; Joseph Brown, EEB postdoctoral fellow; Valerie Syverson, paleontology graduate student; and Qixin He, EEB graduate student; Cindy Carl, EEB senior secretary.
Captions: (from top) 1. Professors Yin-Long Qiu, John Vandermeer, Deborah Goldberg, Catherine Badgley, Jianzhi Zhang, and Diarmaid Ó Foighil mingle during the symposium. 2. Birds-eye view of a symposium break. 3. Graduate students Jeff Shi and Pascal Title interact during a break. 4. Dr. Douglas Erwin presents a keynote talk. 5. ECSS 2013 committee and speakers: (back row left to right) Yin-Long Qiu, Qixin He, Joseph Brown, Lauren Sallan, (next row) Valerie Syverson, Catherine Wagner, Dan Rabosky, Robert Ricklefs, (next row) Laura Wegener Parfrey, Prashant Sharma, Andrew Leslie, Douglas Erwin, (front row) Graham Slater, Paul Harnik, Melanie Hopkins.
View more photos. Photo credit: Dale Austin.
Read more about the speakers and the symposium on the ECSS website.
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WCBN-FM broadcast on U-M peregrine falcons by EEB alumna
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Adventurous EEB alumna, Liz Wason, will broadcast about this year’s campus peregrine falcons at 9 a.m., Friday morning, March 22, on WCBN.
Janet Hinshaw, U-M Museum of Zoology Bird Division collection manager, and Kenneth Elgersma, EEB postdoctoral fellow, were resources for the program about peregrine falcons including those that are nesting on campus this year. Wason will talk about when the falcons arrived, their nests, hunting behavior, and more.
WCBN-FM is U-M’s student run freeform radio station in Ann Arbor, Mich. Wason’s radio program is called hugabug, and she does mind-boggling and sometimes gross creature features, about critters great and small. While she was a doctoral student in EEB, Wason was the station’s general manager, sound engineer and a deejay. She's on the road less traveled these days in her recreational vehicle, contemplating her next steps in life while she enjoys the journey. Wason produces the show in her "motor home recording studio," then sends the file to the radio station to play on the air.
Stream it live through WCBN online or listen at 88.3 on the FM dial. Listen to a podcast later on Wason’s blog. Also, watch for a Michigan Today feature story on “The Liz” (as her friends know her) in an upcoming issue.
Caption: Peregrine chicks, from UMMZ website.
Vandermeer publishes "Inequality and Innovativeness" in social science journal
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
“If we're talking about how to solve problems with public health, or the economy, or the environment, they tend to be very difficult problems,” said Vandermeer. “It is precisely such problems that require multiple perspectives to solve and in societies that are very unequal, not everyone is allowed to contribute to solving them. That makes it more difficult to solve and results in less equal societies being less innovative.” Vandermeer, an ecologist, is the Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Alfred T. Thurnau Professor. His coauthor is Scott Page, U-M Center for the Study of Complex Systems.
The researchers constructed two theoretical models that analyze the relationship between inequality of access and rates of innovation. Their data showed a negative correlation between income inequality and levels of innovativeness. “Our two models suggest that unequal access to problems slows innovation by reducing the level and variety of human capital applied to problems,” they wrote. “More interestingly, both models show that the rate of innovation decline becomes much more pronounced as problems become more difficult. Thus, the costs of inequality may be increasing as the problems that societies face become more challenging.”
“The research tells us that the pursuit of social equity is one way to encourage innovativeness in a society,” said Vandermeer.
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Records 21 to 30 of 296