Congratulations on student grants and fellowships

It has been a busy semester of grant and proposal writing for most of the students in the lab, and while many have not yet heard about their proposals, we do have some nice outcomes to celebrate.

This has been a record fall for successful student grants from the Harris World Ecology Center. PhD student Andreia Figueiredo received a grant to continue her field tests of cognition in orchid bees in Florida. MS student Michael Austin received a grant to complete a series of experiments on operating costs of learning in experimentally evolved flies. MS student Mladen Senicar will have funding to work on confocal imaging of experimentally evolved fly brains, and complete some qPCR measures of genes involved in brain development. And last, but not least, undergraduate Tian Manning was awarded funds to test bumble bee colonies for variance in learning abilities across their colony lifespan. Congratulations to everyone for their hard work writing, editing, and giving such excellent feedback to each other on drafts.

We are also celebrating that Matt Austin, who achieved PhD candidacy status earlier this semester, was awarded a Peter Raven Fellowship to enable him to spend his spring semester finishing up some bench work and then join the bumble bee queens in the field when they first emerge.

Looking forward to a very productive spring semester!

Rest in peace, Lucas

We were all extremely shocked to learn that Lucas Shanker died in an accident at school this week. Lucas was a math and computer science major at Purdue, but we knew him from his time working in the lab as a high school student as part of the Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program. During his summer in our lab, Lucas worked on two experiments testing aspects of decision making in bees (sampling and tracking, and social information use). We all quickly learned that Lucas was very smart, but also had a strong sense of intellectual curiosity about all kinds of topics. Equally important, Lucas was a kind, thoughtful, and truly good human being.

That fall, Lucas was featured in the Science Matters show on our local public television, KETC. He was interviewed during the summer by Jim Kirchherr about the bees and his work in the lab, and at that moment we knew he had not only understood the work at a deep level, but could also explain it with such eloquence. He could explain every single experiment running in the lab. Those of us watching behind the scenes agreed he did a better job than the rest of us probably would have on that day. UMSL Daily did a little story about his interview

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Lucas being interviewed by the KETC crew in July 2015. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Our condolences go out to Lucas’s parents, family, and friends. He was well-loved in our lab, and I am certain that our response is a universal one for everyone who knew him.