Lots of congratulations for Pablo Iturralde, who defended his MS thesis, “Transcriptomics of Learning,” this week. Pablo has been extremely busy during his time in the lab: running selections, collecting huge amounts of t-maze data, building automated t-mazes (including machining the parts himself), making libraries for RNA and DNA sequencing, analyzing sequencing data, working on more qPCR samples than we even want to count, and importantly, mentoring undergrads and high school students. We will miss Pablo and his many contributions when he leaves to start a PhD program in neuroscience this August at Brown.
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
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.
Lots of congratulations to Andreia for receiving her first research grant for her dissertation research. The Harris Center for World Ecology is funding her new work on orchid bee cognition at the St. Louis Zoo.
Former MS student Mellissa Marcus’s thesis experiment is out in the Journal of BioEconomics and can be found here: http://rdcu.be/zWFJ
A few years of very hard work, some unexpected results, and a fly egg counting record that will probably never be matched in the lab in the future.
PhD student Matt Austin had some nice campus press about his dissertation work. You can read about it here: http://blogs.umsl.edu/news/2017/12/05/matt-austin/