Congratulations to Rachel on her PhD defense!!

It was a week full of awesome lab successes, and capped by Rachel Brant’s excellent dissertation talk and defense last Friday. For her talk, Rachel focused in on two chapters that formed the bulk of her fieldwork with sweat bees: an analysis of pollen foraging behaviors across urban, suburban, and exurban sites, along with lots of environmental variables and a brain RNA-seq study from bees at these same sites. Many thanks also to her committee, Bob Marquis, Nathan Muchhala, and Mike Arduser.

We will be all be seeing papers from this work later this year- her chapter 1 review manuscript is accepted, chapter 2 on foraging behavior is under review, and the manuscript from chapter 3 is pending some additional data from this summer. Chapter 4 is under revision after co-author comments.

Rachel managed an extremely productive four years in the lab and we are all thrilled for her next challenge as a post doc at the Missouri Botanic Garden.

Congratulations to Jill Lee on her thesis defense !!

We are thrilled that grad student Jill Lee passed her master’s thesis defense this week!!! Once she turns in her final revisions, she will complete her degree!

Jill gave a great talk on her work, “The effects of overshadowing in Drosophila melanogaster with experimentally evolved preference.” Jill took some of our experimentally evolved fly populations and then tested whether the resource preference that we evolved for where females choose to lay eggs then affects learning when multiple stimuli are present. Will a stimulus with an evolved preference be more likely to overshadow a stimulus without that same history? The short answer is: its complicated. The evolutionary background of the flies influences their learning, but only in interactions with aspects of the learning scenario such as whether the pairing was aversive or appetitive, and whether the test featured an experimentally evolved stimulus with a more novel stimulus, or the same two options the flies were experimentally evolved with.

Congratulations Jill on persisting in your research work through a global pandemic and while working full time!

Living STL episode on Dr. Charles Henry Turner

Lab alumnus Kamau MuseMorris and Aimee were both recently interviewed about bee cognition for a local PBS show dedicated to Dr. Charles Henry Turner. Dr. Turner taught high school at Sumner in St. Louis for 14 years and published a series of landmark papers on insect behavior and cognition, including about bees. Despite being well-known in his time, most people in St. Louis have never heard of him or his contributions.

A series of recent papers have further highlighted his work. Dr. Danielle Lee, colleague and professor at SIUE, wrote a paper, which highlighted Dr. Turner’s work along with his activism. Her paper deals with diversity and inclusion activism across the history of animal behavior research in the US, and is an excellent read for animal behaviorists.

You can watch this segment of Living STL here: