Three undergraduates from our lab presented the results of their research this spring, with support from their grad student mentor, Amanda Meier.
Isabelle Katz was chosen to give an oral presentation at the Michigan Research Community Spring Symposium on how mycorrhizal fungi influence aphid populations by altering plant traits.
Tori Varnau presented her research at the UROP Spring Symposium on how mycorrhizae influence plant traits and affect natural insect colonization in the field.
Hannah Fuller also presented her research at the UROP Spring Symposium on how mycorrhizae and aphids interact to affect plant traits and was awarded a blue ribbon for her poster presentation.
Congratulations Isabelle, Tori, and Hannah on your excellent work. We’re proud of you.
Katherine Crocker’s star power as a research mentor was recognized in April 2017 at the Annual UROP Research Award Ceremony. Katherine was nominated by her students and recognized for her outstanding contributions to their academic development as young scholars and her interest in the students’ personal success. Fantastic job, Katherine. Many congratulations.
Kristel successfully defended her Master’s thesis in April. Her research has shown that Daphnia can gain some protection from fungal and bacterial parasites by exploiting certain toxins in their algal diets. Kristel is joining Meg Duffy’s lab this fall to explore medicinal diets in more detail as she enters our doctoral program. Kristel has received both an NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellowship and a Rackham Merit Fellowship to support her doctoral work. Congratulations Kristel!
On September 20, Mark gave the inaugural lecture for the Henry A. Gleason Collegiate Professorship at the University of Michigan. Mark was awarded the Gleason Professorship back in 2010, but the inaugural lecture was delayed until this year. The topic of the lecture was, “The Phytochemical Landscape: Linking Trophic Interactions and Nutrient Dynamics.” You can see a video of the lecture here.
After three years of writing, Mark’s new book appeared in late August. It’s called “The Phytochemical Landscape: Linking Trophic Interactions and Nutrient Dynamics,” and is published by Princeton University Press as one of their Monographs in Population Biology. The book explores how spatial and temporal variation in the chemistry of primary producers organizes the interactions that flow between consumers and ecosystem nutrient dynamics. You can find out more about the book here or here, and you can always buy your own copy at Amazon!
Callie received two highly prestigious awards and the opportunity to address her peers as she completed her undergraduate degree here at UM. She received the Christine Psujek Memorial Undergraduate Award for the best Honors thesis across all of the UM Biology Majors. Moreover, Callie was awarded the Marshall Nirenberg Award, the Goldstein Prize that is awarded to the top Honors student graduating in the Life Sciences at UM. Finally, Callie was chosen as one of the undergraduate speakers at the Honors Commencement Ceremony. Receiving all of these awards is truly remarkable. Many congratulations, Callie!
Congratulations to Johanna Nifosi, who successfully defended her Master’s Thesis in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology on April 20th. Johanna studied the effects of rising temperatures on the interactions between monarch butterflies and their parasites. Her work has shown that, when monarchs are co-infected with multiple parasites, the virulence of the protozoan parasite, OE, increases with temperature. In general, monarchs perform very well at higher temperatures, around 28 degrees centigrade. But, when co-infected with parasites, monarchs lose all of the gains that they receive from life in a warmer world. Overall, Johanna’s work suggests that, as global warming continues, any potential benefits that monarchs might gain could be eradicated by greater parasite virulence.
Many congratulations to Fauna, Harrison, Abrianna, and Callie, who presented their research during posters sessions this week. Fauna and Harrison’s work in the UROP program has helped us to understand how mycorrhizal fungi influence the phenotype of milkweed plants. Abrianna has shown how food quality and infection with disease influence monarch wing shape. Callie’s Honors Thesis describes how the chemistry of milkweed plants under environmental change influences the population dynamics of aphids. We’re so proud of you all.
Come visit with Leslie Decker and Mark Hunter in an upcoming Science Cafe in downtown Ann Arbor. We’ll be talking about monarch butterflies, environmental change, and medication behavior.
Leslie Decker in our lab is focusing on potential effects of elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 on monarch butterflies and their parasites. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere goes up, concentrations of medicinal cardenolides in milkweed leaves decline. As a result, monarch butterflies may become more susceptible to their parasites. You can read the article and watch a video of Leslie’s research.