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Showing posts from 2015

Fresh Insights into UW Biology: Volume 3 (Issue 1)

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Introducing our cohort of first-year grad students! In each of the next few posts, we'll be featuring several of the students from the entering cohort of 2015. The department has such a wide range of research, it's impossible to fit it all into one post. Congrats on making it through your first quarter in the program!


Amber Hageman received her B.S. in Plant Biology from the University of Washington and is happy to be continuing her graduate studies here. Her research interests are focused around how plants respond to changing environmental conditions and the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. During her first year, she is rotating in the labs of Jennifer Nemhauser, Liz Van Volkenburgh, and Soo-Hyung Kim (SEFS). She is looking forward to exploring the diverse array of plant biology topics which are encompassed by the department and to refining her research interests over the the next year.





Luke Weaver is a member of Greg Wilson's lab. I was born and raised in B…

Grad Publication: Leander Anderegg

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Leander Anderegg (Hille Ris Lambers lab) just published a paper on shotgun ecology in Global Change Biology. You can learn more about Leander's research on his website, and follow him on Twitter - @leanderegg

In the American Southwest, drought is a way of life. My hometown in southwest Colorado receives an average of 12 inches of rain a year (Seattle averages almost 4 times that). And water (or lack thereof) is such a strong aspect of the landscape that you can feel it getting wetter as you drive up a mountain from the low elevation scrub woodlands to the subalpine forests. The sparse low elevation ‘trees’ look as tortured and windswept as the red rocks on which they grow, while the mossy and majestic high elevation forests hold some of the same tree species you can find on the Olympic Peninsula. In the La Plata Mountains in southwest Colorado, precipitation nearly quadruples from the foot of the mountain to treeline, and vegetation patterns precisely reflect this change. Because …

Yasmeen Hussain: Making Email Sparkly Again

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No bones about it, email is one of the most important tools of a graduate student. Getting control of your email can save you an immense amount of time and frustration, and it's important to set good working habits. Yasmeen Hussain (Riffel Lab) shares a bunch of tips (and not a little sparkle) for ways you can turn Gmail into your productivity droid. We're lucky to have Google apps as a part of our UW accounts, but these tips are also applicable to many other email services.

I’m sure you know someone (maybe yourself) whose relationship with their email is a little dysfunctional. Here’s a little quiz to take – give yourself one point for each of these that are true for you:

Does your inbox have more than 1,000 emails in it? Add another point if it’s more than 9,000. (Add an extra point if half of the emails are unread.)Do you often find yourself missing important information/ invitations/ opportunities because you didn’t see the email about it?Does thinking about opening your in…

Hooray for UW Biology's newest Ph.D.s: Spring and Summer Grads!

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SciPos is all about raving about our grads, so it's time to take the opportunity to celebrate our most recently-defended superheros. Congrats to all of the recent UW Biology Ph.D.'s who passed their snake fight and graduated during Spring and Summer quarters, these short summaries don't do justice to your years of hard work, but we salute you [if slightly belatedly]! In chronological order of defense date, they are:

Ricky Dooley
Tolerances and responses of seagrasses to hydrogen sulfide and implications to ecology and restoration

Ward Lab | April 10
Up Next: Initiating roughly 1,000 undergraduates into the wonders of biology as instructor of UW Bio's massive gateway course series.

Lauren Berg DeBey Digging up the past: Postcranial perspectives on Mammals across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary
Wilson Lab | May 14
Up Next: Seeking a career in Seattle in Project Management or Consulting with an emphasis on data analytics.

Jessica Lundin
Biologic monitoring of environmental con…

Emily Grason: What are you going to do with that Ph.D., anyway?

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I'm getting frightfully close to finishing, launching chapter manuscripts off into the ether of The Journal Submission Process. Each morning for the week or so after, I cringe as I open my email, hoping to not hear anything from those journals. Then at least I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing my paper has likely been sent out for review. But in the mean time, I get this question more and more: What are you going to do when you finish? GAH! We've all gotten this question more times than we prefer to remember, and many people in our lives know better than to even ask [Don't worry, Grandma, I totally don't mind that you didn't get the memo about questions not to ask a graduate student, it's very sweet of you to worry about me!].

But seriously, what are we going to do when we finish?

It turns out we're uncertain - and I'm not just arm waving here - it's in Nature [paywall :-/]. According to the results of a 2015 survey of more than 3,400 graduate st…

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating rad science women!

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and we are joining in the 7th annual world celebration of the contributions made by women to STEM fields. Named in honor of one of the pioneers of computer programming, this day affords us the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of women who we admire in these fields. Here, biograds introduce and discuss women who have been important to their pursuit of science. 
Barbara McClintock  (by Marie Clifford)
An amazing, tenacious woman scientist who discovered movable genetic elements called transposons in the 1940s. She was basically ignored and left to do more awesome genetics research in corn, her model system, for 40 years while people thought that (1) she was crazy and (2) that genes were totally static. And then it came to light that actually transposons are found in pretty much every living thing and she won a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1983. (P.S. Nobel prizes for people doing plant science are almost non-existent, even when people d…

Welcome, new BioGrads! See you at DISorientation

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Welcome First YearsCongrats on finishing the first week of classes in the 2015-2016 Academic Year at UW (#quartersystem). Just this time last year the rising second years were in your shoes. With the past year fresh in their minds, a few second years, Meg Whitney (Sidor Lab), Ethan Linck (Klicka Lab), and Will King (Sebens Lab) have teamed up to share some thoughts on the first year as a grad student. 

TLDR: [Good for you! You're already prioritizing like a grad student!] GO TO DISORIENTATION!

1. What is the key to succeeding during your first year?
Will King: Take breaks! Work at a sustainable pace.

Meg Whitney: The best advice and when things really clicked for me was when an older grad student told me that there was no right way to be a grad student and that you can make your grad school experience whatever you want it to be. When I stopped comparing myself to not only other first years but also older grad students, I felt much more at ease with being a grad student.

Ethan Lin…

Annual Departmental Retreat: It's a thing of beauty

This weekend, the department participated in the annual tradition of retreating to the San Juan Islands before the start of the academic year. Faculty, grads, and postdocs reunite after a summer spent scattered across the globe in pursuit of knowledge, to catch up on what everyone has been doing and get revved up about the coming year. 


Friday Harbor Labs is an idyllic setting and the weather couldn't have been better. Check out these photos from grads:


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One of the favorite past times of being at the labs is exploring the world renowned marine diversity, you basically can't walk two feet without tripping over it. Here were some finds from this weekend:


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If you thought that bucket of inverts was cool, you're absolutely right - check them out in motion here (from Yasmeen Hussain):



And there were even some human activities at this thing too! Highlights include Katie…

Grad Publication: Ethan Linck

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Ethan Linck (Klicka Lab) explores the interaction of countervailing evolutionary forces in island biogeographic theory in a new paper in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Reposted from Beyond the Ranges.
Scientists often assume species living on oceanic islands have strong dispersal ability, surmising that colonizing these isolated, far-flung land masses in the first place would have required the ability to travel vast distances. Oceanic islands are also often known for their endemic species — organisms that are found nowhere else. Taken together, these two statements constitute a famous paradox in the field of island biogeography, a scientific discipline focused on studying the distributions of island organisms. The paradox goes: If island species are able to cover the great distances required to colonize their homes, shouldn’t this ability also maintain sufficient gene flow (the process of migrants from one population interbreeding with another, which tends to make both more si…

Grad Publication: Myles Fenske

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A paper by Myles Fenske (Imaizumi Lab) and colleagues recently was featured on the cover of PNAS. Read more about their research on the timing of Petunia fragrance below.
When most people think of circadian clocks, they think of jet lag, and… well, just jet lag1. Circadian clocks are in need of an awareness campaign. Even accomplished life scientists are guilty of asking the question: “plants have clocks?2”. Indeed they do, as does most every organism on Earth. Yes, even bacteria.

Turns out, being able to synchronize internal and external physiology with the rotation of the Earth is kind of a big deal. The early bird gets the worm, and to be the early bird, you gotta have an alarm clock.

Clocks are incredibly effective at timing behavior because of how pervasive they are in regulating physiology. A recent study showed that upwards of 30% of the plant genome (specifically Arabidopsis) is under circadian clock control3. Clocks don’t just regulate physiology at a single point of contac…

Alex Lowe: Ecology Between and Below Pacific Tides: a new field course adds a twist to a classic theme.

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