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Showing posts from 2017

Letter to the UW Biology Community

Dear SciPos readers,

We are excited to share with you the attached letter, signed by a group of UW Biology and Biology-affiliated graduate students. It presents evidence-based actions we can take as a community to create a more inclusive and equitable climate in our department.

This letter has had extensive input by a large number of graduate students and other members of the department. By sharing it on SciPos, we hope to broaden the discussion of promoting equity in our department and our community. Importantly, we consider this a living document that will evolve in response to additions and suggestions brought forward in these discussions.

In publishing this letter on SciPos, we hope that it may serve as a resource for other graduate students and departments that are involved in similar conversations, or interested in pursuing such conversations, in their own departments. Please check back or contact us for updates on progress towards our actionable items or to get involved. If you …

New grad students in UW Biology Department!!

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Introducing our first-year grad students! Read on to learn about some of the students in our 2017 cohort. Congrats to the first years on making it through your first quarter in the program





Jordan Claytor is joining Greg Wilson’s lab. He is interested in working on mammal diversity acorss K-T boundary. Jordan earned his undergrad at Elon University in NC and before came to UW he worked at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. He decided to enroll as a UW student motivated by the community environment in the biology department. He is excited to try sea food around Seattle and visit new places.




Marina Watowich is interested in tackling conservation and applied ecology questions using traditional ecological methods and noninvasive molecular techniques. Marina graduated from Carleton College 2015, and worked at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. Marina was drawn to UW  because of the interdisciplinary opportunities available in such a diverse …

Graduate Student Symposium 2017 (there's a song at the end)

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If you ever find yourself wanting to broaden your bio knowledge, come to our annual Graduate Student Symposium (GSS). This year's was a mind-stretcher. My reliable sources overheard Meg Whitney, one of our intrepid GSS 2017 organizers, remark, The diversity of topics covered that day always blows my mind. We're one department but we heard about tons of different organisms (everything from bacteria to ecosystems) and tons of different topics in biology (e.g. macroevolution, outreach, pollution, etc.). GSS is always a good chance to remind ourselves of how incredible this department is!
I make it a personal rule to always agree with Meg, and you should too, but you can decide for yourself. Look at what our grads presented:

Alex Brannick: Nestled among dinosaur eggs: New specimens of Alpahdon from Egg Mountain and their implications for metatherian evolutionMolly Roberts: Energy allocation to structural materials differs for two congener species across a range of temperature and f…

Lauren Vandepas: "Behold, comb jelly poo!"

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Does everybody poop? That an animal poops may seem like a no-brainer – food goes in, gets digested, and whatever wasn’t digested comes out, right? There’s a mouth for food intake and a, you know, a butt, that lets out food waste. A lot of animals don’t have a set up as “complicated” at this; scattered throughout the animal kingdom, there are lineages that don’t have a secondary digestive opening (an anus, or a BUTT). In these animals, food is ingested through the mouth, processed by the gut, and whatever hasn’t been digested gets expelled back through the mouth. The anus may not seem like the end-all (ha!) innovation during animal evolution, but it’s actually a pretty big deal. Some evolutionary biologists consider the emergence of the through-gut (a digestive tract featuring a mouth and an anus) to be one of the drivers of animal body plan diversification – perhaps allowing for more efficient food processing, or providing a stable sort of scaffold to build on.

Bilateral symmetry, i.…

Eliza Heery's A Diary from Down Under Part 2

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Eliza continues her Australian research adventure (see Part I) where we left off... 
A Diary from Down Under Part II
July 7, 2016: Hello again from down under! Henna Wilckens (intern) and I are deep into processing the sediment samples we collected last month from the bottom of Sydney Harbour. From our temporary work post at the University of New South Wales, we aim to sort through each of the millions of tiny sediment grains in our frozen samples to extract anything that once wriggled, crawled, filtered, or respired. The identity and number of creepy crawly critters in our samples will help us discern whether marine communities adjacent to man-made seawalls and pilings differ from those adjacent to natural rocky shorelines. All of this is part of a project I’m doing as an NSF EAPSI fellow with my Australian host, Dr. Emma Johnston, and post-doctoral researchers in her lab (link to earlier post). Surprising as it may be, we’ve thus far encountered a number of striking and beautiful orga…

Shawn Luttrell: Getting a Head with Regeneration

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“In the X-Men franchise, popular character Wolverine has sharp titanium claws, keen animal-senses, and rapid healing powers. These healing powers instantly repair broken limbs, gunshot wounds, and even help him survive a nuclear bomb blast. Now, scientists are trying to unlock the mutant’s healing powers for everyone – using the DNA of a humble worm.” – The Daily Mail 

Regenerating missing and damaged tissue may seem like it’s straight out of science fiction, but this superpower is completely real and quite common in the animal kingdom. Just as the fictional character Wolverine can heal nearly every wound, some real, living animals can not only heal wounds, but many can even regrow missing appendages and organs and multiple lineages can regenerate an entirely new animal from just a small piece of tissue. If you cut sponges, planarian worms, and hydra into pieces, they will regrow complete and normal animals from most, if not all, of the pieces. Nearly every major animal group has mem…

Fresh Insights into UW Biology (Volume 4)

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Introducing our first-year grad students! Read on to learn about some of the students in our 2016 cohort. Congrats to the first years on making it through your first quarter in the program. 


Olivia Kosterlitz is broadly interested in evolutionary genetics and genomics, and how genomes change in a population over time in relation to adaptations. Olivia’s previous work in the Clark Lab at the University of Utah consisted of several projects on Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mites) focusing on a complex phenotype. She is now currently rotating through labs in UW biology.  During the Autumn quarter rotation, she worked in the Amemiya Lab on programmed genome rearrangements in a basal vertebrate, lamprey.  Olivia is now rotating through the Promislow Lab focusing on mating behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster.  Olivia chose UW biology for the collaborative research environment and their focus on teaching education.



Stuart Graham: After completing my Master’s degree in Sweden, I came…

Adios, Autumn '16 Grads!

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Congratulations to the Biograds who successfully completed their degrees during Autumn 2016! Here we highlight a few graduates:




Yasmeen Hussain
Sea urchin sperm chemotaxis: individual effects and fertilization success
Riffell Lab | October 26, 2016
Up Next: I'm heading to Washington, DC for the Mirzayan policy fellowship at the National Academy of Sciences
Website:https://www.linkedin.com/in/hyasmeen





Jennifer Mae-White Day
Exploring Drivers of Gene Flow in Jaguars and Pumas in Southern Mexico via Molecular Scatology and Eco-Evo Simulations Samuel K. Wasser Lab - Center for Conservation Biology | December 2, 2016 Up Next: Lecturing for Dept. of Biology for the next few quarters, while searching for post-docs

Brandon Peecook
Vertebrate patterns of taxonomic and ecological diversity and recovery from the End-Permian Mass Extinction: two novel test cases from southern Pangea
Sidor Lab | November 17, 2016
Up Next: Postdoctoral Researcher at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago
Website:h…