The Graduate Program in


OEB: 20 years of big ideas

OEB:  20 years of big ideas

OEB is celebrating it's 20th anniversary on Friday, April 25 with a keynote lecture by renowned evolutionary biologist Brian K. Hall and an evening reception.

Our first five students enrolled in September 1993 and our first PhD was awarded in 1999. Since then, OEB has graduated over 60 PhD and 35 MS degree students. Our Darwin Fellow program has been exceptionally successful with 17 Darwin Fellows passing through our doors. Through it all our students and faculty remain a close-knit group and continue to benefit from the interdisciplinary access that OEB promotes and provides.

On Friday, April 25 at 4:00 p.m. in Isenberg SOM 137, biologist Brain Hall, from Dalhousie University, will give a public lecture on “Fish that climb waterfalls and others wonders of developmental, organismal and evolutionary biology.” The talk will be aimed at a broad audience and will illustrate Dr. Hall’s central role in launching the field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo-Devo).

At 6:00 p.m., an evening reception on the 10th floor of the Campus Center will bring OEB friends and colleagues together to celebrate our accomplishments. I am particularly pleased to announce that music will be provided by OEB alum Mark Erelli (MS ’99).

Betsy Dumont
OEB Director

Lord's work featured in upcoming NOVA episode

The dissertation research of Kathryn Lord (OEB PhD '10) will be featured in an upcoming NOVA special Animal Minds: Dogs which will be broadcast on April 16 at 9:00 p.m.. Lord is currently a visiting professor at Gettysburg College, PA.

Congratulations to Straley, Broadley and Pold!

Two first year OEB students and an incoming student have good news from NSF! Kit Straley, a student in the Warren lab, has awarded a 3-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her project “Changes in the Neighborhood: Suburban Food Availability and Behavioral Plasticity of Foraging Behaviors in Nesting Songbirds." Hannah Broadley, a student in the Elkinton lab, received Honorable Mention for her project ” Pupal Predation and Population Dynamics of an Invasive Defoliating Moth (Operophtera brumata).” Incoming OEB student Grace Pold, who will work with Kristen DeAngelis, also received Honorable Mention for her project "From the lab to the computer to the field – determining the extent to which lab-based ecology studies can be used to build models which accurately describe ecosystem carbon cycling.”

Yi-Fen Lin awarded NSF DDIG

Congratulations to Yi-Fen Lin, a doctoral candidate in the Dumont lab, who has just learned that she been awarded a NSF DDIG to fund her dissertation research on Burrowing Behavior of Eastern Moles.

Evan Dalton Thesis Defense

2:00 p.m.
Friday, March 28, 2014
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Thesis Title: The effects of suburbanization on nest ectoparasites and nest defense behaviors in the Wood Thrush
Advisor: Paige Warren

Thomas P. Eiting Dissertation Defense

9:00 a.m.
Friday, March 28, 2014
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Dissertation Title: Functional and comparative morphology of the nasal cavity in phyllostomid bats
Advisor: Betsy Dumont

April Science Cafe: Oddball Science

Brennan with duck

April's Science Café is on Monday, April 7th at 6:00PM Esselon Cafe. Dr. Patty Brennan will discuss Oddball Science – Why do We Study Weird Things?.

Brennan studies the evolutionary consequences of interactions between behavior, morphology and the environment. Recently, some of her work on sexual conflict in duck genitalia made headlines (in mostly conservative media, but see her response here) on whether this research constituted wasteful spending. Come out and hear why basic science, such as Patty’s, is worth funding

Goodwin's 'team of rivals' paper getting press

Sarah Goodwin's paper in the February 2014 issue of Biology Letters is featured in Science Daily and in the New York Times: Wimpy Sparrow Welcome Here The study of territorial songs used by chipping sparrows to defend their turf reveals that sometime males will form a "dear enemy" alliance with a weaker neighbor to prevent a stronger rival from moving in. The paper, co-authored with advisor Jeff Podos, is the first to demonstrate birds' use of a stereotyped, specialized signal to establish brief periods of cooperation among neighbor birds who are otherwise rivals.

Del Toro awarded NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship

OEB doctoral candidate Israel Del Toro has been awarded a 3-year NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to start in September 2014. Del Toro will study the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the sky-islands of southwestern US and Northern Mexico. He will also look at the political ecology of the border region between the US and Mexico and how different management strategies impact the biodiversity of keystone arthropods. Del Toro will split his time between the University of Copenhagen's Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (CMEC), New Mexico State University (NMSU) and the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research Station.

March Science Café: Dietary Habits of Black Holes

March's Science Café is on Monday, March 3rd at 6:00 pm at Esselon Cafe. Dr. Daniel Wang from the UMass Astronomy Department will talk about his work with black holes. He tells us there is a super massive one at the center of our galaxy, and it doesn’t suck. Join us for a fun discussion!

The Science Café series is organized by graduate students in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) program at UMass. We strive to bring engaging conversations about science to broad audiences by hosting Science Café events throughout the year.