The Graduate Program in


Skye Long Dissertation Defense

Jumpig spider

11:30 a.m.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
209 French Hall
Dissertation Title: Spider Brains and Behavior
Advisor: Beth Jakob

5th Annual Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium: Nov 20

Life Sciences Grad Research Symposium Poster

The 5th Annual Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium will be held November 20th in Life Science Laboratory (LSL) 610. This event, organized for grad students by grad students, will feature talks by members of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience and Behavior, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Microbiology, Plant Biology, and Environmental Conservation. A poster session, which includes lunch, runs from 12:00 - 2:00 in the LSL Atrium. Learn about the amazing life science research being conducted by UMass graduate students! Check here for more information.

Gilman and colleagues investigate springy mechanics of gecko toe pad adhesion

Gecko composite

Geckos employ dry adhesion, using a combination of microscopic hairs on their toe pads, as well as other aspects of internal anatomy, to climb vertical walls and run across ceilings, a skill that has long fascinated scientists. In particular, it’s a mystery how some species as much as 100 times heavier than others can use adhesion so effectively. Casey Gilman, OEB doctoral candidate, and colleagues have found that geckos have a spring-like mechanism in their bodies to enhance adhesion as they become larger. Gilman is first author on Geckos as Springs: Mechanics Explain Across-Species Scaling of Adhesion in PLOS One. In 2012, four of the authors, including Gilman's advisor Duncan Irschick, invented the flexible adhesive Geckskin. It mimics a gecko’s ability to strongly yet easily attach and detach their feet to walk on walls and ceilings.

Stengle Leading Nine-State Study of Fungus Deadly to Snakes

Rattlenake in den

OEB Ph.D. candidate Anne Stengle, is overseeing a federal grant in nine states that studies a mysterious fungus killing snakes in the Northeast. In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it's especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. According to Stengle, the fungus has been found in all five rattlesnake populations in Massachusetts, but it doesn't appear to have had the high mortality rate reported elsewhere. Stengle's dissertation research is on habitat selection, connectivity and viability of the timber rattlesnake metapopulation in southwestern Massachusetts.

Adam Pepi Thesis Defense

10:00 a.m.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
222 Morrill 2 - CHANGE OF LOCATION
Thesis Title: Density-Dependent Survival in the Larval Stage of an Invasive Insect: Dispersal vs. Predation
Advisor: Joe Elkinton

Yinan Hu Dissertation Defense

12:00 noon
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
222 Morrill 2 - CHANGE OF LOCATION
Dissertation Title: Evolvability of the skull: A study of genetic basis and integration in the teleost craniofacial skeleton
Advisor: Craig Albertson

Chi-Yun Kuo Dissertation Defense

3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
319 Morrill 2
Dissertation Title: A tale of lost tails: a cost-benefit analysis of the variation in an extreme antipredator trait
Advisor: Duncan Irschick

Krzysztof Sakrejda Dissertation Defense

9:00 a.m.
Monday, July 20, 2015
319 Morrill 2
Dissertation Title: Estimation problems in complex field studies with deep interactions: time-to-event models for environmental responses in vital rates
Advisor: Ben Letcher

Evan Palmer-Young Awarded DDIG

Evan Palmer-Young, OEB doctoral candidate in Lynn Adler's lab, has been awarded a $20,735 Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from NSF's DEB for his project "Inter-strain variation and evolution of resistance to phytochemicals in the bumblebee trypanosome parasite, Crithidia bombi." Congratulations to Evan and Lynn!

Curtis recieves NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

OEB Ph.D. Candidate Caroline Curtis has been awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for her proposal Using Time Series of Remotely Sensed Imagery to Understand Invasive Pine Dispersal. The $30,000 fellowship, renewable for up to three years, allows Curtis to study the temporal patterns of pine invasion in South America. Congratulations to Caroline and her advisor, Bethany Bradley.