The Graduate Program in


Goodwin wins Best Presentation award at LSGRS

Sarah Goodwin won the Best Presentation award for her talk "Shift of song frequencies in response to masking tones" at this year's Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium. OEB was well represented, with five students giving talks. Congratulations!


Melissotarsus weissi and diaspidids

Old McDonald Was an Ant?

It’s a common sight… ants and aphids crawling around together on rose stems. Sometimes they appear to be interacting, but it’s not always clear what’s going on. Even if you haven’t seen it yourself, perhaps you know the story. Many species of ants and aphids have mutually beneficial relationships. The ants act as bodyguards for the aphids, protecting them from predators, and the aphids reward the ants with a honeydew that they produce from plant sap. This mutualistic relationship centered around food, called trophobiosis, also occurs between ants and other insects, such as some butterfly larvae, treehoppers, and scale insects, though the reward isn’t always honeydew. But what’s occurring when ants are providing protection for species that don’t provide honeydew? What’s the reward? Scott Schneider, joint OEB/Entomology PhD Candidate at UMass Amherst, believes the reward for protection from ants is sometimes something much more macabre.

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Five OEB students presenting at Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium

Sarah Goodwin, Caroline Curtis, Melissa Ha, Dina Navon and Skye Long will all be presenting their research at the 3rd annual Life Science Graduate Research Symposium. The all day symposium, featuring a total of 18 presentations by students in nine UMass grad programs, takes place in Campus Center 101 on Friday, November 22. Following the talks, a poster session and reception takes place on the 11th Floor of the Campus Center from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. Awards for best talk and best poster will be presented at the end of the reception. Symposium details can be found here.

Lexi Brown Dissertation Defense

12:00 noon
Monday November 4, 2013
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Dissertation Title: How yellow is your belly? Honesty and carotenoids in a pigmented female fish
Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Sinauer Associates Lecture: Scott Gilbert

Gilbert and turtle shell

Dr. Scott Gilbert will give this fall’s Sinauer Associates Lecture on October 18 at 3:00 in 222 Morrill 2. His talk Extending Lynn's view: A new symbiotic biology combines his interest in developmental biology, evolution and the history of science. Dr. Gilbert is a professor of Biology at Swarthmore College and the University of Helsinki. He has written several textbooks, and is currently investigating a remarkable evolutionary novelty: how the turtle got its shell. Following the lecture, there will be a reception at the University Club.

The Sinauer Lecture series is sponsored by Sinauer Associates, Inc., publisher of college texts in biology, psychology and neuroscience.

Three OEB alums land positions at Arcadia University

Kara Belinksy (PhD, 2008), Chad Hoefler (PhD, 2005) and, most recently, Tobias Landberg (MS, 2003) have joined the Biology faculty at Arcadia University. The 4,000-student university is located outside of Philadelphia. Four of the school's 13 biology faculty are OEB-trained. Small world!

Science Café announces fall series

Science Cafe Logo

The Science Café series, organized by OEB grad students, is designed to facilitate an engaging science discussion outside university walls in an informative but relaxed atmosphere. Each event is focused on a single topic, with a guest speaker, quiz bowl, and questions and answer.

Science Cafés are held at Esselon Café in Hadley on Monday nights. All events start at 6:00 p.m. and are free.

For more info, see

Monday, September 9th
Some Like it Hot, with Dr. Bethany Bradley
Climate change, invasions, and marauding honeysuckle.

Monday, October 7th
How to Scare a Spider, with Skye Long
A spider’s view of the world.

Monday, November 4th
Live Wires: Bacterial Batteries, with Dr. Derek Lovley
How to turn microorganisms into living fuel cells. Really.

Monday, December 9th
To the Sea (and back again), with Dr. Steve McCormick
Fresh water, salt water, lather, rinse, repeat. Migratory fish tackle major environmental challenges.

Rachel Bolus Dissertation Defense

1:00 PM
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Dissertation Title: Birdsong as a source of social information for migrating common yellowthroats
Advisor: Bruce Byers

Dana Moseley Dissertation Defense

10:00 AM
Friday, August 16, 2013
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Dissertation Title: Vocal performance in songbirds: Territorial defense and the development of male song and female mating preferences
Advisor: Jeff Podos

Sasha Tulchinsky Dissertation Defense

4:00 PM
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
319 Morrill 2 (OEB Seminar Room)
Dissertation Title: Evolution of hybrid incompatibilities in gene regulatory networks
Advisor: Adam Porter