Congratulations to the 2018 Lee-SIP research fellowship recipients!

The William Lee Science Impact Program (Lee-SIP) is a Research Experience for undergraduates (REU) program designed to expand and broaden participation in undergraduate research. The program provides students the opportunity to work on fun, novel, and interesting scientific questions by matching them with faculty members with similar research interests. This years recipients are:

Marzia Maliha - Michele Markstein lab
Kara Conlan - Elena Vazey lab
Jesus Maiiol Diaz - Elizabeth Jakob lab
Javier-Ignacio Escobedo - Elsbeth Walker lab
Sebastian Gomez - Paul Katz lab
Karen Luong - Jeffrey Blanchard lab
Shelby Phillips - Jesse Mager lab

Have a productive summer!

Six of seven species of sea turtles facing extinction

Six of seven species of sea turtles, critical to ocean ecology, are facing extinction with humans their most dangerous predator.

Meet the Beastcam (TM): an ingenious device that produces stunning 3-D photographs for use in sea turtle education and conservation and to digitally preserve the majestic sea creatures. The octopus like device, loaded with 30 cameras set off by a wireless trigger, is the brainchild of Duncan Irschick, a University of Massachusetts Amherst biology professor, and his undergraduate students in the College of Natural Sciences.

With the turtles’ imminent potential for demise, Irschick plans to use the Beastcam’s photogrammetry technology to create art to inspire save-the-sea-turtles campaigns and give scientists a new tool to study the charismatic mariners that swam the oceans when dinosaurs roamed the earth. His quest to add the sea turtles to his digital Noah’s ark started in June in Florida and will take him to Australia, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Greece, and Texas. Through crowdfunding, alumni and friends have contributed $4,200 for the sea turtle project.

“You can’t imagine a world without sea turtles. It comes down to that.” —Duncan Irschick

“Essentially, we are saying we are so worried about these animals that we are taking the trouble to go around the world and preserve them digitally so future generations can know them,” says Irschick. Researchers will be looking at unlocking secrets of the enigmatic sea turtles, the best navigators in the animal kingdom, by studying their anatomy and migratory patterns.

Visit the website to view 3-D models of animals and watch a video of the sea turtles.
 

Researchers link fungicides, bumblebee decline

Several bumblebee species have seen their ranges contract and some may face extinction due to several combined stressors, say ecologists Lynn Adler, professor of biology, and her former postdoctoral fellow Scott McArt, with others. Their recent analysis, one of the few to explore the relative importance of multiple factors, found unexpectedly that greater use of fungicides was the strongest predictor of range contraction in declining bumblebee species.

Crosby, Irschick co-direct new UMass Center for Evolutionary Materials

Polymer scientist Al Crosby and functional biologist Duncan Irschick, the inventors of the gecko-inspired adhesive, Geckskin, are co-directors of a new, system-wide UMass Center for Evolutionary Materials. It is intended to be a home for researchers from many fields who are interested in pursuing bio-inspired technologies to create new designs and products to benefit people and the environment.

Irschick explains that he and Crosby, inspired by the scientific and intellectual richness of their own collaboration and the success of Geckskin, want to see a center that will “engage people on a deep level of bio-inspiration, not as a buzz word but as a kind of intellectual playground for unstructured creativity. Such centers can be useful to foster collaborations.”

Normark comments on new findings on asexual reproduction

Benjamin Normark, Biology, was interviewed by media about a new study on Diploscapter pachys, a tiny roundworm has developed an asexual way to copy its genes that also leads to enough minute mutations to allow it to adapt but not cause crippling defects.