Babbitt Receives NSF Grant for Research on Brain Evoluition in Humans and Chimps

Courtney Babbitt, Assistant Professor of Biology, has received a three-year, $330,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to use new state-of-the-art computational, evolutionary and experimental methods to examine how natural selection has shaped gene expression in the human brain. Babbitt and colleagues will test the hypothesis that there are functional links between adaptation in the genome and changes in neural types that occurred during human evolution.
See the full article here:
https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/umass-amherst-genomics-research...

Biology student Bryanna Joyce conducted research with honeybees as a summer scholar!

If you are fond of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, you will appreciate the research Bryanna Joyce ’20 conducted with honeybees as a summer scholar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Joyce, a plant and soil sciences major, spent five weeks feeding bees in 55 different hives at a commercial apiary in Barre, Massachusetts, in an experiment to learn if natural pollens can improve the health of honeybees. Each week she hand made dozens of pollen patties—out of sunflower pollen, wildflower pollen, a mixture of both, or a pollen substitute beekeepers often employ. She then measured the prevalence of several parasites and diseases harmful to the bees.

See the full article: the website

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!

Beastcam produces 3-D images of endangered sea turtles

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.