Summer 2022 Review

A lot happened this summer, and as the fall semester starts now is a good time to celebrate!

  • Congratulations to Matthew, Xiaomi, and María on passing your qualifying exams!
  • Several department members presented at Evolution, ABS, and GSA’s Yeast Genetics Meeting and GLAM-EvoGen. Special shout out to Shailee for winning the Allee Award at ABS for her presentation!
  • Nilima did an internship at Amyris in California.
  • Jeremy submitted his first paper on species distribution models.
  • The Fay lab did some intense sample collecting across vineyards and wineries in the finger lakes region to isolate yeasts. Bob Minckley also joined to collect bees.
  • The Chen lab traveled together to Archbold Biological station in Florida to meet their collaborators and the Florida Scrub-Jays.
  • We had a great time with the summer kickball league, and even won some games!

Chen lab members and alumnus at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of Evolution 2022

UR Biology kickball team glowing with pride!

Bikes and Biology: Multispecies coalescence

Bikes and Biology are back! Join us after Friday seminars (4-5pm) to discuss papers with wine and cheese. Weather permitting, we bike out to a fun park to enjoy the weather. Here’s what Rochester summers look like:

We discussed this Heliconius paper:

Yuttapong Thawornwattana, Fernando A Seixas, Ziheng Yang, James Mallet, Full-Likelihood Genomic Analysis Clarifies a Complex History of Species Divergence and Introgression: The Example of the erato-sara Group of Heliconius Butterflies, Systematic Biology, 2022;, syac009,

Join us next time!

This week we undertook our first attempts at learning to prepare museum mounts of dead birds (found around campus by big windows) under the tutelage of recent Uy lab graduate Dr. Diego Ocampo himself!

Find a dead bird? Keep it and join us next time!

2020 Review

Last year introduced us all to a new set of challenges that have brought hardship and tragedy to many. However, despite these difficulties, good news did exist during 2020, and here I will present some of the reasons for celebration that occurred for the E2G2 graduate students!

  • Three new graduate students started their PhDs with us! Maria Castaño, Matthew Lindsay, and Xiaomi Liu!
  • Rose Driscoll, a PhD student in the Brisson Lab, received the GRFP, recognizing her great skills as a researcher and promising contributions to science!
  • Emery Logan received the Edward Peak Curtis Award for excellence in teaching as a graduate student!
  • The University of Rochester hosted the second Great Lakes Annual Meeting of  Evolutionary Genomics! Despite needing to shift to an online platform, the meeting has a huge success with many fascinating presenters!
  • Four PhD students passed their qualifying exams: Rose Driscoll, Lauren Gregory, Jeremy Summers, and Nilima Walunjkar!

2021 will be sure to offer its own set of challenges, but we hope that the members of our community will continue to do great things!

Science Now!

Last Thursday the Chen and Meyer labs set up booths at Wayne Central Middle School for the Science Now Expo. The night was a chance for students of the middle school and their parents to talk to members of the local STEM community and see some of the demonstrations. The booths included a guessing game of genetic inheritance, 3D printing, and a box of live bumblebees!

The Uy lab relocates to E2G2

We’re happy to announce the recruitment of Drs. Al Uy and Floria Mora Kepfer Uy to Rochester’s E2G2 program!  Al and Floria will move their Tropical Biology Lab from the University of Miami to our own Biology Department in January 2020.  Al brings his research program on the ecology and genomics of speciation in birds, and Floria hers on the evolution and neural basis of cooperative behavior in social wasps.

Wasp Venom Research makes the Cover of Current Biology

Nasonia parasitoids wasps, minute insects that inject venom and lay their eggs on fly pupae, are pictured in the Goergen Hall lab of Nathaniel & Helen Wisch Professor of Biology John (Jack) H. Werren May 26, 2017. Were, along with postdoctoral fellow Ellen Martinson uses the rapidly evolving venom repertoires of these parasitoid wasps (including the ectoparasitoid model Nasonia vitripennis, pictured) to investigate the question of how new genes are recruited for venom function. In contrast to expected model of gene duplication, they find that many venom genes evolve by the co-option of single copy non-venom genes. These findings could have broad implications for how new gene functions evolve, as co-option of single copy genes may be a common but relatively understudying mechanism for the evolution of new gene functions, particularly in tissues subject to rapid evolutionary change. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Ellen Martinson, Mrinalini, Yogeshwar Kelkar, Ching-Ho Chang, and Jack Werren’s recent paper in Current Biology was featured in the Rochester Newscenter. Their research uses wasp venom to propose a new idea about how genes can gain new functional roles. The UR write-up has great photos and a video explaining their study, check it out.

Survey: Do You Require Access to BioOne2 Journals?

A couple of years ago, the University purchased access to the BioOne catalogue of journals.  The most important title in this catalogue for our department is Evolution, and in my view, this journal alone is worth the rather steep cost of subscription (a complete list of titles is on-line).  The library is now debating whether to shell out another chunk of change for access to titles in the BioOne2 catalogue.  Many of the journals in this catalogue are museum publication that some of us use (e.g., Breviora, Fieldiana Zoology, Bulletin of Carnegie Museum of Natural History), but maybe not with enough frequency to justify the cost of subscription. Perhaps we need to subscribe to keep up on intelligent design research – this catalogue includes the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington that famously published an article by the director of the Discovery Institute. Let me know your thoughts.

Miss USA Supports Evolution

I’m happy to report that the new Miss USA is “a huge science geek” who believes in the “big bang theory and, you know, the evolution of humans, you know, throughout, you know, time.”

Look, I realize that she’s no wordsmith, but she sounds like genius relative to her competitors.