Kalman Undergraduate Research Symposium, March 2018

‘Fledging’ Paige (Collins, ’18) and ‘Hatchling’ Paige (Caine, ’21) just before fPaige’s symposium talk! It was well-attended and well-delivered. Nigel Ravida also presented a poster about a gene annotation project from his genomics class at the symposium (but alas, we don’t have any photo-documentation).

Spring 2018 Updates

  • Seniors Mae Lacey, Paige Collins and Nigel Ravida are getting ready to graduate in a few short months. All are looking to continue in biology! Mae will spend the summer working with endangered roseate terns off the coast of CT, and Paige and Nigel are both seeking research positions in labs.
  • Mae presented her research on the effects of microclimate on kittiwake reproductive success at SICB in January, opting to give an oral presentation instead of the more traditional (for undergraduates) poster – she delivered a graduate-level talk that made us proud! She’s working on her honors thesis on the same research, which she will defend in April.
  • Paige Collins (’18) is preparing a talk for Bucknell’s Kalman symposium where she will present research that the whole lab worked on last year, genetically sexing nearly 70 kittiwake chicks to understand how age, sex and chick status affect growth and survival of chicks exposed to acute reductions in food availability.
  • Paige Collins and Nigel Ravida (’18) are both working to extract RNA from whole kittiwake blood, identify focal genes and design qPCR primers to evaluate the effects of acute food shortages on gene expression in adult kittiwakes.
  • Paige Caine (’21) is spending spring learning how to run EIAs to quantify hormones and preparing to spend a few weeks on Middleton Island, AK this summer, studying whole free-living kittiwakes instead of just working with samples in the lab!
  • Manya Saaraswat (’19) has been neck-deep in video footage of feisty kittiwake chicks, building an ethogram to quantify begging, feeding and aggressive behaviors, in an effort to identify predictors of siblicide.
  • Katie Edwards (’19) is making the most of her semester in Scotland, exploring culture, history and science all over Edinburgh, but still planning her summer kittiwake bioinformatics project.
  • Abby Joseph (’19) officially joined the lab this Spring, and is also learning how to run EIAs. She’s working on a follow-up experiment to strengthen the data for our developmental fadrozole exposure project.

Fall 2017 Updates

  • Bucknell undergraduates Paige Collins, Nigel Ravida and Paige Caine joined the lab, and leapt into the business of DNA extraction and PCR (to genetically sex kittiwake chicks), along with Katie Edwards who returned to the lab following Morgan’s sabbatical (but is headed out for a semester abroad in Scotland next semester!). RNA extraction and hormone assays are the next project on the agenda for this group, as the lab works through kittiwake samples from the 2017 field season.
  • Mae Lacey, who had joined the lab last year in preparation for the 2017 field season, is working on analyzing the enormous files of microclimate data she collected over the summer, both for her honors thesis, and to present her research at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in January. Her research this summer was supported by a the award of a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid-of-Research, and her participation in the conference was supported both by SICB and by Bucknell University.
  • This year, the lab is piloting the use of the organizational/communication app “Slack” to coordinate all lab communications and keep track of documents (since we all like to ignore email, sometimes, and it can be nice to keep texting for personal communication). So far, so good.
  • Our lab invited collaborator Kyle Elliott (from McGill University) to give a Biology Department seminar in October. Kyle and his students also work on Middleton Island, and our labs have been exchanging ideas, field support and collaborations. His talk on aging and senescence in wild birds was  an exciting addition to our seminar series this Fall.

Dr. Benowitz-Fredericks is on sabbatical for the 2016-2017 year

Things are a little quieter in the lab this year while MBF is on sabbatical, doing some traveling and collaborating with a colleague at Penn State. However, as a result of the extraordinary hard work of student Eyuel Seyoum, who spent 100 days living in a tent at field camp on an island in the Gulf of Alaska this summer (!), we brought back a lot of samples and data from our field season with black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) on Middleton Island, AK. Eyuel and Nicole Rupik (’19) are working hard this year to unravel the mysteries of the kittiwakes!

This abandoned radar tower was converted into prime kittiwake nesting habitat by Dr. Scott Hatch, several decades ago. You can feed, observe, and access hundreds of invidiual nest sites from inside the tower. For the past few decades, this tower has served as a remarkable natural laboratory to study the effects of food availability on physiology and life-history of these charismatic marine top-predators. Morgan and Eyuel had the privilege of working at this field site in summer 2016.

This abandoned radar tower was converted into prime kittiwake nesting habitat by Dr. Scott Hatch, several decades ago. You can feed, observe, and access hundreds of invidiual nest sites from inside the tower. For the past few decades, this tower has served as a remarkable natural laboratory to study the effects of food availability on physiology and life-history of these charismatic marine top-predators. Morgan and Eyuel had the privilege of working at this field site in summer 2016. Photo by MBF, 2016.

A kittiwake chick peers out from under it’s banded parent at Middleton Island.