Along with Skyler Post and Nicholas Pillarella, Jesse was named a Chi Eta Awardee by the Monmouth University chapter of TriBeta. The biology honor society selects students each year that embody the spirit of service to their chapter and field as well as excellence in research and academics. Congratulations, Jesse!
On April 8th, we held a virtual event to discuss the complicated relationship between genetics, genomics, and racism. We considered both the legacy of past genetic technologies and the future impacts of new genomic initiatives. Our distinguished speakers, Krystal Tsosie and Gabriela Corona Valencia discussed their research and Dr. Kiameesha Evans, MPH, MCHES, from the Department of Health and Physical Education moderated the conversation.
Krystal Tsosie, MPH, MA, PhD Candidate, Vanderbilt University (she/her/hers), is already a leader in her field. Her voice has been critical in shaping policy on genomics initiatives in indigenous communities, particularly with respect to the ethics of consent and data sovereignty. Her research integrates both efforts to improve health outcomes for indigenous communities through genomics and efforts to address the ethics of obtaining and using genomic data.
Gabriela Corona Valencia, MA, PhD Candidate, UCLA (she/her/hers) is currently a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Her dissertation research highlights the ways in which eugenicist ideologies continue to influence sex education curricula and initiatives that are implemented across South and East Los Angeles.
This event was organized by Dr. Megan Phifer-Rixey, Biology, and Dr. Jen McGovern, Political Science and Sociology, with support from student coordinator Cameron Gaines and the students of BY216-H1 Introduction to Genetics and SO101-H1 Introduction to Sociology. This program was made possible in part by the Diversity Innovation Grant program, which is supported by the Office of the Provost and the Intercultural Center and support from the School of Science and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Emily Tumbaco and Lorena Mancino received a very competitive award and cash prize for their virtual poster at the School of Science Annual Student Research Conference. Their project, Statistical Analysis of Diet and Location Impact on House Mice Growth, will help us move forward with a critical project in the lab. Congratulations, Emily and Lorena!!
Jesse’s thesis, Differences in Behavior Among House Mice from Different Climates, was selected as a finalist for the top prize for Honors Theses across the University. Congratulations, Jesse!
Erin Oscar has been selected as a Summer Scholar for 2021. This is a University-wide competitive summer fellowship supporting housing and stipends for students pursuing summer research. Congratulations, Erin!
Dr. Phifer-Rixey has published a new article with co-authors Dr. Jody Hey (Temple University) and Dr. Bettina Harr (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology). This article applies a new extension of an isolation-with-migration model to the history of speciation in house mice. https://bmcevolbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12862-020-01666-9
Jesse Bragger successfully defended her honor’s thesis focused on differences in behavior among new strains of wild-derived mice. She will also be graduating in January. Jesse has contributed to nearly all of the projects in the lab during her time at Monmouth and we wish her well in all of her future endeavors. Congratulations!!
Despite setbacks due to COVID19, our new collaborative project studying communities in the Lower Hudson-Raritan Estuary has launched. The goal of the project is to better understand what factors drive variation in this urban estuarine community and what methods best assess variation. Dr. Keith Dunton and Dr. Jason Adolf, along with their students, have started cruises to collect data on fish and phytoplankton. They will also be collecting physical data like salinity and dissolved oxygen.
Our lab will be adding to the project by using a different method to assess communities–eDNA. eDNA is environmental DNA left behind by organisms. We will extract eDNA from water samples taken on the cruises and using next generation sequencing to help sift through the DNA and identify organisms that are part of the community. Students Cameron Gaines and Lilia Crew will be working on this project this semester. You can read more about the project here.
Our Summer Research Program is breaking new ground this year. Our team of six undergraduates is working all online. We are busy learning about experimental design in preparation for some new projects in the lab. We are also welcoming some new members to the lab, Cameron Gaines, Elizabeth Gill, and Caroline Reverendo. Big thanks to Bristol Myers Squibb and the Urban Coast Institute for funding our summer research.