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.
This year’s seniors have had remarkable success at Monmouth University and have shown so much leadership and resilience. David Grossi, Sean Kuback, and Tiffany Longo all earned Research Awards from the Department of Biology for their significant research contributions. David Grossi and Tiffany Longo also received the Tri Beta Chapter’s Chi Eta Award, our highest recognition for scholarship and academics. Tiffany Longo will also be graduating with Honors for her thesis on “Variation in Reproductive Traits among Mice from the Americas.” Finally, Sean Kuback received the first ever Biology Department Transfer Student Award for Academic Excellence and Research. Congratulations, we look forward to seeing you future success!
This January, Sebastian Vera started medical school. Luckily, soon to graduate lab alumni Bradley Kraft is there to be a great mentor. Congratulations, Seb!
Dr. Phifer-Rixey gave a talk about her house mouse research as part of the Dept of Genetics weekly seminar series at the University of Georgia. It was wonderful to interact with the faculty, students, and postdocs and to return to a field site for the North American mouse collections.
Dr. Phifer-Rixey and Chelsea Barreto were invited to the National Association of Biology Teachers Meeting to present their work. Read more here: https://www.monmouth.edu/news/professor-phifer-rixey-and-alumna-present-at-national-conference-for-biology-teachers/
Dr. Phifer-Rixey attended the first synthesis workshop for the RCN: Evolving Seas held at Shoals Marine Lab. The goal of the workshop was toe bring together ~40 researchers from marine science, evolutionary biology, and oceanography, to form groups to tackle open questions about response to climate change in the oceans. To learn more, see: https://rcn-ecs.github.io/
Nikole Andre graduated with her BS in Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy. She worked on our striper popgen project and was instrumental in getting the lab work started. She is heading home to West Palm Beach, FL and is looking for positions in her field.