Congratulations to Elin Videvall for earning a highly competitive SRC Starting Grant to join the faculty and open her lab at Uppsala University! Elin plans to lead projects involving the microbiomes of wildlife in a changing world. Elin joined the lab with a Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2021 and we are so proud to have had a small part in her journey.
The lab is incredibly excited to welcome Mary Burak! Mary is joining the lab as a Fulbright Scholar based in Kenya followed by an IBES Voss Postdoctoral Fellowship. Together these prestigious awards will support Mary for three years both in Kenya and at Brown. Mary will collaborate with a number of major NGOs as well as scholars at the University of Nairobi, the National Museums of Kenya, and Mpala Research Centre to address critical data needs for the conservation of large carnivores and herbivores across Kenya.
Mary completed a PhD in Os Schmitz's lab at Yale University in 2023. She is a star and we are so keen to learn from her and collaborate with her over the next few years and beyond!
Beth just posted a much-anticipated BioRxiv preprint describing our new efforts to repurpose CRISPR technology in ways that might help overcome persistent drawbacks to PCR and other targeted enrichment strategies in molecular ecology (doi: 10.1101/2023.06.30.547247v1). We show that we can obtain highly accurate plant DNA barcodes and assemble entire chloroplast genomes. These advances could help with species identification, discovery, and the construction of DNA reference libraries for use in a variety of applications. Moreover, we show incredible accuracy when it comes to estimating the relative abundance of DNA from a mixture of species compared to typical PCR-based methods for DNA metabarcoding.
We hope the experimental methods will be of interest and that folks working in the field will see the great potential. Once scalable, these advantages could really transform the quality and completeness of many projects that we do in the lab -- and the kinds of project we know a lot of folks are out there trying to do around the world as well!
The approach was noted to be a potentially 'high risk / high reward' of the NSF CAREER award that supported our work. We'll update once it is peer-reviewed and published.
Senior all-star Caroline Dressler won the 2023 Kidwell Prize! This is the top senior prize in our area of biology. Caroline was recognized for outstanding academics, a top-notch Honors thesis, consistent leadership at Brown, and a community-minded commitment to education. It was an honor to contribute to her journey -- we look forward to publishing more papers together and following her journey for years to come. Congrats, Caroline!
Congratulations to Andy Luo for a 2023 Fulbright Scholarship! On top of completing his Honors thesis and preparing to graduate, Andy can look forward to joining the amazing community of Fulbright scholars. During his program, Andy plans to teach English in Taiwan -- an amazing opportunity for a top-notch student.
Brown is typically among the top Fulbright-producing universities and Andy is the third Honors student from the lab to earn one. Amazing!
Congratulations to Maddy for being one of only two undergraduates to be recognized with a prestigious Caleel '87 Memorial Undergraduate Biology Research Fellowship from the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown in 2023! To prepare for her senior thesis next year, Maddy plans to spend the summer studying the health and nutrition of sloths in Costa Rica where she'll be based at La Selva. Exciting work will come from this incredible opportunity ahead!
Beth’s scientific research is world-class. She is developing cutting-edge CRISPR-based techniques that are poised to become foundational tools in the fields of molecular ecology, food web ecology, and conservation biology. While other research wunderkinds sequester themselves, Beth has done just the opposite; she is the linchpin of the Kartzinel lab. She has expertly mentored numerous graduate and undergraduate students in the lab, but her standout achievement was in BIOL1515/2015 last Fall where she masterfully blended cutting-edge science research with creative learn-by-doing pedagogy. Beth gave those students access to authentic and impactful research experiences in the classroom that are wholly unique. I have no doubt that every undergrad from that class that goes on to a career in science will point to that semester as a pivotal experience
A great way to end the summer of 2022 -- major success for two postdocs in the lab!
Colin Donihue, Voss Postdoc in IBES, accepted a full-time position as a Data Analyst at the Brown Division of Campus Life. We are so happy to know that we will get to keep seeing Colin around campus! Colin has been an amazing collaborator, lab mate, and mentor to a number of undergraduates who are completing theses and coauthoring papers. Students at Brown are lucky that he will now be applying his research creativity and skillsets toward a data-driven opportunity to improve quality of life on campus! Woohoo!
Ezequiel Vanderhoeven, CONICET International Postdoc in EEOB, was awarded an Organization for Tropical Studies Early Career Fellowship! This award is an honor and a unique opportunity to join a storied community of field ecologists. Eze's project is titled "Health and nutrition of anteaters, armadillos, and sloths (Order Xenarthra)" and it will be carried out at La Selva Research Station. Fantastic opportunities lie ahead for Eze -- well deserved!
It feels good to have more of the lab getting back into the swing of fieldwork after the worst years of the early pandemic!
The lab has always maintained some field activity throughout the pandemic. Ezequiel has been remote from field sites across Argentina, Robert and Peter have been keeping active at Mpala in Kenya, and Colin (and the lizard team) as well as Amanda (and the terrapin team) had managed to keep active around the northeastern US. But a lot of us had to cut back or go it alone more than we would have liked. The tide is turning, though!
This summer we have had a group led by Beth (postdoc), Hannah (incoming grad student), and Maddy (UTRA student) at Yellowstone -- collecting dung, surveying plants, coordinating with collaborators -- with support from our scientific partners at the National Park Service and the Brown University Herbarium. Amidst the ongoing recovery from disastrous flooding along the Yellowstone River, we were able to get out into the field together to advance a number of priority projects for the lab.
We are super grateful to funders: NSF (CAREER & EPSCoR award), Department of Interior (Cooperative Agreement), Brown University (UTRA & IBES).
The quintessential group photo of the team:
Congratulations to Elin Videvall on her talk at the Revolution 2022 conference in Uppsala. Elin's presentation focused on interesting results from analyses of giraffe diets and microbiomes across Kenya. It was voted the *BEST TALK* of the entire conference!! What an amazing researcher and science communicator -- we are so fortunate to have Elin in the lab :)