Collaborator and University of Wyoming PhD student, Leo Malingati, appears on an episode of the documentary series Wildlife Warriors and shares his experience studying the small mammals of Mpala Research Centre!
The conversation featuring our work to analyze small mammal diets -- poop science!
Short video available on YouTube. Episode on Vimeo.
Congratulations to Robert Ang'ila on the successful defense of his MSc thesis. Robert has pioneered important work at the Kenya ForestGEO site located at Mpala Research Centre, where he ran camera traps and conducted vegetation surveys to understand how large mammalian herbivores interact with their physical and biotic environments. Robert's insightful thesis results will have a mark on the field and launch him forward in his career as a wildlife conservation researcher. Congratulations Robert!!
A pair of recent papers from the lab were highlighted for the creative use of DNA metabarcoding to solve problems and ask new questions in fields that span ecology and biomedical science.
1. Our recent paper documenting variation in diet-microbiome linkages in African megafauna was highlighted on the cover of PNAS, Brown University's news, The Division of Biomedicine's 'Kudos' memo, and in the media. This open access paper reflects the results of a long-term collaboration with Rob Pringle from Princeton, Paul Musili from the National Museums of Kenya, a creative honors thesis by Julianna Hsing, and the microbiome-bioinformatics chops of current grad student Bianca Brown.
2. Our recent paper in mSystems creatively translated the DNA metabarcoding approaches that we've been using for wildlife research into a biomedical context to evaluate the plant component of human diets. Using DNA-based evidence of human diet composition could be highly complementary to the current standard of asking human subjects to maintain diet logs in research on human health and nutrition. The paper was highlighted as Editor's pick in the area of Clinical Science and Epidemiology by the journal, as well as in a thoughtful commentary by Frank Maixner, who further highlighted the connections between this work and the fields of archaeology and ancient DNA. The paper was co-led by Aspen Reese based on samples from a prior experimental study investigating the influences of diet interventions on human gut microbiomes, which was led by Lawrence David.
Congratulations to Courtney Reed for winning big -- two awards in one week! Courtney won first place in the flash talk competition at the IBES Blue Sky event. She also won an IBES Graduate Student Research Training and Travel Award. These awards highlight he importance of Courtney's research on how defaunation impacts ecosystems in Kenya. Thanks to IBES for supporting our work and helping amplify our research -- and way to go Courtney!
As the fall semester gets into swing, the lab is having a lot of fun and making progress on research. Several milestones should not go unnoticed, and there are photos to boot. In no particular order: