Courtney has successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation! The dissertation is a complication of manuscripts that barely scratches the surface of the breadth of Courtney's wide-raging interests in mammalogy, ecology, functional morphology, and experimental biology! This summer, Courtney plans to leave Providence and begin an exciting postdoc at UC Santa Barbara in the lab of Deron Burkepile. Congratulations Courtney!!
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 million congrats to Bianca Brown on her latest publication, which now appears typeset and formatted in Molecular Ecology! Bianca's insight, creativity, and leadership are on full display in this masterpiece of a paper that investigates patterns of phylosymbiosis in the small mammal community at Mpala Research Centre. Bianca highlights the importance of phylogenetic scale in investigations of phylosymbiosis and underscores the value of studies that investigate how local ecological context can modify our 'global' expectations about host-microbiome associations. Way to go, Bianca!
Brown BRP, Goheen JR, Newsome SD, Pringle RM, Palmer TM, Khasoha LM, Kartzinel TR. 2023. Host phylogeny and functional traits differentiate gut microbiomes in a diverse natural community of small mammals. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.16874
Late last year, Ezequiel participated in the capture of the first two Giant Armadillos from Argentina. The animals were sampled and outfitted with tracking devices to understand more about the health and ecology of their population. This amazing species is very rare, and its global population is listed as Vulnerable and Declining on the Red List of Endangered Species.
An article was published entitled, "Rosenda, la primera tatú carreta monitoreada en el Chaco"
Great work, Ezequiel!
There is a fascinating population of Italian Wall Lizards living in Boston's Fenway Gardens. Even during the height of the pandemic, members of the Lizard Team were able to do some fieldwork observing and tracking the lizard population at this novel site for the species. In the first of several publications the team is leading from this time, we recently published a Natural History Note in Herpetological Review describing a couple of instances of avian predation observed: a hawk and a grackle separately preyed on individuals from this population. The population has only been around for a short number of years, and there are no native lizards in this region, so this represented novel predatory behaviors on a no-analog lizard population in the region. Scroll to page 500 of this [PDF] for some interesting observation and incredible photos published -- congrats team!
Congratulations to Beth and the team for publishing a strong, thoughtful, and evidence-based reply to an earlier comment in Molecular Ecology.
The take-home: there are a lot of challenges and opportunities when it comes to using dietary DNA metabarcoding strategies to advance a variety of important research agendas; Beth is leading the way when it comes to clear-thinking about how we conduct our studies and how we can strengthen the evidence we use to support our conclusions.
The exemplary professional, Beth exposes persistent and potentially problematic misconceptions in the field in a way that is clear, constructive, and self-reflective. Whether or not our decisions about how to code dietary DNA metabarcoding data have a qualitative influence on our ecological interpretations is a question that we should all be asking. Beth and the team provide invaluable insight into when we might need to pay particular attention to this issue, and offer a blueprint to help us address the issue in a more structured way by sharing computer code that we wrote to conduct simulation studies and sensitivity analyses with real data.
Littleford-Colquhoun BL, Sackett VI, Tulloss CV, Kartzinel TR. 2022. Evidence-based strategies to navigate the complexity of dietary DNA: a reply. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.16712. [PDF]
I am excited to announce that I anticipate opportunities to recruit a new PhD student in 2023!
General details regarding the opportunity are presented in the slide below; please check out our 'Research' and 'Join the Lab' pages for additional relevant information. There are especially exciting avenues for research involving our international collaboration concerning the food webs of Fray Jorge National Park in Chile, but inquiries are welcome from those who are generally interested in any of our ongoing projects.
We were honored to have Haldre Rogers join the lab during her visit this week. We are huge fans of Haldre -- not only did she give a phenomenal EEOB departmental seminar, but she hung out for a few days to work with us and connect with students. Each year that I teach my 'Conservation genomics' course, we partner with external collaborators to address a real-world conservation problem through our semester-long research projects. This year, one group has entered a collaboration with Haldre and her network of collaborators to better understand the ecology of bird loss in the Northern Mariana Islands. By the end of the year, we plan to report back on the diets of remnant bird populations using dietary DNA metabarcoding methods. We just finished PCR week, and Haldre joined us to do some pipetting!
We were lucky to get to work with Hannah over the summer at Yellowstone, but now with the start of a new semester it's official... Welcome to the lab, Hannah!
Hannah arrives in the lab to start her Ph.D. work as a plant community ecologist with interests in understanding how the activities of large mammals at Yellowstone influence the long-term composition of plant communities. Hannah plans to connect field observations with manipulative experiments and DNA barcoding to understand the complex food web of this incredible system. Hannah will be working closely with the National Parks Service in the field. Here at Brown, she will be engaged with EEOB, IBES, and DSI via her participation in an NIH T32 grant that focuses on scientific communication. We feel so lucky to have Hannah join us and so excited to see how the amazing work she is doing will pay off!