Eslam Elshahat, EEB Graduate Student, won an award for the best natural sciences presentation at the second annual Rice Graduate Student 90-Second Thesis Competition Feb. 2. Elshahat’s talk was titled “Going Back in Time” .
Learn about the “sugarcane aphid” and other invasive species durring Scott Solomon's interview on Houston Matters.
The Biological Diverstiy Lab joined forces with local experts to conduct an inventory of the flora and fauna of the Big Thicket National Preserve near Kountze, Texas. Read about it in the Winter 2014 edition of Rice At Large.
The study, which appeared August 12th in Nature Communications, shows that scientists concerned about human influence on the biosphere need to take a deeper look at how altering the dynamics of a population — for example, by removing large members of a species through overfishing — can have measurable consequences.
Scientists are studying how a declining bird population and thinning forest canopy in Guam threatens wildlife and trees there that thrive in cooler temperatures. Amy Dunham, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is quoted about her research.
EBIO 319 Tropical Field Biology had a great time in Belize.
learn about the trip on their blog.
Maria's presentation, "Apple Snails (Pomacea maculata) facilitate Alligator Weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) invasion, but no evidence of invasional meltdown occurs in wetland communities" won first place oral presentation in Ecology, Environmental and Earth Sciences at the 2013 Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) February 28 to March 2 in Washington, D.C..
This paper describes the draft genomes of the owl limpet (Lottia gigantea), a marine polychaete (Capitella teleta) and a freshwater leech (Helobdella robusta), and compare them with other animal genomes to investigate the origin and diversification of bilaterians from a genomic perspective. Read the paper
The competition was open to Rice Faculty, Research Staff and Students. Applicants were ask to submit a Research Nugget PowerPoint slide to the Ken Kennedy Institute. The Research Nugget was to be based on a current research project and highlight how computing and/or information technology is being utilized to enhance and further their research. Shuwei's submission placed 2nd out of the more than 40 Nuggets submitted.
In one of the first studies to examine how the loss of forest birds is affecting Guam's island ecosystem, Haldre Rogers, Huxley Fellow in the EEB Department at Rice University along with biologists from the University of Washington and the University of Guam found that the Pacific island's jungles have as many as 40 times more spiders than are found on nearby islands like Saipan.
Rice News article. Read the paper in PLOS one.
Check out the You Tube video on EBIO 319 Tropical Field Biology's Blog while they were in Belize this summer.
EBIO 213 will begin at the start of the semester and end with Centennial Celebration Days for the Fall 2012 semester
House mice in Germany and Spain have acquired resistance to a group of widely used rodent poisons through hybridization with a different species. Michael Kohn, associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is quoted.
Pest Control Technology
Genetic tests on Chinese tallow trees from the United States and China prove the statesman did not import the tallows overrunning habitats along the Gulf Coast. Rice University's Evan Siemann, co-author of a study in the July issue of the American Journal of Botany, says descendants of Franklin's trees remain in a few thousand square miles of coastal plain in northern Georgia and southern South Carolina. The majority of troublemakers are linked to seeds brought to this country by federal biologists in the early 1900s.
Research by the Kohn lab, reported in the online journal Current Biology, analyzes a genetic mutation that has given the ordinary European house mouse resistance to common poison. Their work demonstrates how hybridization can occur naturally among animals, yielding non-sterile individuals with beneficial attributes. In this case, the result is a mouse that is resistant to warfarin, a toxic and, usually, deadly ingredient in many rodent poisons. The results were discussed on several sites including Science, Science News, Discovery News, and more. (read the paper)
The paper published in the PloS Genetics "Did Genetic Drift Drive Increases in Genome Complexity?" by Whitney and Garland was highlighted in the September 9 issue of Nature in the Research Highlights section. In the paper the authors found after reanalyzing the data found no clear link between population size and genome size. Read the article.
This paper reports and analyses the draft genome sequence of the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica. Sponges lie on the earliest branching lineage in the animal kingdom and thus have been important in studies of the origins of multicellularity. Comparative genomic analyses presented here provide significant insights into evolutionary origins of genes and pathways related to the hallmarks of metazoan multicellularity and to cancer biology. Read the paper.
A high-tech wonder in Rice's Putnam Lab will give the university a new foothold in basic genome research. A desktop gene sequencer will allow Rice researchers to decode long sequences of DNA extracted from cells. (more info)
Research by Amy Dunham, a Rice assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, detailed for the first time a direct correlation between the frequency of El Niño and a threat to life in Madagascar, a tropical island that acts as a refuge for many unique species that exist nowhere else in the world. The study in the journal Global Change Biology is currently available online and will be included in an upcoming print issue.
The western clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis is an important model for vertebrate development that combines experimental advantages of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis with more tractable genetics.This paper present a draft genome sequence assembly of X. tropicalis.
Read the paper.
The genome of the fresh water polyp Hydra, which has played a key role as a model organism in modern evolutionary and developmental biology, has been sequenced by an international consortium which included Dr. Nicholas Putnam. The resulting paper has been published in the journal Nature. Read the paper.
A cardiovascular phenotype in warfarin-resistant Vkorc1 mutant rats by Michael H Kohn, Roger Price, and Hans-Joachim Pelz received the Artery Research Best Paper Award 2009 at the Artery 9 meeting which was held at Queens’ College, Cambridge, UK, 10-12 September 2009.
Thomas E. X. Miller is the recipient of the inaugural 2009 American Naturalist Student Paper Award for his contribution, “Herbivore-mediated ecological costs of reproduction shape the life history of an iteroparous plant” (T. E. X. Miller, B. Tenhumberg, and S. M. Louda, American Naturalist  171:141–149).
In a paper featured on the cover of this month's Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Dunham offers one of the first new theories on lemur monomorphism in more than a decade. Read more about the find
This paper was also highlighted in Rice News.
Texas can now boast what may be its most bizarre and undoubtedly its slimiest topper yet: the world’s largest known colony of clonal amoebas. Read more about the find
The $19.5K award from The Rufford Foundation will support her work on the consequences of rodent invasion on seed dispersal mutualisms in Madagascar.
Kimberly Vincent was named one of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Award recipients for 2013-2014. While, first year graduate students Eslam Elshahat and Patrick Clay were awarded the Sam and Helen Worden Fellowship for the 2013-2014 academic year
For the fifth consecutive year an EEB Graduate student will be receiving a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG). Ben Van Allen will use the funding to further examine how carry-over effects influence the dynamics of communities across variable landscapes.
The Vaughn Fellowship is awarded to a graduate student whose record at Rice shows evidence of outstanding achievement and promise. Only five awards are given each year, one in social Sciences, one in Humanities and three in any discipline.
With funding from the NSF, PI Haldre Rogers, Co-PI Amy Dunham and a Rice-lead team will examine how the loss of fruit-eating birds affects the distribution of 16 tree species in Guam’s forests
The dissertation fellowship provides one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree.
Dissertation fellowships are awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The awards are made to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
The results of the 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship competition have been announced and we would like to congratulate Rice EEB alumni Pablo Delclos for receiving a Fellowship and Allison Lewis and Nicolena von Hedemann for receiving Honorable Mentions.
BIO offers Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology to provide opportunities for scientists early in their careers who are ready to assume independence in their research efforts and to obtain training beyond their graduate education in preparation for scientific careers, to gain research experience under the sponsorship of established scientists, and to broaden their scientific horizons. Fellowships are further designed to assist new scientists in directing their research efforts beyond traditional disciplinary lines and to avail themselves of unique research resources, sites, and facilities, including foreign locations.
Tom Miller and Gerda Saxer intend to study Texas bluegrass to learn more about how environmental conditions at the edges of a species’ range can skew population sex ratios and how those skewed ratios can trigger population decline. Miller is the Godwin Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Saxer is a faculty fellow in biochemistry and cell biology
Juli was one of three women scientists and engineers in the nation to receive an Educational Award from the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Carrillo will use the award to present the results of her dissertation research at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Ore. The AWIS Educational Awards help early career women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by supporting professional development expenses
Onja was awarded 9.7K for her research on disturbed forest communities in Madagascar through a Rufford Grant for Nature Conservation. The Rufford Small Grants Foundation provides funding for small conservation projects and pilot programs in developing countries.
Onja also received the prestigious Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship again.
With the award from the Shell Center for Sustainability (SCS), Maria will conduct experiments investigating 1) the responses of freshwater ecosystems to nutrient pollution and to climate change, 2) the effects of exotic plant and animal species on these ecosystems, and 3) how the presence of exotic species modifies the vulnerability of these ecosystems to nutrient pollution and to climate change. The planned experiments will increase our knowledge of how exotic species invasion and anthropogenic factors such as nutrient pollution and/or climate change alter the interaction between multiple exotic species and their impact on native communities.
Nakhleh, associate professor of computer science, ecology and evolutionary biology, and biochemistry and cell biology, was one of two recipients in the Guggenheim category of organismic biology and ecology. The award will help further his research into new methodologies and software to study the history of both specific genes and entire genomes. more info
EEB graduate student Christopher Roy received one of the approximately 60 predoctoral fellowships awarded by the Ford Foundation. These fellowships provide three years of support for individuals engaged in graduate study leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree.
Juli Carrillo received Honorable Mention for one of the approximately 35 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree.
Awards are made to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
Rice undergraduates Kelsey Rule and Carolina Simao and incoming graduate student Andrew Bibian all were awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, while current graduate student Michelle Sneck received honorable mention. The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.
Graduate student Ben Van Allen has been awarded a Conchologists of America Research Grant. Since the inception of the program in June, 1985, the COA has awarded over $140,290.00 in grants in the field of malacology. Individual grants range between $1,000 and $1,500 per project.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has a long and distinguished history of advancing educational and professional opportunities for women in the United States and around the globe. Fellowship and grant recipients perform research in a wide range of disciplines and work to improve their schools and communities. Their intellect, dedication, imagination, and effort promise to forge new paths in scholarship, improve the quality of life for all, and tackle the educational and social barriers facing women in the United States and around the globe.
For the fourth year in a row an EEB Graduate student has received a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG). Nick Rasmussen will use the funding to further examine the implications of phenological timing for species interaction and more specifically the mechanisms underlying seasonal community dynamics.
The American Society of Naturalists ASN Student Research Award supports research by student members that advances the goals of the society.
Maria's poster, "Exotic herbivory limits plants while nutrients increase herbivore size" received first place for poster presentation in Ecology at the 2012 Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) February 23-25 in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Trait mediated indirect interactions in invasions: unique behavioral responses of an invasive ant to plant nectar” by Amy Savage and Ken Whitney, has been selected as the winner of the 2011 Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Outstanding Student Paper Award. Amy has also been ask to give a research seminar on this work at the 2012 OTS Meeting March 9-10 at the La Selva Research Station in Costa Rica.
Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Liu for receiving a Keck Center fellowship; NLM Training Program in Biomedical Informatics. He will be in the labs of Luay Nakhleh (primary mentor, Rice Computer Sciences) and (Michael Kohn, (secondary mentor, Rice EEB) as a postdoctoral fellow.
Dunham Lab graduate student Onja Razafindratsima's poster, "Influence of Frugivorous Lemurs on the Germination and Survival of Their Host-Plants", was named best student poster at the annual meeting of the Texas Association of Biological Anthropologists, November 4-5, 2011 at Baylor University, Waco, TXChing-Hua Shih's Receives Best Poster Award
Kohn lab graduate student Ching-Hua Shih's poster "Hybridization between rhesus and cynomolgus macaques inferred from analyses of published genomic resources", C-H Shih and MH Kohn, received the best poster award at the 34th annual meeting of the American Society of Primatologists, Sept 16-19 2011, Austin, TX.
For the third year in a row an EEB graduate student has been awarded a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG).
This year's recipient is Juli Carrillo.
Lukas Bell-Dereske and Maria Meza-Lopez have been named recipients of NSF Predoctoral Fellowships. Maria was also awarded an EPA STAR Fellowship.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Major Ye Jin Kang was one of 32 Americans who was named a Rhodes Scholar in 2011. Kang, who was one of two awardees selected from 14 finalists in the district that includes Texas, will spend two years at Oxford. She plans to earn two Master of Science degrees — one in global health science and one in global governance and diplomacy. (more info)
Congratulations to the following graduate students on being named to receive the following grants and fellowships:
Jeff Ahern - NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIG)
Debbie Brock - NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIG)
Onja Razafindratsima - has been awarded a prestigious Franklin Baldwin Fellowship from the Louis Leakey Foundation. Only about 2 awards are made each year from an international pool of applicants for graduate work in physical anthropology. Onja has also been selected as an International Peace Fellow by the Philanthropic Educational Organization which provides scholarships for promising international women to pursue graduate study in the United States and Canada. Onja is also the recipient of grants from the Explorer's Club of America, Primate Society of Great Britain, and Primate Conservation International to support her research on seed dispersal by lemurs in the southeastern rainforest of Madagascar.
Maria Meza-Lopez - Ford Fellowship
Scott Chamberlain - Vaughan Fellowship