Congratulations to Quinn, who was awarded High Honors for her poster "Short-term enrichment interacts with experience to influence neophobia in Trinidadian guppies". The Hoke lab conducted a brief interview with her about her project, which you can read below. Congratulations, Quinn!
What was your project about? What do you think it means?
Quinn: This project is important for many reasons. The first being that most enrichment research is done in large mammals and not much research is done for fish, reptiles or invertebrates. The second being that Trinidadian guppies are a great model organism for research in many different areas because their morphology and behavior are very susceptible to change. If a scientist is interested in the stream ecology and behavior in wild populations, a laboratory setting could have severe effects on behavior and morphology and the data collected wouldn't be accurate for the wild populations, but adding enrichment in the lab could aid in potentially getting a more accurate representation of a wild population.
How long did you work on this project?
Quinn: I worked on the data collection aspect for about 3 weeks. There was a two week acclimation period and then doing assays for about a week. Though overall I spent around 2 months prepping for the project, gathering data and then analyzing the data (the two months is spread out throughout a semester, but there was a break between gathering data and analyzing while I attended Laura Stein's Rstudio workshop to learn how to analyze).
Do you plan to do anything further with this project? What are your plans after you graduate in May?
Quinn: Currently, I have an extension project going on looking at how environmental enrichment affects guppies through the development and see any sex differences in behavior. We already have significant differences in juvenile size between the enriched and unenriched environments which is really exciting to see!
Once I graduate I am heading out to Dallas for a behavioral research internship at Dallas Zoo where I will most likely be working on okapis (my favorite animal)!
We are very excited to announce a new member of the lab: Laura Gatch! Laura will be starting as an OU Biology Ph.D. student this Fall. She is fascinated by individual differences, plasticity, behavior, and arachnids of all kinds. Plus, she brings a talent for macro photography into the lab. She will be introducing us to some new study organisms, and will also help us examine whether and how parental cues of invertebrate predators differ from vertebrate predators, and how this influences offspring response in small fishes. Welcome, Laura!
Laura gave a talk at SICB 2019 in Tampa, Florida, describing new work from undergraduates in the lab on how reproduction affects brain and behavior in male guppies. More on this work coming out soon!
For fall semester 2018, REU and independent study students worked with Laura to develop R skills. The group met once a week and started out by simply learning how to assign an value to an object. By the end of the workshop, they were analyzing and visualizing their own data and presented their work to the lab. They had some very cool results that they are now learning how to write up into scientific papers, and are now developing new independent projects to follow up on their results.
Laura presented some new guppy research at a poster session for the II Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France. Good food was had, good connections were made, and new data was presented on genetic correlations in guppies! Stay tuned for the paper...
Our undergraduates were hard at work this summer undertaking exciting independent research projects.
NSF REU student Dain was interested in whether intercross high- and low-predation populations of guppies showed evidence for behavioral sterility by assessing their courtship behaviors (among others).
Independent study student Quinn tested whether environmental enrichment influenced neophobia in female guppies.
And NSF REU student Richard dove into the mysteries of why some natural populations of guppies are so darn large, and whether large size is genetically associated with more feminized shapes.
We are beginning a semester-long R workshop so they can analyze their results independently, and we look forward to sharing our exciting findings!
I am beyond thrilled to announce that I have accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma Department of Biology as part of their exciting Biology of Behavior initiative. We will be arriving in OU August 2019, and will soon be advertising for lab tech, postdoc, and graduate student positions. Please keep an eye on this page for advertisements, and feel free to contact me with any inquiries or questions! While sad to be leaving beautiful Colorado, I am very excited to be working with an amazing, integrative department examining the origins and maintenance of behavioral plasticity and diversity.
Logo and other icons designed by the incredibly talented Miles Bensky.
It's been a while! This spring has been pretty crazy, with lots of travel for work (and some for fun), outreach events, and running experiments. I am looking forward to presenting some of my favorite results here in the upcoming weeks.
At the end of February, I participated in an outreach event with Hoke Lab Ph.D. student Kim Dolphin. In collaboration with the wonderful Pinhead Institute based in Telluride, we traveled to multiple elementary, middle, and high schools in southwestern Colorado. Using live guppies, we demonstrated basics of neurobiology, natural selection, genetics, and animal behavior. The guppies were champions, and the students were excited, sharp, and asked incredible questions. this area of the state is often underserviced, as it is difficult to access and far from most of Colorado's university campuses. We had a wonderful time and can't wait for our next outreach event, Expand Your Horizons, coming up next week, and to continue working with The Pinhead Institute!
You can read a small write-up of our event in Montrose here.