Sabrina McNew, Biology ’09, has received a Fulbright Research Grant to study avian seed dispersal and the role of animals in shaping rain forest growth in the Choco region of Ecuador. She will also work with scientists and communities to support local conservation efforts. Akana Noto, Biology ’09, has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in South Korea.
Ben Kozak, Biology ’10, has been named a Beckman Scholar. This prestigious award includes $17,600 award to fund support his research during his senior year and two summers. Ben is working with Professor Cris Cheney on protein-protein interactions in intracellular transport.
How do long-lived animals balance current versus future reproduction? One hypothesis is that long-lived animals will maintain a fixed level of effort toward current reproduction even under adverse conditions to maximize their own survival and future reproduction. To test this hypothesis Prof. Nina Karnovsky and colleagues from several universities, institutes, and government agencies clipped wing feathers of Little Auks (Alle alle) and compared the body mass and condition of the handicapped birds, their mates, and their chicks to unclipped bird families. Their results, however, supported a flexible (rather than fixed) effort hypothesis, suggesting that Little Auks have some ability to adjust their reproductive effort to cope with adversity.
In some organisms, terminating a protein chain at the right place may be doubly insured by having two closely spaced STOP codons. Marie Adachi ’09 and Prof. André Cavalcanti asked if this backup would still be found in Tetrahymena and Paramecium — two ciliates that have reassigned stop codons, so they have only a single codon for STOP instead of the normal three. They found that these ciliates do say STOP! STOP!, and, in fact, they do so more frequently than yeast.
Zachary Brown ’07, Prof. Nina Karnovsky, Prof. André Cavalcanti, and Prof. Johanna Hardin (Mathematics) presented a poster, “Little Auks Adopt a Bimodal Foraging Strategy in Response to Poor Food Conditions, a Consequence of Warmer Waters,” at the Gordon Research Conference on Polar Marine Science held in Lucca, Italy, in March.
The pure white Ivory Gulls, which live only in the Artic, have become endangered as warming oceans decrease their sea ice habitat, yet little is known about this species. Prof. Nina Karnovsky, Zach Brown ’07, and colleagues report on the diet and distribution of Ivory Gulls in the March issue of the journal Arctic.
Prof. Daniel Martínez waited four years for his Hydra to die – but they didn’t! Martínez hypothesizes that they live so long because Hydra is basically a “bag of stem cells.”
Prof. Karl Johnson has been awarded a $216,556 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The three-year grant, entitled “Characterizing the function of Syndecan during CNS development,” will enable Johnson and his research team to investigate how the molecule syndecan helps synapses form properly during development.
Zoo animals often show unnatural behaviors that indicate stress, and finding ways to promote healthier, more naturalistic behaviors is an important goal of zoos. Working at the Santa Ana Zoo, Diane Dishman, Scripps ’06, Prof. Diane Thomson of Joint Sciences, and Prof. Nina Karnovsky showed that simple treatments like hiding their food under branches caused ring-tailed lemurs to spend more time foraging (and less time acting like couch potatoes).
Prof. Karl Johnson, Vivek Charu ’09, and Julia Chang ’08 presented a poster at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 18 on using the yeast 2-hybrid screen to identify proteins that interact with transmembrane heparan sulfate proteoglycan Syndecan, which directs proper axon guidance and synapse formation.
Prof. Nina Karnovsky and colleagues from PRBO Conservation Science and Stanford University presented a poster at the 17th annual meeting of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization in Dalian, China, Oct 24–Nov 2, investigating linkage between foraging by Cassin’s Auklets, prey abundance, and ocean conditions, and the usefulness of the auklets as environmental sentinels. Their poster won the award for best presentation. They also presented the poster at the 2008 California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations conference held at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, November 17-19.
Prof. David Becker presented a seminar on “A Possible Role in Photosynthetic Thermotolerance for Polyphenol Oxidase, an Enigmatic Chloroplast Enzyme,” to the Graduate Botany Program (CGU) at Rancho Santa Botanic Garden on September 26.
On October 2, Prof. Nina Karnovsky lectured to the Pomona Valley Audubon Society on “Gulls, Gullemots and Great White Sharks – The Farallon Islands.”
Prof. Nina Karnovsky and Zachary Brown ’07 together with colleagues from PRBO Conservation Science presented a poster on Cassin’s Auklets foraging behavior at the Third International Biologging Science Symposium, Asilomar, CA, September 1–5.
Prof. Daniel Martínez was an organizer of and invited speaker at the 3rd Cnidarian Tree of Life Meeting, held in La Paz, Mexico, in July. His talk, coauthored with Abril Ińiguez ’08, was titled “The Symbioses of Hydra.” He was also an invited speaker at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan, in September, and his talk there was titled “Phylogeny and Biogeography of Green and Brown Hydra.”
Prof. Laura Hoopes is the author of “Great Ecology Tour,” North Carolina Literary Review 17 (2008), pp. 163-66
Prof. Nina Karnovsky, Pomona biology students Julia Gleichman ’10 and Derek Young ’09, and Pomona alumna Laurel McFadden ’06 are again documenting their Arctic summer research project in a blog. They are studying how the foraging and reproductive behavior of Little Auks (Alle alle) is affected by climate change. Their project was featured in a Inland Valley Daily Bulletin article.
in the summer issue of CBE Life Sciences Education Prof. Laura Hoopes continues her series on innovative life sciences educators with an interview with Phoebe Lostroh, Colorado College.