Congratulations to PhD student, Christopher Moore, for being awarded the student Sigma Xi Helm's award. The virtual award ceremony took place on March 31st. During the ceremony, Chris described the paper that he had submitted for the award (our PeerJ naked goby population genetics study: https://peerj.com/articles/5380/)
Special issue of articles related to the Marine Bioinvasions conference in Argentina (Fall 2018) was recently published.
I am very happy to have been part of this amazing group of scientists!
Special Issue: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions, published March 2020
Amy Fowler, April Blakeslee, Carolyn Tepolt, Alejandro Bortolus, Evangelina Schwindt, and Joana Dias
This special issue of "Aquatic Invasions" includes papers presented at the 10th International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions held in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, October 16–18, 2018.The publication of this special issue is supported by the International Association for Open Knowledge on Invasive Alien Species (INVASIVESNET).
The special issue can be found here: https://www.reabic.net/aquaticinvasions/2020/issue1.aspx
The editorial: Current research, pressing issues, and lingering questions in marine invasion science: lessons from the Tenth International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions (ICMB-X) (pp 1–10)
Amy E. Fowler, April M.H. Blakeslee, Alejandro Bortolus, Joana Dias, Carolyn K. Tepolt and Evangelina Schwindt
My contribution: Altered susceptibility to trematode infection in native versus introduced populations of the European green crab (pp 177-195)
April M.H. Blakeslee, Matt Ruocchio, Chris S. Moore and Carolyn L. Keogh
**This contribution includes former undergraduate in the lab, Matt Ruocchio and current PhD student, Chris Moore
I was very excited that my collaborative work with the McKenzie lab at DFO on parasites in native and non-native crabs in Newfoundland was recently published in MEPS. It also represents the first major piece of former MS student Becca Barnard's research in the lab!
The article can be found here: https://www.int-res.com/articles/meps2020/636/m636p091.pdf
Got some great help from my family to collect the Asian shorecrab from what may be its southern-most non-native site, located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Some massive male crabs there!
Exciting news! The March 2020 issue of Evolutionary Applications is a special issue that I co-edited, led the synthesis introduction, and contributed a manuscript.
Volume 13, Issue 3 Special Issue: An evolutionary perspective on marine bioinvasions: evolutionary history, adaptation, and species interactions
The special issue can be found: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/17524571/2020/13/3
The synthesis introduction: An evolutionary perspective on marine invasions
April M. H. Blakeslee
Carolyn K. Tepolt
My contribution: Founder effects and species introductions: A host versus parasite perspective
April M. H. Blakeslee
Linsey E. Haram
Gregory M. Ruiz
A. Whitman Miller
Congratulations to Emily Edmonds on her graduation from the Biology department in December 2019 and for receiving the Outstanding Senior Award. She also graduated Summa Cum Laude. In very exciting news, Emily found out recently that she was accepted into vet school and will be attending NC State in the fall!
Here are the words that I wrote about Emily that were read at the graduation ceremony:
"Emily has been part of the Blakeslee lab since her freshmen year. We met in fall 2016 at an ECU celebration of freshmen that had done well their first semester, and I realized right away that she is a special person. She is smart, funny, positive and hard-working. She frequently laughs and smiles and those qualities helped to brighten all moments, even those that were not so fun, like getting stuck in saltmarsh mud! She is also very amenable and adaptable – able to work in multiple systems in our lab over the last 3+ years. She didn’t mind getting dirty or wet and often kept us on task and accurate. She was never afraid to ask a question, and these questions were typically insightful and helpful. We will miss Emily so much when she graduates – she was an asset to our lab and I know she has a very bright future ahead of her."
So proud of you. We will miss you!!!!!
Congratulations to my PhD student Chris Moore for receiving two competitive awards for proposals he submitted to the Fall 2019 Sigma Xi Grants in Aid of Research competition and the Winter 2019 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) GIAR/FGST competition!! Very exciting news! Very proud!
Christofer wrote a very pun-ny (pun intentional!) blog about the zombie crab system we have been researching in my lab and also the research he specifically did for his honors thesis. It is both entertaining and informative. See link here: https://theethogram.com/2019/10/01/creature-feature-loxo-and-mud-crabs/
Congratulations to Emily Edmonds for an ECU story related to her research in our lab! (October 2019)
Emily was recently interviewed by ECU about her experiences doing undergraduate research at ECU and in our lab, particularly following her Undergraduate research award! Congratulations, Emily! The story is copied and pasted below, and the link is here:
Student Profile: Emily Edmonds
PUBLISHED OCT 01, 2019 BY MATTHEW SMITH
Undergraduate researcher Emily Edmonds is researching biodiversity along shorelines to better understand coastal ecosystems.
Mentor: Dr. April Blakeslee
Project Title: “Parasites as indicators of biodiversity in coastal shoreline habitats”
My research will show how hardened shorelines, like bulkheads, influence the biodiversity in a habitat by studying parasitized mudsnails collected from both “natural” sites and “bulkhead” sites. There is a strong correlation between parasites and their hosts, so if the parasites are found, then their specific downstream hosts are present. It can be challenging and time-consuming to survey for overall biodiversity, but measuring parasite diversity provides an efficient way to gain an understanding of what other hosts are present in the area.
How did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I attended the ECU EXCELS program my freshman year and met Dr. April Blakeslee. She told me all about her lab and encouraged me to pursue undergraduate research. I quickly became part of the lab family and they have been helping me achieve my goals ever since.
Why did you choose your research topic?A lot of the projects in Dr. Blakeslee’s lab use the parasites in mudsnails to answer broad questions about ecosystems because they are a common first host for trematodes (parasitic flatworms). Dr. Blakeslee, Christopher Moore and myself put together this idea partly because we had already been working on a project in Beaufort, N.C. It was a convenient location where we had already collected some data on parasites.
What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?
My favorite part has definitely been going sampling. We have the best time going out in the field and collecting the mudsnails to bring back to the lab. Everyone in our lab is amazing, so it’s always a fun day (even that time I fell backwards straight into the muck – thank goodness for waders).
What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?
It is a true time commitment because I’ve simply got to spend hours in the lab in order to dissect all the snails that are collected. It is extremely rewarding when the data starts to come together, but until that point, it mainly consists of sitting at the microscope and recording what I find, which can also be exciting at times!
Why is your research important for the average, everyday person?
My research will show us what shoreline hardening is doing to the biodiversity in that area. Everyone who lives or has been around the coast has seen bulkheads, and I think it should be important to everyone to see what exactly this “hardening” is doing to the organisms that live there compared to a natural shoreline.
What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?
Receiving an URCA award and presenting at a conference, both of which I was able to do thanks to the support from my lab members, were accomplishments that I will be forever proud of. Eventually, I’m hoping that everything I have learned through sampling, dissecting, and analyzing data will help me achieve my ultimate goal of getting into vet school.
How do you feel that participating in undergraduate research has helped prepare you for life after college?
Being an undergraduate researcher has helped me become more comfortable in professional settings, as well as more inclined to do things that I’ve never even thought of doing. Dr. Blakeslee has been extremely helpful by encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone, and by doing so I have achieved things I never believed to be possible in my undergraduate years at ECU. I started in her lab as a freshman, and as a senior I can confidently say that I will always be grateful for the experiences and the knowledge I will be taking away from my undergraduate research opportunity.
Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?
Reach out to your professors, or even faculty members who aren’t your professors! There are so many opportunities for undergraduates to get experience in research, but you have to reach out in order to take advantage of those opportunities.
Our lab participates in "What's Up Bio?" A way for freshmen and transfer students to see all the cool research happening in the Biology department. (September 2019)
With thanks to all the members of the lab who helped out at the event: Tim Lee, Chris Moore, Kyle Swanson, Laura Lukas, Zack Schlegel, and Emily Edmonds. A few pictures below.