23rd October 2017 – Alyson Brokaw, Texas A&M University

Alyson BrokawI am a third year PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Doctoral Degree Program at Texas A&M University. Broadly, I am interested in sensory ecology and animal communication, with a focus on bats. As a diverse group with over 1300 species, bats are a great system to investigate a range of ecological and evolutionary questions. It doesn’t hurt that they are also cute (#TeamBat)!

 I work in the Smotherman lab, where we study the ecology and neurobiology of bats (www.smothermanbatlab.com). Recent work in the lab has focused on singing and communication signals in Mexican free-tailed bats, networking strategies in groups of bats, neurological and muscular control of bat ecology, and territoriality and singing behavior in African bats. For my dissertation I am exploring how bats use olfaction for foraging, communication and navigation. I plan to address these topics using a combination of neurophysiology, histology, lab and field based behavioral experiments.

 I got my start in field ecology research as an undergraduate student at Cornell University, working with tree swallows in the Winkler lab. I also have a Master’s degree from Humboldt State University, where I studied the communication signals in Yuma myotis (a common small brown bat found in the western United States). I have been involved in field work on swallows in Argentina, cuckoos in Arizona, coyote and kit fox in Utah, migratory tree bats in California and leaf-nosed bats in Mexico.

 As a bonus, I am hosting Biotweeps at the same time as Bat Week (batweek.org), so expect lots of discussions about bat ecology, evolution and conservation, with as well as a mix of personal experience, outreach, #scicomm and #phdlife.

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16th October 2017 – Liz Martin-Silverstone, University of Southampton and University of Bristol

Liz Martin-Silverstone.pngHi all! I’m Liz Martin-Silverstone, and I recently completed my PhD in palaeontology at the University of Southampton (but also associated with the University of Bristol) in the UK. My research is based on biomechanics and mass estimation in pterosaurs, the extinct flying reptiles that lived alongside dinosaurs (but are not actually dinosaurs!). I’m currently looking for post-doc positions, and working as a research assistant on a project involving zebrafish for a few months in the meantime.

I completed my BSc in palaeontology at home at the University of Alberta in Canada, where I became fascinated with pterosaurs, and got my first bit of research experience. I then decided to move to the UK and pursue grad school, doing my MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol, where I began working on pterosaur bone mass. Fortunately, my MSc project led into a PhD project, and I moved to Southampton to continue this work. I’m currently more interested in the evolution of the air sac system in birds and pterosaurs, and would like to work on this in the future. I’m a big scicomm fan (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this!), and currently help produce a podcast called Palaeocast, and also volunteer with a Canadian science blogging community called Science Borealis.

My week at Biotweeps is going to focus a bit on my own research, palaeontology in general (I’ll try to dispel some of those common palaeo myths), and a bit about what I’m doing now both in terms of research and scicomm. I’d also like to talk a bit about some of the issues I had to overcome as a PhD student, such as funding and university-related issues, and how these things can affect students.

9th October 2017 – Nafisa Jadavji, Carleton University

Nafisa JadavjiDr. Nafisa M. Jadavji is a Neuroscientist. Currently, she is postdoctoral fellow researcher and instructor at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada. She completed her doctoral training at McGill University in Montréal, Canada and postdoctoral training at the Charité Medical University in Berlin, Germany.  Her post-doctoral research focuses on understanding how dietary and genetic deficiencies in one carbon metabolism, specifically, folate metabolism, affects neurological function over the lifespan using a mouse model. Her research has been published in Behavioural Brain Research, Biochemical Journal, Neuroendocrinology, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Human Molecular Genetics, European Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Pediatric Reviews, Neural Regeneration Research, Environmental Epigenetics, Neurobiology of disease, and Neuroscience. Dr. Jadavji has been funded by the Federation of European Neuroscience Society (Europe), NeuroWIND (Germany), Canadian Association for Neuroscience, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Science & Engineering Research Council (Canada), International Brain Research Organization, Parkinson’s disease Foundation (US), Burroughs Wellcome Fund (US) and Fonds de la recherché en santé Québec (Canada). She is a regular reviewer for the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Neurotoxicity Research, Journal of Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience. Currently, Dr. Jadavji is an Editorial member for Updates in Nutritional Disorders and Therapy and JSM Nutritional Disorders Journals. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) and a board member of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences.

2nd October 2017 – Sandra Bustamante-Lopez, Swansea University, VEDAS CII

Sandra LopezSandra is a postdoctoral researcher who works with biosensors to continuously monitor analytes, such as glucose in the blood. She believes using cell-based sensors can transform how we monitor other human and animals maladies, track athletes performance, and detect plant pathogens. Sandra worked at Boston University, MIT and Texas A&M University in biomedical optics, biomaterials for drug delivery, immunology and oncology research.

As a part-time college student, full-time worker Sandra encountered countless “you will never finish that” yet she graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Biomedical laboratory and clinical sciences. Her Ph.D. advisor relocated midway and Sandra followed the research from Texas, USA to Wales, UK. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Her interests includes biomedical applications of renewable nanomaterials, and microfluidic devices to load cells for biosensing and drug delivery. She was a finalist at Swansea FameLab 2016 and enjoys science communication in Spanish and English. In Colombia, Sandra works with Vedas Investigación e Innovación (@vedascii) a non-profit organization developing  local, and international collaborations and projects. Sandra is a foodie, and she is a fan of “Forensic Files”. Currently, She is based at Swansea University, UK and often travels back home to Medellin, Colombia and Boston, United States.

25th September 2017 – Alex Thornton & Meagan Dewar, International Penguin Early Career Scientists (IPECS)

Meagan & AlexInternational Penguin Early Career Scientists (IPEC; ) is an international network dedicated to providing career development, networking, and other educational opportunities and support to early career penguin professionals in academia, NGOs, private industry, and beyond. You can learn more at .

Alex Thornton () is a marine ecologist based in Alaska, USA, and is interested in how polar seabirds and marine mammals respond to environmental change. He’s a life-long penguin nerd and co-founded IPECS with Meagan Dewar. You can learn more about him at .

Dr Meagan Dewar is a lecturer in Environmental Science from . Meagan’s research focuses on the microbial composition of marine wildlife and understanding what factors influence the microbial composition and its importance. Meagan is the co-founder of IPECS with

18th September 2017- Hannah Brazeau, Algoma University

Hannah BrazeauHello everyone! I’m Hannah, a final year BSc. Biology student at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Prior to starting my undergraduate degree, I trained as a laboratory technician through the biotechnology program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. The education I received at St. Lawrence deepened my interest in environmental science and gave me the push I needed to pursue a degree in science.

 I am a big-time fan of plants, with an interest in plant-plant interactions and invasive plant species. Now that I am in the final year of my degree, I will be writing my honours thesis in Dr. Brandon Schamp’s plant community ecology lab at Algoma U. You can learn more about the work going on his lab by visiting: http://people.auc.ca/schamp/index.html

While I am at Biotweeps, I will be aiming to give you all a window into the day-to-day experiences of studying biology at the undergraduate level. I will be discussing what it is like to study science at a small university, starting a career in science later in life, early career engagement in science communication, and of course, the fascinating world of plants. There may also be a few Star Trek references thrown in (sorry, I can’t help myself).

 I will also be dedicating a full day to discussing general advice for new students that are just starting out at university for the first time, and I am looking forward to hearing and sharing some words of wisdom from you all.

11th September 2017 – Nicholas Pilfold, San Diego Zoo Global

Nicholas PilfoldDr. Nicholas Pilfold is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute of Conservation Research for San Diego Zoo Global. Nicholas is a large carnivore biologist focused mainly on bear species, but his research also extends to large cats.

Nicholas leads and collaborates on projects for four large carnivore species: polar bears, African leopards, Andean bears, and giant pandas. Nicholas’ research is focused on several themes within spatial and population ecology. His work includes assessment of diet and foraging patterns, reproductive and mating behavior, human-carnivore conflict resolution, as well as understanding the role a changing climate has on large carnivore persistence. Nicholas is interested in identifying broad ecological patterns useful to the conservation of all large carnivores.

Nicholas earned his bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the University of British Columbia and his doctorate in Ecology at the University of Alberta. His interest in large carnivore research was initially spurred while volunteering on small wildlife reserves in South Africa. Prior to joining San Diego Zoo Global, Nicholas worked with researchers at the University of Alberta and Environment and Climate Change Canada.