19th February 2018 – Meghan Barrett – Drexel University

Meghan BarrettMeghan Barrett is a PhD student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. She studies arthropod neuroanatomy (a.k.a. bug brains), human and environmentally friendly pesticides, and bee diversity. Meghan is just getting started with her thesis work where she hopes to focus on the dimorphic males of the desert species Centris pallida (a beautiful, pale, fuzzy bee with huge ‘chaps’ on the legs).

Meghan is also earning her Masters in Undergraduate STEM Education through the Drexel PROFESS program, studying evidence-based techniques for teaching biology. In her ‘spare’ time, she enjoys pairing her love of science with her love of writing – she earned her B.S. in Biology and English/Creative Writing at SUNY Geneseo in New York. Meghan’s ecological poetry can be found on her website, meghan-barrett.com, right next to blog posts, a podcast interview, science articles, a bioethics play, and an interactive high-fantasy gamebook app.

The last of her time is spent kayaking/hiking/rock climbing with her fiancé, Alex, watching League of Legends eSports (her current favorite team in the world is Gigabyte Marines but TSM is obviously the best in the NALCS), playing with her cross-eyed cat, Nyx, and writing, then burying, her fiction novels.

Meghan is excited to talk about science in drama, insects, writing, and undergraduate STEM education on Biotweeps, and can’t wait to converse about all her favorite topics!

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12th February 2018 – Adam Marcus, Emory University

Adam MarcusAdam Marcus, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Marcus’ laboratory (marcuslab.com) studies how cancers invade and metastasize, with the goal of developing treatments that target cancer metastasis. Dr. Marcus’ research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, the Winship Cancer Institute, private foundations, and through philanthropy. Dr. Marcus is a former Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar, has over 75 scientific publications, and has received national and local awards for his research and teaching.  He has given numerous seminars on his research to both scientists and the general public. He was a recent TEDx speaker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgntY0dOf_c) and part of the Atlanta Innovative Index and Atlanta 40under40. Dr. Marcus serves as the Director of the Emory Integrated Cellular Imaging Core (ici.emory.edu), which provides cutting-edge imaging technologies to scientific investigators, as well as Director of Graduate Studies for the Cancer Biology PhD program.

Dr. Marcus also leads a science education outreach program, Citizen Science HD (citizensciencehd.com). The goals of this program are to use STEM-based initiatives in K-12 classrooms to stimulate critical thinking, diversity, and enthusiasm for the sciences. This program has visited over 35 schools, 150 classrooms, and 3000 students. In this role, he serves as the Director of the Center for Advancing Health and Diversity through Citizen Science, which is funded through the NIH. Dr. Marcus has received institutional, regional, and national awards for his teaching, outreach, and research. He also is on Twitter and can be found at @notmadscientist

5th February 2018 – Morgan Jackson, University of Guelph

Morgan JacksonHi! I’m Morgan Jackson (@bioinfocus), and I’ll be your BioTweeps host for the week. To poorly paraphrase a classic Steve Miller Band song,

I’m an entomologist, I’m a taxonomist
I’m an educator, and I’m a science communicator
I do my research in a museum
I’m a PhD Candidate, I’m a father
I’m a terrible songwriter
and I want to share it all with you (woooooo woooooo).

I work in the University of Guelph Insect Collection on the taxonomy and systematics of flies. I’m fascinated by biodiversity, and have spent the last decade trying to figure out the identity, names, and relationships of species of stilt-legged flies (family Micropezidae) from around the world by spending most of my time either in front of a computer (aligning and analyzing DNA data) or in front of a microscope (aligning and analyzing morphological data). The species that I primarily work on are found throughout Central and South America, where they’ve gone largely unnoticed and unstudied. By giving them names and placing them onto the larger Tree of Life I hope to raise their profile (even just teeny, tiny bit) and allow other scientists and naturalists to observe, identify, and make new discoveries about their natural history, behaviour, and biology.

Most of my research is dependent on specimens archived and cared for in natural history museums around the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit dozens of collections to explore the hidden treasures they keep safe. Museums and natural history collections are my happy place, and I’m just as likely to geek out over cabinets and cases as I am the incredible biodiversity contained within them. Needless to say, I’m a big advocate for museums and natural history collections, and love reading about and sharing collections-based research.

So what are we going to talk about this week? All things entomological. Got a bug you want to know more about, or a photo of something you’ve seen but didn’t know what it was? Send it along and we’ll figure it out. Curious whether there are still species left to discover (spoiler: yes, plenty), or why taxonomists are constantly changing the names of species just as you’ve learned them? We’ll talk about all those things, plus how social media & smart phones are opening up new opportunities for natural history research. And seeing as I’m currently teaching the very university course that got me hooked on insects, expect to learn alongside my students as I prepare my lectures, and I’ll share my experiences as an early career scientist learning what it takes to plan, prepare, and teach a course that covers 50% of Earth’s known biodiversity.

Strap in and get those insect questions read; it’s gonna be a buggy ride!

29/01/18 Robin Hayward (University of Stirling)

Robin HaywardHello Biotweeps! I’m Robin, a first year PhD student in the department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University Of Stirling. My research focusses on the impacts of selective logging on rainforest flora in South East Asia and I am particularly interested in the way that tree communities regenerate following human disturbance. Because of this, I’ll be spending a lot of my time over the next few years either furiously reading journal articles or staring intently at saplings and seedlings in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Malaysia. To follow along with that (there’s amazingly some wifi in rainforests now!) you can check out my everyday twitter account: @CanopyRobin.

Before starting this PhD I was based at the University of York for four years, where I studied for my Masters degree in Environmental Science. As you might imagine from the subject title, this was a pretty broad course but I quickly realised my passion lay in forests and was soon doing everything I could to pick all the forestry and ecology modules available. At the end of my first year, I also discovered the immense joy that is roped tree climbing and that (brilliantly!) this was a skill that could be used to conduct great research in an exciting environment high above the forest floor. Over the following year I got trained in canopy access, found a supervisor, planned a project, and conducted two months of epiphyte research in Indonesia, which eventually culminated in a Masters thesis and my first academic journal publication. I have been in love with the canopy ever since.

This week I want to chat with you all about these awesome subjects and the techniques involved in studying them but it would be great if we could also have some conversations about the slightly less academic side of academia. I want to talk about identity and inspiration within science and, having had the privilege of working with several school groups in the field, I’m also interested in discussing some of the difficulties and rewards of engaging with young people in settings well outside their usual comfort zone.

Hopefully we’ll all get to know each other a bit better as the week goes on so I’ll leave my bio at that. I can’t wait to get this conversation started!

11th December 2017 – Joanna Berger, University of Edinburgh

Joanna BergerJoanna Berger obtained a Master of Science in Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare from the University of Edinburgh, graduating with Distinction in 2016. Her dissertation research was an independent study of the effect of a novel enrichment device on the territories, social structure, and behavior of African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) at the ground-level of an aviary. Joanna has presented her dissertation research for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance Conference and for the Gateway Parrot Club. She has also given presentations on animal behavior for an ethology conference in Ecuador and multiple veterinary centers.

In January, 2016, Joanna founded the Animal Behavior Consultancy LLC. She provides in-home behavior consultations and positive reinforcement training sessions for companion animals. She also writes a regular avian behavior column for BirbObserver newsmag and shares information about pet behavior and training over Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. Joanna’s “biology” career began when she worked part-time as a research assistant in the Edmund Brodie III Biology Lab at the University of Virginia under the supervision of Joel Grothe while she was obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Between graduating with her Psychology degree and traveling to Scotland for her Master’s studies, Joanna spent five years working as a veterinary nurse in northern Virginia at an exotics practice and a surgical center. She has attended animal training courses with Dr. Susan Friedman, Dr. Ian Dunbar and the Karen Pryor Academy. In the past year, Joanna has trained many parrots and dogs and helped many people understand animal behavior.

4th December 2017 – Sara Cannon, University of British Columbia

Sara Cannon]I’m Sara Cannon, a Ph.D. student and Ocean Leaders Graduate Fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada (where I also recently finished my M.Sc.). Before moving to Vancouver, I lived for five years in Santa Cruz, California, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research interests involve attempting to understand the ways that people affect the health of coral reefs, and how the health of coral reefs affects people.

I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in rural Maryland, and water has always been an important part of my life. My parents were avid scuba divers and I was exposed to the underwater world at a very young age. I have always wanted to be a marine scientist.

My M.Sc. research was based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (if you’re interested, you can read more about the project here). I worked in the Micronesia region before; as an undergraduate student, I worked in the Ulithi Atoll, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia as a part of One People One Reef (a group of community members and researchers combining science and tradition to find innovative ways to manage marine resources). I worked with communities in Ulithi from 2012 – 2016. I hope to continue working in the Marshall Islands and the wider Micronesia region in the future.

As a graduate student in Geography at the UBC, I have had an opportunity to benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of the department through being exposed to approaches that are not traditionally a part of a graduate education in marine ecology. Students in Geography are encouraged to participate in research that may be outside of the purview of their graduate studies; for example, I recently co-authored a study investigating gender and racial biases in how presenters were received at an academic conference (the publication is currently in review). My coauthors and I hope that this work will inspire new ways for conference organizers to create welcoming environments for underrepresented minorities at academic conferences.

I’ve learned a lot about science, conservation, and community outreach through all of these experiences. My primary interests involve integrating biology and social science to understand how human activities impact coral reef health, and how the health of reefs affects the people who depend on them. In this way, I hope my work will give communities the tools they need to make empowered decisions about resource management.

27th November 2017 – Patrice Jones, University of Newcastle

Patrice JonesHi Biotweeps,

I’m Patrice Jones (@patricerubyj) – a current PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle (Australia) with a research interest in environment-gene interactions in nutrition. My PhD focuses on UV-sensitive vitamins, and aims to examine the potential influences our UV-environment and genes may have in modifying the role of vitamins in health and disease. This involves studying how exposure to UV may stimulate both the production and degradation of important vitamins, and how genetics may influence how we respond to these vitamins in our diet (nutrigenetics). This research is interdisciplinary and allows me to regularly collaborate with researchers in other fields such as biomedical sciences, chemistry, physics and anthropology.

I completed a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Newcastle in 2015 and this background has shaped me into the ultimate ‘foodie’ – studying now as a nutrition scientist but still putting my food science knowledge into being an enthusiastic baker in my free time. Food is a central part of all our lives (everyone eats!) so part of the excitement of studying nutrition is that anyone can grasp aspects of my research. However nutrition can be an area of great confusion, with a flood of information available. The expression “make your science digestible” is hilariously relevant when you’re nutrition scientist, but part of being in this area for me has increasingly become about helping people navigate this space by communicating the science!

But I am not only about communicating the science within my field! I am a growing advocate for science outreach that promotes and inspires others in all STEMM paths. Being a first year PhD candidate, my list of #scicomm contributions is small but increasing! This year I have had the opportunity to write a science-based article for Lateral Magazine, be a key organiser of local Pint of Science Newcastle 2017 and act as a mentor at my university for students considering study in STEMM.

During my week hosting Biotweeps, I will also be attending the 10th Asia Pacific Conference of Clinical Nutrition in Adelaide (Australia), so expect lots of discussion on emerging research, as well as discussions into my current research area and a lot of nutrition/food myth busting.