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.

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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.

20th November 2017 – Brit Garner, University of Montana; SciShow Psych

Brit GarnerBrit Garner holds a B.S. in zoology from the University of Florida with a minor in wildlife ecology and conservation and M.S. in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Projects during her undergraduate and graduate degrees included phylogeography of brown darters and an endemic West Virginia snail, invasive herpetology in the Everglades, shark attack risk assessments in Volusia County, Florida, and ancient DNA analysis of seals and sea lions from Alaska. After spending a semester as an adjunct professor in North Carolina teaching both biology and human anatomy & physiology, she moved to Montana in 2013 and spent a year in the MFA program for science and natural history filmmaking at Montana State University. Despite enjoying creating videos and video content, Brit found herself missing the applied sciences, and transferred to the University of Montana in the spring of 2015, where she is currently a PhD student in wildlife biology. Though Brit has an academic background in conservation genetics and marine biology, she has recently expanded her research to include Big Data analytics for conserving global biodiversity. Some examples of these applications include using machine learning algorithms and text mining to find patterns in IUCN Red List decisions and using data visualizations to provide managers with prioritization schemata. While at MSU, Brit solidified her passion for using video as a medium for science communication, and found a professional outlet for this passion in Missoula through the Complexly family of content on YouTube, where she now hosts SciShow Psych. In her free time, Brit enjoys performing in musical theatre, tutoring, teaching, and engaging in other science communication efforts via avenues like Letters to a Pre-Scientist, Skype a Scientist, We Are Montana in the Classroom Role Models program, and a local non-profit she founded in 2017- the Missoula Interdisciplinary Science League (MISL).

13th November 2017 – Brittany N. Lasseigne, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Brittany LasseigneBrittany Lasseigne, PhD, is a Senior Scientist in the lab of Dr. Richard Myers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and a 2016-2017 Prevent Cancer Foundation Fellow. Dr. Lasseigne received a BS in Biological Engineering from the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University and a PhD in Biotechnology Science and Engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. As a graduate student, she studied the role of DNA methylation and copy number variation in cancer, identifying novel diagnostic biomarkers and prognostic signatures associated with kidney cancer. In her current position, Dr. Lasseigne’s research focus is the application of genetics and genomics to complex human diseases. Her recent work includes the identification of gene variants linked to ALS, characterization of gene expression patterns in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and development of non-invasive biomarker assays. Dr. Lasseigne is currently focused on integrating genomic data, functional annotations, and patient information with machine learning across complex diseases to discover novel mechanisms in disease etiology and progression, identify therapeutic targets, and understand genomic changes associated with patient survival. Based upon those analyses, she is building tools to share with the scientific community. She is also passionate about science education and community outreach.

6th November – Kristine Richter, BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Kristine RichterDr Kristine Korzow Richter is a Marie Curie Fellow working in BioArCh (Archaeology Department) at the University of York on proteomics of archaeological fish remains in Prof Matthew Collins’ lab. She received her PhD in biology and astrobiology from Penn State University. She works in an interdisciplinary field and regularly interacts with people in geoscience, astrobiology, biology, chemistry, and archaeology.

She is interested in preservation of biomolecules in the archaeological record, use of animals by historic and prehistoric populations, and the use of the archeological record to inform current animal protection and conservation management strategies.

Her current project, Molecular Ancient Fish Remains Identification (MAFRI) aims to use collagen sequences to aid in fish bone identification in the archaeological record to reconstruct ancient diet and fishing (or fish farming) methods. This method, ZooMS (Zooardchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) is protein barcoding for archaeological bones. She is also part of a broader team working on ancient fish remains across the globe creating a method to reconstruct the dynamics of ancient and historic fish populations to inform current conservation and management practices of commercially important fishing stocks.

Science knowledge has become necessary from everything from making informed personal health choices to understanding our technology; from energy production to feeding the world’s population; from exploring the depths of our oceans to traversing the expanse of space. Understanding how to integrate the increasing amount of science knowledge into daily living necessitates an understanding of science itself. Therefore, in addition to her research, she is invested in science education, both in traditional classrooms and non-classroom environments.

She has taught biology, archaeology, and, pedagogy classes at Penn State University, the University of Bradford, and the University of York. She also spend time talking to the general public about archaeology and ecology. Her outreach activities have involved planning multiple week long classes for children to speaking engagements aimed at archaeology and ecology public groups. Most of the outreach that she does now is related to aquatic archaeology and ecology under the banner of Fish ‘n’ Ships. Follow them on twitter @FishNShipsUK or find them at fish-n-ships.palaeome.org

Follow her on twitter: @dkkorzow
Find her online: zalag.org

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.