10th December 2018 – Katherine O’Reilly, University of Notre Dame and National Sea Grant College Program

Katherine O'ReillyI’m Katherine (AKA Katie AKA @DrKatfish), and I’m a Ph.D. candidate studying aquatic ecology at the University of Notre Dame and currently a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C., USA.

My research (in three words): fish, freshwater, and food webs. My research (in slightly more than three words): I look at how fish connect aquatic habitats in the North American Great Lakes. I use a variety of techniques such as stable isotope analysis and otolith chemistry to understand what kinds of habitats fishes use and when they are using them. Understanding freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers, the animals that live there, and effects of humans is incredibly important in a world where freshwater is increasingly at a premium. We’ll be diving into a lot more on this topic during my week on BioTweeps!

Besides catching fish and hanging out on boats around the Great Lakes, you can find me this year in the halls of NOAA HQ as I complete my fellowship with NOAA’s National Sea Grant College program. I serve as Sea Grant’s Science Communications Specialist, which has been an amazing opportunity for me to get experience in doing #scicomm professionally. No matter where my future career path takes me after finishing up my Ph.D. (whether academia, government, or something else), the skills I’m learning during my fellowship year are going to serve me well.

Speaking of #scicomm, I’m so excited to be hosting BioTweeps during the best time of the year: #25DaysofFishmas! What is #25DaysofFishmas, you may ask? For the past two years, I’ve been sharing fish facts each day during December (along with terrible, terrible puns). It’s been an awesome way to connect people from all backgrounds, spread fishy holiday cheer, and maybe even teach people a little about science. While my #25DaysofFishmas started out focusing on Great Lakes fish species, the idea has caught on and now others are sharing fishes from around the world. I can’t wait to introduce BioTweeps to all the fishy fun this year!


26th November 2018 – Cecilia O’Leary, Stony Brook University

Cecilia OLearyI’m a quantitative ecologist and oceanographer. In general, I study marine animal size and age structures (what sizes and ages make up a population) & how environmental and biological processes drive this. We often call this field population dynamics. Lately, I’ve focused on the temporal population dynamics of fish and how climate influences those dynamics (i.e., how do fish numbers change over time?). I think about why we’re observing the number of fishes we see in the ocean, and if large-scale regional climate patterns can describe those changes in abundance. I’ve also studied marine mammals in the past.  I always try and tie my work back to the application of these findings. Often, that means how will a populations response to climate influence the effectiveness of our fisheries management. I enjoy studying both fisheries and marine mammals because of their direct ties to management and importance to the sociology and economy of many coastal places. I love field work and have been lucky enough to participate in fieldwork in the Florida Keys, Mojave Desert, Antarctica, and the Missouri River. The majority of my day to day work now is programming, primarily in #rstats. I’m also all about social change & inclusion in STEM, humanizing the Ph.D. process and the igniting open discussions about the struggles we face as students, and promoting women in STEM. Finally, I absolutely love to talk to students, especially young woman, about what life is actually like as a scientist, so feel free to contact me about speaking to your classroom! You can read more about me, my science work, and life as a woman in STEM here: https://rapidecology.com/2018/03/15/ecologist-spotlight-cecilia-oleary/

10th September 2018 – Phil Bouchet, University of Western Australia/Bangor University

Phil BouchetI am a jack of several trades – marine mammalogist by training, converted into shark/fish ecologist as a doctoral student. Born and raised in the French Alps, I spent the last decade Down Under and have only just moved back to the UK to start a new postdoctoral position at Bangor University. In this role, I will be quantifying and mapping risks to marine mammals and seabirds resulting from a number of anthropogenic threats such as fishing bycatch, vessel strikes and exposure to human-made underwater noise.

I have a keen interest in spatial ecology and statistical modelling as they relate to wildlife conservation problems, and always get a kick out of crunching numbers. My PhD research focused on hotspots of marine vertebrates, and how these aligned with prominent physical features of the ocean floor such as seamounts, submarine canyons, or offshore shoals and banks. Part of this work involved the development of a new generation of midwater baited underwater video cameras that can be used to film endangered species in deep-water environments. More recently, I have also been building abundance models for a number of cetacean species (humpback whales, bottlenose and snubfin dolphins) and distribution models for large pelagic fishes (tunas and mackerels).

Fun facts: My parents’ dog and I share the same name; my marine biologist wife @sarahmarley86 and I once conducted an observational study on seals (with big binoculars!) on what we later discovered was a nudist beach; I speak with a chiefly north American accent (the product of years of binge watching soap operas to learn English), which confuses the heck out of everybody. Sometimes even me!

This week, I want to chat about the oceans, as well as about all aspects of academic life, including uprooting one’s family in pursuit of postdocs, the challenges of the two-body problem, gender equality in STEM, and more.

Post-doctoral Marine Top Predator Ecologist
Bangor University – School of Ocean Sciences

Twitter: @pjbouchet
Website: https://pjbouchet.github.io/

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

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.

1st May 2017 – Teresa Mastracci, Indiana Biosciences Research Institute

Teresa MastracciHi, Biotweeps! I am a Senior Scientist at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute. A molecular and developmental biologist by training, I have a mad fascination for the study of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease characterized by the progressive loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Individuals with diabetes overcome this beta cell destruction or dysfunction by daily administration of exogenous insulin – a viable and long-standing therapy. However, the long-term complications associated with diabetes are never truly eliminated. So research efforts have recently moved to the generation of therapies that could fix, not just treat, the beta cell loss.

My lab uses the mouse and zebrafish model systems to study the signals that induce pancreatic progenitor cells to differentiate or insulin-producing beta cells to regenerate. Our work is motivated by the idea that once identified, we may be able to harness these growth, differentiation, or regeneration signals to create novel treatments for type 1 diabetes.

A Canadian by birth and at heart, I completed my BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph and my PhD in Cancer Genetics at the University of Toronto. I then moved south of the border for postdoctoral studies at Columbia University and began merging my interests in developmental biology and human disease by studying cell fate determination in mutant mouse models with dramatic diabetes phenotypes. My research interests eventually brought me to Indianapolis where I was recruited to the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (http://www.indianabiosciences.org ) — a non-profit research institute that brings together academic and industrial science. My lab has been going strong for a year and we’re excited about some pretty cool research that will be coming out soon!

When I’m not in the lab or writing, I absolutely love to travel. Seeing new places and meeting new people can open your mind to such extraordinarily unique perspectives. In fact, I’ve done some of my most creative scientific writing or experimental brainstorming on the plane rides home from somewhere. I’m excited to kick off May for the @biotweeps — I hope to share my love of developmental biology, diabetes research, and what’s new and exciting at IBRI!

Via Twitter you can reach me @tlmastracci or the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute @INBiosciences – keep up to date on exciting discoveries in general science, diabetes research, developmental biology as well as progress in biomedical research, technology and innovation in Indiana.

27th March 2017 – Alicia McConnell, Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School

Alicia McConnellHi Biotweeps! I am originally from North Carolina and was an Animal Science major as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. For graduate school, I stayed in NC and received my Ph.D. in cell biology from Duke University. I then moved with my lab across the US to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles during my second year to complete my graduate research on lung stem cell biology. My work was funded by NASA, who wanted to know the risk of cancer in astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation (harmful radiation found in space). To test this, we studied the behavior of lung stem cells in mice after exposure to simulated cosmic radiation and saw how that correlated to cancer development. This really interesting project led to the discovery that an important tumor suppressor gene, Trp53, is not only required for radiation response, but also controls normal lung stem cell division and differentiation, or the process of creating a more specialized cell. Seeing how changes in stem cell behavior directly affects cancer development made me want to better understand the process of tumor initiation and progression.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow studying cancer biology in the Zon lab at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. My research involves investigating the signaling pathways that cause normal pigmented cells, or melanocytes, to become cancerous. I use a unique zebrafish model to visualize the earliest stages of skin cancer formation. I love imaging, so be prepared for lots of microscopy and adorable fish pictures during my Biotweeps take over!

When I’m not in the lab, I am spending time outdoors hiking with my husband and two dogs, Roxie (a one-eyed pit mix) and Charlie (a Border Collie). I am also an avid aerialist and dancer; I love being upside down! Follow me on twitter @DrAMcConnell.