28th May 2018 – Sabah Ul-Hasan, UC Merced

Sabah Ul-HasanSabah Ul-Hasan is a Quantitative & Systems Biology PhD Candidate at the University of California, Merced advised under Dr. Tanja Woyke at the Joint Genome Institute. Sabah‘s educational background stems from three B.S. degrees in Biologevy, Chemistry, and Sustainability & Environmental Studies from the University of Utah and an M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. Sabah‘s thesis work focuses on venomous host-microbe interactions with the California cone snail serving as a model system. In addition to Sabah‘s interests in coevolution, venomics, and marine ecosystems, Sabah holds a passion for science communication and spearheads an array of organizations from The Biota Project (@thebiotaproject), an after-school STEM workshop high school students, and a data science graduate student group. Sabah intends to pursue a data scientist position post PhD, with special attention to intersectionality and open access.

This week we’ll be discussing venomous animals. What constitutes a venomous animal? Is there a difference between venomous and poisonous animals? What is the scientific history of venoms and who are the main groups studying venoms today? We’ll then bring up some big topics in the current field of microbiology and draw connections between these two realms.

Are you working on venomous animals with an interest to pursue their associated microbiomes, and/or know someone who is doing that kind of work? If so, send a personal message to Sabah to partake in the venomous host-microbe consortium. The aim of the consortium is to build a collaborative network of scientists for establishing a strong foundation in big data and associated resources. For example, why throw the rest of that snake tissue away when someone else on the other side of the world can use a section of it and perhaps find out something interesting and new too?!

Let’s use communication, collaboration, and citizen science make science great again together!

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21st May 2018 – Manuel Spitschan, University of Oxford

Manuel SpitschanDr Manuel Spitschan (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford) read psychology at the University of St Andrews and completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. After a short post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University/VA Palo Alto, he joined the University of Oxford as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow in September 2017, and was appointed as a Biomedical Sciences Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College in October 2017. Dr Spitschan is interested in visual and non-visual responses to light in humans, the biological mechanisms in the retina that mediate it, and the precise quantification and display of visual stimuli to examine these responses.

14th May 2018 – Isa Betancourt, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Isa BetancourtMy name is Isa (pronounced Ee-sa & short for Isabelle). I work in the Entomology Department of the oldest continuously operating natural history museum in the Americas: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, est. 1812 and located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I work daily with the moth and butterfly specimens that are a part of the Academy’s historic insect collection. The collection contains 4 million insect specimens representing over 100,000 species, some of which are two centuries old! When I’m not immersed in the Academy’s insect collection, you’ll find me out collecting insects from center city Philadelphia fountains as part of my urban entomology project that seeks to examine biodiversity and evolution in the city. In addition to working full time as a Curatorial Assistant of Entomology, I am a master’s student studying communication at Drexel University with the goal of becoming an evermore effective insect ambassador.

During the week we will discus insect biodiversity and look behind-the-scenes at the museum’s active research collection. We will explore insect collection contents, personnel, research, and general operations.

Since the week kicks off with Mother’s Day, insect & spider mothers will be an overarching theme throughout the week. Various parental care strategies are used by these mothers. For example, while some terrestrial arthropods lay their eggs and promptly fly off, others carefully guard their eggs and even give their offspring a ride on mama’s back when the eggs hatch. Did you know that there is even a spider mother who feeds herself to her offspring?! This is only the tip of the iceberg! Get ready to explore the vast range of parental techniques in the terrestrial arthropod world.

In addition to the collection work and research, I host an insect-themed live broadcast called the #bugscope every Tuesday afternoon. It features live insects, insect collections, research, guest experts and more. I invite you to check it out and join a live broadcast sometime! You can find it and follow along at www.periscope.tv/isabetabug.

7th May 2018 – Karen Bondoc, University of Jena, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Karen BondocKaren recently finished her PhD in Natural Sciences in Friedrich-Schiller-Universitatet-Jena in Germany. Her thesis was focused on understanding how unicellular microalgae called diatoms respond to food and sex pheromones. Previously, she worked with chemical defenses of sea cucumbers for her MSc thesis in University of the Philippines. She also helped developed a passive sampling device for detecting marine toxins from harmful algal blooms. Due to her penchant for learning, she has a tendency to be drawn to interdisciplinary studies and has changed research topics from time to time.

Currently, she is the science head of a science communication initiative in the Philippines developed by Filipino scientists called Aghamazing! (a fusion of the Tagalog word agham which means science and the English word amazing). You can follow Aghamazing! at facebook.com/aghamazing.ph/

On her free time, she does travel photography and international culture-related outreaches. You can find her tweeting about science in @pureblissofsun.

30th April 2018 – Auriel Fournier, Mississippi State University

Auriel Fournier_18Dr. Auriel Fournier is a postdoctoral researcher at Mississippi State University where she works as a part of the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network (gomamn.org) using structured decision making to inform conservation decision making in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Auriel received her PhD from the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Arkansas in 2017 where she completed her dissertation studying the autumn migration ecology of rails. She is passionate about wetlands, birds and trying to understand their migration while making the conservation and scientific communities more diverse.

23rd April 2018 – Nina O’Hanlon – University of the Highlands and Islands

Nina O'HanlonI am a seabird ecologist with particular interests in foraging ecology, movement behaviour, zoology and anthropogenic impacts on species and habitats. However, I am fascinated by all aspects of ornithology and conservation.

Currently, I am a post-doc at the Environmental Research Institute working on two NPA projects: Circular Ocean and APP4SEA.  For Circular Ocean, I was recently involved in a review to provide a baseline assessment of current knowledge concerning the impact of marine plastic on seabirds in northern Europe and the Arctic region; and I am now focusing on how we can improve our knowledge of nest incorporation of plastic by seabirds. As part of APP4SEA I am working on a package focused on the ecological impact of oil spills on seabirds.

My first move into the seabird world was during my Masters where I got to spend the summer on the beautiful Calf of Man, helping to investigate the impact of rats on the island’s seabirds as part of a planned rat eradication. That led to my PhD at the University of Glasgow investigating spatial variation in Herring Gull traits across south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland, focusing on the gulls’ eggs, resource use and foraging behaviours – carrying out fieldwork on several islands and coastal colonies.

As a birder and bird ringer, most of my spare time is spent outdoors, especially along the stunning Caithness coast of north Scotland. My love of birds and science has also led me to be involved with the BOU‘s Engagement Committee as a Social Media Support Officer and with British Birds as a director focusing on communication and social media.

9th April 2018 – Begoña Iñarritu, UNAM & National Commission for Protected Areas in Mexico

Begoña IñarrituI studied Biology at the National Autonomus University of Mexico (UNAM). Throughout the career I got lost (or find myself?) in botanical or paleonthological studies. It was not until I arrive in 2013 to Dr. Rodrigo Medellins Lab at the Ecology Institute where bats captivated me with their amazing life’s history and remembered me that I was a curious naturalist searching for interesting behaviors in animals.

I got the “Young Explorers Grant” on January 2016 for my thesis project about maternal care in bats and got my Biology degree on 2017. I am editor of the blog science “La huella del jaguar”. Nowadays I work as one of the National Commissioner advisors at The Natural Protected Areas Commission in Mexico (CONANP).

My research interest is animal behavior and cognitive sciences and I’m passionate about science communication. I always wondered why animals behave the way they behave and how they accomplish it, so I’m interested in testing hypothesis about perception, communication and bat’s problem solving. Even though we will never know what is like to be a bat, as T. Nagel exposed in a philosophical essay, the behavioral description of animals in the wild represent a challenge in one hand and a key part for the comprehension of the natural world in the other, many times depreciated for researchers and journals.

I collaborate in the NatGeo Series “Conservation Planet”. My work was to show and explain what we are studying from bats that lives in mayan temples. Also to highlight the importance of the Bat Volcano conservation.

I also collaborate with Anand Varma training the bats for the photoshoot!

Last year I was recruited by FOX to make some promos for the “Women’s Football Last Play”. I talked about the natural behavior of the sports mascot, analogous to the girls moves on playground.

Lately I am working at CONANP (The Natural Protected Areas Comission of Mexico) as a Commissioner advisor in conservation matter.