September 28th 2015 – Auriel Fournier, University of Arkansas – Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Auriel FournierI’m a PhD Candidate with the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Arkansas. I’m passionate about bird migration and wetlands and my research focuses on trying to understand how wetland management in the fall impacts different bird communities. My current focus is on rails, a type of secretive wetland bird. I’m also very passionate about diversity (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc) in science.

August 24th 2015 – Rebecca Barak, Northwestern University/Chicago Botanic Garden

I am a PhD candidate in Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden in Illinois, USA.  I study restoration ecology, the science of rehabilitating degraded ecosystems. In particular, I study plant community ecology in the tallgrass prairie. The prairie – native grassland dotted with colorful wildflowers – once covered the Midwestern United States. Restored prairies are built to regain habitat lost to farming, but they aren’t as diverse as remnant prairies, they have fewer coexisting plant species. Diverse prairies are more functional, supporting more wildlife and fewer weeds. What makes restored prairies diverse? To answer this question, I study the effects of management, like seed mixes and prescribed fire, on multiple measures of plant biodiversity, including phylogenetic and functional diversity. I also study seed biology to learn which seed traits may impact establishment of planted species in restored habitats. I work in the field, greenhouse and lab to better understand the connections between restoration decisions and plant biodiversity.

For my week on Biotweeps I’ll be tweeting about PLANTS!!! I’ll also tweet about restoration ecology, the prairie ecosystem, seed biology, citizen science, and highlights from summer field research in restored prairies in and around Chicago. You can find me on twitter (@BeckSamBar) or at my website (

August 17th 2015 – Irene Andreu, Simon Fraser University

Hi there! I am a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. My topic of research is the use of nanoparticles as nanotherapeuticals. I did my undergrad, my masters and my PhD at the University of Zaragoza (Spain). I have to say that I am a bit of an intruder-although my nanoparticles are for biomedical applications, my academic background is purely in Physics. I am pretty sure you guys will help me a lot to understand the biological implications of my research during the week I will be hosting the account. In exchange, I offer to show you state of the art nanotechnology research and maybe we can think together of novel biological applications?

The topic of my PhD dissertation was the use of magnetic nanoparticles as magnetic hyperthermia agents. Magnetic hyperthermia is a novel oncological therapy in which magnetic nanoparticles are used to increase the temperature of the tumour area using an externally-applied alternating magnetic field. During my thesis, I focused on the role that magnetic interactions play in the heating performance of the magnetic nanoparticles. I did a research stay at the University of British Columbia where I studied the use of magnetic nanoparticles as drug delivery agents and their toxicity. I even got to grow my own cells, which is something pretty cool considering that I didn’t hear about mitochondria since I was in high school.

I started my new position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Gates research group (@Gates_Group) in 4D Labs (@4D_labs) just last June, so I am still getting used to the lab dynamics and equipment. In the Gates we do all kind of cool nanodevices for a myriad of applications, including, of course, biomedical applications. I hope I can show some of our recent results to get you as excited as I am about the promising applications of nanotechnology! I also enjoy getting involved in sci comm activities, such as Science Alive, where we show real research labs to grad 12 kids.

Hit me up on Twitter at @iandreunano, where I tweet about nanoscience, day-to-day research problems, and other topics that concern me- such as cute animals. I am looking forward to sharing my week with you!

August 10th 2015 – Ben Ashby, University of Exeter

Ben AshbyI am currently a postdoc at the University of Exeter (based in Falmouth, Cornwall), where I develop theory on the evolution of hosts and their parasites. I am especially interested in host-parasite coevolution (reciprocal adaptations) and the complex feedbacks that exist between ecological and evolutionary processes.

My research covers a wide range of topics, from the evolution of resistance, infectivity and virulence, to the evolution of sex, mating behaviour and sociality. Recently, I’ve been looking at ways to better integrate theory on ecology and evolution. I use mathematical models and simulations to understand how genetic (e.g. epistasis, specificity) and environmental factors (e.g. spatial structure, contact patterns) affect coevolutionary dynamics. While my own research is theoretical, I work closely with a number of empiricists to test theory.

This week I’ll be at the 2015 meeting of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (#eseb2015) in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’ll be tweeting about the conference, along with snippets about my past, present and future work. You can also follow me on twitter: @bnashby.

Welcome, Biotweeps

Biotweeps is a Twitter account, blog and Facebook page which features a different biologist every week. The project is organised by Anthony Caravaggi and Carina Gsottbauer; we’re scheduled to begin featuring scientists on the 4th of August, 2014.

Here on the blog we’ll be posting introductions to each of the scientists at the beginning of the week. You can post questions to our scientists by tweeting @biotweeps or leaving a comment on the blog post. Follow Biotweeps on Twitter or Facebook and be sure to check our schedule to see which scientists will be featured in the future.

If you’re a biologist who would like to take part, check the schedule to see which dates are free, and sign up now.

Biotweeps takes inspiration from @astrotweeps, a Twitter project which features a new astronomer/planetary scientist every week. Thanks to Astrotweeps organisers Meg Schwamb, Niall Deacon and Demitri Mun for encouraging this project and from whose approach we have, evidently, borrowed quite liberally.