OU Biology News



News Archive for 2011                                                            return to current news

October 2011

  • Michael Kaspari and Jizhong Zhou of OU, are collaborating with their labs, theoreticians, microbiologists and entomologists to devise new theories for why warm places have more species. They will then test those theories in six forests across the Americas, from the Rockies to the tropical forests of Panama. Their research is funded over four years by a $2.8 million award from the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers Program. Kaspari and Zhou will work with OU Adjunct Professor Zhili He, as well as Brian Enquist of the University of Arizona and James Brown from the University of New Mexico "Our goal is to devise new theory – new hypotheses – for why warm places have more species," writes Kaspari. "Of particular interest to our lab is the project's focus on brown food webs – the microbes and invertebrates that cause dead plants to rot. Brown food webs are home to much of the earth's biodiversity, and perform such vital services as recycling minerals and regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." The mathematical models generated will be tested on trees, small animals that eat decaying leaves and microbes that consume the remains. The research hopes to better predict the impacts of global climate change on biodiversity and ecological processes.

September 2011

  • Congratulations to Biology Ph.D., Paulette Reneau. She has accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.

August 2011

  • The University of Oklahoma was the host institution for the 2011 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), and the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB) from 17-21 June held at the John Q. Hammons Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Approximately 1200 international scientists (including ~500 students) from around the world gathered to discuss the latest scientific findings in many diverse disciplines that contribute to evolutionary biology (i.e. behavior, computational analyses, ecology, population and molecular genetics, genomics). It was estimated that this conference brought a ~$1.5-2.0 million boost to the local and state economies. The tri-chairs of the local organizing committee were Rich Broughton, Ingo Schlupp, and Larry Weider. Sponsorship from local units included the Dept of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences, the OU Biological Station, Oklahoma Biological Survey, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

  • Three Biology faculty (Zhang, PI; Hewes and McCauley, Co-PIs) were part of a five-professor OU team that received $719,921 from the National Science Foundation for acquisition of a multi-photon laser scanning confocal microscope to establish a fluorescence imaging core facility for the biological sciences.

  • Welcome Dr. Michael Markham, our newest member of the Biology faculty! Dr. Markham is also the holder of the first endowed departmental professorship, the Case-Hooper Professorship of Biology. He joins us from the University of Texas at Austin, and his research is on neurobiological mechanisms of circadian and social regulation of signaling between electric fish.

July 2011

  • Welcome to Randy Hewes, in his new role as Department of Biology Chair, and many heartfelt thanks to Bill Matthews for his 8 years of superb leadership.

  • Dr. Heather Ketchum and Biology undergraduate student Jordan Chapman were featured on the University of Oklahoma youtube channel, click here to view the video.

  • PhD student, Mingzi Xu on Barro Colorado Island fall 2010 where she has a Smithsonian Pre-doctoral Fellowship to study wing signalling in the giant damselfly, Megaloprepus caerulatus. Here she is among the hundreds of larvae she is rearing as part of that research. Mingzi below.

  • James Cureton received a Rosemary Grant Award for Graduate Student Research from the Society for the Study of Evolution. Congratulations ! This award is a strong recognition of the potential of James and his project from the SSE review panel.

  • An article co-authored by Laurie Vitt was featured on the cover of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology: "Coming to America: multiple origins of New World geckos". Cover image below.

May 2011

  • A paper by Drs. Daniel Allen and Caryn Vaughn (Oklahoma Biological Survey and Biology), "Density-dependent biodiversity effects on physical habitat modification by freshwater bivalves", is featured on the cover of the May issue of the journal Ecology. See image below.

  • The Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award is given to "Scientists and scholars, internationally renowned in their field, who completed their doctorates less than 18 years ago and who in future are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work" (cited after the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation website).

    Ingo will use this award for a one year sabbatical at the University of Potsdam (Germany), where he will work with Dr. Ralph Tiedemann on genomics of a unisexual fish, the Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa) starting in August of 2011.

  • "Collaborative Creation of a Lab Rubric", by Carrie Miller-DeBoer (Biology, EEB) and Michele Eodice (Executive Director of Learning, Teaching, and Writing) was accepted for the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. This interdisciplinary effort describes the process of rubric development in a large laboratory class with multiple TAs here at OU.

  • Dr. Larry Weider also received a 3-year (2010-2013) grant, "Genome size, cell size and growth; searching for the causal links (GENOME)", 12,372,000 NOK (~$2,097,000 U.S.), from the Research Council of Norway (RCN), (D.O. Hessen, PI; LJ Weider, co-PI along with 7 others – OU component - ~$85,000).

  • Dr. Larry Weider, Professor of Biology and Director of the Biological Station, received a 3-year grant, "Environmental adaptation of the genome: A Daphnia model under cultural eutrophication" ("ADAPT-ENVGENOME"), from the European Union Marie Curie Outgoing International Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, in collaboration with the Donána Biological Station, Spain (J. Munoz, PI, A. Green, LJ Weider, co-PIs) $450,000 (approx).

April 2011

  • Dan Allen, new PhD from our Ecology & Evolutionary Biology program, has been awarded a highly competitive two-year NSF postdoctoral fellowship through the "Intersections of Biology, Math and Physical Sciences" program. Dan proposed to work with Brad Cardinale (biology co-sponsor) at the University of Michigan and Theresa Wynn (engineering co-sponsor) at Penn State to study "Biodiversity and engineering function: linking biodiversity and physical landscape processes." Dan will be examining how plant species traits and biodiversity influence the physical processes associated with stream bank erosion. Dan has already started another postdoc position at Arizona State, and successfully negotiated with NSF, his current postdoc advisor and future advisor to stay at Arizona State until April 2012, and then begin the 2 years at Michigan.

  • Rudi Riesch (PhD from our Ecology & Evolutionary Biology program) has been named the winner of the 2010 Provost PhD Award for Science and Engineering for his dissertation on "Life-History Evolution in Livebearing Fishes (Teleostei: Poecilidae)". Rudi is currently a postdoc at North Carolina State University.

  • MS student Cassie Poindexter has been named the winner of the 2010 Provost Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for Science and Engineering.

January 2011

  • A paper published in the journal Ecology by PhD student Daniel Allen and faculty member Dr. Caryn Vaughn was a featured Research Highlight in the 27 January issue of Nature. Several decades of research have shown that biodiversity affects trophic ecosystem processes like biomass production and resource acquisition. However, studies investigating if biodiversity can influence non-trophic ecosystem processes, such as the physical creation and modification of habitat, are lacking. Allen and Vaughn hypothesized that freshwater mussel biodiversity might influence the erosion of riverbed sediments because mussel species differ in burrowing behaviors and shell morphologies that may influence turbulence patterns at the sediment water interface. They conducted experiments in artificial streams that demonstrated that an increase in mussel species richness is associated with increased sediment erosion. Further, these effects were additive at low densities, but non-additive at high densities, indicating that organism abundance fundamentally alters the relationship between biodiversity and erosion. This research demonstrates that biodiversity can influence physical processes in ecosystems, and that changes in abundance may also influence this relationship.

    Freshwater mussels above.

  • Dr. Mariëlle Hoefnagels, Associate Professor from the Departments of Botany-Microbiology and Biology, has recently published the second edition of the textbook, "Biology: Concepts and Investigations", by McGraw-Hill Higher Education. With an emphasis on evolution, scientific inquiry, and student study skills, this book has been well received by students and instructors in introductory biology courses at colleges and universities throughout the United States.
    Book cover below


  • Rosemary Knapp, Associate Professor, and Sharon Carlisle, PhD student (both Biology) have authored a review chapter on the hormonal control of testicular function in fish. The chapter is part of a 5-volume work Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates edited by David Norris and Kristin Lopez and published by Elsevier.
    Full citation: Knapp R, Carlisle SL. 2010. Testicular function and hormonal regulation in fishes. pp. 43-63 In (Norris DO, Lopez KH, eds.) Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates. Vol. 1. Fishes. Elsevier, San Diego.

  • Atkinson, C.L., S.P. Opsahl, A.P. Covich, S.W. Golladay, and L.M. Conner. 2010. Stable isotopic signatures, tissue stoichiometry, and nutrient cycling (C and N) of a native and invasive bivalve. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29:496-505.

  • Mingzi Xu and Ola M. Fincke, Tests of the Harassment-reduction Function and Maintenance of a Female-specific Color Polymorphism in a Damselfly. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 10.1007/s00265-010-1134-6




Events in Biology:




OU Home

College of Arts and Sciences

Email Webmaster