November 2011


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Director’s Message

Larry Weider at Churchill

Greetings from Texoma-land!  Another year has flown by here at the OU Biological Station and I would like to provide everyone with an update of some of the activities that have occurred here since last winter’s Field Notes.

The Station continues to be successful in obtaining external funding for our research endeavors.  In addition to support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for activities in the Wellborn and Weider labs and the continued support from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) for research in the Hambright lab, I am happy to report that three new grants/research activities have (or will) begin shortly: 1.) as part of a research consortium centered at the U. of Oslo (Norway), the Weider lab is conducting research on the interactions between growth rate, nutrient ratios, and genome size variation in a variety of organisms (mostly centering on the use of the waterflea – Daphnia – as a model organism).  This three-year ~$2,100,000 project will involve hosting guest researchers from Norway at the Biological Station in spring 2012; 2.) beginning in February 2012, a joint European Union (EU)-funded three-year research project between UOBS and the Dońana Biological Station (Sevilla, Spain) will examine the impact of environmental stressors (i.e. nutrient stress – eutrophication) on genomic responses in Daphnia.  As part of this ~$450,000 project, Dr. Joaquin Muńoz, will spend two-years in the Weider lab as a postdoc on this project; 3.) led by Dr. Dave Hambright as Principal Investigator (with Drs. Gary Wellborn and Larry Weider serving as co-PIs), I am pleased to announce that UOBS obtained a grant for ~$250,000 from the NSF Field Stations & Marine Labs (FSML) program to refurbish and upgrade the UOBS Aquatic Research Park.  As part of this project, a new research greenhouse will be constructed over in the Research Park, along with much needed refurbishing of some of the mesocosms (i.e. “limno-tanks”), as well as the construction of ~0.25 acre retention pond (which will allow experimentation with invasive aquatic organisms).

On the teaching front, again we had an active and productive Summer Session 2011, particularly in May, when we offered four courses (field herpetology, forensic entomology, molecular techniques, wildlife conservation) with total enrollment of 59 students.  Unfortunately, our August session was not as successful (i.e. three courses – including: field mammalogy, insect-plant interactions, stream ecology) with a total enrollment of only 23 students.  This ~50% drop in August enrollment was the direct result of a scheduling change for main-campus Summer Session, which resulted in direct competition with a number of required courses.  After consultation with OU administrators, we have decided to alter the timing for Summer Session 2012 at UOBS to reduce direct competition.  This involves moving our traditional August session to the second half of June (while keeping our May session intact). 

As for outreach, we continued to host different professional/educational groups, including the joint Great Plains Limnology Conference (GPLC) and the triennial Oklahoma-Texas Aquatic Research Group (OTARG) organized by Westin Nowlin (Texas State U.) and Dave Hambright, which was held at UOBS from the 28-30 October. 

One of the highlights of this past year was the hosting of the biennial Friends’ Celebration weekend (14-16 October 2011).   Although the group this year was a bit smaller than usual (i.e. 35-40 participants), I believe everyone had a great time, as we visited with old friends and made new ones.   Our very special guest for the weekend was Dr. Scott V. Edwards (Harvard U.), who presented a stimulating lecture on the evolution of Australian bird species.  Scott is a Professor and also Curator of Ornithology at the Harvard Natural History Museum and he is also the incoming President of the Society for the Study of Evolution.  In addition to Scott’s presentation, another highlight of the FUOBS celebration was the traditional fund-raising auction organized by Dr. Julia Yoshida and her husband Claudio Topolcic.  Through the generosity of the hard core FUOBS group in attendance, proceeds from the auction (and raffle basket – thanks to Sherry Gage) amounted to > $5,200, which will be put towards the FUOBS scholarship fund.  A hearty thank you to all!

We had two students, Jessica Beyer and Billy Culver, receive UOBS Summer 2011 Graduate Research Fellowships thanks to the generosity of the Loren G. Hill Fund and the Hauger Family Graduate Fellowship Fund.  In addition, Holly Gaines was the winner of the $1,000 FUOBS Summer Session 2012 Scholarship, which was awarded at the FUOBS celebration in October (see accompanying article).

On a sad note, we lost a dear friend and FUOBS Executive Committee member this past year.  Bruce G. Stewart passed away suddenly on 1 November 2011 (see obituary, page 2).  Bruce touched the lives of many, and he will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him.

Finally, I want to thank the dedicated UOBS staff for their hard work during this past year (Donna Cobb, Richard Page, Janet Isaac, Malon Ward, Gail Barnes), and to the UOBS faculty, research staff, and students.  And of course, I want to thank all the members of the FUOBS Executive Committee, in particular Jane Barrett, Kim Hauger, Barbara Shirley, Pamela Genova, and Julia Yoshida.  I appreciate all of your efforts, and I’m looking forward to a great year in 2012!

Best wishes to all!

Larry Weider, Professor and Director
The University of Oklahoma Biological Station (UOBS)

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