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Spring 2019 Seminar Series


Dates and topics to be announced




Winter 2019 Seminar Series


11 January 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Why Cancer is so tough to beat?

Jamil Momand, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Cal State Los Angeles

Professor Momand is committed to decreasing the incidence and mortality rate due to cancer. He has conducted research in the tumor suppressor/oncoprotein field for nearly 30 years and has a broad background in protein biochemistry with specific training and expertise in key research areas for this application.


Host: Davidson Lab

18 January 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Science 52-E27

Organized grouping mediates the environmental interactions of social squid.

Ben Burford, PhD Candidate, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University

There are infinite forms that extraterrestrial life could take, yet classic and contemporary science fiction often feature aliens with striking resemblance to squid. Perhaps this is because squid inhabit the dark, enormous, seemingly-empty, and least-explored environment on our planet: the open ocean. As a consequence, they are seldom observed and thus shrouded in mystery. However, we are learning that squids have an ally that helps them overcome the challenges of life in the open ocean: each other. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and National Marine Fisheries Service, my research at Stanford University relates social behavior to physiological responses and environmental interactions. I will discuss the social lives of squid, highlighting both characteristics that they share with schooling fishes--they exhibit high degrees of spatial organization and individuals are calmed by the presence of conspecifics—and unique ways that squid coordinate group activities - complex signals based on color change and bioluminescence in the otherwise complete darkness. Although the mechanisms employed by squid may be unique, behavioral convergence with other social animals suggests that squid are not so alien after all.

Host: Kolluru Lab

25 January 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Does the ripple reach the shore? Cross-system impacts of introduced trout on birds and bats at alpine lakes.

Mary Clapp, PhD Candidate, Department of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis

Introduced species have been implicated as one of the "horsemen of the ecological apocalypse" due to the extent to which they can disrupt community structure and contribute to declines of native species; therefore, developing efficient methods for characterizing impacts and monitoring restorations is a conservation priority. Trout were introduced for recreational angling to nearly 50% of the historically fishless high-elevation watersheds of the Sierra Nevada beginning in the late-1800s, and their deleterious impacts on the abundance and distribution of native aquatic species are well-documented. However, few studies have addressed how such a reduction in emerging aquatic insects from the aquatic food web may affect the adjacent terrestrial community. I examine whether the loss of the aquatic insect subsidy in fish-containing lakes has altered bird and bat activity using both passive acoustic monitoring and traditional survey methods. I will share preliminary results on the differences in bird activity at fish-containing and fishless lakes, discuss how both emerging and traditional approaches complement each other in reaching conclusions about biological community structure, and explore future directions for integrating acoustic methods into ecological studies.

Host: Francis Lab

1 February 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

The molecules that define race, species, and everything in-between.

Joseph Ross, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Cal State Fresno

Since at least Darwin's time, biologists have studied how one population of individuals becomes two distinct, reproductively isolated populations: the origin of species. One of Dr. Ross' research interests in evolutionary genetics is understanding how DNA sequence differences that distinguish two populations can cause hybrid offspring to be less healthy. Eventually, such fitness-altering mutations that cause hybrid dysfunction are expected to contribute to the speciation process. Ross' research lab has identified hybrid dysfunction between two populations of the model worm Caenorhabditis briggsae, a close relative of C. elegans. Ross will share the efforts research students have made to describe and identify the molecular and genetic basis of hybrid dysfunction. One potential application of such efforts is to inform policy related to artificial fertilization.

Host: Tomanek Lab

8 February 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Exploring nickel hyperaccumulation: a plant elemental defense.

Robert S. Boyd, PhD, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University

Plants can be classified into normal, accumulator or hyperaccumulator species depending on how much nickel they take into their tissues. One function for the elevated nickel levels in hyperaccumulators, supported by considerable evidence, is plant defense against herbivores/pathogens. But nickel-based defense is not effective against all enemies. We will explore exceptions, and will also examine how nickel can be mobilized in food webs by hyperaccumulator species.


Host: Rajakaruna Lab

22 February 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Oxidative stress and life history: ecological and evolutionary lessons from nuclear accidents.

Andrea Bonisoli-Alquati, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Cal Poly Pomona

Exposure to ionizing radiation can imbalance the antioxidant system, inducing oxidative stress. The oxidative status of an organism is increasingly regarded as the currency underlying life history trade-offs, such as the one between survival and reproduction. Landscape-level radioactive contamination can thus function as a natural laboratory where to investigate the nexus between life-history and physiology. The talk will review recent findings from research in Chernobyl and Fukushima, and highlight how oxidative stress can be seen as a thread underlying many of the effects of radioactive contamination, from the organismal level to communities.

Bonisoli-Alquati Lab website

Host: Francis Lab

1 March 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

The CalCOFI Program: monitoring and managing the California Marine Ecosystem Since 1949

Andrew Thompson, PhD, Research Fishery Biologist, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA

The overarching theme of my research is to better understand why the distribution and abundance of aquatic species varies through space and time. Over my career, I have examined this general question in Appalachian streams, urbanized Los Angeles streams, coral reefs, and the California Current Ecosystem (CCE). Currently, my studies mainly focus on using larval fish and invertebrates collected by the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program to elucidate dynamics of the CCE. Implemented in the 1940s to elucidate the cause of a massive collapse of the Pacific sardine fishery off the west coast of North America, CalCOFI is one of the longest running marine monitoring programs in the world. Since its inception, CalCOFI has since evolved into a comprehensive marine ecosystem monitoring program that tracks the spawning dynamics of hundreds of species fishes; fluctuations in marine mammal, sea bird and invertebrate populations; and changes in physical oceanography. In today's talk I will describe the history and evolution of the CalCOFI program, detail how CalCOFI has helped to evaluate the efficacy of marine protected areas off southern California, and provide examples of some emerging studies that are using advanced technologies to provide insight on fishery dynamics and ecosystem status with CalCOFI data.

NOAA profile page


Host: Ruttenberg Lab

8 March 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Behavioral interference between species

Greg Grether, PhD, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Los Angeles

Aggression and reproductive interference are forms of behavioral interference that occur commonly between closely related species. Such between-species interactions can, and in most cases probably do, arise as a byproduct of activities that are part of the normal lives of animals, such as defending resources and attracting mates. However, the ecological and evolutionary consequences of behavioral interference between species can be quite distinct from the effects of the corresponding within-species interactions. Behavioral interference can determine whether species are able to coexist, and if they do coexist, how they evolve subsequently in response to each other through natural selection. Behavioral interference was probably part of human evolution, and could help explain why we are the only extant species in the genus Homo, but this talk will focus on what we know, with greater certainty, about the role of behavioral interference in the ecology and evolution of other animals. If behavioral interference is a costly interaction at the population level, why does it persist? In what ways, and to what extent, does behavioral interference affect the geographic ranges of species?  How does behavioral interference affect the spread of invasive species, or the fate of endangered species?  What is the evidence that behavioral interference has evolutionary consequences?  I will use examples from the literature, as well as from my own research, to answer these and other questions, while striving to present a balanced perspective on the subject.

Host: Kolluru Lab

15 March 2019    11:10am to 12:00pm     Fisher Hall 33-285

Sustainable management of a changing and an increasingly crowded ocean

Crow White, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences Department, Cal Poly



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