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Fall 2017 Seminar Series

When: All seminars held Fridays from 11:10am to 12:00pm
Where: Fisher Hall 33-285

September 29, 2017

“Better Science In Less Time: How Open Data Science Tools Have Improved Our Science”

Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes, NCEAS, University of California, Santa Barbara

For the past four years, we have dramatically improved how we work with the Ocean Health Index by embracing open data science practices and tools. We now work in a way that is more reproducible, transparent, collaborative, and open, with more emphasis on communication. Our work is more reproducible and streamlined, and more than 20 countries around the world are building off our science and our code to assess ocean health in their own jurisdictions.

We've shared our story in a recent publication in Nature Ecology & Evolution (Lowndes et al. 2017) because at the time we thought this transformation was intimidating, but we are living proof that it's possible. By describing specific tools and how we incrementally began using them for the Ocean Health Index project, we hope to encourage others in the scientific community to do the same — so we can all produce better science in less time.


Dr. Lowndes is a marine data scientist working to at the interface of science, policy, and data science. At the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Dr. Lowndes works to enable science-informed decision-making with the Ocean Health Index using collaborative, free software tools she has co-developed. Prior to joining the OHI team, Julia earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, studying Humboldt squid ecology in the California Current System in a changing climate.


October 6, 2017

“The Role of Genomics and Extinction in Freshwater Fishes”

Dr. Jason Baumsteiger, University of the Pacific & UC Davis

Defining when a species is extinct is decidedly more complicated than a simple presence/absence. Not only are there limited criteria for declaring something extinct, even the idea of what constitutes a "species" is somewhat subjective. If we are to properly manage and conserve our diversity for the future, these difficult concepts must be tackled. My talk explores some of the ways my research addresses these concepts in freshwater fishes. Initially we will outline difficulties in defining extinction and later review a proposed scheme for clarifying these discrepancies. Second, we will investigate how contemporary genomic techniques can help alleviate problems with managing endangered species by looking at crypsis in the California Roach species complex (Hesperoleucus) and divergence history in the world's most endangered fish, Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis).


Dr. Baumsteiger is currently serving as a visiting assistant professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. He recently finished his post-doctoral fellowship at UC Davis, working with Drs. Peter Moyle and Mike Miller. Dr. Baumsteiger received his Ph.D. from UC Merced as one of the first group of Ph.D. students to graduate from the recently created University.

October 13, 2017

“Causes and Consequences of Reproductive Conflict in Yellow Monkeyflowers”

Dr. Findley Finseth, Keck Science Dept, Claremont Colleges

"Reproduction is a fundamental property of evolving organisms. Because it is the key determinant of fitness in eukaryotes, reproduction is intuitively view as a conserved and cooperative process. Yet, reproduction is actually riddled with opportunities for conflict--between competing individuals, males and females, parents and offspring, and even genes in the same genome!"

"My lab studies the consequences of reproductive conflict in the short-term on fitness and in the long-term on genome evolution. We complement genomics studies of natural populations with genetic crosses and experimental manipulation and currently focus on Mimulus--a California native wildflower that is incredibly diverse (not to mention adorable ... ). This integrative, quantitative approach promises novel insight into the maintenance of genetic variation, the processes of divergence and adaptation, and the evolution of the genome itself."

"Dr. Finseth is Assistant Professor of Genomics in in the Keck Science Department at the Claremont Colleges. She received her BSc in Biology from the University of Virginia and her PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Cornell University. Her research program investigates the evolutionary drivers of biodiversity. By complementing modern genomics studies of natural populations with classic genetics experiments, Findley’s work offers novel insight into the maintenance of genetic variation, the processes of adaptation and speciation, and the evolution of the genome itself. As a Presidential Life Sciences Fellow at Cornell University, Findley investigated how sexual selection shapes genes involved in reproduction in birds. During her dissertation, she received teaching awards and was named a P.E.O. Scholar. Currently, Findley focuses on a group of California native wildflowers, Mimulus. Her work in Mimulus is broad, spanning studies of selfishly evolving genes to the genetic basis of thermally-adapted plants in Yellowstone National Park. Findley’s research has been published in journals such as Proceedings of the Royal Society-B, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Molecular Ecology, and PLoS ONE and highlighted in national media outlets. Funding for her work has been provided by organizations including the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation."

October 27, 2017

“Hypoxia, Habitats and Competition: Drivers of Elevational Distribution in Himalayan Birds”

Dr. Sahas Barve, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

The seminar will focus on his doctoral field research on Himalayan birds and the effects of physiology, habitats and competition driving their elevational distribution.

Dr. Barve is a postdoctoral associate at Old Dominion University working on the evolution of cooperative breeding behavior in acorn woodpeckers.



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