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 Winter 2018 Seminar Series

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

16 March 2018

To be announced

Dr. Melissa May, Postdoctoral Scholar, Biological Sciences Department, Cal Poly

Host: Dr. Lars Tomanek

9 March 2018

To be announced

Dr. Alex Gunderson, Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley

Host: Dr. Emily Taylor

2 March 2018

How the Zebra Got Its Stripes: A Problem with Too Many Solutions

Dr. Ren Larison, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Host: Dr. Gita Kolluru

23 February 2018

Relative Motion as an Ecological and Evolutionary Mechanism

Dr. Ty Tuff, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Biology, Washington University in St Louis

Do migratory birds move or do we? Pole-to-pole migrants are permanently detached from the surface of Earth and we observe their movement as oscillating between Earth’s north and south poles. That perspective is enriched when we realize that those birds occupy their own moving reference frame and see humans and habitats moving in their own unique directions below them. This is one of many examples where our fundamental ecological understanding changes when we consider relative motion between two ecological or evolutionary components. In this talk, Dr Tuff will present his model for analyzing multiple moving perspectives and walk though the engineering process for applying those mathematical tools to questions about conservation in the age of climate change, avian migration, and the spread of agriculture through human civilizations.

Visit Dr Tuff's website and view past presentations.

Host: Dr. Clinton Francis

16 February 2018

A Floristic Study of Tejon Ranch Initiates a Systematic Study in Streptanthus and the Descrition of Two New Species in Southern California

Dr. Nick Jensen, Postdoctoral Associate, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

At approximately 270,000 acres, The Tejon Ranch is the single largest contiguous piece of private land in California. Tejon Ranch exits at the nexus of the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada, Western Transverse Ranges, and Mojave Desert. From the 1850’s Tejon has been a working cattle ranch; in 2008, ninety-percent of the ranch was placed under conservation agreements. Dr Jensen will discuss his floristic work in conjunction with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, and his work in the native jewelflower genus Streptanthus (Brassicaceae|Cruciferae). Dr Jensen will be co-leading a Jepson Herbarium Workshop this April titled Exploring Tejon – Native Landscapes, Diverse Flora, and Spring Wildflowers! .

Dr Jensen earned his BS degree in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis, and recently completed his PhD in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden/Claremont Graduate University. From 2006-2010, he was employed by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), first as a Vegetation Program Assistant, and later as the Rare Plant Program Director. Nick has also worked as a botanist for the U.S. Forest Service, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the private consulting industry. He has taught botany classes to professionals and interested members of the public for CNPS, RSABG, the Jepson Herbarium, and Theodore Payne Foundation. As a volunteer he has served on the CNPS Rare Plant Program Committee and the board of Southern California Botanists, serving as president in 2015-16. Nick is a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. He is currently employed as Southern California Conservation Analyst for CNPS. In this position he coordinates the activities of the CNPS Conservation Program in Southern California. In his free time he enjoys cooking, hiking, rock climbing, and photographing wildflowers, activities that are often not mutually exclusive.

Host: Dr. Nishi Rajakaruna

2 February 2018

The Long and Winding Road: How Transport Processes Shape the Evolution of Muscle Design and Function

Dr. Steve Kinsey, Professor, Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Skeletal muscle has a dominant effect on whole animal metabolic rate and plays a critical role in how animals interact with their environment.  The diversity of muscle structure and function found within and among species reflects the variety of selective pressures that drive the evolution of different muscle types.  Further, the functional demands and physical constraints placed on muscle change during animal growth.  The Kinsey lab has investigated how active and passive transport processes interact with muscle structure and metabolism to preserve function while minimizing maintenance costs. 

Host: Dr. Kristin Hardy

26 January 2018

Microbiology Industry: From Lab Work to Mega-Conferences, and Everything in Between

Anna Klavins and Rhianna Majherbe, Hardy Diagnostics, Santa Maria, CA

Host: Dr. Pat Fidopiastis

Graduating from Cal Poly with a science degree can present a diverse range of options to choose from in the job market. However, the majority of options that most undergraduates know about and aspire towards involve higher education such as masters or PhD programs, dental or medical/PA/PT school. This is understandable when we are told “you need a PhD to do anything other than wash dishes at a big company.” No one wants to get stuck in an entry level job where they do the same thing every day, are given no responsibilities, and do not have room to grow and develop skills related to their dream career or job. We would like to discuss how we broke that mold and stayed on the Central Coast. Rest assured: there are other options! At a growing business like Hardy Diagnostics, entry level employees in technical services and research and development departments experience a lot of “real” hands on work in the lab, and that knowledge is carried to conferences throughout the U.S.

19 January 2018

Recovery of White Sharks: A Symbol of Hope for Coastal Marine Ecosystem Recovery

Dr Chris Lowe, Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab

Human influences on coastal marine ecosystems have resulted in well over a 100 years of detrimental impacts through habitat loss and degradation, overfishing, and pollution, and top predators have suffered the brunt of these accumulated effects. After decades of legislation and regulation and growing human populations is it possible to bring these top-trophic level species back? Mounting evidence suggests that white sharks and other top-marine predator populations may be on the rise. As an apex predator, white sharks have probably never been very abundant, but are of commercial value and have been historically harvested. Because of their high vulnerability to overharvesting, white sharks have been protected in most places where they occur in numbers. However, protection from fishing mortality alone may not be enough to allow for population recovery. Dramatic recovery of marine mammals, better managed coastal fisheries, improved water and air quality over the last 50 years, may also be important driver in the recovery of white sharks./p

"Dr. Lowe earned his Bachelor of Arts in marine biology at Barrington College in Rhode Island and a Master of Science degree in biology at CSULB. In 1998, he achieved a doctorate in zoology, studying bioenergetics of juvenile hammerhead sharks, at the University of Hawaii. In 1998, he returned to CSULB to teach marine biology and oversee the Shark Lab, which was founded in 1966 by Dr. Donald R. Nelson, a pioneer in the development and use of acoustic telemetry to study sharks. It has been Dr. Lowe's goal to maintain the history of innovation Dr. Nelson established. For the last ten years, he and his students have been studying the baby and juvenile white sharks of Southern California and have greatly contributed to the field of knowledge for this enigmatic species. In addition, recent research by Dr. Lowe and his student team has focused on the development of underwater robots for autonomously tracking sharks and gamefishes. He has garnered several academic awards, including CSULB's 2008-2009 Outstanding Professor Award and 2012 Impact in Research Award."

12 January 2018

Woodpecker Plumage Evolution: Mimicry, Convergence, or Neither?

Dr Eliot Miller, Rose Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Woodpeckers are a diverse group of 230 bird species distributed across most of the globe. They show remarkable plumage diversity, including a wide range of colors and patterns. What drives these shifts in plumage? Dr Miller will show preliminary evidence that not only do climate and habitat shape the plumages that woodpeckers wear, but in certain cases, sympatric species appear to converge on nearly identical plumages. These extreme cases may be due to interspecific social dominance mimicry-instances where a subordinate species has evolved to mimic a dominant species so as to gain access to contested resources.

Dr Miller has been an avid naturalist from a young age, and particularly enjoys watching and finding birds and plants. After completing his undergraduate degree, he worked on a variety of field projects, including sites in Alaska, Ontario, Massachusetts, Mexico, and Ecuador. Work in Ecuador eventually led him to graduate school at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where he worked under the tutelage of Robert Ricklefs. He later co-enrolled at Macquarie University in Sydney, and received additional training in Mark Westoby’s lab. His dissertation focused on patterns of phylogenetic community structure and evolution through climate space in two iconic Australian radiations, the Meliphagidae (a bird family) and the Hakeinae (a plant subfamily). His interests include ecomorphology, foraging behavior, patterns of diversification, and adaptations to novel environments. Dr Miller received an National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to study species distribution models in the Harmon and Nuismer laboratories at the University of Idaho.

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