After an exceptionally strange and field-less year, it was SOOO nice to get back out in the field again, even for the day. We headed up to Fort Pierce, FL (about 2 hours north of Dania Beach) to look for local killifish in the mangroves with Dr. Nancy Smith (Eckerd College). We caught lots of cool critters - but no killifish unfortunately! Next time!
In my new Outside JEB article, I look at an area of research that I have learned more about over the last couple of years - specifically, neurophysiology and neurotransmitter signaling in the brain. In Peng et al. 2020´s recent paper in Biology Letters, the author´s looked at the brain´s role in foraging in social animal groups. They investigated the role of octopamine in how stingless bee individuals and social groups find food and perceive its value. Octopamine supplementation increase individual foraging by 75% and reduced the time for social learning of foraging locations. Very cool work!
What do you do when you need to move from California to Florida in the middle of a pandemic? You buy and kit out a campervan and drive! My postdoc has wrapped up and I am heading to Florida to start a new position. Flying is out for the time being, and we had grand plans for a vacation abroad. But instead, we will be checking out all of the amazing sights that the US has to offer, starting with Route 66. Our van (a 1996 Chevy Express, named Hamish in honor of my Scottish husband) will be our sleeping quarters and moving truck for the foreseeable future. Looking forward to it! Taking social distancing to the next level. :)
It is so wonderful to be back in San Diego, at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, thanks to the NMBU Postdoc International Travel Grant, to wrap up some of my research here in San Diego with my PI, Prof Ryan Hechinger. We will be working on analyzing data and writing papers for the next two months.
I had a fantastic time presenting at the Gordon Research Conference on Predator-Prey Interactions this week in Ventura, CA, USA. The "Outcomes of Parasitism and Predation" session made an ideal outlet to present some of my preliminary work on the effect of the trematode parasite Euhaplorchis californiensis on predator-prey interactions in natural systems, specifically between piscivorous marsh birds (the parasite´s final host) and the California killifish (the parasite´s second intermediate host). What an amazing group of researchers to be apart of and get feedback from!
Many thanks to the organizers of the annual Society for Experimental Biology conference for putting together another amazing meeting in Seville, Spain. It was great to catch up with old friends, hear about all of the amazing new science that everyone is doing, and present some of my brand new research looking at the connections linking energy metabolism, brain serotonergic signaling, and parasite infection/exposure history. I can´t wait for Prague 2020! If you are working on parasites, disease, or immunity, please consider joining us at the 2020 SEB meeting where Sandra Binning (Univ of Montreal) and I are organizing a session titled "Parasites, disease and host immunity: Towards a mechanistic understanding of infection-induced phenotypes".
Photos by Simon Callaghan
I had a wonderful time this week visiting the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami, and the Marine Sciences Program at Florida International University. Everyone was really welcoming and I had a great time geeking out on everyone´s cutting edge science as well as presenting my own work. Many thanks to my hosts Prof Nikki Traylor-Knowles (RSMAS) and Prof Alastair Harborne (FIU). Also, thanks to Javier del Campo for snapping this photo of me during my talk at RSMAS!