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Kudos to Luke Trimmer Smith

Published: Mar 24th, 2015

Please join me in congratulating Luke on his Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI), A Vertebrate Model System to Decipher Environmental Impacts on Viral Host Jumps ($40,000).

Great job, Luke!


Congratulations to Jake Ferguson and Jose Miguel Ponciano!

Published: Mar 18th, 2015

Grad student Jake Ferguson and Biology faculty member José Miguel Ponciano recently had an article appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

“Environmental stochasticity” is an important theoretical concept in Ecology that embodies the recognition that, over time, the environmental conditions for animal population growth vary widely, often in unpredictable ways. Here we propose a stochastic model that measures how such environmental variation affects competition among individuals. Previously, such effects remained poorly studied and consequences on extinction risks were generally unknown. We apply our model to a large database of time series of animal abundances and compare it to other models. The field evidence supported our modeling efforts. Coupling stochastic models with statistical inference allowed us to draw useful insights for the practice of conservation biology regarding the fate and regulation of these populations.

Our latest Biology grad student success!

Published: Mar 2nd, 2015

Catalina Pimiento is the winner of the 2015 Association for Academic Women Emerging Scholar competition which is held in conjunction with the Lockhart Dissertation Fellowship competition.  This recognition includes a cash award of $2000 from the AAW Emerging Scholar fund. Catalina was selected from a large and very strong group of applicants and we are pleased to recognize her achievement! Great job Catalina and congratulations to mentor Bruce MacFadden, too!

Congratulations to Fatma Kaplan!

Published: Feb 25th, 2015

Fatma Kaplan has just received a three year USDA-NIFA award ($450K) for “Role of Xenorhabdus bacteria on pheromone production by Steinernema nematodes: Impact on nematode fitness and formulation.” (in collaboration with Patricia Stock at the University of Arizona and Rebecca Butcher in the Chemistry Department at UF). Please join me in congratulating Fatma!


Congratulations to Charles Baer on recent paper “Scaling, Selection, and Evolutionary Dynamics of the Mitotic Spindle”

Published: Feb 25th, 2015

Mitosis, the precise division of the nucleus, is required for multicellular life. Unsurprisingly then, mitosis has remained essentially the same over approximately two billion years of evolution. However, the individual components involved in mitosis have not. For example, in order for the chromosomes to segregate properly during nuclear division, they require a scaffold known as the mitotic spindle. Reza Farhadifar of Harvard University, UF Dept. of Biology Associate Professor Charles Baer, and their collaborators show in a recent paper in Current Biology that the mitotic spindle exhibits extensive variation both within and between closely related species of nematodes in the genus Caenorhabditis. The effect of mutation on the spindle, together with stabilizing selection on embryo size, quantitatively explains the levels of within-species variation in the spindle and its diversity over 100 million years of evolution, despite conservation of the overall mitotic process.
Mitosis paper at

Biology Department Recognizes Graduate Student Excellence

Published: Feb 25th, 2015

There are three Awards categories: Paper, Service, and Teaching. Applicants for these categories were nominated by their peers and professors based on outstanding work that sets them apart. All of the nominees went “above and beyond” and the committee’s decision was a difficult one. Paper Award: Paul Corogin, New geographical and morphological data for Sideroxylon reclinatum subspecies austrofloridense (Sapotaceae), a taxon endemic to southeastern peninsular Florida, U.S.A. Service Award: Richie Hodel, co-led a trip for graduate student perspective weekend, was very active on the fundraising committee, judged URAP presentations, mentored several undergraduate students, and is also active within the FLMNH and greater botanical community. Teaching Award: Sarah Allen went above and beyond her normal teaching responsibilities. She re-wrote the labs for Plant Anatomy, she designed to new lab activities in Plants in Human Affairs, and received outstanding reviews from her students. Congratulations to our 2014 Award Winners!

Biology Graduate students Grant Award

Published: Feb 25th, 2015

Congratulations to several outstanding grant winning graduate students. Awarded grants include: H. Jane Brockmann Graduate Research Award ($1750); Felicity Newell – Does behavioral dominance spatially and/or temporally limit access to resources by subordinate species? A study with Grallaria antpittas in northern Peru. Davis Graduate Fellowship in Botany ($300); Rebecca Stubbs – Using an enigmatic arctic-alpine plant genus (Micranthes) as a model to answer large-scale biogeographic questions. Mildred Mason Griffith Botany Grant ($1000); Sarah Carey – Characterization of a putative chromosomal inversion in the moss Ceratodon pupureus. Michael L. May Interdisciplinary Grant ($1000); Barry Kaminsky & Jacob Landis – Are lichens monogamous? Variation within the Leptogium cyanescens complex and its associated photobion in Florida. Michael L. May Research Grants ($300); Luciano Soares – Understanding the conservation implications of the extensive hybridization among hawksbill and loggerhead populations in Brazil; Joni Wright – Investigation of peripheral olfactory system responsiveness to biologically relevant odor cues in two new world vultures that demonstrate diverse sensory mediated foraging behavior; and Bonnie Kircher – Growing apart: Characterizing the development of sexual dimorphism in the Anolis dewlap. Brian Riewald Memorial Fund Research Grants ($300); Tania Chavarria-Pizarro – Local adaptation along an environmental gradient in the endemic mangrove warbler subspecies (Setophaga petechia xanthotera); Mark Sandfoss – Rates of water flux in a unique insular population of pit-viper; and Matthew Palumbo – Closing the loop of cooperation: determining fitness costs to the symbiotic ants of an Amazonian ant-plant mutualism. John Paul Olowo Memorial Fund Research Grants ($300); Leslie Kollar – Investigation of a balanced polymorphism in the Ceratodon purpureus; Mitch Walters – The effects of urban noise pollution on northern mockingbird acoustic signaling and mimicry composition; and Kelly Speer – Using parasite genetics to infer patterns of host dispersal. Lewis & Varina Vaughn Fellowship in Orchid Biology ($1500); Richie Hodel – Comparative phylogeography of the mangrove orchid (Brassavola nodosa) and the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) in the Caribbean; and Peter Houlihan – Operation Ghostbuster: Conquering the enigmatic phylogeography and pollination ecology of Caribbean ghost orchids (Dendrophylax spp.). Carrie Lynn Yoder Scholarship for Plant Ecology & Conservation Research in Florida ($500); Robert Johnson – Green turtles and blue carbon: effects of grazing on carbon release from seagrass beds.

City of Gainesville Nature Centers Commission Star Award

Published: Feb 25th, 2015

Congratulations to Professor Francis “Jack” E. Putz from the Department of Biology who is being honored with the City of Gainesville Nature Centers Commission Star Award. This award honors the volunteer to has contributed the most time, energy, and enthusiasm volunteering in City of Gainesville nature parks of programs during the year. This contribution will be measured by the impact the nominee had on these areas. Criteria include the depth of the environmental contribution made, amount of time nominee has dedicated to promoting aspects of environmental awareness, and contributions over a sustained period of time. In particular, Jack is being honored for his service on the city’s Tree Advisory Board (for over twelve years!) as well as his contributions to creating the Urban Forest Management Plan and work with other natural areas. Thanks to Jack for reducing the town-gown divide and making Gainesville the beautiful and healthy place it is.


Congratulations to Joe Pfaller!

Published: Nov 17th, 2014

One of his studies on epibiont crabs on sea turtles was featured in Smithsonian Science: Click the link to go to the article. Best wishes, Karen Bjorndal

Kudos to our graduate students!

Published: Nov 7th, 2014

Katrina Cuddy won the the best poster presentation at the recent Florida Genetics Symposium. The title of her poster was “ER localization of a Novel Regulator of Actin Depolymerizing Factor (ADF)”. Wenbin Mei has received a CLAS Dissertation Fellowship funded by the Charles Vincent and Heidi Cole McLaughlin Endowment for Spring 2015.