In the News

  • NIU is hosting the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference (MEEC), to be held virtually March 20-21, 20201. MEEC is an annual regional conference hosted by a different midwestern institution each year and is organized and directed entirely by graduate students. The conference is graduate and undergraduate student-focused, providing a professional atmosphere for students of all levels to interact with and learn from their peers. Previous conferences have drawn between 250 and 300 attendees from universities around the midwest. Attendees are typically composed of 45% graduate students, 45% undergraduate students, and 10% faculty members. Registration is open on the MEEC website and attendees may sign up to present their research via a virtual poster session or pre-recorded talk.
  • Voting opened for the first annual Biological Sciences lab logo contest. Be sure to place your vote before April 1, 2021!
  • Postdoc John Vanek and graduate students Tony Del Valle and Erin Rowland hosted a two-day symposium on the intersection of wildlife conservation and ecosystem restoration at the 81st Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference. This annual event attracts nearly 800 biologists, students and scientists from local, state and provincial, federal, and tribal natural resources agencies, universities, and private companies across the 12 Midwestern states and provinces. In addition, Callie Golba, Tony, Erin, and John each gave research presentations at the symposium, which attracted more than 270 concurrent live stream viewers at its peak, and was one of the most attended symposium at the conference.
  • Rich King had a paper accepted for publication in Journal of Herpetology.
  • Kastle M, Kapfer J, Kuhns AR, Graser W, Glowacki G, Ibach A, Mitchem, L, Mozuch J, Rudolph N, Rutzen K, King R. In press. Blanding's turtle hatchling survival and movements following natural vs. artificial hibernation. Journal of Herpetology.'
  • Postdoc John Vanek was invited to give a remote talk to the North Carolina Chapter of the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation's annual meeting based on his work.
  • Lauren Orton (Ph.D., Biology, NIU 2020), Matt Nissenbaum (M.S. Biology, NIU 2020) and Dr. Mel Duvall had a paper published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, about cool-season grasses. Non-NIU coauthors were from the Smithsonian, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Herbario MA, Madrid. The paper, which is the largest study of its kind with hundreds of grass species, reveals comprehensive evolutionary relationships, age of origin determinations, and paleo-dispersal events by utilizing best practices in phylogenomics.
  • Kara Coffman-Rea, graduate student in Dr. Karen Samonds' lab, successfully defended her dissertation proposal.
  • Graduate student Wieteke Holthuijzen was accepted into the ecology and evolutionary biology program at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville as a PhD student and also received the Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence. In addition, she successfully defended her M.S. at NIU ("Fly on the wall: comparing arthropod communities between islands with and without house mice [Mus musculus]).
  • Graduate students Anica Protity, Carly Crow and Emma Grindle were awarded the Elwood and Ruth Briles Award for their research related to genetics.
  • Graduate student Brenda Kucha Anak Ganeng successfully defended her M.S. proposal to study the representations and perceptions of sexual health in anatomy and physiology.
  • Graduate student Wieteke Holthuijzen received the Biological Sciences Outstanding Graduate Student Award!
  • Graduate students Hemin Shah and Christina Cline received the Biological Sciences Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award!
  • Postdoc John Vanek was selected as a semi-finalist for the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. However, he withdrew his application for further consideration because who can justify moving to Washington D.C. for one year to live in a tiny apartment during a global pandemic?

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