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Lab News

February 2022:

M.S. student Elliot Lusk won first place among graduate students in ISU’s 2022 Image of Research Competition, held at the Illinois State University Galleries. The competition, which is modeled after similar events held worldwide, requires participants to submit one compelling, static image of their research along with a brief narrative. A panel composed of Cecil McDonald Jr., a Chicago-based artist, and Kandace Rusnack, national director of the Education B2B for The New York Times, evaluated the submissions based on visual impact; originality; and the connection between the student’s image, narrative, and research project. Elliot’s image and associated narrative, titled Psychedelic Songbird Cerebellum, depicts a region of a young European starling’s brain that is involved in song production, a focus of Elliot’s thesis research. Congratulations to all the students who entered this year’s competition.

January 2022:

M.S. student Elliot Lusk attended the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in Phoenix, AZ. Elliot presented a poster that described preliminary results from his second summer of data collection. His presentation, titled The pre-fledge edge: Investigating the effects of natural variation in ectoparasite load in European starling nestlings, was well received.

January 2021:

While virtually attending the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, M.S. student Elliot Lusk presented his research findings from his first season of field work. His poster, titled Creepy crawly compensation: Examining the costs of ectoparasite-induced compensatory growth in late-stage nestlings, presented preliminary findings indicating that a late growth spurt (a.k.a., compensatory growth) in nestlings exposed to increased ectoparasite burdens may come at costs to the blood’s ability to carry oxygen as well as reduced overall brain size.

May 2019:

The lab welcomes new M.S. student Elliot Lusk, formerly of Kickapoo Union​. Elliot has been credited with bringing the Impossible Burger to the Bloomington/Normal restaurant scene, and we hope he follows up that successful idea with a string of equally successful research projects on developmental stress in nestling birds.

March 2018:

MS student Jocelyn McDonald received a research grant from the Illinois State Academy of Science​ to study the effects of two commonly used pesticides on ectoparasite infestation in starling nests. The findings from the study will help determine the best method for experimentally limiting nest infestation without producing unintended consequences in developing nestlings. Nice job Jocelyn!

January 2018:
Jocelyn McDonald has joined the lab as a new MS student. Jocelyn, who received her BS degree from ISU, will be studying the effects of ectoparasites on developmental plasticity in songbird nestlings. Welcome to the graduate program Jocelyn!

August 2017:

August 2017:
On 14 August, Leah Pryor MS had a manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Zoology. The manuscript, titled Ectoparasites as developmental stressors: effects on somatic and physiological development is the second from Leah’s thesis research. See her first paper here.

On 10 August, MS student Aderinsola Odetundesuccessfully defended her thesis titled Effects of parasitism and mite control methods on European starling development. Derin is leaving the lab to begin her medical school training. Good luck Derin.

June 2017:
On 22 June, MS student Amanda Smith defended her thesis titled Real-time monitoring of electrically catecholamine signals in the songbird striatum using in vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. A paper based on her findings recently appeared in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. Congratulations on completing your degree Amanda.

March 2017: 

On 24 March, MS student Cody Scholtens presented a poster highlighting research involving real-time monitoring of DA release in the striatum of urethane-anesthetized European starlings in response to social vocalizations. Although the findings were preliminary, they generated a lot of excitement. Cody even “dressed up” for the presentation.

January 2017:

On 7 January, MS student Aderinsola Odetunde presented some of her thesis research at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, in New Orleans, LA. Her presentation, Quit buggin’ me: The effects of ectoparasite control methods on mite load and nestling phenotypes attracted positive attention. A portion of Derin’s travel expenses were covered by a national Phi Sigma travel grant. Congratulations to Derin for the grant award and her presentation.

November 2016:

On 10 November, undergraduate research assistant Colleen Quinn participated in the ISU Biological Sciences Student Association‘s first annual Student Research Symposium. She presented a scientific poster based on research she helped conduct during the summer and fall of 2016. The poster, titled Does blood loss explain ectoparasite-induced developmental trade-offs in nestlings?, was well attended. Nicely done Colleen!

On 1 November, MS student Aderinsola Odetunde presented her final MS thesis seminar titled Effects of Parasitism and Mite Control Methods on European Starling Development at the weekly Integrative Biology Research Seminar. Derin will be defending her MS thesis in the spring.

August 2016:

On 30 August, MS student Cody Scholtens presented an update on his MS thesis research at the weekly Integrative Biology Research Seminar. His talk was titled Investigating Mesolimbic Dopamine and its Role in Social Behavior in the European Starling. He obeyed the first rule of the lab, he did not embarrass us.

May 2016:

MS studentAderinsola Odetunde received a research grant from the Illinois Ornithological Society to study the effects of blood-feeding ectoparasites on developmental trade-offs in nestlings. Be on the lookout for an article summarizing her research in an upcoming issue of the IOSjournal, The Meadowlark. Nice job Derin!

MS student Cody Scholtens received a Grant-in-aid of research from Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. The grant provides funding for Cody’s research on real-time monitoring of dopamine burst firing in the brain in response to various starling communication signals. Props to Cody!

MS student Aderinsola Odetunde’s research was presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, at the University of Western Ontario, in London, ON. Her poster, titled Does blood loss explain ectoparasite-induced changes in nestling development?, was well received.

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