Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SCIB)

The Grice Marine Lab had a high profile at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), held January 3 – 7, 2011, in chilly Salt Lake City, UT.  Fourteen faculty members, postdocs, grad and undergrad students presented their research findings and mingled with more than 1400 other conferees at the Salt Palace Convention Center.  New faculty member Dr. Andrew Clark chaired a well-attended afternoon session on “Adhesion and Locomotor Substrate Effects.”  In other sessions, Dr. Alison Welch reported on body condition in gray tree frogs, while Dr. Agnes Ayme-Southgate linked molecular biology to the biomechanics of insect flight muscle and Dr. Eric McElroy revealed the impacts of tail autonomy on locomotion in grass lizards.  Dr. Bob Podolsky, graduate student Sammi Smoot, and undergraduates Diego Castro and Gabe Segarra presented their data on antimicrobial and antipredator defenses and tether strength in molluscan egg masses.  Graduate students Nat Johnson, Kris Stover and Casey Darling discussed their work with Drs. Lou and Karen Burnett on antimicrobial and antioxidant defenses and on locomotion in crustaceans. Burnett lab postodoctoral fellow Dr. Kristin Hardy summarized recent studies on molecular adaptations to hypoxia in blue crabs.  Outside the formal sessions, the Grice group took advantage of opportunities to network and discuss the research with their peers and enjoy some of the local sites and even, for some, a little skiing.

Professors Present Their Research at a Global Change Conference

Dr. Louis and Karen Burnett presented their research findings at the Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World conference of the American Physiological Society this August in Colorado.  The Burnett Laboratory studies the effects of high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels on marine organisms.  Organisms with environmental stresses as these have been shown to display a decrease in their metabolism and are unable to efficiently fight off infections.  The marine organisms they study are accustomed to environmental stresses such as these and are still showing compromised immune systems.  Therefore, it is shocking to think of the stresses deep water organisms could be facing with decreased oxygen levels coupled with high carbon dioxide.  With scientists focusing their attention on the risks of ocean acidification, the Burnett laboratory’s research may provide a peak into these possible dangers the animals and their environments may face.  For more information please visit the full article.

Bermuda Research Voyage

Marine Biology Professor Dr. Gorka Sancho along with two geology professors, Dr Leslie Sautter and Dr. Scott Harris left for Bemuda on May 21, 2010. During this cruise, they will guide 16 college students through an indiviudal research project to investigate the southeast continental shelf or Gulf Stream. The voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot sailing vessel, will take 5 weeks. In addition to their research projects, the students will learn how to sail this amazing ship. You may view the video below for a glimse of the ship and the adventures to come.

Collaborative Research Highlighted in NIST Techbeat

A NIST Techbeat article titled Marine Lab Hunts Subtle Clues to Environmental Threats to Blue Crabs spotlights a collaborative research effort between National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the College of Charleston (CofC). The research group is using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to evaluate oxidative stress in the economically, ecologically and recreationally important species. The research conducted at the Hollings Marine Laboratory is discussed in detail in their recent Metabolomics publication.

Welcome Dr. Tina Bell

This fall, Dr. Tina Bell joined the Sotka lab as a postdoctoral researcher.  Tina received her Ph.D. in September 2009 from the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia.  Her dissertation focused on the population genetics and evolution of feeding behavior in an herbivorous isopod Idotea baltica.   Tina will use a newly-funded National Science Foundation grant to generate a phylogeny of herbivorous amphipods in the family Ampithoidae.  This phylogeny will help clarify the taxonomic uncertainties within this group of important herbivores and to elucidate constraints on feeding preferences for chemically-rich seaweeds.  Tina loves the color ‘rainbow’, she makes a mean pumpkin-chocolate brownie, and is now spending a lot of time with little cups of amphipods.  Please welcome Tina when you get a chance.

Inside the JEB Features a GPMB Alum Publication

An article recently published by GPMB alum Lindy Thibodeaux in the Journal of Experimental Biology was featured as part of Inside the JEB. The piece highlighting her thesis work was titled Infected Crabs Breathe Easy During Exercise.  Thibodeaux investigated the effects of bacterial infection on physical activity and respiration the Atlantic blue crab.  In collaboration with Dr. Karen and Lou Burnett, she placed infected blue crabs on a treadmill and measured their oxygen consumption. The metabolic differences found between infected and non-infected animals were most unexpected.

Dr. Kristin Hardy Joins the Burnett Lab

Dr. Kristin Hardy completed her Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington in 2009. Her dissertation research investigated the effects of diffusion on skeletal muscle metabolism and fiber design in Portunid swimming crabs. Her current research will focus on immunologic and metabolic response to anthropogenically induced environmental stressors in marine oyster, shrimp and crabs. She is an NOAA Oceans and Human Health Postdoctoral Scholar at theHollings Marine Laboratory. As part of her training, she will develop an OHH curriculum directed to Minority Serving Institutes.

Marine Biology Colloquium

The Student Research Colloquium of the Graduate Program in Marine Biology (GPMB) was established in 1998, with the goals of increasing awareness of research activities by students and faculty affiliated with GPMB; providing graduate students with experience in making scientific presentations; and promoting interactions among faculty and students conducting research in marine biology. Dr. Erik Sotka stepped in the give the opening talk for Dr. Scott France of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Previously part of the CofC Department of Biology and Grice Marine Lab, Dr. France was unable to attend. A poster session and the Friday social was held on Septemer 25th, 2009. The poster presenters attended their posters from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the posters remained on display throughout the Colloquium. Several students received honorable mentions for their posters. On Saturday, student talks ran from 9-3:30, followed by the closing address at 4pm by Dr. Geoff Scott of the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research and the Hollings Marine Lab. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed Lowcountry Boil and the new students to the GPMB program were introduced to the Fort Johnson community. Melanie Hedgespeth won the award for best oral presentation. Please see theColloquium Program for a detailed schedule and presentation abstracts.

The Colloquium gives the students an opportunity to practice their presentation skills and provides them with feedback to make improvements; it also allows faculty to recruit new students to their labs, and allows new students to review the research going on in various labs and consider their own future research. Also, undergraduates interested in graduate school can get a sense of what graduate school is all about.

Very nearly all marine graduate students, except those in their first year, presented their research this year – as you will see in the abstracts, it is an impressive array of marine research!

Oral Presentation Award

Melanie Hedgespeth

Distinguished Recognition for Colloquium Poster

Lindsey Parent and Joy Gerhard

Distinguished Recognition for Colloquium Poster of Proposal

Ryan Joyce and Tessa Bricke

DiTullio Lab Researches the Effects of Climate Change

Dr. Giacomo “Jack” DiTullio and Dr. Peter Lee recently published two articles in the Marine Ecology Progress Series. The research was conducted with help from former GPMB students Jamie Rudisill, Aimee Neeley and Jennifer Maucher. The first article addresses the effects of global climate change on phytoplankton and biogeochemical cycles, specifically atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature. The experimental results suggest that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature will negatively affect the photoplankton’s ability to sequester carbon. The other article evaulates the CLAW hypothesis which states that phytoplankton-derived dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) can increase the ability of the earth’s surface to reflect solar radiation, thus reducing atmospheric temperatures and combating the effects of global warming.

Dr. Jill Mikucki (UT-Knoxville) standing on the snout of the Taylor Glacier at Blood Falls (photo courtesy of Jill Mikucki)

Dr. Jill Mikucki (UT-Knoxville) standing on the snout of the Taylor Glacier at Blood Falls (photo courtesy of Jill Mikucki)