We are happy to announce that Mariana Rodriguez has joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Welcome! Mariana recently finished her PhD work at University of Texas- Austin where she focused on understanding the aspects of the social environment that modulates both group and individual-level learning response in dynamic dominance hierarchies of a cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni. Mariana is now planning to study frog acoustic communication, and how hormones affect the temporal dynamics of auditory processing in females during mating decisions.
Amir Alayoubi has joined the lab as a 1st year rotation student through the Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience program. Amir was recently a lab manager at California State University San Marcos, where he received his B.A. in Psychological Science, and investigated the neuroendocrine mechanisms of postpartum depression and anxiety in mice. Amir is interested in studying the individual differences that underlie susceptibility and resilience to acute, chronic, and early life stressors.
Kim Dolphin has successfully defended her dissertation, Proximate and Ultimate Mechanisms of Plasticity in Mating Strategies in the Trinidadian Guppy. Dr. Dolphin will soon become a faculty member at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas to pursue her passion in teaching.
Postdoc Laura Stein is moving to Oklahoma where she will be starting up the Stein lab this fall. Former undergraduates Quinn and Dain will be helping her as co-lab managers as she starts her new faculty position. We are so proud of her!
Lab Manager Leorah McGinnis is also moving on this week. After over two and half years with the Hoke lab, Leorah is heading to China to teach English and math for a year. If you notice any changes to our Twitter activity or website, that is why - Kim H. will be taking over her own tweeting soon!
Congratulations to both these wonderful women as they chart courses for new adventures.
Several of our undergraduate volunteers and husbandry workers graduated this year, coinciding conveniently with the conclusion of our fish room here in the Hoke Lab. We are sad to see them go, but so excited to see what they do in the future! Many of the undergraduate who are not graduating are also moving on to exciting things as our fish room no longer needs husbandry staff. Be sure to keep in touch and you're always welcome in the lab! This photo is from our end-of-year potluck to celebrate.
Graduates this semester:
Meanwhile, our REU summer term has begun! We have three great new undergraduate researchers this summer who are working closely with Rachel on our toad project. We are so excited to see what they produce this summer! You can learn more about Stephanie, Emily and Jesse on our "People" tab. We also have a number of other undergraduate volunteers this summer who will be helping out and attending Popsicle Hour with us. (Popsicle Hour is our weekly summer meeting where we focus on more undergraduate-specific topics and professional development. The snacks were originally popsicles, hence the name, but now we typically pick a baking theme for the summer and trade off bringing in our best attempts. Last summer was scones, this summer is cookies and bars!)
Kim Hoke was named a Colorado State University Monfort Professor in 2017, one of CSU's highest faculty honors, awarding selected faculty unrestricted grant funding over two years to support their science. She delivered her Monfort Professor Lecture, entitled "How genes and environment shape decisions and dictate evolutionary potential," on Wednesday, May 1 in the Lory Student Center.
Here's a bit of background on her talk from the email announcement sent out by Dr. Daniel Bush:
How do animals make decisions? Kim Hoke to provide insight from guppy behavior
Studying a species of tropical fish can tell a larger story of how animals make decisions, and how experience and genetics combine to alter those decisions. That’s the thrust of Associate Professor of Biology Kim Hoke’s research in the evolution of animal behavior.
Hoke’s lecture [detailed] how her lab develops integrated views of the diverse molecular and cell mechanisms by which genetic backgrounds shape animal decisions.
Guppies and predators
For over a decade, Hoke has led a research inquiry into Trinidadian guppies, small tropical fish that live with larger aquatic predators in some places but have also colonized stretches of river with fewer predators.
“We find that fish differ in how predator exposure during their development shapes both anti-predator and social decisions, depending on their population of origin,” Hoke said. “We are linking molecular, neural, social and physiological traits that influence decision-making to genetic differences and evaluating how genetics and experience together impact evolution.”
Hoke is an accomplished biologist who has earned major research grants as well as recognition for excellence in teaching and mentoring students. She has used the Monfort Professor funds to extend her established research on genetic and developmental contributions to behavioral diversity in Trinidadian guppies.
More about the Monfort Professorship from the Monfort Excellence Fund website:
The Monfort Family Foundation established the Monfort Professors Program to help CSU recruit and retain talented faculty members. Each year, two faculty members are selected as Monfort Professors by a committee appointed by the Provost. They retain this designation for two years, and receive $75,000 per year to further their teaching and research. CSU faculty have continually achieved tremendous results with the funding. Monfort Professors describe the award as “powerful,” “invaluable,” and “transformative.” It transcends the limitations of other funders and allows CSU’s most innovative young faculty to propel their careers and greatly strengthen CSU in the process. The Monfort Professorship also touches hundreds of others, such as postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, lab partners, and others, by advancing their studies and careers.
On Thursday, undergrad Quinn Iffert was recognized for her CURC poster presentation with High Honors. See a brief interview with Quinn below. We're so proud of all her hard work!
What was your project about? What do you think it means?
Quinn: This project is important for many reasons. The first being that most enrichment research is done in large mammals and not much research is done for fish, reptiles or invertebrates. The second being that Trinidadian guppies are a great model organism for research in many different areas because their morphology and behavior are very susceptible to change. If a scientist is interested in the stream ecology and behavior in wild populations, a laboratory setting could have severe effects on behavior and morphology and the data collected wouldn't be accurate for the wild populations, but adding enrichment in the lab could aid in potentially getting a more accurate representation of a wild population.
How long did you work on this project?
Quinn: I worked on the data collection aspect for about 3 weeks. There was a two week acclimation period and then doing assays for about a week. Though overall I spent around 2 months prepping for the project, gathering data and then analyzing the data (the two months is spread out throughout a semester, but there was a break between gathering data and analyzing while I attended Laura Stein's Rstudio workshop to learn how to analyze).
Do you plan to do anything further with this project? What are your plans after you graduate in May?
Quinn: Currently, I have an extension project going on looking at how environmental enrichment affects guppies through the development and see any sex differences in behavior. We already have significant differences in juvenile size between the enriched and unenriched environments which is really exciting to see!
Once I graduate I am heading out to Dallas for a behavioral research internship at Dallas Zoo where I will most likely be working on okapis (my favorite animal). Once that is over I will move out to the University of Oklahoma with Dain Manella [another graduating Hoke lab undergrad and REU student] and Laura Stein to be a lab manager in the Stein Lab!
Four of our undergraduate researchers, Quinn Iffert, Dain Manella, Claire Crookston, and Selena Aguiniga, presented their work at the annual Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) Showcase today! All four students did REU projects with the lab - two with guppies and two with toads. Quinn, Dain, and Claire are all graduating next month and we are so proud of all that they've accomplished here. Dain and Quinn will be joining Laura at the University of Oklahoma as her lab managers next year.
Congratulations to all four of our presenting undergraduate researchers!
After being nominated by Kim Hoke, Leorah won an AP Star Award . And she had no idea it was coming! The award is for outstanding individual performance at CSU, recognizing Administrative Professionals who make a difference and “shine” in our CSU community. Kim D., Rachel and Kim H. came the ceremony to help her celebrate!
Our primary goal is to understand the processes that shape evolutionary trajectories. We focus on the mechanisms of convergent evolution of behavioral and morphological traits. We link molecular, neural, and developmental mechanisms to their consequences for organismal phenotypes, and we investigate the neural and hormonal mechanisms of context- or experience-dependent changes in behavior.