Graduates this semester:
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!
Selena, who was an REU student in summer 2018 on the toad project, presented her work at MURALS last Friday. She created an art piece inspired by her research last summer, using acrylic paint on canvas. The piece was also inspired by cloud-watching and we particularly liked the high- and low-frequency sound waves depicted at the top and bottom of the canvas, relating the the different hearing capacities of eared and earless toads. Leorah volunteered for the event and she and Kim H. were both able to attend Selena's wonderful formal presentation of her work.
The Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium is in it's fifth year at CSU. It provides students with an opportunity to present their research, art or other scholarly work and receive support and guidance throughout the month-long process leading up to the showcase, where their presentations are evaluate by graduate students. All undergraduate are welcome to participate but MURALS intentionally reaches out to students of color, especially black and Latinx students who are often underrepresented in research.
Kim Hoke will be heading to Uruguay next week, after a brief stop at the University of Oklahoma (future home of Dr. Laura Stein!) to give a seminar on April 3. She will be teaching the second half of a bioinformatics course with the Sociedad de Neurociencias del Uruguay that includes electric fish and toads. The course on the neurobiology of social behaviors will take place at el Instituto Clemente Estable over March and April 2019. See here for more information:
Kim Dolphin competed in the Vice President for Research 3 Minute Challenge at the beginning of February. She, along with 38 other graduate students, presented her research in three minutes to a panel of judges, using only one slide to tell her story. Kim gave a great talk and was among the fifteen VPR Graduate Student Fellows selected, along with two the two other women from the Biology Department that competed.
Fellows receive a $4,000 scholarship, as well as participating in professional development workshops, mentoring, leadership and engagement opportunities over the 2019-20 academic year.
Great job, Kim!
Title: Hoke Lab REU Summer Research Opportunity
Number of positions: 3
Eligibility: Current undergraduate students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions; sophomore standing or higher preferred
The Hoke Lab is seeking motivated, outstanding undergraduates interested in the study of animal behavior, neuroscience, skull structure, and evolution to conduct research over the summer via NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). The primary goal of the Hoke lab is to understand the processes that shape evolutionary trajectories. We focus on the mechanisms of convergent evolution of behavioral and morphological traits. More information about the Hoke Lab can be found at http://hokelab.weebly.com.
Student will complete independent research projects, as well as working together as a team to contribute to large-scale experiments. REU students will formulate a project to explore the evolution and development of anurans, particularly the middle ear structures. Students will develop a wide variety of skills that may include tasks such as microscopy and microCT scan analysis under the guidance of senior lab members. There may be opportunities for field work as well. Pay is $12.50/hr, and students will be expected to work full time (40hrs/week for 10 weeks).
If interested, please send a CV and a brief (one paragraph) statement of interest to Leorah McGinnis (email@example.com) by March 1st, 2019. Please include a description of any previous lab or field experience.
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.