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Avian recombination rate paper published in Science

In a collaborative effort led by Sonal Singhal, Ellen Leffler and Molly Przeworski, we detailed the recombination landscape in zebra finches and their close relatives. In doing so we've demonstrated that even in the absence of the PRDM9 gene, songbirds do possess recombination hotspots. In the absence of PRDM9, however, hotspots are conserved over large evolutionary distances, unlike what has been observed in primates.

Nerd Nite comes to ECU Biology

In honor of homecoming, the Biology Department at ECU will hold ... Nerd Nite! Nerd Nite is an internationally renowned event in which scientists and other nerds gather to hear comical presentations and drink refreshing beverages.

When: Friday October 16, 5-7PM

Where: Howell Science Complex Room N102


Dr. Ariane Peralta, microbial ecologist and former rockstar who lives by the mantra "work hard play hard"

If you build it, will 'they' come?: Restoring ecosystems, many microbes at a time

The 'field of dreams' hypothesis states that 'if you build it, they will come.' In the context of ecosystem restoration, 'you' refers to ecosystem managers and 'they' refers to microbes in this scenario. Microorganisms provide ecosystem services, such as improved water quality, that are critical to humans and difficult or costly to replace with substitutes. Considering the ecology and evolution of many microbes at a time is needed in the restoration of microbial functions.

Dr. Seth Barribeau, world traveller, bee geek and milkshake aficionado.

Sex, disease, and Marvin Gaye

The existence of sex is one of the enduring mysteries of biology. Sexual reproduction (as opposed to clonal reproduction) is risky, uncertain, and forces an individual to pass on only half of its genes to its progeny. Here, I explore the manifold costs of sex, and an unlikely source of redemption.

In keeping with the Nerd Nite tradition, refreshing beverages will be served.

The Balalab is recruiting...

The Balakrishnan Lab at East Carolina University is searching for a Ph.D. student to begin in Fall 2016.

Research in the Balakrishnan lab addresses basic questions in evolutionary and behavioral biology. Most of the work in the lab uses genomic approaches (RNA-seq, population genomics) to better understand the mechanisms of speciation, adaptation and behavior.

The Ph.D. student would be funded for two years under active NSF grants, and for the remaining time under teaching assistantships at ECU. Funded projects in the lab examine the genomic underpinnings of brood parasitic behavior, and the continued development of genomic resources for the study of sexual selection in neotropical manakins (famous for leks and associated crazy courtship displays). The recruited student would have considerable flexibility within these broad areas and study systems to explore independent ideas.

ECU features a very strong group of behavioral and evolutionary biologists and thus provides a rich environment for students interested in these areas. For a full listing of faculty, please visit: here

Prospective candidates should have significant experience in either the field, the lab, or computers as projects will involve some combination of field, computational, behavioral and/or neurobiological work.

To apply please send a C.V. and short description of research interests to:

Instructions for the full application to the Ph.D program are located here.

More info on the lab is available here.

Paper on pin-tailed whydahs accepted!

Congrats to BALALAB PhD candidate Allison Lansverk on the acceptance of her paper on brood parasitism in pin-tailed whydahs. The study will be published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. Extremely happy to have our first "bird journal" paper in good long while! We'll post the link and more details when the paper is ready!

Manakin RCN kicks off

The first meeting of our NSF Research Coordination Network is now in the books after a wonderful but intense weekend at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Workshops on genome annotation and the compilation, integration and management of the extensive manakin field and genomic data, were a great success. Plans were hatched for leveraging such information towards future synthetic research. New friends and colleagues abound!

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