Mon, Oct 23, 2017
Dr. Dianne Pater
Visiting Assistant Professor and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow, Amherst College
Title: Screening for Natural Variation in WUE Traits in a Diversity Set of Brassica napus
While plants have evolved to cope with changes in their environment, that adaptability has not necessarily been preserved as crops were developed from wild species. The efficiency at which plants maintain physiological processes, including photosynthesis, varies widely by species and is also affected by environmental influences, including drought, temperature extremes, and soil salinity. Stable isotope screening (δ13C) of a large diversity set of the crop species Brassica napus identified several accessions with extremes in water use efficiency (WUE). Subsequent examination of these candidates at the physiological level allowed for investigation of the underlying mechanisms of drought adaptation and identified natural variants in crop species with improved water use efficiency and potential relevant traits. My research aims to identify traits that may allow crop plants to adapt to unfavorable climate conditions and also to help identify crop varieties that may be grown on marginal lands that aren’t ideally suited for agriculture.
Mon, Oct 30, 2017
Dr. Sarah Goodwin
Visiting Lecturer, Biology
"Studies of Songbirds: From Conservation to Communication"
Animal communication facilitates myriad interactions such as mate choice, reproduction, agonistic interactions, and social behavior, to name a few. In acoustic systems (birdsong, for example), vocalizing individuals often intend for their signal to be received by a targeted individual. Sound must travel through a medium though, and to be effective, reliably transmit the signaled information. Furthermore, signals transmitted acoustically are often available to not just the intended receiver, but to other intercepting animals. In my research, I have explored both consequences and opportunities that arise from such signaling systems. One line of my research has examined the effects varied sound mediums on signalers and receivers, asking how animals contend with rapid changes to their sound environments, and what implications those behaviors may have for conservation. A second line of research examines how social behavior is altered when multiple receivers are available to intercept and use acoustic signals. My research focuses primarily on songbirds, and more recently, acoustically communicating insects.