Picnic Day!

Last weekend was Picnic Day, one of UC Davis’ biggest outreach days! The students of the Center for Population Biology put together an exhibit on the tree of life and evolution, complete with a phylogenetic tree handout with stamps for each type of taxon, filled in at stations around the tree. We had all kinds of invertebrates, from horseshoe crabs to cockroaches to anemones, several lines of corn, and evolution-thinking activities with mammal skeletons and bird beak evolution (after Galapagos finches!).

This was UC Davis’ 103rd Picnic Day, and it’s a day that combines outreach from all departments, across the sciences, arts, and humanities, with festival-like events like the classic Doxie Derby, dog agility competitions, endless style food carts, and a Battle of the Bands with costumed and dancing pep bands from all over California. We don’t have the numbers on this year’s exhibit yet, but previous Picnic Days have brought over 125,000 people to campus.

I brought in some fishy specimens (a cornetfish (Fistularia petimba) and a butterfly ray (Gymnura micrura)) to show folks. Though we didn’t have live fishes, the specimens

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Bringing in the specimens required creative use of carabiners.

worked really well: people (and especially kids) loved getting their hands on the specimens. Both were NOAA bycatch used in the Cornell Vertebrate Biology course I worked for as a teaching assistant as an undergrad…outreach and teaching specimens getting multiple chances at education!

Looking forward to seeing what we put together for next year! Under the direction of Kristin Lee, the exhibit ran smoothly, and we won the Best ‘Secrets of Nature’ Exhibit!

Proutfest 2016


Each year the Population Biology Graduate Group holds a student symposium, named Proutfest (for Timothy Prout, of UC Davis entomology). The Pop Bio grad group explores incredibly diverse topics, from convergent evolution of terrestriality in crabs to theoretical ecology modelers to evo-devo entomologists. First years introduce their previous work (shark saw, anyone?) and a baby picture.  It makes for a dynamic and fun day–highlights at #Proutfest2016!

Modelling tooth–prey interactions in sharks: the importance of dynamic testing

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-7-29-53-pmI’m really excited to say that the shark saw paper has been published in Royal Society Open Science! One of several papers to come out of the Friday Harbor Labs’ 2014 Functional Morphology and Ecology of Fishes course, my coauthors Stacy Farina, Adam Summers, Jeff Brash, and I explored the importance of shark tooth morphology and repeated use on tooth cutting ability and wear, and found that dynamic testing is vital to studying tooth performance.

Check out the publication here!

CURB Spotlight!

The Jawzall poster at Cornell’s BioExpo, March 2015

I’m featured as this week’s student researcher spotlight on the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board facebook! Link here. Pretty cool! CURB is a student-run organization that facilitates a lot of the larger student research community at Cornell–between Spring and Fall Forum poster sessions and the Peer Mentorship Program, it’s great programming to get research and mentorship experience for both new and upperlevel students.