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Grad students

Grad students

PhD student Shawna Peerh presented a plan of her research to her committee this week. She put together a terrific presentation and is off to a great start.

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Red Junglefowl in Texas

Red Junglefowl in Texas

Postdoc Hoa Nguyen-Phuc and I traveled to Tennessee to the property of a gentleman (Mr. Don Shadow) who has been one of the more successful people to keep Red Junglefowl in captivity. Through the contacts and great help of Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin ( professor emeritus at University of Georgia), we were able to coordinate the transfer of these birds so we can attempt to establish our own colony here. It was a tremendous excitement for me to see these birds again, which I have only seen in the wild in India. Hoa, who has extensive experience with wild junglefowl, is taking a lead role in making sure we are successful in our plans.

Here are some pictures

The birds in their transport crate
The birds in their transport crate
Giri Athrey & Don Shadow
Giri Athrey and Don Shadow
RJF making their acquaintance with their new home.
RJF making their acquaintance with their new home.

 

 

News for the new year

News for the new year

A very happy new year to all!

Undergrad Jason Pizzini graduated in Dec 2015, but will be returning (hopefully) to complete some left over lab work.

Undergrad Hamza Khan will be returning as well to continue his project on nutrition-micriobiome interactions in wild birds.

We are about to travel to Tennessee to bring back some Red Junglefowl (Richardson’s strain). This is a big moment for our program. Red Junglefowl are considered the principal ancestor to all domesticated chicken. In their native range in Asia they face decline due to shrinking habitat but also threats from another source – namely introgression with domesticated chicken. The Red Junglefowl we are getting come from a pure line of birds that were imported by the U.S. in the 1960s. These birds have many secrets to reveal about chicken domestication, avian health and generally about avian evolution.

It will be a busy semester as far as teaching goes. I am teaching POSC 414 – Avian Genetics, but also EEBL 605  – Population and Quantitative Genetics (shared with Michel Slotman).

 

Measuring dispersal in birds by mapping genealogies

Measuring dispersal in birds by mapping genealogies

This one was a while in the making, but its finally out: my new paper published in PLoS One. This work took the spatial genetic data collected from Black-Capped Vireos to its logical extreme, by using it to estimate parentage information within the population, and infer offspring dispersal distances based on that data. Happy to see this get published, and thanks to a skeptical anonymous reviewer, who really helped make it a better paper.

 

 

 

R-ocking out

R-ocking out

Our postdoc, Hoa is leading a short crash course on using R. Everyone got to learn how to write and execute basic functions and loops in R.

Then Hoa used real data to demonstrate how to run iterations of sampling with replacement, and plot some graphics.

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Welcome to Hoa Nguyen-Phuc, new Postdoc in the lab

Welcome to Hoa Nguyen-Phuc, new Postdoc in the lab

Dr. Hoa Nguyen-Phuc joining our lab on September 1st. We are pleased to have him join our lab. Hoa received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he worked on landscape genetics and understanding immune gene diversity in wild populations of of Red Junglefowl.

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Hoa Nguyen-Phuc

 

NIMBiOS workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics

NIMBiOS workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics

I just returned from a weeklong workshop hosted at NIMBiOS (National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis) on methods in Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics. It was a really intense and busy week, covering a lot of topics  in quantitative genetics, some of them new to me. Answered a whole lot of questions, and raised many more. Met a lot of great people from various backgrounds. The workshop was co-taught by Joe Felsenstein (U. Washington), Stevan Arnold (Oregon State U.), among others (including TAMU’s Adam Jones).

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New Lab member: Shawna Peer

New Lab member: Shawna Peer

We have a new lab member – my first graduate student – Shawna Marie Peer joined the lab in mid-May. She will officially start her PhD program on a fellowship starting in August 2015. Shawna completed her B.A from Augustana College (Illinois) in 2012 and then went on to complete her M.S in Animal Science from Texas A&M University in May 2015. Shawna will be working on understanding the functional genetic basis of muscle myopathies in birds.

Welcome aboard Shawna!