During a collegiate science education, undergraduates should begin a transition from performing as student to practicing to be a scholar, an evolution from solely consuming earlier knowledge to the challenge of producing and effectively communicating new scientific knowledge. On October 12th, four Sewanee students from the Biology department who work in the laboratory of Professor Brandon Moore took substantial steps toward that transition by participating in the Southeast Regional Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology at Georgia Tech University. There, they interacted with undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral biology students from universities around the Southeast and gained valuable public speaking experience by giving oral presentations of their own research findings.
Sewanee Juniors Ashley Malpica and Reeda Shakir presented results from summer research on the Domain entitled “Raised in a sewage treatment plant: assessing sexually dimorphic skeletal elements in Gambusia affinis”. They detailed anatomical differences in fish caught from the sewage treatment lagoons as compared to those caught from the lake that serves as source waters for Sewanee drinking water. This ongoing research demonstrates that municipal pollutants have the ability influence the development of exposed wildlife.
Sewanee Senior Maria Granello presented “Histological investigation of clitoral anatomy of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)”. This novel reproductive anatomy research focused on comparing and contrasting developmental divergence of external genitalia in a species with temperature-dependent sex determination. As an aspiring veterinarian, Maria is gaining valuable understanding of organismal structure and function.
After the event the students recapped their experiences:
“Attending SICB was a great experience! I gave a 5-minute presentation on my current research conducted at Sewanee in front of graduate students and professors. This was a great way to see how conferences are and what to expect since I plan to pursue my Ph.D. In addition attending this conference has sparked interest in learning more about organismal biology.” -Ashley Malpica
“The SICB conference brought me a new perspective into the field of Biology because I have not had much exposure to organismal biology. After observing various talks from recognizable academic institutions, I gained a greater appreciation for the vast diversity in animal function and behavior. I was also inspired by the complexity of some studies in quantifying animal behavior through bio-robotics and other bioengineering methods, thus making me aware of the incredible technological advances and resources available in the scientific community.” -Nicole Fisher