Our lab’s focus is on the evolutionary ecology of interactions between microbes and hosts. We are interested in how both beneficial and harmful microbes establish and maintain relationships with their hosts. Such associations are shaped by ecological limitations on host and symbiont range, evolutionary trade-offs for both hosts and microbes, and host immunology. We combine genomic and experimental approaches to study these forces in diverse insect-microbe systems. To address these topics, we utilize the versatility of systems in which both the hosts and their microbial partners and pathogens can be maintained in the laboratory.
The Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution (PBEE) graduate program recently held a retreat for students, postdocs, and faculty to get together. We ended the event with a surprise celebration for Nicole in honor of her 7 years as a leader in the program. The graduate students and the Gerardo lab got together and discussed ways in which we can show how much we appreciate everything Nicole has done for the students. We decided on three items:
- A “graduation cap” for Nicole, where we make a hat decorated with tokens
representing labs in PBEE (right: top view of hat). We presented her with the hat at the retreat (top). The hat-making crew got to put our problem-solving skills to use several times during the process of making the hat (bottom), but we made it work in the end!
- A video montage composed of clips from Gerardo lab alumni and current PBEE students expressing their gratitude. The touching and kind words in this video are a reflection of how much of an impact Nicole has made as a mentor and program leader. I’m grateful to the many people who submitted a clip.
- A baking contest to celebrate Nicole’s love of and skill in baking. Nicole served as one of the judges, and there were a ton of delicious treats to start off dinner!