A celebration of Nicole

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:

  1.  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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!  


Semester successes

In addition to passing their quals, Kayla and Sandra also managed other accomplishments this semester. The Society for the Study of Evolution awarded Kayla an R.C. Lewontin Early Award grant to collect field samples for her dissertation research. Only 24 out of over 150 applicants received the award!

Sandra joined the biology department’s volleyball team (in the midst of quals), and they placed second in this year’s Staff Fest tournament! Below is Sandra in action (left) and showcasing her medal (right).

Congratulations, Wen-Hao!

Wen-Hao recently successfully defended his PhD dissertation! The lab made him a graduation cap decorated with various aspects of his research, from hungry monarch caterpillars, to structures of cardenolide and DNA, to fungus-infected aphids. Jaap and Nicole bestowed the cap to Wen-Hao at the defense party, much to his surprise. We hope to keep the tradition going with all future graduates!

We contain multitudes

A couple of years ago, our lab read Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes. This year during the Atlanta Science Festival, we got a chance to hear him give a talk on microbes and participate in a panel discussion on the intersection between science and theater. We also got our books signed afterwards!

Happy Birthday, Nicole!

We celebrated Nicole’s birthday today at the Gerardo/de Roode lab meeting with cookies and chocolates! Unfortunately, Nicole (nor Jaap) was able to make it. We still enjoyed the sweet treats in her honor, who always brings us treats every other lab meeting. We wish you a wonderful birthday, Nicole!

Sandra’s Seriously Spectacular Series of Scholarly Scientific Studies in September

The Gerardo and de Roode labs recently completed the S8 challenge–Sandra’s Seriously Spectacular Series of Scholarly Scientific Studies in September–where each person reads a paper a day everyday in the month of September. We challenged the Corbett lab to compete with us, but some might say the intra-lab competition was more intense. Our average was 24 papers read per person over the month. Fittingly, as the namesake of the challenge, Sandra was the first in the lab to finish the reading challenge (we could read up to 3 papers a day). Above, she poses with the winner’s trophy next to our poster that tracks each person’s progress with stickers! The trophy is made from an ancient lab relic and filled with paper flowers. All in all, we all had a great experience participating in the challenge–it got us to read papers we would normally put off reading, we learned about cool science, and we got stickers for each day we read, which is to say, the best motivator of all.