Gerardo Lab: Leaders in so many ways!

The Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution (PBEE) graduate program 2022 NCAA basketball tournament challenge winners were Jacoby Robinson for the men’s tournament and Levi Morran for the women’s tournament.
A graduate student in the Gerardo lab, Jacoby’s faith in his Jayhawks paid off as their championship win catapulted Jacoby past grad student David Jimenez-Vallejo for the win. Both Jacoby and David picked 3 of the Final 4 teams correctly in a crazy year for upsets.
On the other hand, Levi’s faith in his Hoosiers nearly sunk his bracket on the women’s side. However, South Carolina’s win in the championship was just enough for Levi to pass Daniel Weissman at the end.

USDA Fellowship

USDA logo

Graduate student Sandra Mendiola received a fellowship from the United States Department of Agriculture to support her research on how symbionts influence the ability of squash bugs to vector plant pathogens. Congrats, Sandra!

Biology Grad Award!

Congratulations to grad student Sandra Mendiola for winning the Biology Graduate Award. This award recognizes her record of both scholarship and service to the Department, the Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution program, and Emory as a whole. 

Mixed Metaphor of Insect Research

Postdoc Scott Villa shows off his new mask. Postdoc Scott Villa tried to blend in amongst the insects in his incubator today, wearing a monarch inspired mask. Unfortunately, the squash bugs were not fooled. 

Scott works both in the de Roode lab, studying sexual selection in monarch butterflies and in the Gerardo lab, studying hybridization and speciation in squash bugs. Sometimes, he gets confused and mixes the two together. 

Summer Research Thrives Despite the Distance

Synéja and Whitney are both rising seniors at Spelman College. During the summer, with support from the LGS-SOAR program and under the guidance of postdoc Scott Villa, they spearheaded projects aimed at understanding the traits used in monarch butterfly mate choice. Synéja’s project looked at the role of male body size on mating success. Whitney’s project involved the role of male wing color and mating success. Despite being isolated at home, both did an amazing job analyzing videos of monarch behavior while coordinating experiments and data analysis with me via zoom.
Scott, their mentor, write, “without students like Synéja and Whitney, my research would have ground to a halt this summer.”
We look forward to bringing undergraduates back to the lab in the full once the pandemic is over, but, for now, we cherish the opportunities that we still have to work with such amazing students.

Zoom Science. Undergrads Syneja and Whitney meet with Scott, their summer research mentor.

Dr. Erica Harris receives a PhD and mentoring recognition

After an unprecedented COVID-quarantine finish, Erica Harris, through the power of ZOOM, successfully defended her PhD thesis on the influence of gut microbes on monarch butterfly parasite resistance. Throughout her graduate career, Erica mentored numerous undergraduates in our lab and in the lab of her co-advisor, Jaap de Roode. She has also mentored students through such programs as ESA-SEEDs, which supports the mentoring of students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in ecology. In recognition of her commitment to mentoring, Erica received the Laney Graduate School Eleanore Main Student Mentor Award. Erica will continue her science career through a combined research-teaching postdoc at Spelman University. 

Note from former graduate student Kim Hoang to Erica upon her successful defense.

A well deserved award

Graduate student Erica Harris received the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Student Mentor award in recognition for her outstanding efforts in mentoring students in and out of the lab. Erica has served as a mentor to numerous undergraduate researchers and to undergraduates in the Mellon Mays and ESA-SEEDS programs. She will be honored at the upcoming Graduate Division banquet.