My interest in conservation genetics and ecology began during my work with the Gila monster project under Dr. Kevin Bonine. I was lucky enough to join the project in its beginnings, and through both field work in the desert of Saguaro National Park and genetics lab work at the University of Arizona Genetics Core, my interest in ecological research was solidified. We’ve since used the data collected from Gila monsters in Saguaro National Park-Rincon Mountain District to assess population genetic health and establish a baseline for conservation genetics in this species. My background in genetics led me to my Honors thesis project in Dr. Alexander Badyaev’s lab. This project investigates the evolutionary trajectories of biochemical networks underlying feather color in house finches, across different populations through patterns of establishment and differentiation. In the future, I hope to pursue graduate studies in conservation genetics, as well its genomic and epigenetic applications.
As a Biology and German Studies double major, my current research combines both realms of study. My current research endeavors analyze palliative care medicine with Dr. David Gramling. The aim of our research is to examine consultations between patients and physicians when discussing end-of-life care. We hope to see how physicians utilize protocols or personalized tactics to navigate these conversations. Working with affiliates at the University of Rochester, we obtain recordings of these doctor and patient interactions. Upon receiving the recordings, we listen to the recordings and begin to record qualitative and quantitative data. With this data, we then see the progress of the discussions with regards to if the patient left the consultation with further questions or fully comprehending the gravity of the discussion.
My work with Dr. Gramling propelled me to write a thesis with him regarding our research endeavors in palliative care. I decided to travel to Germany and conduct a cross-cultural analysis of the practices within America and Germany. While in Germany, I worked at the University of Heidelberg for forty hours a week for less than two weeks. Discussions were transcribed. Focus groups with physicians were created whereby we discussed the consultations of the day. In Germany, practices were more focused on longer consultation times to build on doctor and patient interrelationships. Emphasis was placed on strictly clarifying every step of the care of the patient, with constant reminders that the patients are in charge. On average, this style of communication with the patient led to stronger reactions from the patients. Patients were generally more receptive to discussing end-of-life care. As I finish my thesis, I will present two more research presentations for the Honors College in February, as well as for the German Studies Department, detailing the variances discovered between palliative care practices in America and Germany. My work is also set to be published by the Honors College. We are working on getting it sent to the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
With majors in both the EEB and Neuroscience departments my research interests fall into two primary areas. In respect to ecology, I focus on contemporary theories of population dynamics, and how aspects of mutualistic interactions inform both empirical data and theoretical models of populations. I have the great privilege to work alongside Dr. Christopher Johnson, and graduate student Kelsey Yule in the Bronstein lab, where we are attempting to construct a model that represents the critical aspects of how mutualisms affect each of the participating partners at the population and metapopulation levels. My initial interest in the topic was garnered during a semester abroad studying in a program offered by the Metapopulation Research Group of the University of Helsinki, in Finland. Along with a series of fascinating field courses, the program engendered a firm concept of the underpinnings of metapopulation theory through poignant and down-to-earth teaching that I’m proud to say has continued in the labs I participate in today.
In the field of neuroscience I am most interested by studies in comparative neuroanatomy that seek to explain species or individual behavioral differences. I have previously volunteered in the Gronenberg lab and worked on a novel experimental assay for analyzing orientation by olfaction in Drosophila melanogaster. In the future I will work on a study comparing the presence of olfactory glomeruli across multiple species of spider.
I intend to pursue graduate studies in ecology, and will likely proceed in the vein of my current research. It is an honor to be recognized as a Goodding Scholar, and I’m thankful to the Goodding family for taking an active role in continuing to support the biological sciences, and the young scientists that wish to enter the field.
Being an undergraduate student in the EEB department has helped me discover my passion for ecological research, specifically within the field of pollination ecology. I do research alongside Dr. Daniel R. Papaj and graduate student Avery Russell. Our aim is to break down the mechanisms involved in buzz pollination with bumblebees and to define the importance of pollen rewards in plant reproduction. I am honored to be a Leslie N. Goodding Scholar, as the scholarship will allow me to continue my research and headline my own project.
China Rae Newman
My involvement in EEB Research began when I stumbled upon a call for Research Assistants in Dr. Papaj’s Bee Lab. Immediately intrigued because of my interest in bees in general as well as desert ecology, I applied for the position and was immediately welcomed into a lab environment in which I was encouraged to not only run experiments, but take part in changing experimental design and come up with new ways to expand our knowledge of bumble bee behavior. I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Papaj and Avery Russell on multiple projects involving the bees, and I am planning to write my second honors thesis in the Papaj lab on bumble bee behavior, hopefully involving tradeoffs in learning and pollen foraging behavior, though we have yet to choose the exact topic. I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen as one of the Leslie N. Goodding Scholars this year and I am extremely grateful to Dr. Papaj and Avery, who have nurtured my interests in animal behavior and without whom I would not be writing this blurb. I am excited to continue my research with Dr. Papaj, Avery, and the bees in the coming year.
I am studying why bumble bee colonies produce a dramatically large range of different sized worker bees. In these colonies full genetic sisters, born at the same time, can have a 10 fold size different. This has important implications for the group as a whole because previous studies have shown larger bees tend to be better flyers, more successful foragers and more efficient thermoregulators. In fact the only advantages small workers have is that they require fewer resources to be produced and can survive periods of starvation longer. Unlike their relatives the honey bee, bumble bees colonies are annual and thus don't store vast amounts of resources. The success of colonies is then highly dependent on successful foraging, which is not always assured in their temperate environment. I am investigating if the ability to produce small workers is a safeguard against poor environmental conditions, allowing colonies to survive bad conditions at the expense of superior workers. To do this we rear colonies of the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) under different resource conditions and taking weekly measurements of newly produced bees. Preliminary results indicate that when resources are scarce colonies still produce larger workers, but the majority of newly produced workers are much smaller.
I am a proud recipient of the Leslie N. Goodding scholarship. My research alongside Dr. John Koprowski addresses conservation efforts for the San Bernardino flying squirrel. This past summer I spent several weeks in the San Bernardino Mountains conducting a presence/absence survey of this species, threatened by a declining habitat and forest fires. As a result, the mountainous areas in which this squirrel was found can be analyzed for specific habitat characteristics that make the land suitable. Restoration projects related to fire damage in the area will be able to utilize this information to re-construct the forest in a manner that will specifically benefit this species’ survival and help ensure its persistence in nature. As a conservation and nature enthusiast, I find great value in this research and look forward to future projects related to wildlife conservation.
While an undergraduate in the EEB department I discovered the islands of the Gulf of California. Questions of plants, islands, and how they both differed from the Sonoran mainland filled my head. The Leslie N. Goodding Scholarship allowed me to pursue these curiosities with my mentor Dr. Richard Felger. Exploration of these remote islands was followed by hours in the UofA herbarium identifying the treasures I collected. The Goodding scholarship was especially meaningful because I had the great fortune to learn from and become friends with his daughter, Charlotte, and her husband John, world grass experts. Charlotte and John Reeder were both in their 90s, sharp as ever, and a remarkable direct link to the source of this foundational scholarship.
This early work on the flora of the Sonoran Islands led to continued discoveries and the publication of our book, Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago, in January 2013. My dissertation studies focus on understanding biogeographic patterns that baffled me while documenting the flora of these arid islands. I am now trying to understand the islands’ mysterious pasts during the last Ice Age and why you find these communities of plants and animals. My experiences at the UofA also allowed me to learn from the wonderful community of researchers in the Sonoran Desert. That lasting imprint has led to my role as founder and director of the Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers in an effort to maintain and expand the cross discipline and cross cultural connections that produce cutting edge science and conservation.