Reznick Receives Two Grants

David Reznick

David Reznick, a professor of biology, has received two grants to continue his experiments on guppies (small freshwater fish). The first grant is a three-year grant of nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the second is a seven-month grant of $21,600 from the National Geographic Society (NGS). The research the grants support will take place in Trinidad, where Reznick’s group has conducted most of its guppy studies.

The NSF project is a continuation of a large multi-investigator project that was funded in 2006 and was the subject of a feature article in Science magazine in August 2012. Titled “Experimental evolution in natural populations of guppies,” the research project will allow Reznick and his students to detail how and why evolution does or does not happen. The goal of the project is to develop a new model for the study of the genetics of adaptation in nature.

The NGS project, titled “Experimental study of a species invasion,” is a spinoff of the NSF project, and involves guppy introductions into low-predation environments.  The researchers will compare natural low-predation sites with the introduction sites to highlight how the early phases of the invasion differ from what it is like as the invader becomes well established (the guppies eventually adapt to the low-predation environments).  Thus, the research will enable Reznick’s group to characterize a critical phase of a species invasion and document the invasion’s impact on the local environment.

Entomology Students Win Awards

Four graduate students in the Department of Entomology have won awards at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America held recently in Knoxville, Tenn.

John Hash, whose advisor is John Heraty, a professor of entomology, won the Student Competition for the Presidents Prize with a first-place poster presentation.  His poster focused on using morphological characters to help understand the phylogenetic relationships among species of the millipede-parasitoid genus Myriophora.

Jason Mottern, also a student of Heraty, won first place in the International Society of Hymenopterists Student Symposium.  His talk focused on the phylogenetic relationships within a group of parasitic wasps.  Specifically, he discussed the morphology and species-level relationships within one genus, Coccobius.

Elizabeth Murray was the runner up for the President’s Prize.  She analyzed host use and geographical distribution in relation to the patterns of Eucharitidae molecular diversification, based on a time-calibrated phylogeny of relationships.  Heraty is also her advisor.

Adena Why, a student working in William Walton’s lab, won the Runner-up 10 minute Paper President’s Prize in the Medical, Veterinary and Urban Entomology Section 1. Her talk focused on evaluating a fish species native to Southern California, the Arroyo chub, as an alternative biological control agent of larval mosquitoes in a treatment wetland system.  She found that the feeding habits of the fish do not appear to cause shifts in the food-web structure of the wetland.

UCR Alumnus Named FAA Chief

UCR alumnus Michael P. Huerta has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as chief of the Federal Aviation Administration for a five-year term. Nominated by President Obama in March 2012, the Senate confirmed his appointment as the FAA administrator on Jan. 1. He was sworn in on Jan. 9.

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