Category: CMS-Biology

UCO Professors Collaborate on U. of Kansas NSF EPSCoR Grant

Drs. Robert Brennan and Sean Laverty are part of a multi-institutional NSF EPSCoR grant to research tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The four-year $3,921,229 grant, “Marshalling Diverse Big Data Streams to Understand Complexity of Tick-borne Diseases in the Southern Great Plains,”  is a collaboration among six universities in Kansas and Oklahoma, with the University of Kansas (KU) serving as the lead institution. Along with KU and UCO, the consortium includes Kansas State University, Pittsburgh State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. According to the project abstract, major components of the research include assembling detailed large-scale datasets on the occurrences of different tick species, genomes of the ticks and pathogens, and environmental variation across the region. Dr. Brennan, biology professor, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research (CIBER) and associate dean of the UCO College of Mathematics and Science, serves as a Co-Principal Investigator on the grant. Dr. Laverty, associate professor of mathematics and statistics and CIBER member, will provide data analysis.  

 

Biology’s New Ichthyologist: Dr. Andrew Taylor

Dr. Andrew Taylor

Dr. Taylor with a native Neosho Smallmouth Bass from the Baron Fork near Tahlequah, OK. This subspecies of Smallmouth Bass is only found in the Ozarks ecoregion.

Dr. Andrew Taylor is in his second year as an Assistant Professor within the Biology Department. With a background in fisheries biology and management, Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on the conservation of native fish biodiversity within riverscapes, the effects of non-native and invasive fishes, and the management and conservation of native black bass (Micropterus spp.) diversity. Since arriving at UCO, Dr. Taylor has been busy teaching Diversity for Majors, General Biology, Vertebrate Zoology, and developing the first comprehensive Ichthyology course offered at UCO. Dr. Taylor is also curating the UCO Museum of Natural History’s Ichthyology Collection and developing plans to integrate these collections into research efforts on campus and abroad.

“The Taylor Fish Lab” has started several local research projects that allow students opportunities to gain valuable field experience, including monitoring stream fish community change in Chisholm Creek and revisiting the taxonomic descriptions of Smallmouth Bass in Oklahoma’s Ozark and Ouachita mountains ecoregions. The lab anticipates beginning a large-scale survey for a state-listed minnow species in summer 2021 with the support of an external grant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant program, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Dr. Andrew Taylor and Group

Dr. Taylor discussing fish identification while seining a local pond with his Ichthyology students.

Dr. Taylor is always looking for motivated students with an interest in fish or aquatic habitats to join the lab! You can follow along with his lab’s adventures on Twitter (@TaylorFishLab1) or at his lab’s website www.andrewtaylor.fish.

 

Biology Student Spotlight: Briant Nguyen

Briant Nguyen

Briant showing off an unexpected logperch sampled from Chisholm Creek during his research.

Briant Nguyen is a senior at UCO and will be earning his B.S. degree at the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Briant came into UCO with a particular interest and curiosity about fish and fishing. Briant has been working within the UCO Natural History Museum for a year, lending his eye for fish to help identify and accession fish into the Ichthyology Collection. To date, over 1,400 fish have been added to the collection.

Briant began working alongside Dr. Taylor in Fall 2019, devising a study to examine changes in local stream fish communities in relation to land-use changes. Briant has worked closely with state agencies and universities to obtain historical data collections, and he is pairing these collections with some of his own data collections in Chisholm, Deer, and Cottonwood creeks. The ultimate goal of this study is to quantify fish community changes over time and identify potential anthropogenic drivers.

Over the summer of 2020, Briant served in a paid internship with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Stream Survey program. Briant was able to travel across our great state while learning different methods used to sample fish, how to collect environmental data, and how to identify many of Oklahoma’s native fishes.

Briant plans to continue his ichthyological studies at UCO by pursuing an M.S. degree in biology. Alongside co-PI’s Dr. Taylor and Dr. Butler, Briant will focus on estimating native stream fish distributions in Oklahoma.

UCO Biology Alumni Success: Joshua York

Joshua York (BS 2010, MS 2014) has successfully defended his PhD thesis in the Department of Biology at the University of Oklahoma. Josh’s thesis research involves groundbreaking developmental and genetic studies on the role of neutral crest cells in the evolution of vertebrate animals. His presentation and examination also broke new ground by being the first ever in the OU Biology Department conducted electronically.

David Bass, Ph.D. Receives 2020 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching

David BassDr. David Bass, Professor of Biology, is the recipient of the 2020 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at Regional Universities and Community Colleges. Dr. Bass joined the Department of Biology at UCO in the fall of 1985. He is an internationally respected aquatic invertebrate biologist, who brings his vast real-world experience into the classroom to enrich the learning opportunities for his students. His passion and energy for teaching are clear to his students and we congratulate Dr. Bass on this well-deserved honor.

UCO Biology Alumnus Received 2019 PepsiCo Science Award

PepsiCo Science and Technology Award winnersDr. Toby FitzSimons, who worked with Dr. Bidlack on photovoltaic solar cells (MS from UCO in 2010) and went on to complete a PhD at the University of Arkansas, has been working as a Senior Research Scientist at PepsiCo after receiving his doctorate. Dr. FitzSimons recently received the 2019 PepsiCo Science Award and continues to impress the company. Pictured here (from left to right) are René Lammers (Chief Science Officer), Mac McWilliam (UK Manager), Patricia Ouimet (Senior Citrus R&D), Toby FitzSimons (Senior R&D Scientist), and Ramon Laguarta (PepsiCo CEO).

Health and Life Sciences Career Fair on Tues, Feb 25th in NUC

Health and Life Sciences Career Fair taking place on February 25th, from 10 AM to 1 PM in the Nigh University Center at UCO

UCO students and faculty are welcome to attend our annual Health & Life Sciences Career Fair taking place on Tuesday, February 25th 10am to 1pm in the Nigh University Center (3rd Floor). Students are encouraged to come and network with representatives from graduate programs, Oklahoma clinics, hospitals, and local biotech companies. For the UCO community, the event is free to attend and no registration is required. If your organization would like to participate in the career fair in the future, please contact Dr. Caroline Bentley, cbentley3@uco.edu.

Dr. Bob Brennan Co-PI on a $4 Million NSF EPSCoR grant to investigate the complexity of Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases

Over the next three years Dr. Bob Brennan, Professor and Chair of Biology, along with Dr. Sean Laverty from Mathematics and Statistics and their students will be involved in the generation of disease risk maps, remote sensing, and spatial analysis of ticks and tick-borne disease biodiversity in the Southern Great Plains.  The grant is a collaborative effort between investigators at several institutions in Kansas and Oklahoma (KU, KSU, PSU, OU, OSU, and UCO), with KU serving as the parent institution.

Oklahoma Academy of Science Meets on UCO Campus

OAS Poster Session in STEM BuildingThe 108th Annual Technical Meeting of the Oklahoma Academy of Science was held on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma on November 8. The meeting was attended by approximately 350 science faculty and university students representing 21 colleges and universities from across the state, making it the largest meeting ever of this organization. During the course of this conference 80 oral presentations and 97 poster presentations were given. Luncheon speaker Dr. John Barthell, UCO Provost, described some of his research experiences with bees and the values of bees to society. Dr. David Bass and Dr. Chad King served as meeting co-coordinators while UCO’s Office of Academic Affairs and the College of Mathematics & Science co-hosted this conference. For information about OAS, check out the Academy’s web site at: http://www.oklahomaacademyofscience.org/.