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Physiology

Plant physiology, forest ecology, and carbon cycle uncertainty in a changing climate

Widespread tree mortality following disturbances such as droughts, fire, and pest and pathogen outbreaks has emerged as an environmentally and economically devastating ‘ecological surprise’. Increases in disturbance-driven tree mortality with further climate change has the potential to massively disrupt terrestrial ecosystem productivity and biodiversity, causing Earth’s forests to release carbon into the atmosphere.

COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Restrictions Increase the Alignment in Sleep and Light Exposure between School Days and Weekends in University Students

Rice A.  2023.  COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Restrictions Increase the Alignment in Sleep and Light Exposure between School Days and Weekends in University Students. Sleep.

Decision making in complex environments: Insights from bats and bees

Animals are constantly faced with decisions about what to eat, where to live, and whom to mate with. While most models of decision making assume that individuals assign absolute values to options encountered, animals often assess value relative to other options available or to options recently encountered. Such decisions can be complex, often requiring individuals to compare multiple features associated with each option and their reward payoffs. Such decisions can also produce different outcomes depending on the context of the choice.

Cell type-specific plasticity at parallel fiber synapses onto Purkinje cells in the posterior caudal lobe of the mormyrid fish cerebellum

Zhang Y, Magnus G, Han V.  2018.  Cell type-specific plasticity at parallel fiber synapses onto Purkinje cells in the posterior caudal lobe of the mormyrid fish cerebellum. J Neurophysiol. 2(2):18.

Role of mobile genes in the community interactions of the intestinal microbiota

Our intestinal microbial community is quickly evolving with us, following changes to modern lifestyles and even throughout our lifetimes. I aim to understand how horizontal gene transfer shapes interactions in the microbiota and the implications of this pervasive phenomenon for community properties relevant to human health (e.g. resilience of a healthy microbiota to perturbations). I identified a large conjugative plasmid that frequently transfers to multiple species within a person and mediates the formation of multi-species biofilms.

How does the brain know it’s cold?

Mammals maintain stable body temperature largely independent of the temperature of their environment and even small deviations from optimal internal temperature can threaten their survival. Thermoregulation critically depends on the ability to sense deep body temperature by the intrinsically warm and cold-sensitive neurons in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus (POA). However, the precise physiological roles of the temperature-sensitive POA neurons and the molecular mechanisms responsible for their temperature sensitivity are poorly understood.

Is being spineless really a bad thing? The physiology of aquatic invertebrates in challenging and changing environment

Osmoregulation and ion regulation are essential features for normal physiological functions in animals. Using integrative approaches to describe coordinated cellular and organ-level mechanisms with physiological traits, my research broadly examines fundamental features that allow invertebrate animals to adapt to fluctuating environmental conditions. My talk will focus on work examining the interplay of anthropogenic disturbances and ion regulation in two different arthropod groups, amphipods and mosquitoes.

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