A Day in the Field: Notes from Panamá

By Lisa Belden, with IGC Fellows Daniel Medina and Angie Estrada

Sunday, 7:46am

I am chugging café con leche and downing a whole plate of fresh papaya and pineapple while I wait for Dani to pick me up at the hotel.  It was a late night, with a delayed flight from Atlanta to Panama City, but I am anxious to get out to the field with Dani and Angie today.  Dani arrives and we weave our way through crazy ...

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Carl Wepking receives COS Roundtable Scholarship for Graduate Study

Carl Wepking, a member of the Strickland Lab, is this year’s recipient of the COS Roundtable Make-a-Difference Scholarship for Graduate Study.

The Scholarship, established by the College of Science’s Roundtable alumni advisory board, recognizes graduate students who stand to make a significant difference to the college and the world outside of the university, and comes with a $7000 award. Previous recipients include Kwang-Hyung Kim (2008, Lawrence lab), Sharmistha Mitra (2012, Capelluto lab), and Ariel Leon (2016, Hawley lab).

Congratulations on this ...

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Strickland and Wepking: Agricultural antibiotics impact soil ecosystems

From VT News

Manure from cattle administered antibiotics drastically changes the bacterial and fungal make-up of surrounding soil, leading to ecosystem dysfunction, according to a Virginia Tech research team.

The team analyzed soil samples from 11 dairy farms in the United States and found that the amount of antibiotic resistant genes was 200 times greater in soil near manure piles compared with soil that wasn’t.

Furthermore, microbes with greater antibiotic resistance showed higher stress levels. Their findings were published March 29 in ...

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David Millican, IGC Fellow, studies impact of climate change & deforestation in Namibia

From VT News

A Virginia Tech graduate student is living in one of the hottest and driest countries in the world this semester so that he can study how climate change, land management, and other human-caused phenomena impact a community of animals known as the cavity guild.

Composed of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates, the cavity guild, biologically speaking, is a group of animals that depend on holes and crevices in trees for their ...

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Laura Schoenle participates in Scientist in the Classroom

From the blog of the National Center for Science in the Classroom

By this point in the school year, I hope that you have heard of NCSE’s Scientist in the Classroom program. But if not, please check it out!

In designing the program, we wanted to be sure that scientists and teachers were able to work together to come up with a hands-on activity that fit in with what was going on in the classroom as opposed to a prescribed activity. ...

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NSF RET pays dividends through Sydney Hope’s high school outreach

Sydney Hope, a Ph.D. student in the Hopkins Lab, visited Franklin County High School on Friday, November 4, 2016 to speak about her research and experience as a scientist as part of the school’s “Moment of Science” program. The “Moment of Science” takes place during the activity period on select days and the school brings speakers in to talk about different aspects of science. All students from grades 9-12 are invited to attend.

Sydney spoke about her research on how incubation temperature ...

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IGC Fellow Angie Estrada awarded a doctoral fellowship to continue amphibian research in Panama

IGC Fellow, Angie Estrada was awarded the SENACYT-IFARHU Doctoral Fellowship 2016. She will receive three years of support to continue her graduate education in the Department of Biological Sciences under Dr. Lisa Belden’s supervision.

SENACYT (National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation) is Panama’s government authority in charge of planning and implementing the national strategy of science and technology. It is the equivalent to the NSF in the United Sates. SENACYT supports outstanding Panamanian students who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate ...

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IGC students float down the New River in Bucket Boats

Postcard from the New River

On a recent Saturday in September, a group of IGC graduate students launched 3 “Bucket Boats” just above McCoy Falls on the New River. The Bucket Boats, which are an older style of raft that are not self draining (thus necessitating the use of a bucket to bail water out of the boat after a rapid), were outfitted by the Virginia Tech Whitewater Club.

The IGC crew spent the day floating downstream, through the series of slow-moving flat-water sections ...

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Tony Timpano’s work in water quality research is at the interface of science and policy

Story by Cassandra Hockman
Fralin Life Science Institute

Along the Mississippi River there is one species many people who live there know well. Mayflies. These long, dragonfly-looking creatures live on the bottom of the river and burrow in the muck and sand. They grow and develop there before they come to the surface to fly away and mate.

When they fly away, they do it en masse.

“They come out in huge swarms so big they show up on Doppler radar,” said Tony ...

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IGC Fellow, Cordie Diggins, defends her dissertation

On June 30, 2016, Interfaces of Global Change Fellow, Cordie Diggins, successfully defended her dissertation in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.  Her seminar was titled, “Determining Habitat Associations of Virginia and Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels in the Appalachian Mountains from Bioacoustic and Telemetry Surveys”.

Dr. Diggins will start a post doctoral appointment in August with the USGS Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.  She will be studying the federally endangered spruce-fir moss spider, as well as ...

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Postcards from the field: Brandon Semel in Madagascar

POSTCARD from:
Brandon Semel, Ph.D. student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

“I’m currently writing this at 2:30 am, Madagascar time, as I wait for the local taxi brousse (or bush taxi) to take me from the small town of Daraina to the coastal cities of Vohemar and Sambava where I can finalize my research permits. Let’s just say that things here don’t always go according to a western schedule, as my ride is already half an hour late ...

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Cathy Jachowski defends her dissertation: first IGC graduate!

On Monday, May 9, 2016, Cathy Jachowski successfully defended her dissertaton in Fralin Auditorium. Her public seminar in Fralin Auditorium was titled, “Effects of Land Use and Parasitism on Hellbender Salamanders: A Multilevel Perspective”.

Cathy, a member of the Hopkins Lab, is the first Interfaces of Global Change graduate student to complete a doctoral program at Virginia Tech! Congratulations, Cathy!


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The first annual Interfaces of Global Change Research Symposium brings campus labs together to solve global problems

The first annual Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) Graduate Research Symposium was a great opportunity for IGC Fellows to share their research with the entire global change community at Virginia Tech. The 2-day symposium began on Thursday evening, April 21st, with a special Distinguished Lecture at the Lyric Theatre featuring Dr. Josh Tewksbury, Future Earth. A full slate of events on Friday, April 22nd, provided a forum for students and faculty to interact and explore connections between labs.

During two platform sessions, nine IGC fellows gave ...

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Brandon Semel will use drones to help save lemurs in Madagascar

Brandon Semel is a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP.  This story was first published as a Student Spotlight at Fralin Life Science Institute.

Flying high for conservation: an Interfaces of Global Change fellow will use drones to help save lemurs

Brandon Semel’s doctoral research can be traced back to a picture book.

Within the book are images of bushy tailed lemurs, hand drawn ...

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Jon Doubek receives NSF Doctoral Dissertation Grant

We are pleased to announce that IGC Fellow, Jonathan Doubek, has been awarded a prestigious NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant!

The grant will support Jon’s work in the Carey lab on zooplankton in freshwater lakes and reservoirs.  These organisms play a critical role in the food web and overall water quality in these ecosystems and a major factor in the negative impact of human activities.  The project is part of ...

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Postcards from the field: David Millican in Namibia

By David Millican

It’s late January in central Namibia, the time of year when heavy rain showers become a regular source of relief for many animals. If the rains arrive, a green carpet spreads across the landscape and food becomes plentiful for all, providing the necessary resources for many species to reproduce. If the rains fail to show, dehydration and starvation sweep through the land like a plague. All individuals suffer, but the young and old, the weakest and most vulnerable, ...

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Jon Doubek co-chair elect of the GLEON Student Association

Congratulations to Jonathan Doubek, who was recently selected to serve as the co-chair elect of the GLEON Student Association (GSA). 

Jon is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP at Virginia Tech. His advisor is long-term GLEON-ite Cayelan Carey. Jon has been involved in GLEON 15 (Argentina), GLEON 16 (Canada) and ...
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Cathy Jachowski and VDGIF capture rare footage of hellbender nests and eggs

Hellbenders! The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) tagged along with Cathy Jachowski and Bill Hopkins to learn more about how these unusual animals live and how they guard their eggs. This VDGIF video features some rare footage of hellbender egg collection and underwater use of artificial nest boxes!

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Postcards: IGC students participate in the Blue Ridge Parkway BioBlitz

In mid-September, Ben Vernasco, Leah Novak, and I participated in the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway BioBlitz near Rocky Knob in southwestern Virginia. The goal of the BioBlitz is to inventory as many species as possible in a 24 hour period, including plants, invertebrates, and wildlife. The Park Service uses these surveys of biodiversity to serve their mission of preserving natural resources – they need to know what is there in order to ...

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Laura Schoenle receives travel scholarship from the Graduate School

In April 2015, Laura Schoenle received a $2,000 travel scholarship from the Graduate School at Virginia Tech. The funds were used to travel to and lodge at the Queen’s University Biological Station in southeastern Ontario from April-July 2015.

Laura had this to say about the experience:

“I had a very successful field season! I conducted two experiments using the incredible outdoor aviary facilities at the biological station as well as a study on a population of free-living birds at nearby sites. I was able to ...

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