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Student Profiles

Kenneth Davidson, (2021 Slobodkin Award recipient) a Slobodkin fund grant supported Kenneth Davidson to analyze seasonal dynamics of photosynthetic capacity and water use efficiency of four common deciduous tree species. He found that while water use efficiency is indeed seasonally dynamic, the seasonal behavior of this trait is highly species specific.
Kenneth Davidson

Anna McPherran,  (2021 Williams Award recipient) completed a field expedition in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica to collect hutia tissue samples for genomic analysis. genomic demographic inference methods will allow her to infer population size through time to determine the causes of decline in this family of endangered mammals.
The endangered Hispaniolan hutia, Plagiodontia aedium, held by Dominican scientist Gershon Feliz during Anna McPherran’s research expedition thanks to the Williams Award.

Urmi Poddar (2021 Slobodkin Award recipient) carried out vegetation surveys this year in forest sites in Suffolk County to understand the relationship between native composition, community assembly processes, and invasion. While data analysis is underway, she has already noted that different forest types have different degrees of invasion, which seem to vary with native composition. Reassuringly, most of the sites did not have a high abundance of invasive plants.
Urmi Poddar, far from the Pine Barrens of Long Island where she conducts her work thanks to the Slobodkin Award.

Allison Rugila's (2021 Cost of Ed Award recipient) latest research demonstrates how larval exposure of hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria, to environmental stressors (like hypoxia and acidification) can affect resiliency at later developmental stages. Juvenile clams exposed to low pH-low dissolved oxygen as larvae had significantly higher growth rates relative to juveniles that were naive to either stressor.  Allison is currently investigating whether these lasting differences in survivorship and growth rates are due to variation in energy budgeting strategies or turnover in host microbial communities.
Allison Rugila holding a chiton during her field sampling for hard clams for which she applied to the Sokal, Slobodkin, and Student Excellence.

Over the 2021 summer, Anna Thonis (2021 Sokal Award recipient) completed a 3.5-month field season in Puerto Rico with the help of her field team of 21 University of Puerto Rico undergraduate biology students. The team conducted manual removal and addition experiments to study competition in three species of Puerto Rican anole, collecting data on and tagging over 1,500 unique anoles.
Anna Thonis (center front row) and her research team, all University of Puerto Rico undergraduate biology students, with whom she had an excellent field season thanks to the Sokal Award.

Yijie Tian,  (2021 Williams Award recipient) a Williams fund grant helped Yijie Tian to investigate a 6th to 8th century cemetery in Northern Italy, finding individuals were organized based on biological relatedness. Although the two kindred groups looked similar in their burial patterns and grave goods, they differ a great deal in genetic background and spatial organization, thus showing the value of genomics for understanding culture.
Yijie Tian