I'm proud to say that one of the biggest projects I worked on during my postdoc is now published in BMC Genomics. This paper describes the whole genome of the greater bamboo lemur, and looks at changes in the population through time. This species has only about 1,000 individuals remaining, and is in direct conflict with humans throughout its range. By understanding the genome of this species we can make informed decisions about the conservation management of this species. Thanks to everyone involved! The paper is open access and can be found here!
The trend in effective population size through time across the five lemurs we sequenced in this paper.
After a long time in the making our study of the summit rat has finally been published in Diversity and Distributions. This study used many rats we trapped during our elevational transects in Sabah, Malaysia, and below is one figure from the paper which shows the genetic structure of rats on the two mountains. They have only recently split, but show almost no overlap in genetic signatures (shown below in the blue and orange).
After a long time in the making Domenico (Nico) has published his first research article! I am very happy to have been involved in this project and it represents some high resolution data on male aye-aye home ranges! Great work Nico and the MBP, this is some of the their great work building conservationists in Madagascar!
Happy New Year! I'm super excited to start the year off with a new semester and new course (for me to teach anyways!). I will teach an upper division general education and biology course (Evolution) in the Spring 2018 semester. As if that isn't enough, I am returning from maternity leave and now have a wonderful little newborn! This semester I will be working on developing my research lab, and searching for a limited number of students to join the lab. I'm still working on a catchy name and logo, so stay tuned for that!
In September our paper was published to ZooKeys on the taxonomy of American deer, a group some may mistakenly have thought was well understood. I participated in this project with Eliécer Gutiérrez among others while at the Smithsonian Institution. While there are many important findings in this paper, one of the most notable was that the taxonomy of deer has historically been almost exclusively based on morphological characters, which when compared with DNA sequencing resulted in highly different results. This just goes to show you even animals like white-tailed deer are not as well understood as we think! Check out the article here: https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.697.15124
Photo by Lee Fisher courtesy of Detroit Zoological Society.
Included in the deer phylogeny is the genus Pudu, the smallest deer in the world. Check out this adorable picture from the Detroit Zoo!
I am proud to announce that starting this fall my husband and I will be relocating to Northern California and I will be joining the faculty at Humboldt State University! I have accepted an assistant professor/mammal curator position with the Department of Biological Sciences. I am super excited to be part of such a great group of scientists, and begin a new adventure on the west coast! We will make an epic move this fall, spanning almost 3,000 miles from Northern Virginia to Northern California!
After a long time in the making Dr. Rachel Jacobs' manuscript on opsin gene variation in diurnal lemurs has been published! I was fortunate to participate in a minor role, and this is a really interesting paper which found multiple opsin gene alleles in sifakas and the indri, as opposed to the nocturnal (yet closely related) wooly lemurs. Glad to see this out, and proud to be part of such a neat paper! Click the link below to go to the Biology Letters website!
Despite our paper being accepted at the end of September, we are proud to show off a beautiful cover! The photograph was taken by Dr. Ed Louis Jr., of a female Lepilemur sahamalazensis with her baby. This species is found in NW Madagascar, in a very small range. Little is known on the behavior of this species in the wild.
The sportive lemurs (genus Lepilemur) are strange nocturnal animals which have limited dispersal ability and small home ranges. Those factors combine led us to use distributional records in combination with mitochondrial genomes to test for biogeographic patterns in these species.
Check out the paper here: doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esw072
As the new year begins I will be travelling to Madagascar for my second trip with the Henry Doorly Zoo and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership. After planting one million trees in our reforestation efforts in and around the Kianjavato commune in SE Madagascar, we are on a fast pace to keep working toward reforesting the barren hillsides. While in Madagascar I will likely be visiting at least two (possibly more) of our field sites, and work with Malagasy students on various conservation projects. I'm excited to return to Madagascar, and quite frankly, it is not a bad time to escape the bitter cold Nebraska winter. :)
This morning I received an email from Dr. Robert Fleischer, head of my former genetics lab at the Smithsonian, with the announcement that I was awarded the first 'Emerging Scientist Award' at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institue holiday party. I am humbled by the award, as I was extremely fourtunate to spend six years working on my doctorate in the Center for Conservation Genomics. This lab really shaped my research interests, and taught me how to be a scientist. #OurLabBestLab
Thanks to everyone at the CCG that helped me through my dissertation research, you are the top of the field, and great people, I was so lucky to have convinced Jesús Maldonado to take me in as a student!
Missy is a geneticist, and field biologist who enjoys both observing mammals in their natural environment and combining that with DNA detective work.