OSyM Participants

    • Type of Researcher
    Members
    Ofir Levy
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Senior Lecturer
    Tel Aviv University
    levyofi@gmail.com
    Research Summary

    My overall goals are to improve our theoretical and applied understanding of the effects of climate on ecological systems. To this end, I develop ecological and physiological approaches that bring new mechanistic insights into how environments affect organisms. Such insights are crucial for understanding ecological responses to climate change and for developing management and conservation strategies that can help species maintain their ecological niches under future climates.


    Biographical Info

    I am a Senior Lecturer(an equivalent title to Assistant Professor in the USA) at the School of Zoology of Tel Aviv University since 2018. I earned my Ph.D. in Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology in 2010 and completed a postdoctoral appointment at the School of Life Sciences of Arizona State University in 2017. For my dissertation at Tel Aviv University, I was primarily concerned with understanding how ecological, physiological, and evolutionary forces shape organismal activity patterns in the Judean desert, a relatively harsh and unpredictable environment. During my postdoctoral appointment, I have shifted my model animals to reptiles, studying the biological effects of climate change using empirical observations and individual-based models. Currently, my lab broadly explores subjects in ecological physiology and climate change, with a strong emphasis on the relationships between animals and the environment. In particular, I integrate remote sensing data with microclimate and individual-based models on the one hand, and empirical observations at climatic gradients on the other.


    Liang Ma
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Princeton University
    liangm@princeton.edu
    Research Summary

    I have experiences in integrating empirical data and mechanistic models to tackle difficult questions. For example, I examined hypothesis about the evolution of viviparity at a global scale by mapping soil temperatures into developmental traits (Ma et al. 2018, Global Ecology and Biogeography). By modeling the pattern revealed by a control experiment testing the effect of embryonic movement on sex ratio of TSD species, I predicted that such embryonic movement could buffer the variation of sex ratio among seasons and across latitudes (Ye et al. 2019 Current Biology; co-first author). I developed a life-history model to compare the impacts of climate change on viviparous and oviparous squamates (under review). I also incorporated the plasticity of embryonic thermal tolerance into a mechanistic model to reveal how the plasticity would affect the heat stress experienced by developing embryos (under review).


    Biographical Info

    I am a conservation physiologist interested in exploring how species adapt to thermal gradients through time and space, and how they would respond to global change. I have a particular interest in integrating empirical studies and mechanistic models to reveal ecological patterns across scales. I’m currently working with David Wilcove as a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton University. I acquired a PhD degree of ecology in 2017 at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (supervised by Wei-guo Du) and did a two-year postdoctoral research in the same lab. I also did a 1-year internship in University of Washington (supervised by Raymond Huey and Lauren Buckley) during my PhD.


    James Marden
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor of Biology and Associate Director Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
    Penn State University
    Mueller Lab
    jhm10@psu.edu
    Research Summary

    My research focuses on the physiology and ecology of insect flight; molecular genetics of disease resistance in tropical trees; and integrative biology.


    Keywords: ecology, physiology, biomechanics, functional genomics
    Lynn Martin
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    University of South Florida
    lbmartin@usf.edu
    Martin lab at USF
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    Marty's is generally interested in the ecophysiology of wild vertebrates, especially birds and mammals. Research in the lab now addresses what physiological and behavioral traits enable some individuals to have disproportionate effects on the spread and dilution of infectious diseases, how molecular epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation underlie the phenotypic plasticity that enables some organisms to be exceptional colonizers, and how body size constrains the architecture of the immune systems and other defenses of species.


    Biographical Info

    Marty earned a BS and an MS in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by an MS and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton. He then spent 3 years as a postdoc in Psychology and Neuroscience at The Ohio State University and joined the University of South Florida in 2007 as an Assistant Professor. Since 2018, he has been Professor in Global and Planetary Health in the USF College of Public Health.


    Alexander Mauro
    Organismal Biologist
    Graduate Student
    Colorado State University
    amauro@colostate.edu
    The Evolutionary Ecology of Ranges
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    My research focuses on a question that has been of great interest to evolutionary biologists since the inception of the field: why does natural selection not select for greater environmental tolerance and hence greater ranges? I investigate this question by studying what sets the range limits of two species of guppies on the island of Trinidad. My research can be broken up into three main themes:1) Tradeoffs between ecologically relevant traits​ can set range limits. I'm currently investigating how competition and salinity tolerance tradeoff by studying guppy behavior, growth, and gene expression during a simulated saltwater invasion, 2) Once a population moves past its range and enters a novel environment, the type of phenotypic plasticity the population exhibits will influence ​its persistence in and adaptation to the new environment. I'm investigating this dynamic in the classic high-predation, low-predation guppy system, & 3) Gene flow from other populations can "swamp" out adaptive alleles and prevent local adaptation & set range limits. To investigate this I'm conducting a population genomics study on guppies in 3 estuarine rivers in collaboration with the Whitehead Lab at UC Davis.


    Biographical Info

    I am an evolutionary ecologist and 4th year PhD candidate in the Ghalambor lab at Colorado State. For my PhD I’m investigating what prevents guppies from expanding their ranges in the estuaries of Trinidad to better understand the adaptive process. I use a combination of genetics, behavior, and ecological studies to do this. As an undergrad, I worked on animal behavior, biomechanics, and eomorphology projects while at Claremont McKenna College. In addition to research goals, I also aim to have an active outreach program and currently accomplish this by guest-teaching “guppy” labs in local middle schools and high schools (I also coach middle school cross country!).


    Kerry McGowan
    Organismal Biologist
    Graduate Student
    Washington State University
    kerry.mcgowan@wsu.edu
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    The core question in my research is how organisms adapt to extreme environments. I work on a poeciliid fish species complex that lives in several freshwater drainages in southern Mexico. Populations of this species have also successfully colonized nearby springs rich in hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas lethal to most metazoans at low concentrations. I am interested in elucidating the genetic mechanisms underlying the adaptations in these fish living in sulfidic conditions and how their adaptation strategies differ looking across different springs. One area that I am focusing on is understanding changes in the regulatory networks that control the expression of genes related to hydrogen sulfide detoxification and aerobic metabolism. My research aims to discover candidate regulatory genes that control these processes in poeciliid fishes living in sulfidic environments by using differential gene expression, gene set enrichment analyses, and network analyses.


    Biographical Info

    I am a third year Ph.D. student at Washington State University under the mentorship of Dr. Joanna Kelley. I am broadly interested in evolutionary genomics, population genetics, and adaptation to extreme environments.

    I received my B.S. in Biology from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. I was fortunate to be introduced to research through the mentorship of Dr. Erika Iyengar during my time at Muhlenberg. I was also a participant in the University of Washington's Research Experience for Undergraduates at Friday Harbor Laboratories researching intertidal epibiosis. After graduating from Muhlenberg, I interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in the Departments of Entomology and Invertebrate Zoology. Before enrolling as a graduate student at Washington State University, I served two terms as an AmeriCorps member in Flagstaff, AZ and Seattle, WA.


    Elyse McMahon
    Organismal Biologist
    PhD student
    Pennsylvania State University
    ekm5112@gmail.com
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    I study how personality is associated with different physiological mechanisms. My overarching goal is to better understand why we see population variation from the perspective of studying the individual. My current research is conducted in laboratory settings which allows me to study interacting physiological mechanisms in controlled environments. I currently study acute stress responses in autonomic and endocrine systems, innate and adaptive immune function, gut microbiome diversity, and neuronal function. By collecting these cross-physiological system data, I can determine the networks that underlie behavioral phenotypes.


    Biographical Info

    I am a third year PhD student at Penn State University. I study how physiological mechanisms interact and are associated with personality. My lab asks questions to understand why we see differences between individuals and to better understand life-long fitness and health consequences from these physiological differences. My goals are to better understand why we see population variation and understand the mechanisms allowing flexibility or stability in changing environments. To answer this question, I plan to study different physiological systems and create an integrated physiological profile to understand underlying mechanisms that result in varying fitness and health outcomes.


    Fred Nijhout
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    Duke University
    hfn@duke.edu
    Research Summary

    Developmental physiology. Control of size and shape in development. Polyphenisms. Allometry. Pattern formation.
    I do wet-lab research on the above systems. I also do a lot of mathematical modeling of those systems.
    In addition, I collaborate with Mike Reed (Duke Mathematcis) in modeling metabolic systems relevant to human health, in which we study the mecahnsism of robustness sand homeostasis.


    Biographical Info

    I have been a Full Professor at Duke University since 1987.