Touch a Bug, Make a Friend!

Today Graduate Student Caitlin Peffers (left) and PI Meuti (right) visited Medina Middle School, a Columbus public school serving diverse and immigrant students. We first shared some information on how we became interested in entomology, our educational and career paths, and job opportunities in entomology and other STEM fields. Then we passed around some really cool insects and other arthropods, asked and answered questions about their biology. Best of all, students got to touch and hold them. As you can see, it was quite a hit!

 

Tick tock: Tick Talk Outreach at COSI’s first Science Festival

Today members of the recently formed Tick Task Force, including PI Meuti, participated in a largescale outreach event at the first ever Science Festival at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio.  At the event, we handed out tick ID card, showed people how to properly remove ticks using large models and showed people what real ticks look like using microscopes and 3D printed models.

Highest kuddos go to Dr. Sarah Short for leading the task force and for developing the cards and designing the tick models.

Best of all, we had some special visitors drop by the booth (after all, it was May the 4th).

NIH R21 Grant!

Megan is incredibly fortunate to be a co-PI on a two year research grant funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Peter Armbruster at Georgetown University is the lead investigator (click here for a link to his website). The project will allow us to select for biting and non-biting populations of the Northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens. The Armbruster lab will similarly select for biting and non-biting populations of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti  (shown below). Pica Pica 4/4

Then, with the help of Dr. Christine Hozapfel and Bill Bradshaw at the University of Oregon (click here for a link to their website), we will compare the differences in gene expression between the biting and non-biting mosquitoes belonging to these two species. By doing this, we hope to identify genes that are important for biting so that we could one day prevent mosquitoes from biting us and transmitting disease.

Outreach and theater

Today PI Meuti and graduate student Lydia Fyie participated in the Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity’s Annual Open House. We were both stationed in the insect collection, where we had the privilege of sharing fun facts and answering questions about many of the museum’s remarkable insect specimens. In total, over 3,000 visitors came to the Museum Open House, and likely at least 1,000 passed through the insect collection.

 

And as if that was not exhausting enough, Lydia then went on to give a second outstanding performance in Cabaret where she was cheered on by Vivian, Caitlin, Christiana and Megan.

 

Congratulations Lydia!

We found out today that Lydia received a competitive Seeds grant from the Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center. This grant will allow Lydia to determine if the streetlights that illuminate our sidewalks and roads prevent mosquitoes from going into their overwintering dormancy. If this is the case, it means that mosquitoes may continue to bite city-dwellers and transmit diseases throughout the fall and winter. Stay tuned for her results! 🙂

ALBERT DOCK PUMPHOUSE

New paper!

The review article that PI Meuti co-authored with Dr. Sarah Short has just been published in the open access journal Insects (link here). This paper synthesizes information from other scientific studies that have examined how environmental factors, such as food, temperature and seasonal conditions, might affect the insect ejaculate.

Meuti Lab at the Denman

Today Claire Allison and Vivian Chang represented the Meuti Lab at Ohio State’s annual Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. This year the competition was limited to only 200 applicants, and both Claire and Vivian worked to secure their spots early on. Claire presented her research on how seasonal conditions affect the size and gene expression in male accessory glands. 

Vivian presented her work demonstrating that circadian transcription factors play a critical role in mosquito overwintering. Best of all, Vivian won first place in her research category! 🙂Congratulations to both of these amazing students! 🙂

PI Meuti travels to Canada

PI Meuti was invited to give a seminar in the Biology Department of Western University in London, Ontario. In addition to experiencing the cold and beauty of the Canadian winter and the warmth and excitement of stimulating scientific conversation, Megan got hold a hibernating ground squirrel (pictured below!) and observe snowy owls in their natural habitat. Needless to say, it was a fantastic visit! Thanks to the Sinclair lab and all of the other brilliant and kind Biology students and faculty for a truly lovely time! 

Welcome new undergraduates!

Two new undergraduate researchers have just joined the Meuti Lab!

Olivia Bianco is a freshman majoring in Animal Science. She hopes to one day go to Veterinary school and protect dogs and cats from heartworm and other insect-vectored diseases.

Christiana Arkorful-Bondzie is a freshman majoring in Biology. She spent some of her formative years in Ghana where she occassionally suffered from Malaria. She plans to go to medical school and become either a pediatrician or specialize in helping couples to have children.

 

Entomophagy!

Insects were on the menu in General Entomology today! We discussed how several cultures around the world enjoy eating insects and how they are a healthier and more sustainable protein source than beef, pork and chicken.

We enjoyed wax worm tacos, chocolate chirpie chip cookies and roasted and spiced mixed insects!