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.
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!
PI Megan Meuti received the Early Career Professional Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA). This national award recognizes her efforts to educate, entertain, and engage students to promote long term learning about insects and molecular biology.
She received this award at the joint meeting of the Entomological Society of America and Entomological Society of Canada in Vancouver. While there, she gave a lightening bug talk on some of the recent findings on seasonal changes in male mosquito accessory glands as well as the lessons that she learned teaching insect physiology lab.
This year all members of the Meuti Lab participated in the Ohio Valley Entomological Association (OVEA) conference!
Meuti lab undergraduate researcher, Vivian Chang, placed first for her work characterizing the expression and role of two clock proteins in mosquito overwintering.
Meuti lab undergraduate researcher Claire Allison presented her research on the rate of accessory gland development in male mosquitoes.
Master’s student Caitlin Peffers also gave a great presentation of her undergraduate research at Michigan State, which laid the groundwork for characterizing the pheromone biosynthesis pathway in spotted wing fruit flies.
Master’s student, Lydia Fyie, placed second for research that she completed at Kalamazoo College that evaluated the distribution of native and invasive crayfish in Lake Eerie.
Collectively these 4 stellar researchers were in the top 6 in the undergraduate category against stiff competition from 12 other undergraduate researchers!
We moved into our newly renovated lab in Howlett Hall! The first floor contains bench space for 8 researchers to process and extract samples for future molecular analyses. We also have a separate room for PCR reactions, running gels and measuring the quantities of DNA/RNA, proteins and lipids in them. We also share space with Dr. Sarah Short’s lab on the third floor where we rear mosquitoes in environmentally controlled chambers, and have 4 high-powered dissecting microscopes.
PI Meuti attended a workshop sponsored by the Insect Genetic Technologies Research Coordination Network in Rockville, Maryland from July 22-27th. While there she learned how to use transposons and CRISPR/Cas9 to create transgenic insects and received hands-on training in preparing and injecting freshly laid insect embryos. She looks forward to applying all of the knowledge and skills that she learned here so that she can conduct functional assays to determine the role of the circadian clock in seasonal responses in mosquitoes and how accessory gland proteins in male mosquitoes might influence female blood feeding behavior, fecundity and survival.
PI Meuti started this month by giving the plenary talk (think a sciencey-keynote address) to kick off this year’s Insect Biotech Conference at Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada (June 6-8th). While there PI Meuti met several top-notch Canadian insect physiologists and got to sample some delicious ice wine!
Then, to celebrate her 33rd birthday, Megan gave her TED-style Discovery Talk at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) for their monthly “COSI After Dark” event. The theme for this month was on “Dangerous Science,” so Megan highlighted how mosquitoes are the world’s most dangerous animals, killing over 850,000 people in 2015 alone. Megan also described how the pesticides that we are using are also dangerous for ecosystems and her lab’s work to uncover aspects of mosquito seasonal biology so that we may one day develop mosquito-specific strategies to control these dangerous and deadly disease vectors.
Above is a picture of an overwintering mosquito’s head taken with a super-cool USB microscope that the COSI folks allowed the Meuti Lab to borrow.
We recently discovered that we were one of two proposals selected for a SEEDS Grant from Ohio State’s Infectious Disease Institute!
This $24,985 grant will be used to purchase materials and to allow PI Meuti to receive invaluable training on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. Together these resources and training will allow us to submit more competitive and compelling grant proposals to the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The ultimate goal of these grants will be to determine how the circadian clock regulates the hormonal and signalling pathways that generate seasonal responses in insects.
Caitlin Peffers recently graduated with her bachelor’s of science in Entomology from Michigan State University. While there she worked on pheromone biosynthesis genes in spotted wing fruit flies (Drosophila suzukii), a recent and serious invasive pest.
Lydia Fyie graduated from Kalamazoo College in Michigan with dual degrees in Biology and Theater, and has worked for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the interim.
Both students look forward to combining their interests in ecology to provide a better understanding of mosquito seasonal biology in their natural environments. We are absolutely thrilled to have them! 🙂
Today undergraduate Biology major Victoria Colin successfully defended her research thesis! Victoria wrote an outstanding scientific-style manuscript describing the role of antioxidant proteins and the detailed methods she used to measure their abundance in the spermathecae (sperm storage organs) in reproductively active and overwintering mosquitoes. Here she is shown with OSU Entomology Department Chair, Dr. Carol Anelli who served on Victoria’s thesis committee.
After graduation, Victoria plans to put her research skills to good use and work in a lab for a year before attending medical school. Congratulations Victoria on a job very well done!