Lily Whiteside is a junior at Miami University with a Zoology major and a Neuroscience minor. Her role in the Oedipodinae project consists of DNA extractions, PCRs, and sequencing reactions in order to attain DNA sequences of the different species for comparison. Lily also assists Steph Smith with any other tasks involving phylogenetic analysis.
Lily decided to join this project because she has always found genetics and ecology interesting, and she thought that this lab would be a great way to gain some hands on experience while observing how these two subjects correspond. After she graduates, Lily hopes to attend PA school and eventually become a Physician Assistant.
Ethan Schlarb is a junior at Miami University, majoring in Biology with an American studies minor. His role in the Oedipodinae project consists of aligning sequences of DNA that are extracted from the genomics lab so the sequences are in a usable format for future phylogeny. Ethan also assists Steph Smith with any other duties involving the phylogenetic analysis of the grasshoppers.
Ethan joined this project because he has a strong interest in phylogenetic research and genetics in general. He also joined the project because he has a fear of grasshoppers, and participating in the lab has helped alleviate his fear slightly. In the future, Ethan would love to find work that involves genetic research for the evolution of plant species. He believes the Oedipodinae project has helped broaden his knowledge and experience on the subject of genetics, which has helped him better prepare for the future.
Emma Mashburn is a senior at Miami University, majoring in Biology with a Philosophy minor. Emma’s role in the Oedipodinae Project thus far has consisted of assisting Steph Smith with her duties, learning how to sequence DNA, do DNA extractions and Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCR). Emma decided to join this project because she has always had an interest in genetics, which is a main focus of the lab, and because she admires Dr. Jezkova and her work. In the future, Emma plans to further her studies and go to PA school to eventually become a physician assistant.
Deron Clark is a senior at Miami University majoring in Zoology with an Environmental Science co-major. Deron’s duties for the Oedipodinae project mainly include assisting Addie Zeisler with GIS database analysis. This work consists of sorting data from the SCAN database, running R scripts, inputting information, and assisting with anything else that is needed for the project.
Deron joined the Oedipodinae project because he wanted to gain experience working in a lab, and the topic and skills required for the project interested him. Before joining the project, Deron had only recently learned about utilities, including GIS database and R scripts, so he is glad he has the opportunity to learn more about them and how to apply them as well. In the future, Deron would like to work in wildlife conservation, using the skills that he has gained from participating in the Oedipodinae project.
Steph Smith is a junior Microbiology major at Miami University. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she is a returning member of the Oedipodinae Project. During Steph’s freshman year, she fell in love with lab work; she did undergraduate research through her Bacteriophage classes, and was a TA in a class that involved bioinformatics. Steph decided to join Tereza Jezkova’s research lab after seeing an advertisement for the lab, looking for project heads for bioinformatics and wet lab work. After learning she would be working with genomics and grasshoppers, the lab seemed like fate; Steph has always wanted to be an entomologist .
During Steph’s first semester as a member of this lab, she worked on gathering FASTA files that contained known sequences of Oedipodinae, and compiled a list of sequences that were not available. She also compiled a list of places where certain Oedipodinae specimen, that were wanted for the project, reside. After this, Steph did some background research on the correct methods for sequencing grasshoppers she had in lab, and attained a list of primers. Finally, she did the first round of extractions, and ran gels to confirm the PCR results. This semester, Steph is working on the experiments, but she is also figuring out which reactions her team can do for DNA sequencing, while learning how to use the program Sequencher.
Steph wants to pursue a PhD, but for now, her plans for the future are open. She would like to continue working in research and possibly be involved in academia, as she has always enjoyed teaching. (She was a TA in high school for dual enrollment courses, and she worked at an elementary school). Steph would love to continue working on genetics and stay in her lab, which is where she feels most at home!
Addie Zeisler is a junior Biology major at Miami University, with a Global Perspectives and Sustainability minor. Originally in a biochemistry lab, Addie realized she preferred research that involves ecology. The president of an organization to which she belongs suggested joining Tereza Jezkova’s research lab, and Addie realized it was a perfect fit.
During her first semester with this group, Addie worked on building a database for the grasshoppers. She took information from a North American grasshopper book, and organized the grasshoppers into species. This semester, she is working on observing data from another database to look for invertebrate occurrences. She can then cross-reference the invertebrates with maps from the North American grasshopper book. After gathering this information, she will compare the data to see if different species exhibit niche conservation or competitive exclusion.
Although Addie does not have definite career goals in mind, she has ideas about what she wants to accomplish. She wants to work in the field for a couple of years, with a focus on birds. Addie loves the idea of looking at ecology through the lens of bird migration. After working in the field, she would like to pursue a PhD, doing research and eventually becoming a professor. Enthusiastic professors have influenced Addie during her undergraduate years, and she would like to share her enthusiasm as a professor, helping students find their passion.
This semester, we have five new undergraduates joining the Miami University Oedipodinae Project; Deron Clark, Emma Mashburn, Ethan Schlarb, Lily Whiteside, and Zoey Scancarello. These new members have taken on positions previously held by other undergraduates, and joined positions held by existing members. Deron Clark is working on Database and GIS Analysis with existing member, Addy Zeisler. Emma Mashburn, Ethan Schlarb, and Lily Whiteside are working on Phylogenetic Analysis with existing member, Steph Smith. Zoey Scancarello is in charge of the Design and Outreach position previously held by Ying Liang.