Service and Outreach

Mentoring future scientists!
I have worked with a diversity of students, with interests ranging from dentistry and nursing to videography and engineering.  These students have helped with field collections, filming, digitizing, and photographing specimens, and their enthusiasm helps me remember why I like science so much!  I appreciate all of their hard work!  

Travis Klee is helping me film guppies

After school science
Dale Broder, a graduate student in the biology department, has been working with teachers and students at Bella Romero Elementary School in Greely, CO (serving primarily underrepresented students), and this year she wanted to work with 8th grade students who volunteered their time after school to perform a small science project.  Given an initial background on Trinidadian guppies, the students came up with their own question, designed an experiment, collected and analyzed data, and presented a poster at the CSU Front Range Student Ecological Symposium!  I thank Dale for inviting me along to help the students photograph their fish and mentor a small group during the symposium.  We were also able to do my biomechanics activity when they visited campus that day, and I was surprised at how much they knew about motion and mechanics!  

Biomechanics: using physics to understand animals

This is the outreach program I am developing to bridge the gap between math and biology.  We discuss Newton's laws of motion, velocity and acceleration, and morphology and performance.  Students make predictions about predator speed and analyze videos used in my research.  We then discuss the implications for ecology and evolution.

Two species that differ in body shape and performance

CSU Math, Science, Tech Day
The guppy group presented at CSU's Math, Science, Tech Day where local underrepresented 4th grade students come to CSU to learn about what it is like to be a scientist at CSU, in the hopes of inspiring a desire for attaining a college education.  We used guppies from low predation wild, high predation wild, and pet store populations to demonstrate and discuss how and why animals look different across environments.  We also talked about the difference between natural and artificial selection and showed and awesome video demonstrating how difficult it is to avoid Pickles, our resident pike cichlid and guppy predator.

Students chose which environment each guppy came from,
and then we discussed how that environment shapes their traits.

Teen Science Cafe
Dr. Lisa Angeloni and her graduate student, Dale Broder, invited me along to their Teen Science Cafe where I was able to help them explain why guppies are a model system for studying evolution.  Approximately 20 local high school students and their parents attended.  We had two activities set up for them: 1) making behavioral observations and 2) observing color differences among guppies from 3 environments.  We asked them to predict which environment they thought each population was from, and then we talked about how adaptations help organisms survive and evolve.

Observing guppy behavior though a blind

Coloring guppies from different habitats

First Sundays at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum
The Higham Lab hosted “Animal Olympics”, an interactive event introducing the public to the work we do in the lab with biomechanics, animal movement, and ecology.  Approximately 250 people attended the event!  I led a station using live fish, videos, and a fly-catching chameleon game to talk about aiming and accuracy.  We even had face painting thanks to our Postdoc Bill Stewart! 

Teaching about differences in suction and accuracy in fishes

Alcott Elementary School Science Day
The Higham lab went to a local elementary school and taught the students about suction feeding and gecko adhesion using the scientific method.  We were set up in the auditorium and each grade came in and students rotated through the two 15-minute activities.  It took 2 days, but we were able to do our demonstrations for the whole school!  To teach about suction-feeding, we first showed students a short movie of different fishes catching their prey using either biting or suction, and had them make hypotheses about which “mouth” (a biting set of forceps or a suction-feeding turkey baster) would be better for capturing either peas or carrots in a small tank of water.  Then we discussed the results and talked about the tradeoffs between biting and suction.  The students seemed to really enjoy having us there!

SICB SW regional meeting 2013 at UCR
To keep the momentum of the newly established SW regional meetings for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the Higham Lab volunteered to host and organize the meeting for 2013. It was a lot of work but it was a huge success with nearly 80 attendees representing 19 universities!  We look forward to the 2014 meeting at UC Irvine!

“Lunch Bunch” seminar series organizer
The graduate program in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology puts together a student-led seminar series each fall and spring quarter, and I volunteered to be the organizer in Fall 2013.  We had seminars ranging from Drs. Mark Chappell and David Reznick describing current research in their labs, to James Bryant talking about outreach and citizen science at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Drs. Tim Higham, Helen Regan, and Len Nunny leading a panel discussion on “International Science”, and Sally Beatty from the Mission Inn Museum giving us a pictorial tour of the history and culture of Riverside.  I am glad I had the opportunity to share these great seminars with the department!

Gradfest recruitment weekend
Each year the graduate program in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology hosts prospective graduate students for one weekend.  I was selected to help organize this event in Spring 2013, which included a keynote seminar by Dr. Len Nunney, a Q&A panel for the new students, and a current  graduate student research symposium.  I helped organize each of these events and presented a poster of my work on accuracy and success in the symposium.  
Me with a cast of Tiktaalik
at Clemson's Darwin Day

Darwin Day at Clemson University
The Biology Department at Clemson University hosts an annual “Darwin Day” event on or near Darwin’s birthday.  This event is intended for students and the public to learn about evolutionary biology and ask questions to professors and graduate students who study aspects of evolutionary biology.  I liked talking about convergent evolution, adaptive radiations, and transitional fossils like Tiktaalik.  Thanks to the Geology Museum, we actually had a cast to share with the public!

No comments:

Post a Comment