Summer 2019 lab update

Oh wow, it only took me a couple of years to get bad at updating information about our lab. I have reasons, but let’s focus here on an update of our lab over the last year.

In the past year we had a ton of people leave, and some new people come and go. I will never get used to this in academia. Several of these fine folks are looking for graduate school (see Cooper Danner) or permanent positions (Drs. Amber Nashoba, Lucas Kirshman, and Emily Lescak; Dr. Lescak is also doing consulting work). Please take a look at their information on the “Former members” part of the “People” page for contact information!

It has been a rough year. In addition to losing several fantastic people, our lab survived a huge earthquake in November, fought for funding in the spring and summer as the legislature and Governor fought over the budget for the University of Alaska, survived smoke and high temperatures that almost threatened our fish in our vivarium this summer, and are now facing the uncertainty of the future of the University of Alaska Anchorage as the University of Alaska has declared financial exigency and is debating becoming one accredited University rather than maintaining three separate accredited Universities.

However, we were also able to overcome some big hurdles. After several years, we now have a good protocol for sequencing the 16S gene from adult fish, and are in the process of analyzing gut microbiota from at least 6 different large experiments. Our former technician Katie D’Amelio (now with NOAA) was instrumental in getting an efficient labeling protocol going, and former technician Rachael Kramp (now a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh) was able to improve on the protocol and together they were able to get several libraries sequenced this spring. Our grad students Ryan Lucas and Levi Wegner have been working diligently to get these analyzed in Qiime, while I have been attempting to get these working in Mothur. Hopefully we’ll have established pipelines by the end of this month in both.

Our former postdocs Dr. Emily Lescak and Dr. Lucas Kirschman are both very close on finishing manuscripts from their work in the lab. Keep an eye out for both!

Master’s student (and former undergraduate) Kelly Ireland started a new project identifying gut microbes that can degrade crude oil for potential bio-remediation during oil spills. This earned her a fellowship with ADAC, which comes with funding and more research experience related to Arctic issues. See a story about her research here.

Master’s student Levi Wegner earned funding from the Sloan foundation, which will help him complete a project examining the relationship between MHCII diversity and gut microbiota diversity in several stickleback populations. Congratulations!

Finally, we are part of a huge evolution project headed by Dr. Andrew Hendry and Dr. Michael Bell. Under their leadership, over 10 labs from across the world are working together to study the evolution of fish in several lakes. Look for a story from Dr. Hendry on this topic soon.



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