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Biology and Earth Science Steals the Homecoming Spotlight

Biology and Earth Science Steals the Homecoming Spotlight

By Alli Bates ’16

Each year, Otterbein’s Homecoming celebration features an academic spotlight. This year, the spotlight shines on Biology and Earth Science. The Department will have an open house and picnic with family oriented activities at the Science Center for everyone to enjoy from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Interactive stations will include skulls and fossils, a sweet DNA treat, mussel specimens, x-rays and bones, and botanical surprises. Attendees will also get a chance to see some physiology equipment in action and check out what’s under the microscope. Plus, there will be student-guided activities with the parakeets.

Additionally, from 4-5 p.m. on Friday, Sept 25, students will be presenting posters of their summer adventures. Posters will be displayed in the Science Center atrium and will feature research, internship and study abroad experiences.

The Department of Biology and Earth Science has a lot to show off this year.

In May, students Jill Keefer and Samantha Hargrove surveyed 20 patch reefs on the coast of Belize with Dr. Halard Lescinsky. They documented that within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, endangered elkhorn coral was making a rapid comeback, but that the closely related staghorn coral was suffering by predation from fireworms, snails and disease.

The team hypothesizes that rampant overfishing today in the poorly monitored marine reserve has led to the release of coral predators that would otherwise be held in check by fish and lobsters.

Over the summer, students Troy Neptune and Caitlyn Rahe traveled with Dr. Sarah Bouchard to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama. Together, they studied red-eyed treefrogs and examined the effects of the tadpole environment on growth and development.

“Cait found that if you raise tadpoles in highly competitive environments with low food resources, they reduce their metabolic rates to conserve energy. This complements our previous work in which we found that tadpoles in those same habitats have longer guts and smaller livers. Troy examined the simultaneous effects of low food resources and predation threat on red-eyed treefrogs,” said Bouchard.

Fellow student researcher Cory Usher ran a parallel study to Neptune’s with local Ohio frogs. These three students will all present the results of their work at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in January 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

Biology major Megan Locke has been working for the past eight months as a research assistant for Dr. Backes, a neonatologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. They are currently preparing their manuscript on percutaneous closure of patent ductus arteriosus in infants for publication. He has asked her to assist on his next research project, as well.

The Department also has some award-winning students in its ranks. Senior honors student Morgan Stark, a biochemistry and molecular biology and pre-veterinary major, was awarded an undergraduate research grant from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and an undergraduate research fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). She will present her research at the 2016 ASM Microbe meeting in Boston next summer.

Zoo and conservation science major Rachel Dalton recently presented at the annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and will soon present at the annual conference of The Wildlife Society.


Learn more about the Department of Biology and Earth Science.

Check out all the weekend’s activities on our Homecoming 2015 website.

Join the Facebook Homecoming invite to stay up to date on events, times and dates.

Watch our Homecoming Preview Video on YouTube starring Ottertuned!

On social media, don't forget to use our official Homecoming 2015 hashtag #OtterBHC15 to include your posts, pictures, videos and more in the conversation.