Division of Biological Sciences

Seminar Series

In the Fall of 2014, the Biological Sciences Division started its seminar series.  This series hosts speakers from both on and off campus, and covers a variety of subjects within the life sciences.  A few spots each academic year are reserved for student-invited speakers.  Each seminar is followed by a question and answer period.  Snacks and hot drinks are provided.  Stay tuned for the 2016-17 Seminar Series!

Previous Seminars

Speaker: Marc Servetnick, PhD, Professor, UW Bothell
Monday, 10/19/2015

Ancient mechanisms and modern tools: using sea anemones, T-box genes and CRISPR to study the evolution of animal development

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Speakers: James C. Ha, PhD, CAAB Research Professor, Retired Department of Psychology, UW-Seattle
Renee Ha, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, UW-Seattle

Monday, 11/16/2015

Social Behavior and Conservation of Crows
In our lab, we have studied the social behavior of crows from two perspectives: food-stealing behavior of Northwestern crows in Snohomish County and conservation of a rare, tropical-island species of crow.  In the first studies, we investigated the role of family relationships on food-stealing behavior in beach-feeding crows near Mukilteo WA.  We discovered two forms of food-stealing: passive or aggressive.  The combination of individually marked animals and information on kinship allowed us to discover the differences in these behaviors.  In the second set of studies, our research group has been tasked with determining the cause(s) of the decline of the Mariana crow (Corvus kubaryi) on the Micronesian island of Rota.  Results generated by our work suggest that, without intervention, this population of about 160 birds will be extinct in about 20 years.  Possible threats include habitat loss or modification, hunting, typhoons, interspecific competition, disease, predation, and inbreeding.  We now understand several causes of the decline, and are moving towards recovery of the species before it goes extinct.

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Speaker: Maria Rebolleda-Gomez, University of Minnesota
Monday, 12/14/2015

Constructing Individuality: Ecological and evolutionary dynamics in experimental transitions to multicellularity
Biological individuals are a result of evolutionary history. Multicellular organisms, for example, evolved through cooperation and integration of previously autonomous cells. During this transition, unicellular individuals, previously capable of growth and reproduction on their own, lose part of their autonomy and become parts of a larger, more complex whole. My work explores some of the ecological and evolutionary consequences of this transition, focusing on the evolution of new spatial organization and its effects on the ecology and evolution of incipient multicellular organisms. Using experimental evolution of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (the brewers yeast) I have been able to investigate some of the spatial constraints to multicellularity and how this novel organization could promote diversification and potentially facilitate division of labor between different cells in an organism. My results demonstrate that even in this incipient case, multicellularity can have great impacts on the ecology and subsequent evolution. Lastly, I will discuss how symbiotic systems can provide further insight into the evolution of individuality and its consequences.