April 2020: Iris regularly teaches a Disease Ecology course (and will at Kenyon in Spring 2021!), so she knew it was more a matter of when not if a pandemic changed the world we live in. Knowing that didn't necessarily prepare anyone for it though! With classes online and the research lab dark, the Levin lab has turned to meta-analyses and writing to keep the research wheels turning. Unfortunately, the current situation in the world means no Kenyon Summer Science program, which is disappointing to all. Grant-related work is slow to get off the ground, given that the fieldwork will happen in Asia. Meanwhile, amidst the new normal of stay-at-home and social distancing, the barn swallows are returning to Central Ohio. There's comfort in nature just carrying on and doing her thing.
April 2019: The Levin lab is moving to Kenyon College in late May! Earlier this year, Iris accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Kenyon. She'll be teaching Animal Behavior, Introduction to Environmental Studies, and hopefully her Disease Ecology class. Central Ohio should be a great place study barn swallows - there are barns everywhere. Other exciting news: Becca, Bailey, and Iris' NSF grant is funded! The grant will involve international field work with lots of opportunities for Kenyon students to get involved in all aspects of the work.
January 2019: Iris, Toshi, and research students Alina Ibrahim '19, Emily Smith '20, and Vaughn Wicker '19 presented at the SICB meeting in Tampa just before the start of the semester. Gwen Kirschke '21 joined us for a day to attend the symposium on integrative plan biology. Agnes Scott had record numbers of biologists in attendance, with professor of biology John Pilger and Sydney Popsuj '19 there as well. Even flat Agnes showed up for the photo! The meeting was wonderful and we all learned a ton!
October 2018: Iris, Alina Ibrahim '19, Emily Smith '20, and Vaughn Wicker '19 had abstracts accepted for the 2019 SICB meeting in Tampa in January. Iris will talk about heritability of telomere length in barn swallows, Alina will present a poster on the differences in telomere length between males and females, Emily will present her work on maculation patterns on barn swallow eggs, and Vaughn will talk about English ivy control via goats. In other news, Iris and collaborators published a paper last week on dynamic coordination between social behavior, hormones, and plumage color. Finally, congratulations to Mackenzie Borum '20 on being awarded a Norene Boring Undergraduate Research Grant from the Georgia Ornithological Society. She will use this award to study the effects of artificial light at night on mockingbirds on campus.
July 2018: Summer has been busy! Team Barn Swallow began research through Agnes Scott's GFSTEM program immediately after finals and worked extremely hard in the field and lab, finishing up in early July. Jackie Umana '20, Clara Drummond '20, Emily Smith '20, and Mackenzie Borum '20 quickly mastered the skills needed to study swallows and really dug into their exciting independent projects! Additionally, Vaughn Wicker '19 continued research with Iris, completing the analysis, writing, and submitting a manuscript on Iris' Ecology class's project on goat grazing in an ivy-invaded woodlot adjacent to campus. Since finishing up the field season (swallows in Georgia stop breeding pretty early, presumably because of the heat!), summer has been all about data analysis, scheming about the next steps for research, and writing. Other neat summer projects have included a collaboration between Iris, Toshi, and Casey Long and Chris Bishop in our library on a manuscript describing our information literacy training in a multi-week, inquiry-based introductory biology lab that focuses on parental care behavior in swallows. Every introductory biology student at Agnes Scott gets a chance to work with the (arguably) best bird.
April 2018: Jazz wins a national pre-vet leadership award! The lab presents research at SpARC! New students join the lab for summer research!
Late spring brings lots of exciting news! Jazz Stephens '18 was awarded the AAVMC Pre-Vet Leadership Award for 2018! We're so proud of her and we can't wait to hear about all the exciting news from her experiences at U-GA's vet school next year. All members of the Levin lab presented at Agnes Scott's annual research conference, SpARC. Additionally, Mackenzie Borum '20 and Gillian Sayre '20 presented a poster from the Ecology class' goat browsing/invasive species project. Finally, the lab has a lot of new faces this summer. Jackie Umana '20, Clara Drummond '20, Emily Smith '20, and Mackenzie Borum will be working on barn swallows projects related to color and colony size, telomeres, and artificial light.