Montana State University is the state’s land grant institution. It creates knowledge and art, and serves communities by integrating learning, discovery, and engagement. The Department of Microbiology and Immunology plays an important role in this mission by providing research, teaching, and service in topics ranging from environmental microbiology, molecular genetics, host-parasite interactions, and disease ecology, to developmental immunology and pathogenicity.
The Branco Lab studies the ecology and evolution of fungi to further understand the ecological factors that generate and maintain fungal diversity. Specifically, we use a combination of field, laboratory, and computational approaches to investigate how fungi colonize and persist in the environment. Our studies range across biological scales from ecological communities to genomes and genes, emphasizing evolutionary adaptation to hostile environments.
This summer I studied the postcranial anatomy of Whatcheeria. It’s an Early Carboniferous tetrapod, and important because both it’s uniquely primitive for its age and represented by lots of specimens that cover essentially the entire skeleton- almost unheard of for an early tetrapod. Despite consistently being recovered on the tetrapod stem in phylogenetic analyses, it shares a number of skeletal features with the anthracosaurs, a phylogenetically more derived Carboniferous-Permian group that are frequently considered to be amniote relatives. I’m looking forward describing these features with new phylogenetic characters and finding out if they change Whatcheeria’s phylogenetic position and our understanding of early tetrapod relationships. This is part of my research that’s broadly focused on understanding the evolutionary and ecological changes in the aftermath of the end-Devonian extinction 359 million years ago. Here's a link to Ben's new article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pala.12395
My research is focused on the biogeographic aspects of ecology and evolution in birds. I primarily work with birds in Africa, studying relationships across biogeographical barriers of different sizes. While at the University of Chicago, I have received internal funding from the University of Chicago and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, as well as support from National Geographic, the France Chicago Center, and the Field Museum to perform my dissertation research. This funding has allowed me to perform field work in Cameroon, as well as to visit other museum collections in Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I also enjoy working with biodiversity data and using it to better understand species’ ecology at different geographic scales. This work has already resulted in one publication while at the University of Chicago (doi:10.1111/jav.01771). I am an advocate for citizen science, and all of my travels (research and otherwise) are logged in the eBird citizen science database.
Mariah Wild Scott. I am a PhD student entering my second year. I am interested in the evolution of life history strategies, specifically related to reproductive effort and maternal input. Bivalves, including clams and mussels, represent a unique study system for investigating these topics. Bivalve species have evolved a spectrum of maternal input per offspring and different maternal adaptations to evaluate. Different life history adaptations that will be compared include free-living, lecithotrophic (yolk-fed), brooded, and parasitic larvae. Bivalve shells, which provide a record of the animal’s size and shape over the course of its life, also provide the means for unique insight into the impact these costs have on the females.
Welcome to incoming CEB students: Abhimanyu Lele, Jing-Yi Lu, and Tristan Reinecke
I am a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. My research aims to characterize the symbiosis between giant canopy-forming kelp and the millions of tiny bacteria that live on their surfaces. I am determining the identity and functional role of symbiotic bacteria associated with the "bull kelp" Nereocystis luetkeana, which forms extensive underwater forests along the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada. My research has shown that there are up to 25 million bacteria living on each square centimeter of kelp! Microbial metabolisms may contribute significantly to carbon and nitrogen cycling associated with kelp, which has fueled my desire to characterize the functional importance of this symbiosis. My research has been funded by the Phycological Society of America, National Geographic, and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology.
Congratulations to John Park, recipient of the Wayne C. Booth Graduate Student Prize for Excellence in Teaching!
CEB graduate student David Grossnickle is interetested in why certain mammal groups have diversified through time and survived extinctin events. In his recent publication in Scientific Reports, David proposes that mammal teeth, jaw bones and muscles evolved to produce side-to-side motions of the jaw, or yaw, that allowed our earliest ancestors to grind food with their molars and eat a more diversified diet.
Congratulations to David Jablonski who was recently awarded the 2017 Paleontological Society Medal for his contributions to the advancement of knowledge in paleontology!
A recently published study in Nature from the lab of Michael Coates examines high-definition CT scans of a fossilized Dwykaselachus oosthuizeni skull. Their results show that the inner structure of the braincase of this shark-like fish from 280 million years ago is characteristic of modern chimaeroid fishes.
In a recently published study in the journal Evolution, CEB graduate student Benjamin Blanchard and co-author Corrie Moreau investigated the role of defensive traits on ant diversification and examined possible constraints on the evolution of these traits.
In a recent paper in the journal of Molecular Ecology, CEB graduate student Max Winston and co-authors Daniel Kronauer and Corrie Moreau show how the rise of the Isthmus of Panama impacted speciation in Neotropical army ants.
A new paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution describes five new species of Scottish tetrapods from the time period during the early Carboniferous period, known as Romer's Gap. One of these fossils was discovered by CEB student Ben Otoo in the course of his master’s research at Cambridge.
CEB student Robert Burroughs' research was recently featured on the Burke Museum's blog. Robert is a recent reicipient of the Burke Museum's VP Collections Grant and was a visiting scholar to the museum.
The Atlantic recently featured Lawrence Heaney's work surveying the biodiversity of the higher mountain elevations of Luzon.
Congratulations to CEB graduate student David Grossnickle on his recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, with co-author Elis Newham. This paper reports that mammals began their massive diversification ten to twenty million years before the mass extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs, thus putting to rest the theory that mammalian evolution only took off once the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct.
A new collaborative study, led by CEB faculty members David Jablonski and Trevor Price, shows that while terrestrial birds and marine bivalves have similar patters of species richness across latitudes, they arrived there differently.
The work (and ingenuity) of Courtney Stepien, Shane DuBay, and recent graduate Chris Schell was featured in the spring issue of Medicine on the Midway.
Congratulations to Courtney Stepien whose recent paper in the Journal of Ecology was highly commended by the British Ecological Society's 2015 Early Career Research Awards!
Andrew Crawford (PhD 2000) was recently interviewed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute News for being part of a team of scientists who discovered a new frog species from the cloud forests of the high Andes in Colombia.
In his post-doctoral position at Colorado State University, Christopher Schell (PhD 2015) is part of the Denver Coyote Project, a three-year research project with the goal of understanding how agressiveness and boldness develops among coyotes in urban areas.
Congratulations to Daniela Palmer who was recently awarded one of the 2015 SACNAS Student Presentation Awards at this year’s SACNAS National Conference in Washington, D.C.!
CEB graduate student Courtney Stepien has discovered that the type of carbon that seaweeds harness can impact the structure of ecological communities within coastal zones.
Congratulations to James Hopson, who has received the A.S. Romer - G.G. Simpson medal from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists!
CEB graduate student, Natalia Piland, has been working this summer as a Graduate Global Impact Intern with the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum to help synthesize fifteen years of conservation successes in Loreto, Peru.
Congratulations to Neil Shubin, whose PBS special "Your Inner Fish" received a 2015 Emmy award for “outstanding graphic design and art direction”!
Congratulations to John Novembre, recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship for his work in computational biology!
Jack Gilbert has been named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” for his environmental and biomedical-focused research as part of the magazine’s 15th annual awards list.
As part of a collaboration through the Arts, Science, & Culture Intitative at the University of Chicago, Shane DuBay and Art History graduate student Carl Fuldner, explore birds in the Field Museum's collections as a time series.
Congratulations to Bruce Patterson, curator at The Field Museum and CEB member, for winning the American Society of Mammalogists highest honor – the 2015 C. Hart Merriam award!
Congratulations to Benjamin Winger on being named a new member of the Michigan Society of Fellows!
Congratulations to Katherine Silliman who was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and to Max Winston and Lu Yao who received NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants this year!
A recent paper by Daniel Hooper and Trevor Price investigates chromosome inversions in Estrildid finch species.
John Bates (Field Museum curator and CEB faculty member) recently helped identify the species of birds whose feathers were used to decorate a set of Amazonian artifacts collected in the 1960’s.
Vincent Lynch’s research on the evolution of pregnancy in mammals was recently highlighted in National Geographic.
The National Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2015 Mary Clark Thompson Medal to CEB faculty member Susan Kidwell for “her groundbreaking work on fossil preservation that has transformed our view of how the history of life is encoded in the rock record.”
Chris Schell was recently interviewed for the 'Before They Were Scientists' segment on Your Wild Life, a website dedicated to science communication and outreach.
Ben Krinsky has been awarded a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Academies in Washington D.C.
A new study authored by CEB graduate student Benjamin Winger and CEB faculty member Rick Ree found that long-distance migration in emberizoid passerines (a lineage of New World migratory birds which includes warblers, cardinals, sparrows and orioles) primarily evolved as birds in North America shifted their range south during the winter months, as opposed to north from the tropics during the summer.
Congratulations to Benjamin Winger on receiving the Ernst Mayr award at this year’s Evolution meeting! The Ernst Mayr award is given to the best student presentation in the field of systematics.
Congratulations to Tim Sosa, who received a USAID fellowship.
CEB student Jonathan Mitchell and his co-advisor Peter Makovicky, who is a CEB faculty member and curator at the Field Museum, recently analyzed the physical characteristics and diets of bird fossils from the Cretaceous period (~125 mya), and found that birds from this era were strikingly less diverse than their modern day descendants. Their findings were published in the May 28 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Professor Trevor Price, CEB graduate student Daniel Hooper, and colleagues analyzed geographic and genetic relationships between 461 bird species from the Himalayan region of central Asia and found that competition for niche space limits species accumulation over time. Their findings are published in the May 8th issue of Nature.
Congratulations to Chris Schell, who has been awarded a UNCF-Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship!
Congratulations to Nicole Bitler, who recently received a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation!
Neil Shubin's three-part series, "Your Inner Fish", airs on PBS this week!
Field Museum Associate Curator and CEB faculty member, Peter Makovicky, recently returned from his fourth field season digging in Patagonia. The trip was recently featured in the Field Museum's Science & Education News.
The April issue of the University of Chicago Magazine features the career and teaching of CEB faculty member Michael LaBarbera.
CEB graduate student Ben Winger was recently featured on Groks Science Radio Show. Interviewed by Tom Stewart, a fellow graduate student in OBA, Ben talked about how new species form and his work in the cloud forests of Peru.
The new science exhibit on Charles Otis Whitman at the Crerar Library highlights the work of CEB graduate student Christopher Schell, and faculty members Jill Mateo and Stephen Pruett-Jones.
Peter Makovicky and colleague, Lindsay Zanno, discovered a new apex predator dinosaur in North America. This new dinosaur, Siats meekerorum, is a significant precursor to the Tyrannosaurus rex and is the first of its kind to be found on this continent. Makovicky is a curator of dinosaurs at the Field Museum and a CEB faculty member.
David Jablonski was recently featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
CEB student Amy Henry recently asked the New York Times Ethicist, what, as a scientist, her obligations are to confronting pseudoscience and anti-science attitudes.
Research by CEB student Nate Upham and his avisor, Bruce Patterson, shows that past biogeographic transitions of fauna between the Andes and Amazonia have been reciprocal.
CEB welcomes David Grossnickle, Laura Southcott, Supriya, and Katie Silliman, our newest graduate students!
Congratulations to Matthew Heintz, Andrew Dosmann, and Ariel Pani on their successful dissertation defense and graduation from CEB this summer!
CEB students Courtney Stepien, Tim Sosa, Jonathan Mitchell, and Max Winston recently participated in the first Science Game Jam at the Field Museum.
National Geographic recently interviewed CEB faculty member Zhe-Xi Luo on his group’s recent discovery of Rugosodon eurasiaticus, a rodent-like mammal that lived during the late Jurassic.
Robert Martin's latest book How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction is currently featured on the Univerity of Chicago's website.
The culmination of Sue Kidwell and Michael LaBarbera's 'Field Course in Modern and Ancient Environments' is a spring break trip to the Gerace Reseach Center in the Bahamas. Chelsea Leu, a rising fourth-year, recently wrote up her experience for the University of Chicago's website.
Click here to see recent interviews of Lance Grande, Robert Martin, Janet Voight, and Michael Coates!
CEB faculty member Andrew Hipp, Senior Research Scientist at the Morton Arboretum, was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, INRA Bordeaux-Aquitane.
CEB student Kristen Voorhies' recent seminar at Oregon State's Hatfield Marine Science Center can be watched here.
Congratulations to Sebastian Heilpern, Courtney Stepien, Benjamin Krinsky, Robert Arthur, and Collin Kyle, who recently received 3rd place in the 2013 National Science Foundation Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge!
Congrats to Max Winston, who was awarded a 2013 Donald Steiner Travel Award!
Nate Smith (PhD 2011) recently discussed on CNN what we have learned about dinosaurs since the release of Jurassic Park in 1993.
Congratulations to CEB faculty member Ilya Ruvinsky, who has been awarded a 2013 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring!
CEB alumnus Daniel Lerman (PhD 2003) made his first argument before the US Supreme Court last month.
Congratulations to Hussein Al-Asadi and Dallas Krentzel who were recently awarded fellowships from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program!
CEB faculty member Callum Ross received the "Favorite Faculty Award" from the Pritzker School of Medicine's graduating class.
Current publications by CEB faculty, students, and alumi.
Congratulations to Jonathan Mitchell, Courtney Stepien, Benjamin Winger, and Benjamin Rubin who were recently awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants!
Congratulations to Benjamin Winger and Benjamin Rubin, who recently received fellowships from The Field Museum!
Current publications by CEB faculty, students, and alumi. Dec 2012 - Jan 2013.
Benjamin Krinsky’s submission to the NextGen VOICES survey was printed in the January 4th issue of the journal Science.
Congratulations to Neil Shubin whose latest book, The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People, will be released this Tuesday, January 8th!
Janet Voight, assistant curator of Zoology at The Field Museum and CEB faculty membor, was featured in the Chicagoist's 2012 People Issue.
Gene Hunt, a curator at the Smithsonian Institute and an alumnus of CEB, was awarded the 2012 Charles Schuchert Award. This award is presented annually to an outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. Gene received his PhD from CEB in 2003. His advisor was Michael Foote.
A group of students in CEB, along with other students in the Darwinian Sciences Cluster, started the website, Bio for the Win, this fall.
Congratulations to CEB student Jonathan Mitchell for his recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences!