Well, here's another milestone in a year of strange milestones. Today is the 200th day that I've been maintaining the flies at home. The garage lab has come a long way in 200 days, and the flies (and I) are doing as well as can be expected. Hoping it won't be too much longer before the flies can move back to the lab!
Well, this past week has been another *interesting* one for our flies! We got hit hard by Tropical Storm Isaias last Tuesday and lost power for 6 full days. Bench work was done by headlamp, and microscope work was done by opening the garage door and using battery operated book lights. When the heat advisory hit this week, the temperature in our house got dangerous for the flies, so I had to evacuate them to a friend's apartment with air conditioning to keep them cool. Fortunately, the power came back on (eventually) and now the flies are happy and safe back in my house (very much looking forward to when they can be happy and safe back in the lab!)
I've now moved into the next "phase" of maintaining the flies at home to get ready for what will hopefully be a less disruptive Fall. The past month I've started cooking fly food in my garage, and this week I set up behavioral observations in my living room. Even baby steps are a win right now!
Congratulations to Chelsea Sinclair for receiving the Charles H. Turner Award from the Animal Behavior Society! This award typically provides travel and accommodation to the ABS conference for undergraduate students, along with mentorship workshops and lunches. Because the ABS 2020 Meeting is being held virtually this year, Chelsea will attend the meeting remotely and participate in mentorship and professional development actives. Yay Chelsea!! (Update 7/29: Click here to see the ABS's profile of Chelsea on Twitter)
Congrats to Abigail Gutierrez and Ana-Maria Rodriguez Cuadrado on their graduation as part of the Barnard Class of 2020!
Abby earned her BA in Biology, and Ana-Maria earned her BA in Biology with an Anthropology minor. We can't wait until we can celebrate with them in person!
Congratulations to Ana-Maria and Abby for presenting their Guided Research & Seminar projects at the 2020 Biology Research Symposium. This year's Symposium was held over Zoom, where Ana-Maria and Abby were able to present their 1-minute oral abstracts and posters to the Barnard community!
Congratulations to Abigail Gutierrez who was awarded the Biology Department's Constance von Wahl Prize at the Barnard Honors Assembly over Zoom tonight! This prize is awarded to a graduating senior with high qualities of character and commitment to the department and her fellow students. Yay Abby!
COVID-19 might have moved us all off campus and moved our flies into my garage, but the Pischedda Lab is still meeting for semi-regular lab meetings! This week's agenda: watching Abby and Ana-Maria practice a run-through of their poster presentations for the upcoming Biology Symposium, and getting an updated lab photo (even if it needed to be via Zoom!)
With the lab effectively shut down, all of our students working remotely, and me working from home (~30 miles north of Barnard), I've had to use some interesting tactics to keep our fly populations alive. The fruit flies are now my new roommates, and I have set up a makeshift fly lab in my garage! Hopefully these efforts will be enough to keep these populations alive while we ride out what's to come. See below for how I'm trying to make this work!
My new paper with Michael Shahandeh and Tom Turner at UCSB has been published in G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. In this paper, we map a male preference for female pheromones that differs between Drosophila species and find that a 1.35 Mb region on the X chromosome has a major effect on this preference.