Ali received the Barnard Presidential Research Award for 2022-2023! This grant provides funding for us to investigate the potential for evolutionary divergence in male mate choice!
Our new paper, authored by lab alums Chelsea Sinclair ('21) and Suriya Lisa ('19), has been published in Ecology and Evolution. In this paper, we show that sexually inexperienced males prefer to court larger females over smaller females, and that the strength of this preference was unaffected by previous experience mating with, or being rejected by, small or large females. Also check out Barnard's news piece on our paper!
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!
Ali received the Tow Award for Innovative and Outstanding Pedagogy from Barnard College. According to Barnard, "The Tow Award recognizes an exemplary member of the Barnard Faculty who combines scholarship and pedagogy in creative ways, maximizing the impacts of both. It is awarded to encourage and enable the implementation of new ideas in the classroom." This award will be used to develop new pedagogy for the research-based Laboratory in Animal Behavior course at Barnard.
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.
I was featured in the First-Gen Faculty Spotlight on Barnard's Student Success Blog. Fun fact: I was the first in my family to go to college!