Biology News

Dan Hernández and Mark McKone:

Dan Hernández, Associate Professor of Biology, and Mark McKone, Towsley Professor of Biology, presented two talks at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland, Oregon in August. The titles were "Experimental community assembly with and without dominant grasses in tallgrass prairie: impact on higher trophic levels" presented by McKone; and "Experimental community assembly with and without dominant grasses in tallgrass prairie: biotic and abiotic effects on litter decomposition" presented by Hernández. The presentations described results from a long-term experiment in the Upper Arb prairies.

New Biochemist Hired to Begin Fall, 2017:

The Biology Department is excited to announce that Rou-Jia Sung has accepted an offer from Carleton to become a tenure-track faculty member starting in the fall of 2017.  Rou-Jia will be teaching the Biochemistry course and labs, team teaching in Bio 126, and offering a seminar in the field of structural biology.  She received her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and her PhD at Harvard University (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology).  Rou-Jia is currently completing a visiting professor appointment at Pomona College, but is excited to move to a part of the country that has “real weather” in September.

New Tenure-Track Faculty Hiring:

The Biology Department is excited to announce that we have hired a tenure-track faculty member. Dr. Rika Anderson '06 will begin teaching at Carleton in the winter term of 2017,  and her area of interest is in Bioinformatics/Genomics.  Dr. Anderson received her BA in Biology from Carleton, and Ph.D. in Oceanography and Astrobiology from the University of Washington.  Rika did her post-doc work with Julie Huber, in the department of the Marine Biological Laboratory, located in Woods Hole MA. Her research examines archaeal, bacterial, and viral communities in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

McKone and Carleton Alums Publish Paper in Natural Areas Journal

October 2016: Mark McKone co-authored a recent paper in the Natural Areas Journal titled "Edge effects and avian community structure in a restored tallgrass prairie".  The paper documents the grassland bird species that have colonized restored prairies in the Cowling Arboretum, and demonstrates how these species avoid forest edges.  Carleton alums Jared Beck ('14) and Owen McMurtrey ('12) carried out the field surveys and are co-authors on the paper. 

McKone and Carleton Alums Co-Author Paper in New Zealand Journal of Ecology

September 2016: Mark McKone co-authored a recent paper in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology titled "Fine-scale association between parasites and sex in Potamopyrgus antipodarum within a New Zealand lake".   The research for the paper was undertaken during the Biology Off-Campus Program to Australia and New Zealand in 2014.  Co-authors include six Carleton alums, all Biology majors: Maurine Neiman ('99), Dan Cook ('15), Laura Freymiller ('15), Darcy Mishkind ('16), Anna Quinlan ('14), and Jocelyn York ('15).

McKone and Hernández Give Talks at Ecological Society of America 

August 2016: Dan Hernández and Mark McKone presented two talks at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Jared Beck ('14) was a co-author on both talks.  The presentations were titled "Experimental community assembly with and without dominant grasses in tallgrass prairie", and were based on experimental prairie plots in the Upper Arb.   

Raka Mitra

July, 2016: Associate Professor of Biology, gave a talk titled "The bacterial wilt pathogen, Ralstonia solanacearum: Effector proteins and plant root responses," at the 6th International Bacterial Wilt Symposium in Toulouse, France.

Rand and Zweifel publish article in Mitochondrial DNA

July 25, 2016: Matthew Rand and Stephan Zweifel, Professors of Biology, have published an article in the journal Mitochondrial DNA entitled "Sequencing and analysis of the mitochondrial genome of Pituophis catenifer sayi (Squamata: Colubridae)." The article is co-authored with recent Carleton graduate Abhimanyu Lele '16.

Dan Hernández Publishes New Article

Habitat destruction and the direct exploitation of species often occupy center stage in discussions of biodiversity perils. However, indirect harms, such as that posed by nitrogen pollution, remain underappreciated and poorly understood despite playing a key role in species declines. In an article for the journal BioScience, a team of environmental researchers led by Daniel Hernández of Carleton College, in Minnesota, outline the challenges associated with nitrogen.

To better understand nitrogen-induced biodiversity imperilment, the authors surveyed 1400 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, finding a total of 78 that face known hazards from excess nitrogen. The mechanisms of nitrogen's impacts are diverse, encompassing direct toxicity, depleted oxygen resulting from excess fertilization, and incursions by invasive species that outcompete local populations or exclude their food sources. In many instances, direct attribution of declines to nitrogen pollution was hampered by "sometimes long and difficult-to-trace chains of causation from climate and atmospheric stressors to impacts," say the authors.

For more information on the article, read the full press release here.