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The Biology Department supports and encourages undergraduates to engage in research. Faculty advisors work with students to develop, fund, and execute original research projects. Often students present their research at regional or national professional meetings and it is common for students to publish their work with faculty co-authors. Below we have highlighted some recent student-centered research projects and publications. If you are interested in conducting research with a faculty member, you are encouraged to review the faculty research interests page and contact that individual directly.

Selected publications involving undergraduate co-authors (in bold):

Antoni, A., V.A. Patel, H. Fan, D.J. Lee, L.H. Graham, C.L. Rosch, D. Spiegel, J. Rauch, and J.S. Levine. 2011. Macrophages from lupus-prone MRL mice have a conditional signaling defect that leads to dysregulated expression of multiple genes. Immunogenetics 63:291-308.

Boyd, M.L., T.J. Underwood, and D.F. Aruscavage. 2014. The efficacy of cleaning bird feeders with 10 % bleach wipes to reduce bacteria. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 88(4):220-226.

Brown, W.P., A.L. Alexander, D. Alexander, M.E. Zuefle, and T.J. Underwood. 2011. Estimating ages of House Wren nestlings based on body mass, wing chord length, and feather tract development patterns.  North American Bird Bander 36:101-110.

Brown, W.P., M.E. Zuefle, T.J. Underwood, A.L. Alexander, and D.A. Alexander. 2013. House Wren nestling age can be determined accurately from a guide of digital images.  North American Bird Bander 38:150-159.

Dovey, K.M., J.R. Kemfort, and W.F. Towne. 2013. The depth of the honeybee's backup sun-compass systems. Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 2129-2139.

Kemfort J.R. and W.F. Towne. 2013. Honey bees can learn the relationship between the solar ephemeris and a newly-experienced landscape: a confirmation. Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 3767-3771.

Maiese, C. and M. Stone. 2014. Trachemys scripta scripta x elegans (Pond Slider intergrade). Geographical Distribution Note. Herpetological Review 45:281.

Nagle, J. and C.L. Rosch. 2011. Teratogenicity of deet in chick embryos.  Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences 85(1):  27-30.

Rushmore, M.E., T.J. Underwood, and W.P. Brown. 2012. Wooden versus insulated metal nestboxes:  a comparison of reproductive success and nestbox preference.  Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 86:66-71.

Setliff, G.P. and J.A. Anderson. 2011. First record of the agave snout weevil, Scyphophorus acupunctatus Gyllenhal (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Dryophthorinae), in Puerto Rico. Insecta Mundi 152: 1-3.

Stone, M. and P. Korpics, S. Kropf, and K. Koroncai. 2014. Malaclemys terrapin (Diamond-backed Terrapin) roadkill. Natural History Note. Herpetological Review 45:318-319.

Stone, M.D. and A.J. Turner. 2012. Use of DXA with Non-Human Vertebrates: Applications, Limitations, and Practical Considerations for Research and Clinical Practice. In C.C. Pérez-Marín (ed). A Bird's-Eye View of Veterinary Medicine. ISBN: 978-953-51-0031-7 InTech.

Summer 2015 - Student Research Highlights

toni conducting navigation trials

Toni Esposto is conducting a research project with Dr. Towne on the landscape orientation of honey bees. Specifically, they are testing the idea that bees use the skyline profile in directional orientation. In the left-hand photograph, Toni can bee seen conducting research trials. The large arena is used to measure directional behavior of honeybees.

connor gable checking bird nest boxes

Connor Gable is working with Dr. Underwood and Dr. Setliff to investigate why House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) regularly collect and add spider egg cases to their nests.  This may represent heterospecific cleaning, which is an unusual behavior where one animal encourages other animal species to remove ectoparasites from their bodies or nests.  Connor will test the ectoparasite reduction hypothesis to determine if juvenile spiders hatched from egg cases feed on and reduce the number ectoparasites in wren nests.  Fewer ectoparasites may produce wren fledglings in better body condition.  He also will use a DNA barcoding technique to identify the species of juvenile spiders found in wren nests. In the right-hand photograph Connor can be seen checking nest boxes.

claire and carl holding a captured terrapin

Claire Brookens and Carl Maiese worked with Dr. Stone at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. They participated in a long-term mark-recapture program at Wallops Island, VA to determine the status of Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) populations in the area. The goal of their project was to study nesting behavior of female terrapins and to quantify the impact of local predators (e.g. racoons) on the success of terrapin nests. They compared nest predation rates across different landscape attributes. Left-hand photograph: Claire (left) and Carl (right) holding their first terrapin capture of the year.