What a long strange year. Despite massive and ongoing societal disruptions our lab members have shown kindness, courage and resilience. That is something to be proud of. Along the way we have supported one another and created a safe place to share our hopes, fears and excitement for a better future. That is also something to be proud of.
As we navigated 2020, we persisted, we engaged and we did our best. That is also something to be proud of.
Science isn’t at its best when we do not create good spaces for scientists. For the coming year, my hope is that the trials and tribulations of 2020 have become a catalyst for change and that 2021 will bring the synergies of science, justice and policy together in a new and dynamic way.
The COVID slowdown has impacted all of our work. Expeditions to Madagascar, Costa Rica, West Africa and planned conference attendance were all cancelled. The delays in accessing labs and processing samples are hitting everyone hard. For the most part, we have focused on staying healthy, supporting friends and colleagues and planning alternative strategies to keep going. It is not an easy time. As a lab group we will continue to participate in “the life of the mind” via virtual conferences and collaborations. Hopefully support for science and the use of science in decision making by those in the higher reaches of society will improve in the coming months.
We stand by all of those who are keeping society functioning and keeping our families and friends safe. Thank you.
We are falling into Fall with the return of students from fieldwork and courses in Madagascar (Kalani and Mai), Costa Rica ( Molly), West African forests and Korea (Danielle). And of course, my favorite event of this and every year for the past decade, the American Museum of Natural History’s Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS-NY). This year’s theme integrated Artistic, Spiritual and Empirical approaches to reaching shared goals in Conservation Science. So many amazing talks and introductions. And a whole new workshop on “The Role of Natural History Collections and Archives in Conservation Planning”. We had the extraordinary opportunity to visit the AMNH library archives and rare books and everyone was captivated by the experience.
July- August 2019
Travel included Madagascar,
Copenhagen, Salzburg and Amsterdam… all in search of missing specimens and lineages of crocodiles and how they are represented in archival images, documents and stories. We are also testing “Biodiversity Surveys in Art Museum collections. Here are some faves.
We helped develop exhibits for the new museum at the entrance to Parc National Tsimanampesotse including this awesome 3D printed copy of an extinct horned crocodile. It was wonderful to see how excited everyone was!
Wow- What a month! We received an NSF RAPID grant to travel to Madagascar to document extinct tortoises and crocodiles from submerged caves. Thrilled to return to the site of the filming of the Crocodilian segment of the PBS program “When Whales Walked”.
We received a new Interdisciplinary Research Grant to study “The Science, History and Art of Sacred Crocodiles” in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, University of Copenhagen and colleagues from the Department of History at Fordham. We will be visiting several small “Curiosity Cabinet” type collection in Europe over the Summer. We’ll be recruiting four undergraduates to work together on the project. Two from Biology and Two from History. Really exciting to pull together visions from other disciplines!
Our collaborative work with Oli Smith and Tom Gilbert in Copenhagen has paid off. Keep an eye out for “the Secrets of Sobek”, our newest paper examining the potential natural and anthropogenic influences on the sacred crocodile, Crocodylus suchus.
Our work was also featured at the Secret Science Club, where Evon shared recent adventures in search of extinct crocodiles in the underwater caves of Madagascar.
Heading back to Copenhagen to continue our collaborative work on ancient Egyptian crocodile mummy genomics with Oli Smith and Tom Gilbert. Oh the stories they can tell… about culture, climate change and the co-existence of crocodiles.
We welcomed new lab member Kalani Williams and reconvened after an eventful summer and the end of Sabbatical. Lab members have been busy with fieldwork, lab research and attending meetings.
Travels across the globe included Madagascar, Paris and the Yucatan.. searching for extinct and extant crocodiles in caves, sacred lakes and collections..
Bon Voyage to Ricky Flamio who has accepted a Ph.D. position at Southern Illinois University where he will be studying hybridization between pallid and shovelnose sturgeon using genomic data. Ricky defended his thesis on ecological characteristics of sunfish hybridization in the newly renovated Calder Lake log house. The sunfish obliged by showing off their nests from the deck overlooking the lake.
Evon and research by Nathanael, Stephanie and Corey was featured in a new episode of the American Museum’s “Shelf-life” series. Tales from the Cryptic Species!
Congratulations to Dr. Amanda Makkay! Newly minted Ph D Amanda leaves us for greener pastures across the street at the Bronx Zoo where she all be a new Curatorial Fellow in the Mammal department.
Evon just returned from the SICB 2017 Conference in New Orleans ( which by chance coincided with the WizardCon at the New Orleans Convention Center). She presented preliminary work (in collaboration with AMNH) using sequence capture to test phylogenetic hypotheses for the placement of Crocodylus (Voay) robustus within the extant crocodiles.
Evon spoke at SciCafe at the American Museum of Natural History about her work on crocodile mummies and how she came to be involved in scientific research
We welcomed two new graduate students, Mai Fahmy and Danielle Lema, to the lab!
Opening the new “Crocs! Ancient Predators in a Modern World” exhibit at AMNH
In thirty intense days we successfully funded our Crowdfunding project “Testing the Crocodylus Apothecary Hypothesis” via Experiment.com.
What a great experience.
Ed Yong published a great article in “The Atlantic” on museum collections and the treasures they hold! One of our favorite topics!
Taylor received a Smithsonian Summer Research Fellowship for 2016 and a Theodore Roosevelt Grant to work on historical crocodile specimens. Congratulations!
We welcomed Taylor Hains to join the lab to study Caribbean crocodile genomics.
Congratulations to Drs. Christina Frare ( soon to be a new Faculty member at Ithaca College) and Stephanie Dowell ( Currently working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) on successful defenses.
Evon had a fantastic experience at the EG conference in Monterey, CA http://www.egconf.com/presenters/evon-hekkala
Lab members presented a combined 13 talks at conferences this summer!
Evon was interviewed by NYU’s student-run online magazine, Scienceline.
Evon starts her 8 month sabbatical where she will be working at the American Museum of Natural History.
Amanda was selected to serve in a scientific advisory capacity for The HIVE program hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society. This outreach and scientific education program focuses on creative activism in climate change and urban ecology, educating teens across all boroughs.
Congratulations to Andrea (MS) and Kaitlin (BS) on graduation!
Amanda and Seth head to South Africa for the summer to attend the Recent Advances in Conservation Genetics workshop and work in Dr. Paulette Bloomer’s lab on the conservation genetics of Nesotragus moschatus at the University of Pretoria.