Summer 2023 update
The lab has officially begun to collect data – not pilot data, but data data! Can’t wait to share some of these as it progresses…
Over the summer, Dr. Brown and I started collecting samples for our West Tennessee River Basin Authority funded project. This involved donning waders for the first time, and dodging the occasional water moccasin (thankfully they preferred swimming away from us!). Our control site for this project is in the Hatchie River Basin, which after some scattered storms was rather flooded for a couple weeks (see pics below). Thankfully, our sites were still intact when the river subsided.
Grant wise, work also continued on our TDOT funded pollinator project, and Dr. Ellis and I hired a postdoc for our USDA NIFA funded eDNA project who will be based at the University of Florida.
Summer also presented the opportunity to volunteer on Overton Park Twilight Hike. Wesley and I helped point out cool arthropods found along the trails, and unlike experienced field biologists, didn’t use enough bug spray (thinking it wouldn’t be that bad!), and then got eaten alive by the “helicopter-sized” mosquitoes. Thankfully this didn’t spoil the fun, and we found loads of cool (unique to me) critters.
Spring 2023 update
Spring has sprung, and research is blooming! The lab space is taking shape, and graduate students Mitchell and Wesley have started finalizing their MS project ideas, and learning how to measure insect cold tolerance. Mitch will be working on an invasive pest, hopefully emerald ash borer (logistics permitting!) or kudzu bug, while Wesley will be working on horned passalus beetles.
In collaboration with the University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, our paper on using environmental DNA – which is DNA collected from environmental samples – to detect honey bee pests and pathogens was published in the journal Environmental DNA. This work also initiated additional research plans for which we were awarded a 4-year USDA-NIFA grant. You can read more about this grant here.
We also received our third research grant! Together with Dr. Shawn Brown, and Dr. Brian Waldron (UofM CAESER), we received a grant from the West Tennessee River Basin Authority for some stream restoration work a little outside Memphis. I’m looking forward to some fieldwork, learning more about local ecology, and hopefully doing some environmental stress biomarker research. We will also have a funded graduate student starting in Fall 2023 on this project!
This semester, I travelled to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department to give their Departmental seminar. Hosted by the Teets Lab, it was lovely to meet fellow southern Entomologists, talk about some of my honey bee research, postdoc journey (and detours!), and share my labs’ future research plans. Right at the end of the semester, I travelled to New Zealand to present a keynote in the “Quarantine treatments” session of the 4th International Congress on Biological Invasions. I enjoyed revisiting some of my old(er) invasion physiology work, as this is one of the broad foci of my labs’ research. It was a pleasure to immerse myself in invasion science for a couple of days, and, given the meetings’ global focus, think critically about what research we may be able to do here in the US, to benefit other countries that struggle with “our” invaders. New Zealand also gave me the opportunity for a couple of days of true vacation (although driving in the snow wasn’t on my bucket list!), and the chance to enjoy some treats and reminders of home – like biltong!
I also completed ultra trail marathons in Alabama and Kentucky – the trail running bug has certainly bitten me since moving to Memphis. It’s a great excuse to escape to the woods, and explore neighboring states! And running all day in nature is both far easier, and way harder, than a typical work day!
Fall 2022 update
That was a busy one! Whew! Fall 2022 was a jam-packed semester of mentoring, research, teaching, conferencing, and sports!
Two graduate students joined the lab – WELCOME!!! Mitchell Adkins joined us after completing his BS at Oakland University in Michigan, and Wesley Rhinehart completed his BS at University of North Georgia. Both will be pursuing MS degrees studying thermal tolerances of cool and interesting beetle species! Wesley also got married this Fall and added a puppy to his family, so the lab has two new honorary members too – welcome Kaylee and Piper!
On the research front, our invasion science perspective paper was accepted and published in BioScience. This was paper stemmed from an NSF Rules of Life workshop that was held in 2019. We presented a roadmap for how we think physiology data could be used to further enhance invasion biology. I’m looking forward to applying some of these principles in my research program. We also submitted a paper investigating the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor arthropod and microbial communities found in honey bees. Lastly, a collaborative paper on development of SIT in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lead by Dr. Chao Chen (University of Florida), and conducted in collaboration with USDA-APHIS Gainesville was also accepted in Pest Management Science and is available online early.
On the $$$ front, we started our newly funded TDOT Pollinator Project in collaboration with UofM CAESER and several folks at Botanical Gardens in TN. We will be beautifying TN roadways with pollinator habitat for the butterflies, bees, beetles, and (regular) flies. And hopefully it’ll be pretty too! We also resubmitted a second attempt at an NSF grant, and got word that funding for some local ecological work was in the pipeline too…
I finally crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas – and did it three times in 3 weeks. The first and third were on runs across the Big River Crossing bridge, and the middle trip was a visit to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. After a fun day of meetings and giving a Departmental seminar, the Boves lab took me out to catch a loggerhead shrike. We got lucky enough to finally trap one, and after the science-ing was done, I got to give the bird a name… so meet Laksman (photo below) – named after the Afrikaans for butcher bird which is Laksmanvoël. I’d never even held a bird before, so this was really fun way to end an already great day!
This semester I taught the ecology section of General Biology II again, and for the first time ever taught my own brand-new course – Extreme Biology! Here we learnt about extreme environments (e.g., deserts, mountains, Antarctica, deep sea, and even space!) and the plants, animals and microbes that call these places home. The students made this course really fun, and I look to teaching it again next Fall.
I also attended the American Physiological Society 2022 Comparative Physiology conference in San Diego. This meeting happens every 4 years and is always a fantastic event! This was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends, and meet several folks who I’d only known from their research or social media.
In order to give me some balance, I also spent a lot of time this fall running – often in the woods! This also led to me completing my 2nd 50k trail event – complete with getting scared by a yeti (Yes… a real live one… and yes, there are photos!) – and my 2nd St Jude marathon. My soccer team also made a solid run through the post-season tournament, falling short in the semi-finals. I still have yet to score a goal for them, but I did do some assisting!
Summer 2022 update
It’s been a hot hot hot summer here in Memphis! Undergraduate Kimberly Baldwin joined the lab on a CBio summer internship. Her project “Who’s who in the Zoo Poo” investigates the insect communities found in animal dung at the Memphis Zoo, and Shelby Farms. I now find myself looking at any doggie leftovers on the sidewalk to see who’s taken up residence! Needless to say, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with strangers this summer. #SciComm
Academically, I got two first author papers submitted (one a minor revision (fingers crossed!), and another “fresh” for reviewers’ eyes). And another grant is ready to be submitted, this time to USDA. In the interests of normalizing “failure”, my first NSF grant submission was not funded. We got good, useful feedback from the review panel, so we’ll continue to pursue this in the future. Fingers crossed!
Spring 2022 update
This semester started early with uploading a presentation for SICB+*. Here I presented on how physiology data can be used to improve invasion science – work that originated at an NSF workshop in 2019. *I was looking forward to another in-person conference, but I wasn’t happy travelling during the omicron wave without being boostered (I only qualified for my booster in Feb, as I received my first doses in August when I arrived back in the USA – I was still too young in South Africa to get vaccinated at that point!).
The Boardman Lab is slowly growing and will start “researching” soon! Several new faces will soon populate the lab, including graduate student/s, a summer intern, and UofM (w)undergrads! I spent the semester working on papers, and grants, and recently got word that my first submitted co-PI grant as a new PI was awarded! More on this once everything is official.
Outside the lab, I also started a Friday biology sand volleyball group as a way to celebrate the end of the week and kick off (or should this be spike off? :)) the weekend. I also joined sand volleyball and soccer leagues here in Memphis to get my sport fix in!
Fall 2021 update
What a blur! This semester went bye in the blink of an eye. Setting up my lab, co-teaching my first undergrad course, and a return to full time “sciencing” after my hiatus at home was all quite an adjustment. Dodging COVID, getting vaccinated, and trying to make friends in a new city were also on the agenda!
I gave a presentation at EntSoc meeting in Denver (see photo below) on some of the honey bee mitochondrial genome work I completed as a postdoc at UF HBREL. It was really strange being back at a conference, but the opportunity to reconnect with Entomology friends, talk to collaborators in-person, and learn about cool new science, was much needed. I also visited the Denver Botanic Gardens before my flight home and found the South African plaza – a garden showcasing South Africa’s plant diversity! What a fun surprise to unexpectantly find memories of home.
On a personal note, I also ran my first marathon: the St. Jude Memphis Marathon! It wasn’t fast, but it was surprisingly fun. This may need to be an annual fixture on my calendar…
Headed to Memphis!
After a COVID-coaster induced delay, the Boardman Lab will open it’s doors in Fall 2021 in the University of Memphis’ Department of Biological Sciences. Our evolutionary animal physiology lab will work mainly with insects to answer questions relating to mechanisms of stress tolerance, invasion biology, and pest-management. More information will become available on the Research page over the next couple of months.
I will also be looking to recruit graduate student(s) to start in Fall 2022. Interested students should look at the UofM Departments Graduate program webpage, and are welcome to contact me to discuss potential projects.