Fishing & Feeding in the Larval Behavior Lab

Summer is one of my favorite times at McDaniel, because this is when I put aside the demands of teaching, and the administrative chores of being a professor, and get to focus on research with students!  This summer the Jacobs lab is focusing on larval behavior and feeding in two very different systems: dragonfly larvae, and tobacco hornworms.  I’ll let the student researchers introduce their specific questions in later blog posts, but for now I’ll introduce the teams:

IMG_20140529_111850540_HDRJosh Viar and Meghan Sturgill are my field team – they are spending the summer investigating the distribution and behavior of dragonfly larvae in a range of local ponds.  Their project is entirely field-based, and involves hunting in the mud for dragonfly larvae, observing their behavior for hours in large floating arenas, and sampling for fish with minnow traps and fishing poles.  In other words, if you like to splash around outdoors and aren’t afraid of a little mud, they have designed the perfect summer project!

IMG_20140604_130838675Meg Knauff and Amanda Horst are my lab team – they are spending the summer investigating the effects of diet on growth, feeding, and behavior of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta.  They have designed an ambitious and labor-intensive project, and are working in close collaboration to make it happen.  This was a project they started in my larval biology course in the spring, and it was so interesting that we just had to continue it over the summer!

Greta_fishingFinally, every lab needs a mascot!  My daughter Greta (7 months) sometimes visits my office or comes along on field work.  As a working mom, I’m grateful for the more flexible schedule of summer, which allows me to spend more time with her, and to McDaniel for being a supportive workplace for women in science!  So far we haven’t put her to work fishing, but she’s ready!