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Lab News

March 2024

Alex and Drew attended the Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting in Chattanooga, TN. Both gave presentations, and had a great time making connections, learning about exciting science, and exploring Chattanooga.

January 2024

Welcome to Sofia Ten Gonzalez, a visiting scholar from University of Valencia in Spain! Sofia will be working for two months in the lab to analyze the genetic structure of parasitic copepods from marine organisms.

A new paper is out in collaboration with the Rolland Lab at A-State! The paper reports genetic evidence of unexpected familial relationships among Eastern Bluebirds in northeast Arkansas.

Drew is the lead PI on a grant that was funded by the National Science Foundation! The grant will fund a collaborative project with Purdue University and the University of Illinois to better understand mitochondrial genome fragmentation in parasitic lice.

December 2023

Congrats to Colleen, who was honored as a WINGS Flag Carrier! Colleen will be using her Flag Carrier grant towards her research on grouse parasites in Alaska.

August 2023

Welcome to the lab PhD students Nora Hines, Colleen Hurst, and Brian Okwiri! Nora and Colleen are UandI-DEECoDE trainees, and Brian is co-advised with Brook Fluker on a project funded by an Arkansas State Wildlife Fund grant.

Alex, Drew, and Paige attended the AOS/SCO conference in London, Ontario. All three were invited to present their research at a symposium about ectosymbionts from birds.

Congratulations to Paige for the acceptance of her first publication! She is the lead author on a study from her undergraduate research on bird louse diversity in northeast Arkansas. The article is published open access in International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.

June 2023

Welcome to the lab Malena Ayala and Anahi Garcia Valdez! Both will be working on a project about insect biodiversity over the summer. Malena is a rising sophomore at Dalhousie University. Anahi is a recent graduate of Jonesboro High School and is participating in the NYITCOM SHARE Program. 

Drew and Paige joined members of the McKay Lab to run a table at the A-State Museum's TinkerFaire. Our visitors enjoyed learning about different insects!


The Insect Team at TinkerFaire

May 2023

Alex, Paige, and Drew spent 10 days in Puerto Rico collecting blood and ectoparasites from Common ground doves and Loggerhead kingbirds. It was a successful trip!

Alex and Paige checking birds for lice in Puerto Rico

Look at that crown on the king(bird)!

A Common ground dove from Puerto Rico

Congrats to Mikayla on her graduation from A-State!

April 2023

Mikayla presented a poster with the results from her SURF project at the CREATE@ASTATE Symposium and she won the Chancellor's Award for her presentation! Congrats Mikayla!

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Mikayla by her poster at CREATE@ASTATE

Paige was awarded two research grants: a Chapman Research Grant from the American Museum of Natural History and an Arkansas Audubon Society Trust Grant. She will use both awards to help fund her project on Common ground doves and their lice. Congrats Paige!

February 2023

New paper out in G3! Genome assembly of an individual louse using PacBio HiFi and TellSeq data (along with its symbiont and mitogenome)

January 2023

Undergraduate students Joe, Paige, and Salma have started working on research projects in the lab! All three students shadowed in the lab during the Fall semester and we are thrilled to have them become more involved!

December 2022

Mikayla was awarded a SURF award from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for the Spring 2023 semester! She will be working on DNA barcoding approaches for arthropods in northeast Arkansas. Congrats Mikayla!

October 2022

Alex and Paige presented their research at the Association of Field Ornithologists Meeting in Plymouth, MA

Congrats to Alex for receiving an Arkansas Audubon Society Trust Grant! The award will go towards his work on Loggerhead kingbirds.

August 2022

Paige has officially started as an M.S. student in the lab!

Drew attended and co-organized a symposium on host-symbiont coevolution at the ESEB meeting in Prague, Czech Republic.

A new paper is out (with David Stanford-Beale) in Southeastern Naturalist. New records of thrips from birds!

July 2022

Congrats to Paige for receiving an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Conservation Scholarship!

Drew presented his work on louse mitogenomes at the International Congress of Entomology in Helsinki, Finland.

Our new paper on louse mitogenomes is out in Communications Biology! You can read the Open Access article here.

June 2022

Alex and Paige presented their research at the American Ornithological Society and Birds Caribbean Joint Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Alex spent two weeks in the field collecting blood and lice from several species of kingbirds in Arizona and Oklahoma.

May 2022

Congrats to Alex for receiving a Graduate Student Research Award from the Society of Systematic Biologists! He will use the award to sequence genomes of Loggerhead kingbirds and their ectoparasites.

Alex and Drew conducted a week of field work (along with Em Donahue and Than Boves) in the Cayman Islands collecting blood and parasite samples from kingbirds and ground doves.


Alex and a Loggerhead kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus)


Alex and Em measure a Loggerhead kingbird


Common ground dove (Columbina passerina)

Welcome to the lab Callie Beaird-Campbell! Callie is working under an ABI Summer Internship to research duck lice and insect mites.

April 2022

Alex and Paige presented their research at the CREATE@ASTATE research symposium at Arkansas State. Congrats to Alex for winning the Best Graduate Student Poster Award!

March 2022

Congrats to Alex for receiving a Chapman Research Grant from the American Museum of Natural History! He will use the award to study population genetics of Loggerhead kingbirds in the Caribbean.

Alex, Paige, and Drew presented their research at the Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting in Little Rock, AR. Congrats to Paige for her Outstanding Student Poster Award!


The lab at ASB in Little Rock

January 2022

Welcome to the lab undergraduate students Jasmine and Mikayla! They will be working on identification and genetics of mites that parasitize insects.

Congrats to Paige for receiving a SURF undergraduate research fellowship from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education! Paige will use the award to study genetic diversity of lice she collected from birds in Arkansas.

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