Blois lab welcomes Dr. Hillary Young to UC Merced

We are excited to welcome Hillary Young to UC Merced today.  Dr. Young is speaking in the Quantitative and Systems Biology seminar today on her work linking biodiversity to zoonotic pathogens.

Information about Dr. Young and her talk:

Cascading Effects of Biodiversity Loss Across Spatial Scales
Friday, 9/19
COB 267

Abstract: Biodiversity loss is known to cause strong cascading consequences on ecosystem functions and services. However the net impacts of human disturbance and biodiversity loss on zoonotic disease risk re- mains poorly understand. Here, working across multiple scales in an African savanna ecosystem, we examine the mechanisms by which wildlife loss and associated disturbance may impact prevalence of a range of zoonotic pathogens, and explore the potential for synergy between conservation and protection of human health.

Bio: Hillary Young is a community ecologist, and an assistant professor at University of California Santa Barbara. Her research is focused on understanding the effects of changes in biodiversity loss on population and community structure and function. She looks at this question in a variety of systems using a range of observational, experimental, and meta-analytical approaches.

Summer re-cap

Today marks the transition from summer to fall (in terms of the school year, at least) and wow, it’s been a busy summer. Jessica was involved in a variety of projects- working to get papers off her desk and into review, working up in Yosemite with an awesome REU intern, and at the end of summer, traveling to the Unifying Ecology Gordon Research Conference in Maine and then ESA in Sacramento.  She also got to meet UC President Janet Napolitano!  She’s looking forward to teaching a grad level class in Community Ecology this fall and writing lots of grant proposals.

Kaitlin made great progress on the community paleomodeling project.  We’re in the process of writing that paper, and Kaitlin, Diego, and Jessica presented results on that project at various meetings this year.  Kaitlin attended two conferences this summer: AmQua in Seattle and ESA in Sacramento.

Eric has started narrowing in on projects for his PhD. He was primarily in the lab this summer, identifying specimens from a fossil deposit in northern California.  He also gave a talk at ESA in Sacramento and is currently attending the “Modelling species distributions under climate change” short course in Copenhagen.  We are all looking forward to his return so he can teach us what he learned there!

This week, we also welcomed a new PhD student, Danaan DeNeve Weeks, along with other new students in the ES and QSB grad groups.  Plus, we’ll have a new postdoc working on ancient DNA projects starting in December, Sarah Brown.  So there is a lot of good stuff to celebrate in the Paleoecology Lab!


Postdoc position available in the lab!

The Blois Paleoecology Lab is recruiting a postdoc to help develop ancient DNA and phylogenetics projects focusing on understanding the dynamic population genetic changes that happened within mammals (particularly small mammals) through the late Quaternary. The postdoc will be responsible for developing original research projects in addition to contributing to the development and maintenance of the molecular lab. Ongoing projects in the lab use species distribution modeling, community modeling, and paleoecological tools to understand the ecological and evolutionary forces shaping populations, species, and communities across time and space, particularly focusing on fossil small mammal and pollen communities during the late Quaternary. Applications will be reviewed starting June 30th, but the position is open until filled. Please contact Jessica ( for additional information.

For full position information and to apply to the position, see the job ad here.

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