Blois Paleoecology Lab

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Yearly Archives: 2014

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.

A good way to end the semester


The Blois Paleoecology Lab at our end-of the semester party

We had a lab party on Sunday, with all lab members and their families.  We had much to celebrate: Eric finished his first year at UC Merced, Kaitlin got settled into the lab (and it was her birthday!), Juliane finished her B.S. in Human Ecology, and Zara, Joceline, Stefanie, and Tyonia joined the lab this past semester.  Plus, on Sunday I had a paper accepted in Ecography!  All in all, it was a great way to end the semester.  Now I just have to get through grading all the final exams!

Spring break!

It’s spring break here at UC Merced, which gives me a chance to cross off a whole host of to-do items that have been lingering on my list all semester (including these website updates). Life has been busy, productive, and happy here in Merced. I’m teaching an awesome class this semester- Ecosystems of California- which gives me the chance to learn about all the different cool places and ecosystems in California. We took a field trip to the Merced and San Luis National Wildlife Refuges in February, where we saw lots of cool birds resting here in the heart of the Pacific Flyway, as well as our resident herd of Tule elk. In April, we go to the Vernal Pools-Grassland Nature Reserve (though with the drought the pools will probably be bone dry) and then to Yosemite. Have I mentioned already how much I love my job?

I’m also leading the ES/ESS seminar series this semester. We’ve had some great talks already (including one by my friend from Wisconsin, the awesome Erika Marin-Spiotta) and there are many more great talks to come. In a few weeks, my ETE collaborator Cindy Looy gives a talk, and then Kaitlin Maguire will talk about parts of her dissertation and postdoc research.

We’re also in the midst of looking forward as a group- both recruiting students for the fall and recruiting at least two new faculty members to the Life and Environmental Sciences group- so this has meant lots of talks and meetings. Spring break has been a nice respite from the busy-ness of the semester. I’ll submit revisions for a paper tomorrow, and I’m working on another paper that’s due at the end of the month. Kaitlin and I were also just in Baltimore, for a fun and productive meeting with the rest of the team on the community paleomodels project.

One other thing we did as a lab was participate in Mammal March Madness. This is the 2nd year of MMM and the first year I’ve participated. The lab came up with our bracket and predicted that Musk Oxen would win it all. Unfortunately, we were out of the running in the final four, and the canny hyenas took it all. Perhaps next year will be better.


Kaitlin, Jessica, and Eric, with their #2014MMM bracket

All in all, the first half of the semester has been full of awesomeness.

Looking forward to the summer, I’ll be spending lots of time in the Sierras. We have an REU program in Yosemite, which gives me a chance to tromp around the woods with students and look for owl pellets. Eric and I will also be scouting for new fossil deposits in the Sierras, and I’m hoping to do some non-work camping and backpacking. I’ve also got a tour of the San Francisco Bay-Delta region planned, a Gordon Research Conference in Maine on Unifying Ecology Across Scales and ESA in Sacramento, and a few other trips to visit friends and family.

But before all that can happen, I need to make it to May! My fingers are crossed for a smooth second half of the semester!