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Happy Darwin Day 2020!

Happy Darwin Day!

It seems as auspicious a day as any to introduce myself. My name is Stacy Krueger-Hadfield and I am an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I’m an evolutionary ecologist and the main theme of my research is the evolution of sex. To investigate this “paradox,” we use algae (micro and macro; marine, freshwater, and even alpine) and invertebrates as models to test different hypotheses at the intersection of life cycles and mating systems. Recently, I’ve taken over responsibilities on The AGA blog and Twitter feed as the new Social Media Editor. Thanks to Anjanette and Chantal for providing a lot of behind the scenes support.

I’ve been blogging (though not very often these days) for The Molecular Ecologist since 2014 and will continue to do so as it is a great team of which I am proud to play (a now much reduced) role. I’m excited to be involved with The AGA after attending the symposium last year organized by Dr. Maria Orive on Sex and Asex. Bear with us as we get The AGA blog up and running (more about that in a few weeks when we’ll be looking for a few good volunteers to write for us!).

In addition to my research, I┬áteach Science Communication at UAB in which students write a blog post on a topic of their choosing for The Molecular Ecologist (see past posts here) and now have the option of writing for The AGA blog as well. I’ve previously written pieces (here and here) about the importance of writing, including blogging, for me personally and how providing these opportunities for students is near and dear to my heart. I have also been able to incorporate blogging opportunities for my graduate students in my Evolution course and in my Conservation Genetics course (as this course is small, I have also opened the opportunity to undergrads as well). Some of my former students have already written for The AGA blog (e.g., here or here) and more will be going live as soon as I find a spare few minutes to get them uploaded.

My time has been maxed out in the lead up to Darwin Day. Darwin Day events began at UAB in 2013 and have continued each year around the 12th of February. I have been the chair of our Darwin Day festivities for the last three years. We tend to celebrate Darwin Day the week before the actual event (i.e., today). In 2018, our guest speaker was Genevieve von Petzinger. In 2019, Dr. Beatrice Hahn returned to her old stomping grounds at UAB. Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Briana Pobiner from the Smithsonian.

Dr. Briana Pobiner speaking to UAB and the Birmingham community about the evolution of meat eating.

We had our largest turn out for her plenary talk (131, and many members of the wider Birmingham community)!

My lab at Darwin Day 2020 in front of the lab poster. (standing from left to right, back row: me; undergrad Jaclyn Aida; post-doc Dr. Will Ryan; MS (non-thesis) student Rebecca Wilcox; kneeling from left to right: high school student Rebekah Cahill, MS (thesis) student Aisha O’ Connor; MS (thesis) student Sarah Shainker; undergrad Mattia Guidali).

We also had out largest turn out for our poster session (180!) that immediately precedes the plenary talk in which the Department of Biology celebrates all the hard work of our faculty, students, and staff.

Now that Darwin Day 2020 at UAB is behind us, we are planning for next year’s events and can enjoy today on what have been Darwin’s 211th birthday.

Darwin Day committee members from UAB (from left to right PhD candidate Sabrina Heiser, distinguished professor and chair Dr. Steven Austad; our speaker Dr. Briana Pobiner; Morgan Burke without whom Darwin Day would never succeed, and myself)

So, happy Darwin Day to everyone and be sure to check back regularly at The AGA blog for writing opportunities and to learn about the latest research published in the pages of The Journal of Heredity.


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