Melina Hale of the University of Chicago was the keynote speaker at the Southeast regional meeting of the SICB on the campus of Clemson University.

Melina Hale of the University of Chicago was the keynote speaker at the Southeast regional meeting of the SICB on the campus of Clemson University.
Image Credit: College of Science

CLEMSON – “Lightning” struck about 40 times Saturday inside Jordan Hall at Clemson University, firing up eager minds with flashes of organismal biology, ecology and evolution.

The Southeast regional meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) began with a bang as keynote speaker Melina Hale of the University of Chicago spent about 45 minutes discussing “How fish swim … and walk and fly: Using biodiversity to understand the neural control of movement.” Hale’s appearance was then followed by a fast-paced series of “lightning” talks by about 40 speakers from Clemson and 10 other institutions throughout the Southeast. Each speaker was given five minutes on stage. Topics ranged from “Bubble mechanics in underwater sniffing by the star-nosed mole” to “Power lifting elephants.”

“The society is home to a wide range of science, from ecology and evolutionary biology to physiology, neuroscience and biomechanics. Many scientists at SICB work on a range of diverse organisms, aiming to understand those species or, by studying them, understand basic mechanisms or biological principles that are foundational across many species,” said Hale, who is currently president-elect of the national society. “And I love regional meetings like this one. The smaller size encourages in-depth conversation and builds community. I particularly enjoy interacting with students and postdocs.”

The meeting at Clemson, which had 75 registrants overall, was hosted by the College of Science’s department of biological sciences and co-sponsored by the TIGERS ADVANCE program’s Distinguished Speaker Series. It concluded with a reception at the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, followed by dinner at the Blue Heron Restaurant and Sushi Bar.

“It was wonderful to have such great participation and diversity of topics,” said Rick Blob, an expert in animal biomechanics at Clemson University, where he is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of biological sciences and whose lab hosted the meeting. “The Southeast is a strong center for research in Integrative Biology, and Clemson is part of that growth. I’m looking forward to hearing about projects and collaborations that came out of people coming together at this meeting.”

The SICB has more than 2,500 national and international members, making it one of the largest and most prestigious scientific associations. Hale said that she has high hopes for the future.

“I am particularly excited about the rapid pace of tool and techniques development and the opportunities to apply them outside of the few model animals that have underpinned medical research for the past 30 years,” said Hale, who is Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Committees on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “New equipment and approaches are greatly expanding opportunities to work in diverse organisms and answer critical questions in biology. I believe this is where biology is heading more broadly and that SICB and its members are poised to lead in that work.”

The five-minute topics and researchers included:

  • “Co-evolution of weaponry, armor, and vision in snapping shrimp.” – Alexandra Kingston, University of South Carolina
  • “RNA-seq analysis of hypoxia-challenged Manila clam.” – Hongtao Nie, Dalian Ocean University, visiting at Auburn University
  • “Do marine and freshwater fishes differ in rates and directions of body shape evolution?” – Olivier Larouche, Clemson University
  • “Do predators take advantage of prey blind spots?” – Andrew McKamy and Nikole
  • Schneider, Clemson University
  • “Functional consequences of morphological variations between locally adapted populations.” – Henry Camarillo, Virginia Tech
  • “Evidence for spatial vision in Chiton tuberculatus, a chiton with eyespots.” – Daniel Speiser, University of South Carolina
  • “Bendy to the bone.” – Grace Forker, Clemson University
  • “The effect of seabed vegetation on zooplankton swimming.” – Kemal Ozalp, UNC Chapel Hill
  • “Adhesive force and endurance during waterfall climbing in an amphidromous gobiid, Sicyopterus japonicus (Teleostei: Gobiidae): Ontogenetic scaling of novel locomotor performance.” – Takashi Maie, University of Lynchburg
  • “Bubble mechanics in underwater sniffing by the star-nosed mole.” – Alexander Lee, Georgia Tech
  • “ Root circumnutation facilitates effective subterranean surface exploration.” – Erin McCaskey, Georgia Tech
  • “Effects of rearing temperature on the viscosity of hemolymph in Manduca sexta– Christie Crandall, Virginia Tech
  • “Modeling fluid flow in an insect-inspired microfluidic channel.” – Joel Garrett, Virginia Tech
  • “3D trajectories of in field recordings of the common skittering frog, Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis.” – Talia Weiss, Virginia Tech
  • “Defining a novel gait transition in wading birds.” – Amanda Palecek McClung, Clemson University
  • “Running on water like a basilisk lizard: Experiments on plastic plates.” – Daniel Kimmel, Georgia Tech
  • “Do mallards landing on water exhibit tau theory strategies?” – Jack Whitehead, Virginia Tech
  • “Integrating research and teaching: Insights from designing a new course in biomechanics.” – Emily Kane, Georgia Southern University
  • “Undulatory locomotion on granular media.” – Kelimar Diaz Cruz, Georgia Tech
  • “Muscle-tendon units automatically dissipate energy in the context of uneven terrain.” – Laksh Kumar Punith, Georgia Tech
  • “A robophysical model for studying obstacle navigation in sidewinders.” – Margot Paez, Georgia Tech
  • “Trade-offs of power amplification on compliant substrates.” – Crystal Reynaga, Duke University
  • “Changing in-series compliance modulates proprioception in active muscle contractions.” – Emily M. Abbott, Georgia Tech
  • “New insights into leaping larvae locomotion.” – Grace Farley, Duke University
  • “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes: Investigating a body-wide representation of gravity.” – Chase Rock, Georgia Tech
  • “A space for time replacement reveals potential responses to climate for a widespread lizard.” – Mike Sears, Clemson University
  • “Maternal nest site choice in the brown anole.” – Jenna Pruett, Auburn University
  • “A physiological test of the island effect in the adaptive radiation of anoles.” – Martha M. Munoz, Virginia Tech
  • “Local adaptation and phenotypic variation in the venom delivery system of Mojave rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus).” – Jason Strickland, Clemson University
  • “Habitat management affects traits tied to individual fitness.” – Chase Kinsey, Clemson University
  • “Non-coding vs coding mutations.” – Leah DeLorenzo, Clemson University
  • “A tale of two species: Contrasting venom compositions in the black-speckled and Talamancan palm-pit vipers.” – Andrew Mason, Clemson University
  • “How do wombats make cubic scat?” – Miles Chan, Georgia Tech
  • “Power lifting elephants.” – Andrew Kyle Schulz, Georgia Tech
  • “Biomechanics of Climbing Iguanas.” – David Munteanu, Clemson University
  • “Gliding in a cluttered environment.” – Pranav Khandelwal, UNC Chapel Hill
  • “Evolution of wing morphology in North American raptors.” – Jonathan Rader, UNC Chapel Hill
  • “How to fall down a chimney: Kinematics of roost entry by chimney swifts.” – Meera Parikh, UNC Chapel Hill
  • “Do cliff swallows increase flapping frequency during conspecific chases?” – Sophia Chizhikova, UNC Chapel Hill