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BHSU students present at Ecological Genomics Symposium

Recently several Black Hills State University graduate students presented at the annual Ecological Genomics Symposium in Kansas City, Kan. Left, Riston Haugen, a graduate student from Baltic, presents his poster to Dr. Michael Herman, co-director of the Ecological Genomics program at Kansas State University. Haugen was one of only 10 students at the Symposium that earned a NSF travel scholarship based on the exceptional scientific merits of his work.

Several graduate students from Black Hills State University recently presented at the annual Ecological Genomics Symposium in Kansas City, Mo.

Riston Haugen from Baltic, was one of only 10 students at the Symposium who were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) travel scholarship based on the scientific merits of their work. The title of Haugen’s presentation was “Determination of the genetic basis of pseudoflower formation in Boechera holboellii.” Cynthia Anderson, co-director of BHSU’s DNA core facility, and Dr. David Siemens, founder of Integrative Genomics at BHSU, were co-authors of the presentation.

Siemens presented “Tests of the Defense Constraint hypothesis for evolution of local range.” Co-authors included BHSU students, John Duvall-Jisha, San Marcos, Texas; Jay Jacobs, Reeder, N.D.; Joe Manthey, Fond Du Lac, Wisc.; and Haugen. The core experiment for the study was just completed this fall by Siemens and graduate students enrolled in the Ecological Genomics course. The Defense Constraint hypothesis was forwarded by Siemens and collaborators in a paper published this month in the journal Molecular Ecology, titled “Plant chemical defense allocation constrains evolution of local host range.” Co-authors of the publication included Haugen, Steven Matzner, Augustana College, and Nick VanAsma from Piedmont.

Manthey presented “Phylogeography of the Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)”, which he co-authored with Dr. Garth Spellman, assistant professor of science at BHSU. Woody Walstrom, Spearfish, presented the study “Speciation in the White-breasted Nutchatch (Sitta carolinensis); a multilocus study of diversification in North American pine and oak woodlands.” Spellman was also a co-author. The work was funded by an NSF grant to Spellman and collaborators at Harvard University and The University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Jacobs presented his research “Investigating compounds with microbial inhibitory properties from Atremisia ludoviciana,” which he began as an undergraduate and will continue in graduate studies. Co-authors included his thesis advisor Dr. John Dixon, assistant professor of science; Dr. Audrey Gabel, BHSU researcher; Dr. Mark Gabel, director of Herbarium; Spellman, and undergraduate Cody Geffre from Pierre.

Duvall-Jisha presented the paper “Genetically distinct range edge populations in a close wild relative of Arabidpsis: A template for the study of evolutionary change.” Co-authors included Siemens, Manthey, Jacobs and Haugen. The study was another collaborative course project. Duvall-Jisha plans similar studies on ants for his thesis work.

The Symposium, now in its seventh year, attracted scientists from across the nation and is sponsored by NSF and Kansas State University.

BHSU, which has earned a stellar reputation for research providing opportunities, offers one of the few Integrative Genomics masters degree in the nation.

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