Symposium Showcases Top Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics Research in SE Texas Area

Keynote speaker Dr. Mark Kirkpatrick speaking during the first session. Photo by Rob Williams

Keynote speaker Dr. Mark Kirkpatrick speaking during the first session. Photo by Rob Williams

Scientists from across the Southeastern Texas area gathered inside the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building for the fourth meeting of the Southeast Texas Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics Symposium on July 18.

The day-long symposium featured various presentations by researchers from the Southeastern Texas area, including Texas A&M, Texas A&M Galveston, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The event was hosted by the Department of Entomology and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program faculty. The purpose of the symposium was to bring together scientists from various backgrounds interested in evolutionary genetics to share their research, develop collaborations, and network.

Dr. Aaron Tarone opening the symposium. Photo by Rob Williams

Dr. Aaron Tarone opening the symposium. Photo by Rob Williams

Keynote speaker Dr. Mark Kirkpatrick from the University of Texas opened the symposium with “Sex differences in the recombination landscape” Presenters from the Department of Entomology included Ph.D. student Ashley Tessnow who spoke on “Genomic insights into the migration and host strain hybridization patterns of a major agricultural pest, Spodoptera frugiperda”, Pierre-Andre Ayer with his talk “Sexually antagonistic selection: Genetic divergence between males and females maintains diversity in an invasive ant”.

There also was a presentation before lunch made by Dr. Charlie Johnson on a seed grant that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences genomics core faculty is supporting to promote collaboration among evolutionary geneticists in Texas.

Carlos Aguero with his poster during the poster session. Photo by Rob Williams

Carlos Aguero with his poster during the poster session. Photo by Rob Williams

Several Entomology graduate students and postdoctoral research associates presented posters, including “Characterization of microbial communities outside and within subterranean termite communities” by Carlos Aguero, “Characterization of the Sugarcane Aphid Microbiota” by Jocelyn Holt, “Cycle knockout alters circadian gene expression and

behavior in Aedes aegypti mosquito” by Jacob Meyers, “Evaluation of Illumina Sequenced Bacterial Genomes from Environmental Samples” and “Potential Host Range of Bacterial Infections in Drosophila” by Igor Vilchez.

Dr. Spencer Johnston then closed the symposium with a talk on the history of genomic research and evolutionary genetics.

Dr. Aaron Tarone said the Organizing Committee was impressed by the attendance and the outstanding quality of work in this year’s presentations and posters.

“The turnout was the best for the four STEGG meetings so far,” Tarone said. “There were a lot of high quality and interesting presentations.”

The program was financially supported by the Department of Entomology, Department of Biology, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, VWR, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and the TAMU Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.  TAMU Galveston provided management of the website and communications.  Many thanks to these sponsors and contributors.

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