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HHMI Science Symposium

Friday, September 23, 2016

The HHMI Science Symposium showcases the research conducted by the previous summer's Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellows. All HHMI-supported students participate in this program, as well as other students that conducted summer research in the STEM fields. The event concludes with a guest lecture.

Research Presentations

Session 1: 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Session 2: 3–4:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

Zombie Ants: The Precise Control of Animal Behavior by a Microbe
Dr. David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University
Fri., Sept. 23, 4:45 p.m.
Gottwald Auditorium

Dr. Hughes will present an overview of his lab’s work that examines how a microbe (a fungus) controls an animal (an ant). The lab's work leverages distinct approaches from ecology to genomics to physics to histology to ask how the organism without the brain controls the one with the brain. They are discovering that the fungus controls its ant by directly affecting the muscles that underlie behavior, and importantly does not invade the brain. They have also discovered the nested levels of this manipulation as the parasite controls ants to die beside the interaction network (trails) of the colony it infects. At the biogeographic scale they are discovering how this fungus has adapted to global climate change and multiple diverse aspects found on the ant phylogenetic tree. Much of their work, while focused on parasite manipulation of host behavior, is also a call for greater natural history and organismal biology in modern approaches. 

Poster Session Registration

Students interested in presenting their research at the Symposium must register by filling out the form below. The deadline to register is September 9.