ECU Hosts Harvard University Biologist, Pioneer in Applying Genomic Analysis to Behavior

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2013) — East Carolina University's Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Biology soon will host a public lecture as part of the THCAS Advancement Council Distinguished Professorship in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Dr. Lauren O'Connell, Bauer Fellow at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, will discuss "Genomic Insights into Poison Frog Behavior and Diversity," at 4 p.m., Oct. 24, in room C309 of the Science and Technology Building. A question and answer session will immediately follow the lecture.

During the free lecture, O'Connell will discuss recently developed methods for investigating genetic influences on social behavior, particularly parental care and mating strategies in dendrobatid frogs, a group of poisonous frogs from South and Central America that display elaborate, complex and diverse patterns of reproductive behavior.

"Dr. O'Connell is a leading expert in connecting variation in gene expression to variation in behavior, a difficult problem that has become more tractable with the development of rapid genome sequencing technologies and sophisticated methods of bioinformatics analysis," said Dr. Kyle Summers, THCAS Advancement Council Distinguished Professor of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "She is also a leading expert in the experimental manipulation of behavior using specific gene products, such as oxytocin and other hormones."

As a doctoral student at the University of Texas, O'Connell was trained in cell biology and molecular genetics. Prior to her tenure at Harvard, O'Connell held postdoctoral appointments at the University of Texas. She performed research on the evolutionary genomics of behavior in cichlid fish and mice, before concentrating her research efforts on Neotropical poison frogs, which show a remarkable diversity of behavioral strategies in the context of parental care and mating systems.

For additional information, contact Summers at 252-328-6304, or by email at Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should call 252-737-1016 (voice/TTY) at least 48 hours prior to the events.

Lacey L. Gray, MA
Director of Marketing and Communications
Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
East Carolina University
2301 Bate Building
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

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