Evolution and Adaptation Blog Posts
Dr. Dietmar Kueltz describes himself as “...a comparative biologist and most interested in mechanisms of stress-induced evolution. My lab studies how fish and marine invertebrates counteract environmental stress.” Originally from Berlin, Germany, he grew up interested in aquatic life. “I was diving and swimming a lot,” he said, “and I am interested in watersports and just about everything aquatic.” Dr. Kueltz attributes this early love of aquatics to his interest in studying stress and evolution in aquatic organisms.
Genetics, climate change, and conservation become highly intertwined in Dr. Andrew Whitehead’s lab. Although he works on a variety of research endeavors, he mainly focuses on how wild species respond to human-induced stress, such as the effects of climate change, and how that may affect an individual organism’s progeny. Essentially, Dr. Whitehead attempts to monitor how climate change and pollution will shape the genetic makeup of multiple generations.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Tradeoffs: it’s an intuitive concept that we grasp and grapple with in our everyday lives. Any decision we make has some benefits but usually incurs some costs also. Do I buy this box of Oreos or use that cash to purchase some broccoli? (The answer is always Oreos). Do I go barhopping with friends or spend my time studying? The balance of costs and benefits are parameters we factor in every time we make a decision. And for the most part, these decisions are relatively easy. Rarely do we find ourselves paralyzed with indecision as we traverse about our daily routine. I’m not drooling off into space during breakfast as I decide whether I should use 3 tablespoons of coffee to ration my supply or 5 tablespoons to ensure I get my hit of caffeine.
Growing up I was no different than the rest when it came to water “weeds”. I was terrified to feel the slime and whip-like stalks wrap around my legs as I waded into streams and lakes. The horrifying mixture of slippery rocks (diatoms), feather-like strands of filamentous algae on my legs, and squishing sediments between my toes sent strains of panic up my spine. As kids we perpetually persevere; my focus at the time to remain as close to the water surface as possible so as not to contact the dark abyss of the stream bottom (and the horrific photosynthesizers) again.