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Communications and Marketing

Biology students win awards at Animal Behavior Society Conference

Chris Edomwande ’19 and Jeannie McDonald ’19 won awards for their independent research projects at the 55th Annual Animal Behavior Society (ABS) Conference hosted in Milwaukee.

Working with Assistant Professor of Biology Flavia Barbosa during the spring semester of the 2017–2018 academic year and over summer 2018, Edomwande and McDonald’s hard work culminated into award-winning research at the international ABS conference.

Edomwande studied the influence of predation risk on mate signaling and mate choice in lesser wax moths. “I have always had a passion for ecology and evolution, and this research experience helped me put that passion to work,” he said. “I had a great time conducting this study and learning about the evolutionary development of the wax moth.”

His research earned Edomwande the Genesis Award, which is given to the best overall undergraduate poster at the conference. Edomwande’s poster was the top selection in the 37-poster competition. 

McDonald’s research focused on the evolution of nuptial gifts in the bean beetle, C. maculatus. She tested how variation in males’ access to water affected female mating decisions. While McDonald only recently began working in Barbosa’s lab, she’s been interested in behavioral ecology research in general and sexual selection for awhile.

Working on independent research alongside a professor was a positive experience for McDonald.

“Dr. Barbosa has been a fantastic mentor and I’ve learned so much from her in just the past year,” McDonald said. “She has taught me to approach research design more creatively and thoughtfully while also allowing me a lot of independence to develop and lead my own project.” McDonald earned the Turner Award, a travel grant given by the society with a goal to increase diversity, at the conference.  

Both students attribute their success to hard work and being able to work with Barbosa on research at the undergraduate level. The hands-on experience they gained, as well as the access they had to their faculty mentor, helped guide them to feel confident presenting their work at the international ABS Conference.

On a personal level, it feels great to have my work recognized because of the hard work I put into it. But it feels even better to bring attention to the great work that Lake Forest College is doing in the biology department,” Edomwande said.

—Sangjun Hornewer ’20