What do soap bubbles and butterflies have in common?

Edith Smith bred a bluer and shinier Common Buckeye at her butterfly farm in Florida, but it took University of California, Berkeley, graduate student Rachel Thayer to explain the physical and genetic changes underlying the butterfly’s newly acquired iridescence.

In the process, Thayer discovered how relatively easy it is for butterflies to change their wing colors over just a few generations and found the first gene proven to influence the so-called “structural color” that underlies the iridescent purple, blue, green and golden hues of many butterflies.

As COVID-19 hits Peru, a brave Berkeley Ph.D. student finds her way home

Giovanna Figueroa, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in the Department of Integrative Biology, had just arrived in the village the previous day, after a 16-hour boat trip from her base in Iquitos, the rainforest’s largest city and one that can’t be reached by roads. When the local guide she’d hired told her the latest, Figueroa was pressing herbarium specimens, preserving palm fruit pulp samples and pleased with her first day of research in Pucaurco on a two-week trip along the Nanay, a 196-mile tributary of the Amazon River.

How do you cultivate a healthy plant microbiome?

A new study by University of California, Berkeley, microbial ecologists used experimental evolution to help identify the core microbiome of commercial tomatoes. They selected for those microbial taxa that best survived on the plants and then showed that these “domesticated” microbial communities are able to effectively fend off random microbes that land on the plants. In other words, these selected communities look like a stable, healthy plant microbiome, akin to what a robust tomato plant might pass to its offspring.

These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened?

Monarch butterflies eat only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill them. The butterflies thrive on it, even storing milkweed toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds. For decades, scientists have marveled at this adaptation. On Thursday, a team of researchers announced they had pinpointed the key evolutionary steps that led to it...

IB graduate students traverse the globe for summer research projects

20190826_Mattina.pngFor the graduate students of Integrative Biology, the summer months bring a wealth of opportunities to embark on critical research projects and present their findings all over the world. Forty-four graduate students were able to carry out their field and laboratory research, thanks in part to three competitive awards sponsored by the Integrative Biology department: Dissertation Completion Award, Summer Grant, and Research Award. A broad range of projects are funded by these awards, from understanding UV radiation tolerance in desert mosses to studying how the shapes of turtle beaks relate to their diet and habitat over evolutionary time.

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Women don beards to highlight gender bias in science

For many people, including women, the answer is yes, which spurred dozens of paleontologists around the world – all of them women – to glue on beards for photos now being exhibited at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley. The ironic message of the Bearded Lady Project is that, contrary to the persisting stereotype, you don’t have to be a man to love fieldwork and contribute to science; in fact: many field scientists are not.

Meet our recent IB PhD graduates

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Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of our most recent PhD graduates and welcoming them as important members of the IB alumni community!

You can view individual alumni profiles highlighting their achievements, professional plans as well as some interesting personal projects here.