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Campus as laboratory: U-M student biologists use Diag trees to help solve gypsy moth mystery
Date:1/30/2013

s of plants. This kind of information is needed in agriculture and forestry to improve the resistance of plants to insect pests," he said. "In the short term, though, this is basic research that is driven by the curiosity of ecologists to understand nature better."

The team's findings will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Oecologia. Authors of the journal article are Barbehenn and two of his former undergraduate research assistants, Joseph Kochmanski and Julie Niewiadomski. Barbehenn has worked with more than 40 undergraduate research assistants since 2000.

Niewiadomski graduated from U-M with a bachelor's degree in biology in May 2010 and is now studying nutrition in a doctoral program at Cornell University. She said her work studying protein metabolism in gypsy moth caterpillars shaped her decision to pursue a doctorate in nutrition.

"My career in nutrition research began in Ray's lab," she said. "I am looking forward to seeing where it leads me."

Kochmanski is now a master's student at the U-M School of Public Health, focusing on toxicology. He said his time with Barbehenn instilled in him "a strong desire to continue doing research."

"I am currently working in a toxicology laboratory at the School of Public Health, doing research into the human health effects of environmental exposures," he said. "I can trace my interest in this subject back to my time working in Ray's lab."

"Our research involves a true partnership," Barbehenn said. "I teach students to work and think like biologists, and they help me get publication-quality data," he said. "For almost all of them, it's the first time they've had this opportunity and the first publication they've co-authored."

In the gypsy moth study, the students used a long-pole pruner to reach into the crowns of Diag oaks and maples and collect leaves. The field work was done in 2010, with permission from U-M Grounds Services.

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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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