Exciting things have been happening in the Terhune Lab so far this year! In fact, we’re a bit behind the curve here since so many things have been going on that we’ve decided to give you one big update.
- In January, both Ashly Romero and Caitlin Yoakum were named fellows in the NSF-sponsored NRT STEM Professional Awareness, Advancement, and Development program. Their participation in this program allows Caitlin and Ashly to build their professional development skills and learn about a variety of career paths both inside and outside of academia.
- In March, Ashly Romero successfully defended her MA thesis titled “A Comparison of Craniofacial Asymmetry in Gorilla gorilla gorilla and Pan troglodytes troglodytes”. She found that fluctuating asymmetry (small deviations from symmetry due to perturbations during growth and development) is higher in gorillas than in chimpanzees, and also higher in male gorillas than female gorillas. This could indicate that different patterns of growth (i.e., gorillas grow faster than chimps) could result in increased levels of asymmetry in these species.
- In April, the Terhune Lab presented a total of six (!) research posters at the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPAs) in Austin, TX, including posters by undergrad researcher Lydia Haake, and grad students Caitlin Yoakum and Ashly Romero. Lydia presented on her dermestid beetle research (the focus of her honors thesis), Caitlin presented on her research looking at the size and distribution of the mandibular canal in primates, and Ashly presented the results of her MA research that examined fluctuating asymmetry in the skull of gorillas and chimps.
- Caitlin, Ashly, and undergrad researcher Courtney Moore presented MORE research at the American Association of Anatomists annual meetings in San Diego, where Courtney was one of only a few finalists for an Undergraduate Poster Award. Courtney, Ashly, and Caitlin are currently working on preparing a manuscript from this research, which is focused on looking at how neck posture is related to tablet usage.
–If you’re interested, you can check out all of these research posters HERE.
- Just before the AAPAs in April, the University of Arkansas (and Dr. Terhune as lead investigator) received their new microCT equipment. This equipment, funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Arkansas, allows us to set up the new UArk MICRO lab, where we will be able to image the internal and external structure of a wide variety of objects. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on this research and check out the MICRO website to learn more about this new facility.
- Also in April, undergraduate researchers Logan Hearp and Maureen Balcerzak, working with Dr. Terhune, along with other undergraduate researchers working with Dr. Katie Chapman in Psychological Sciences, were awarded a University of Arkansas Honors College Team Research Grant for their upcoming work looking at how big and small cats (lions, tigers, cougars) at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs leave marks on the bones they eat. After analysis, our goal is to apply the findings of this research to the fossil record. We’ll be posting exciting updates about this research (and hopefully a lot of cat pictures) here in the future!
- Some of Dr. Terhune’s research was also featured on the University of Arkansas podcast series Short Talks From the Hill, which you can listen to here.
Throughout the semester we’ve welcomed several new faces to the lab, including undergraduate researchers Blossom Amechi, Maureen Balcerzak, and Alexandra McMillian. Blossom and Alex are both working on scanning carnivore skulls from the University of Arkansas Museum collections. We’ve also been hard at work processing data for several ongoing projects: Chris Carter and Logan Hearp both finished processing over 5 TB (!) of microCT scan data and hundreds of surface scans of skulls that Dr. Terhune has been collecting at museums around the US over the past year. We’ve also assisted with and sponsored several outreach events focused on teaching middle and high school students about anthropology and STEM. In total over the past year, we’ve had the chance to talk with over 450 middle and high school students (in addition to many others from the public) about what it means to be human and what the research going on in the Terhune Lab is like.
Last but not least, congratulations to new Terhune Lab Alumnus Courtney Moore for graduating with a BS in Anthropology from the University of Arkansas in May 2018!
So in sum, the Terhune Lab had an exciting and busy semester and we are ready for some summer adventures and hopefully some downtime. Stay tuned to hear more about summer research trips, updates on ongoing research, and exciting new lab happenings.