A Tradition of Excellence

Do shrimp have color vision? How could we possibly know? Recent Ph.D. graduates Patrick Green (Patek Lab) and Eleanor Caves (Johnsen Lab) are showing the way in a Data Expedition – a new way to introduce undergrads to coding and data analysis. They have presented their Project on the Color Vision of Shrimp in two courses, Sensory Biology and Animal Physiology, using a dataset from Caves’ dissertation.  Caves lectures on the ecology of shrimp, and then Green gives instruction in the coding language R while Caves helps one-on-one. The undergrads get a taste of the advanced mathematical and computational tools that are critical for modern scientific research.  As one said, “I learned that you could turn words (code) into graphs. I never realized you could graph things on R and I feel like that will be really helpful in the future.”

Patrick and Eleanor have inherited and continue a tradition of innovation and excellence in Biology at Duke. The Graduate School has chosen to honor Mimi A. R. Koehl as its 2018 Distinguished Alumna. Koehl received her Ph.D. in Zoology in 1976, mentored by celebrated faculty Steve Wainwright and Steve Vogel. By bridging their interests in the design of organisms and organisms’ interaction with air and water, she contributed to the emergence of a new field, comparative biomechanics. Koehl has gone on to a distinguished career, pioneering research both with models in the lab and with living organisms in their natural environments.

As it happens, Steve Wainwright was the academic grandfather of Caves’ mentor Sönke Johnsen. And Green’s mentor Sheila Patek was a graduate student in Zoology at Duke when Wainwright and Vogel were active emeriti. Caves, Green, Johnsen, Patek and Koehl exemplify the spirit of innovation and excellence that is Duke Biology.

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Project on Color Vision of Shrimp