A new species of trapdoor spider was named after Mercedes! What an honor!
“The specific epithet is a patronym in honor of Dr. Mercedes Burns the first female African American arachnologist (to our knowledge).”
Congrats to Tyler Brown, who was recently awarded a Washington Biologists’ Field Club grant! Tyler also won the Data Blitz category at this years’ UMBC GABS meeting. Dude is cruisin’.
After years of work, we (Tyler, Mercedes, and colleague Dr. Nobuo Tsurusaki) successfully published our paper on reproductive modes determined by genomic SNPs in parthernogenetic Opiliones!
Tyler Brown successfully passed his qualifying exam! He’s the first BurnsLab Ph.D. Candidate!
Mercedes was recently granted a Templeton Foundation Ideas Challenge award!
Check out recent BurnsLab publication on spermathecae in Opiliones— a collaboration with UMBC undergrad Zulekha Karachiwalla and Keith R. Porter Imaging Center director Dr. Tagide deCarvalho.
Congratulations to Tyler Brown, who took 1st place in the 2020 AAS virtual poster contest with his presentation titled “Genomic determination of reproductive mode in facultatively parthenogenetic harvestmen”! Tyler’s been very successful communicating research and teaching online. Way to go!
As biracial woman born and raised in Minneapolis, I (Mercedes) have been strongly affected by the murder of George Floyd and subsequent violence to peaceful protesters of all backgrounds. I am thankful to the Executive Committee of the American Arachnology Society, of which I am a member, for helping to thoughtfully craft a statement, part of which I am posting here:
As our communities are rocked by direct confrontation of the long-standing, violent, widespread and pervasive racism and inequities in our society, I reach out on behalf of the American Arachnological Society (AAS) Executive Committee (EC) to state our support for Black members and aspiring Black members within our society. We also extend broad support to scientists of color whose paths are addled by societal norms of racism. The challenges of people of color in our community are magnified in the background of this time when impacts of Covid-19 threaten the livelihoods of so many. Black members of our society: as a community, the American Arachnological Society supports you. …
… there are reasons why the AAS community is particularly well disposed to provide insight and leadership in efforts to work against racism in our society. These are well articulated by AAS EC Director Mercedes Burns. As a society the AAS is “in the unique position, and indeed, tasked with the duty of describing the diversity and demystifying this historically maligned group to the general public. I believe a society that appreciates the diverse forms of arachnids in nature has also the capacity to appreciate the diversity of human experience. Many Americans have grown up with fear of the dangers of arachnids– in fact, I know members of our own society found their way to arachnology in an effort to confront these fears. These concerns may parallel the fears many of us have of speaking about the historical mistreatment of people of African origin in the Americas. It is only when we choose to move forward by engaging with the source of our discomfort that we grow as scientists and humans.”
Congrats to Tyler Brown, who was recently award a research grant from the American Arachnological Society!
During the quarantine, we’re trying to stay productive. Sarah has set up a “top secret remote lab” and has made great strides sequencing the genome for Leiobunum manubriatum!
Three BurnsLab members are graduating this semester: Fleurine, Harper, and Shea. We’re proud of you, and so glad to have worked by your sides!
Fleurine, Harper, and Zulekha developed presentations in lab meeting (with a surprise birthday wish for Mercedes!) and successfully uploaded them to the first-ever virtual Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts Day (URCAD) at UMBC!
Mercedes traveled to Germany for Spring Break, and managed to return to Baltimore in time to quarantine… phew.
Mercedes, Tyler B. and Zulekha traveled to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) 2020 in Austin, TX. Mercedes and Zulekha presented their recent work on harvestmen spermatheca, and Tyler gave his first oral presentation on parthenogen genotyping!
Congrats to Dr. Sarah Stellwagen, who recently had her first baby (and youngest BurnsLab member), Stella!
The lab headed down to Lexington, VA to attend the American Arachnological Society meeting. Genevieve, Mayukha, Tyler M. and Sarah presented posters, Mercedes and Sarah gave presentations during the tribute symposium to William Shear, and Mercedes was elected the next AAS Director!
Elsewhere, Mercedes presented research on the Japanese parthenogenetic harvestmen at the American Genetic Association Presidential Symposium in Portland, OR.
Mercedes won an AAAS-DoSER award to facilitate communication about evolution to diverse communities.
Genevieve and Mayukha graduated from UMBC with honors! We’re proud of you both!
Tyler Brown joined the lab as a Ph.D. student. Welcome home!
Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Stellwagen, who was awarded funding from the Herb Levi Memorial Fund for Arachnological Research from the American Arachnological Society!
Mercedes has been awarded an UMBC START grant for more arachnid genomics magic!
Genevieve and Mayukha presented their research at URCAD 2019 on April 24th!
Sarah and Mercedes attended the International Congress of Arachnology in Christchurch, New Zealand.
They moderated a symposium on “Outstanding Opiliones: Reproductive and population biology in harvestmen.”
To ring in the new year, former BUILD group member Zulekha Karachiwalla presented a poster on her summer 2018 work on female morphology of UMBC harvestmen species!
BurnsLab had another strong outing at the UMBC Biology Dept. with an excellent holiday video, resin-embedded arachnid ornaments, and a gingerbread Baltimore rowhouse!
Sarah and Mercedes hosted a special Halloween gathering of arachnologists from the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area!
Dr. Sarah Stellwagen and Tyler Montgomery have joined the lab! Welcome!
At the 2nd Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France, Mercedes presented research and enjoyed interactions with an international crowd of evolutionary biologists, including collaborator Dr. Sarah Boyer.
Mercedes gave a poster presentation at the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution meeting in Yokohama, Japan, and conducted fieldwork throughout Nagano Prefecture! Meanwhile, Genevieve interned with the USFWS, conducting field work and water quality sampling!
BurnsLab received several visiting undergraduate researchers this month, including Cierra from Dr. Kevin Omland’s lab, and three students in the 2018 Summer BUILD program. Welcome, new arachnid ambassadors!
Freddy Flanagan graduated with his M.S. in Applied Molecular Biology. Good luck in dental school, Freddy!
Daniel DeWaters presented his research at the 22nd Annual URCAD Symposium. See him in action on the event Flickr reel, too!
Genevieve Ahearn was accepted into a US Fish and Wildlife Service summer internship for 2018. Way to go, Genevieve!
burnslab.umbc.edu website goes live!
Freddy Flanagan was accepted into the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, class of 2022. Congratulations, Freddy!
Mercedes publishes a paper on population genomics in the Japanese parthenogenetic harvestmen, Leiobunum globosum and L. manubriatum.
Burns Lab starts up at UMBC!