Lab News

July 2023

Zuk lab members Lili Hagg & Jon Richardson attended the Animal Behavior Society meeting (ABS) in Portland, Oregon. Lili presented results on song as a mate guarding tactic and Jon talked about recent work reframing same-sex sexual behavior in animals. 

Photo of a presentation at a conference
Photo a presentation at a conference

June 2023

Dr Zuk accepted her BBVA Foundations of Knowledge Award at a prestigious ceremony at the Euskalduna Bilbao auditorium in Bilbao, Spain. She received the award in Ecology and Conservation Biology alongside Dr Susan Alberts and Dr Jeanne Altmann.  

Photo of Dr Zuk accepting an award in Spain

March 2023

Congratulations to graduate student Aarcha Thadi who has been awarded a summer stipend fellowship from the Dayton Bell Museum as well as a Natural History Award from the James W. Wilkie Fund for Natural History. 

March 2023

Dr Zuk, Dr Rotenberry and graduate student Aarcha Thadi are documentary stars! Bug Sex: It's Complicated is a documentary by Red Trillium Films that is part of CBCs Nature of Things. It features footage and interviews with Dr Zuk, Dr Rotenberry and Aarcha taken during their field work in Hawaii in August 2022. 

Image of Dr Zuk and Aarcha Thadi from Bug Sex the documentary
Image of lava field from Hawaii from Bug Sex the documentary

February 2023

Dr Marlene Zuk, has been recognized by the BBVA Foundation for her outstanding contributions to the field of behavioral and evolutionary ecology. The BBVA Foundation’s annual Frontiers of Knowledge Award is a highly prestigious award recognizing world-class researchers who have made field-shaping discoveries. Congratulations to Dr Zuk! 

Screengrab of article about Dr Zuks bbva honor

January 2023 

Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test was longlisted for the PAN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

January 2023

Dr Richardson was awarded Associate Fellowship from AdvanceHE for attainment in teaching 

December 2022 

The Zuk lab had our yearly holiday party - the first one we've been able to hold in-person in a long time (L to R: Echo Ireland, Katie Krueger, Ruby Ales, Jon Richardson, Jose Vasquez [grad student in the Xu lab], Marlene Zuk, Aarcha Thadi, Isabelle Hoversten, Lili Hagg) 

Holiday photo of the Zuk lab


October 2022

Dr Zuk gave a talk and signed copies of her new book "Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test" at an event at Open Book in Minneapolis 

October 2022

Hear Dr Zuk share 5 key insights from her new book, Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters at the Next Big Idea 

August 2022

Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters the latest book from Dr Zuk is out now! Get your copy here 

Cover of Dancing Cockatoos

August 2022

Dr Zuk, Dr Rotenberry and graduate student Aarcha Thadi went to Hawaii for field work - including collecting lava crickets 

A lava field in Hawaii

July 2022

Dr Zuk was interviewed for the TED Radio Hour episode "The Birds and the Bees". Listen here

July 2022

Postdoc Dr Richardson attended ISBE in Stockholm, Sweden. He presented a poster from his PhD work on brood parasitism in burying beetles. 

Dr Richardson at ISBE stockholm

July 2022

Dr Zuk and graduate students Aarcha Thadi and Katie Krueger attended the ABS conference in San Jose, Costa Rica. Dr Zuk was named Distinguished Animal Behaviorist in recognition of outstanding lifetime achievement in animal behaviour & Aarcha Thadi won the prize for best poster! 

Image of Dr Zuk receiving an award
Image of Aarcha Thadi winning best poster at ABS22

April 2022

Aarcha Thadi received two awards! A travel award from the Orthopterists Society and a Frank McKinney award from the Bell Museum 

January 2022

Dr Jon Richardson joined the lab as a postdoc

September 2021

Katie Krueger joined the lab as a graduate student co-advised by Dr Mark Bee 

September 2020

Aarcha Thadi and Lili Hagg joined the lab as graduate students 

October 2019

Dr. Zuk was named a University of Minnesota Regent's Professor in June of this year. The University president, Joan Gabel, hosted a lovely reception for all the three honorees on October 30th. The lab and several faculty from the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior department came out to support Dr. Zuk, who gave an touching speech about the importance of scholarly work. Here are some pictures!

July 2019

Mounica Kota gave a talk at Behaviour 2019 titled "Spermatophore retention may accommodate signal loss in pacific field crickets". Fun times!

June 2019

Some more exciting news for Dr. Zuk! The Regents of the University of Minnesota named Dr. Zuk a Regent's Professor. The Regents Professorship recognizes the national and international prominence of faculty members, and is the highest honor that the University of Minnesota can bestow on its faculty. This honor recognizes faculty who have made tremendous contributions to the University of Minnesota in the form of teaching, research, scholarship, and contributions to the public good.

Justa Heinen-Kay gave an awesome talk at Evolution 2019 titled "Fitness consequences of sexual signal loss in the Pacific field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus)"- watch the whole thing here!

May 2019

We had our end of the semester potluck and said goodbye to two of our star seniors, Jake Hjort and Ellen Urquhart. Happy graduation, Jake and Ellen! Below is our regularly scheduled potluck photo:

April 2019

Justa Heinen-Kay got 2nd place in the postdoc lightning talk competition- congratulations, Justa!

Jake Hjort, Ellen Urquhart, and Kristin Robinson presented original research at the CBS Undergraduate Research Symposium. Kristin gave a talk about her study abroad research on spider diversity, and Jake and Ellen presented posters on research they conducted in the Zuk Lab. 

Jake and Ellen presented their posters a second time at the second CBS research symposium:

In very exciting and well-deserved news, Dr. Zuk was elected to the National Academy of Sciences! Membership in the NAS is considered one of the highest honors scientists can receive, and she joins the ranks of other amazing peers that conduct novel and high-impact research. Congratulations, Dr. Zuk! See the press release here

March 2019

Drs. Zuk & Heinen-Kay received an NSF Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant to investigate a species of cricket that colonizes fresh lava flows. Caconemobius fori'ūhini nēnē pele in Hawaiian are the first metozoan colonizers to inhabit lava fields. These little crickets are unlikely candidates for surviving on barren lava fields, and little is otherwise known about them. Our team is doing exploratory work to observe, collect, and investigate this species- the first trip was over Spring Break 2019! See some of the news coverage on this below:

December 2018

Narmin Ghalichi successfully defended her master's thesis, titled "Risk-induced plasticity in mate choice in female crickets" on December 11th. Congratulations, Narmin! Below is the group picture from her celebration party.

September 2018

Ellen Urquhart presented the results of her research on post-copulatory sexual selection in T. oceanicus at the EEB Behavior Group. She received a research grant from the University of Minnesota in Spring 2018 and completed the research in Fall 2018. Congratulations, Ellen!

August 2018

Postdoc Justa Heinen-Key and graduate students Jessie Tanner and Mounica Kota travelled to Milwaukee to attend the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) meeting.

Jessie presented a chapter of her dissertation in a session about sexual selection:

Justa gave a talk in a special symposium about how enemies shape communication systems:

Mounica participated in the ABS outreach fair, talking to attendees about insect songs and communication:

Later in the month, Dr. Zuk, along with several others in the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior department hosted the 2018 International Society for Behavioral Ecology meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Jessie Tanner and Rachel Olzer both presented chapters of their dissertations, and Justa Heinen-Kay presented a poster. Mounica Kota hosted a lunch discussing diversity-related issues in ISBE and the Academy. ISBE 2018 also marked the debut of the new textbook "Insect Behavior", for which Rachel Olzer, Jessie Tanner, Justa Heinen-Kay, and Marlene Zuk are all co-authors. Congratulations, all!

Jessie Tanner successfully defended her dissertation at the end of August. Shortly afterwards, she moved to Perth, Australia to start her NSF postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Leigh Simmons' lab. Congratulations and good luck Dr. Tanner- we miss you! Below is a picture of from Jessie's defense celebration party.

July 2018

Drs. Marlene Zuk, Justa Heinen-Kay, John Rotenberry, and graduate student Mounica Kota travelled to Hawai'i to begin work on a new lab project assessing cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) investment in crickets. While there, they attended the American Genetics Association meeting on the big island, where Justa presented a poster.

On a side note, the intrepid travelers got to see the effects of Mount Kilauea's volcanic eruption. The picture below is the glow from Kilauea's lava flow into the ocean. The sun had set, so all the color is from the lava!

Mounica also went skydiving on the island of Oahu. Field work is awesome!

May 2018

Three of our all-star undergrads graduated this month: Kirstine Grab, Marissa Peyer, Daina Strub. Congratulations to all of you!

Our traditional end-of-year party lab photo:

April 2018

Daina Strub and Jake Hjort recently presented their research at the EEB Undergraduate Research Symposium. Dana's work focused on how the loss of song in cricket populations might affect reproductive investment in females, and Jake's work investigated whether crickets face a tradeoff between melanin investment in immune and reproductive traits.

Marissa Peyer presented her honors research, "Measuring Chemical Signals in Field Crickets: Comparing Experimental Approaches", at the UMN College of Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium. Marissa has been developing methods to study the cuticular hydrocarbons used in communication in Teleogryllus oceanicus​. Her work integrates her interest in biochemistry with our lab's research in behavioral ecology. 

December 2017

Daina Strub (upper photo) and Jake Hjort (lower photo) both recently completed research projects in the Zuk Lab. They were each awarded research grants by the University of Minnesota's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Congratulations, Daina and Jake!

Daina Strub
Jake Hjort

Our traditional end-of-semester party group photo:

Group photo

October 2017

Rebecca Ehrlich officially filed her thesis with the graduate school and graduated with her M.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Congratulations, Becky!

Dr. Zuk was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts Sciences this year! She attended the induction ceremony in October. Here, she's photographed with two other AAAS fellows from UMN: Drs. Sarah Hobbie (left) and Megan Gunnar (center).

MZ, SH and MG at AAAS induction Cambridge Oct 2017.jpg

September 2017

Welcome Mounica Kota, new PhD student!

February 2017

Jessie Tanner was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation for her project "Consequences of adaptive behavioral plasticity for sexual selection on an acoustic advertisement signal". Congratulations, Jessie!