The Zuk lab has a sustained commitment to making evolutionary biology accessible to non-traditional science audiences through public outreach. Here's what we've been up to lately.

Market Science

The Zuk lab joined teams with UMN Market Science to do an invertebrate module at the Midtown Farmer's Market! Mounica Kota and CBS staff Missy Rudeen talked to several kids and other attendees about the properties of invertebrates, engaging them with the several insect and arachnid pals that were present at the table!


Rachel Olzer and U Connect

U Connect brings middle schoolers to university campuses over summers and engages them in STEM inquiry. Rachel Olzer mentored several students in Summer 2018 through U Connect. 

The Zuk Lab at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society 2018

Graduate student Mounica Kota participated in an outreach fair at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this summer. She spoke to hundreds of participants about insect communication, covering examples of insect song across taxa. She also talked to visitors about our lab's work with the Pacific field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus and what the silent crickets teach us about signal evolution.


Dr. Zuk and the Bell Museum

Dr. Zuk is involved in the development of the recently re-opened Bell Museum. As Minnesota's premier natural history museum, it hosts several exhibits about animals, including a section on animal behavior. Dr. Zuk is featured in a talking exhibit, where she discusses insect behavior.


Dr. Zuk's Op-Ed in the LA Times:

Dr. Zuk published an op-ed in the LA Times about gender, drawing inferences about sex differences in a gendered society, and the pursuit of careers in science. You can read it here.

Mounica Kota and the Bdote Learning Center

From October 2017 to May 2018, Mounica Kota partnered with the Minnesota Academy of Sciences in a program called Fostering Opportunities & Relationships through Science Education (FORSE). The program's goal is to recruit underrepresented groups to STEM through representational mentorship and educational enrichment. This year focused on guiding 5th grade students at Bdote Learning Center (and Ojibwe and Dakota immersion learning school) through the development, execution, and presentation of a novel science fair project. Mounica mentored four bright kids, two of which placed 1st and 3rd at their local science fair! Now, Mounica and several other graduate students and postdocs are developing a teaching module to expose the same students to concepts of animal behavior. In doing so, they hope to encourage more students to explore questions of behavior in future science fair projects.

Review of A Taste for the Beautiful

Justa Heinen-Kay and Mounica Kota recently published a review of Dr. Michael Ryan's book A Taste for the Beautiful. The book discusses how the brain contributes to perceptions of sexual beauty in animals. You can read the review here.

Popular Science Review

The Wall Street Journal recently published Dr. Zuk's review of Spineless by Juli Berwald. You can read the article here.

Dr. Zuk recently reviewed How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jumpstarted Evolution by Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut for the New York Times. The book details what was learned about domestication via artificial selection experiments on foxes. You can read Dr. Zuk's book review here.

Rachel Olzer and Step-Up

In the summer of 2016, PhD student Rachel Olzer partnered with the Loppet Foundation and Step-Up Achieve to clean up Theodore Wirth Park. Throughout the summer the trail crew discussed the concept of "wilderness" and what it means to be an outdoor steward. The interns also had the opportunity to discuss an education in the biological sciences, what a PhD student was, and what types of careers put people close to nature. Rachel is interested in the connection between experience in the outdoors and career decisions later in life, particularly as they relate to the under-representation of people of color in the fields of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

Step-Up Youth

The Zuk Lab at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society 2016

Graduate student Becky Ehrlich and honorary lab member Virginia Heinen participated in an outreach fair at the University of Missouri this summer. In an interactive display, they spoke to several hundred visitors about our lab's work in evolutionary biology and what the crickets are teaching us about rapid evolution. Art (below) by Virginia Heinen tells the story of Teleogryllus oceanicus in Hawaii.

Quiet Crickets


Quiet Crickets

Dr Zuk at TEDWomen 2015

Dr Zuk traveled to California to give her "What We Learn from Insects' Kinky Sex Lives" talk at the TEDWomen conference. The talk has been viewed 1.4 million times to date -- you can view it here


Marlene Zuk at TEDWomen