Researcher Laura Corley Lavine to speak on campus March 7
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Laura Corley Lavine, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University, will present a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, in 70 Van Allen Hall on the University of Iowa campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Photo courtesy of University of Montana.
Lavine’s research focuses on the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying the evolution of sexually selected traits.
Through funding from a National Science Foundation grant, she and her lab team work closely with Doug Emlen of the University of Montana to study the exaggerated and diverse horns of scarab beetles and the mandibles of stag beetles whose extreme size attract potential mates and warns away lesser rivals.
The results of experiments designed to disturb the insulin-signaling pathway in Japanese rhinoceros beetles led them to infer that the exaggerated structures—the horns—are more sensitive to signaling through this physiological pathway than are other traits. The developing horns in big, fit, well-fed males are drenched with the hormone, spurring exaggerated horn growth.
On the flip side, a small, less-fit male receives less of the horn-boosting hormone, stunting growth of its weapon. Additional studies have tied this same physiological pathway to growth of crab pincer claws and antlers on deer, caribou, elk, and moose.
Lavine is also studying the genetic basis for insecticide resistance in insects common in the state of Washington. She is committed to engaging children in the world of insects through her involvement in Insect Expo, Insect Feed, and tours of the WSU Entomology Museum.
The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Delta Center, and the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development are sponsoring the lecture.
Watch video of the beetles Lavine studies.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend, contact Ellen Heywood in advance at 319-353-5562.