Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiits officially conference season!! For me at least. I have presented my old poster (the one I posted on my blog last yr around this time) twice in the past month at small, FAU research symposia, and now its time to debut my NEW poster for a conference next week in St. Pete. The conference is called AChemS and is a gathering of scientists that research the senses of taste and smell. Most of these researchers study mammals and conduct their experiments on mice and rats as models for what’s going on in humans. This is where I am set apart. There are few people studying taste/smell in fish and even fewer (about 3 wordwide) studying it in sharks and stingrays, like me. This is partly due to the lack of funding for research on anything that doesn’t have a direct human benefit (which of course irritates me). Getting funding from the big guys (National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health) is extremely difficult in today’s economic/political climate, and if you’re not trying to cure a human disease you can forget about NIH even looking at you….. so I understand.
ANYHOW, off my soapbox, and onto the point. Below is my masterpiece that I will be presenting next week at AChemS and in July at AES (Providence, RI). This is the 1st part of a project aimed at figuring out the organization of the “smell” centers of the shark/ray brain. Scientists have already discovered how those parts are arranged in mammals, birds, amphibians, other fishes, and even flies; but we haven’t completely figured it out for sharks/rays. There is preliminary evidence to suggest that their brains are organized differently than all the more evolved groups. This could impact our understanding of how the sense of smell evolved in vertebrates and how sharks and rays process odor information in their brain. Most of this work was done while I was out in Denver, CO working with the amazing Dr. Anne Hansen. She has been an unbelievably gracious mentor and is a coauthor on this poster.
Isn’t it pretty!?!!? 🙂