Good luck, Spiro and Colleen!

Today, Morrislab says farewell to its first two alumni, Spiro Papoulis and Colleen Clark. We went out for some semi-fancy Italian grub tonight, and they graduate tomorrow from Michigan State. It was a bittersweet evening for me; I’ve really enjoyed working with these guys and I’m going to miss them a lot, but at the same time I’m proud of them and happy to see them moving on to the next best thing (and hopefully spreading word about how awesome Morrislab is).

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Spiro joined the lab in 2012 and has accomplished quite a bit. He’s a co-author on the lab’s recent paper in Evolution and he also spearheaded a project using the computer platform Avida to look at long-term phylogenies in communities stabilized by Black Queen functions. He’ll be presenting that work this summer at AbSciCon in Chicago and you should definitely check him out if you get the chance. Spiro will be moving on to earn his Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Tennessee in the fall.

Colleen has only been in the lab since the end of last summer, when she was recommended to me by Rob Britton. Nevertheless, she accomplished a lot in that short time. She conducted two 500-generation evolution experiments looking at the outcomes of Black Queen systems that started out with 2 “species” that weren’t in direct competition with each other. We’re still polishing that study up but we hope to have a manuscript ready by the end of the summer and she will be second author. Colleen is going to take a couple of months off to enjoy the summer before diving in to the “real world”. She hopes to work on the managerial/public interaction side of science, and has been considering positions in government labs (such as FDA). Best of luck Colleen!

At Morrislab, undergrad researchers are just that — researchers. We don’t use our undergrads as lab rats or “dish pigs”. From day one Spiro and Colleen were working on a real project with the idea they would see it through to the end and publish. We’ll continue providing that kind of experience for undergrads at our new digs in Birmingham.

At dinner tonight, Spiro told me that he was going to treat his undergrad assistants just like he was treated. That sort of thing is what makes the long days worth it. You do that Spiro! (…and tell them they want to come to UAB for grad school!)

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