The Lizard Log

The Langkilde Lab in Action

From Brazil to Happy Valley

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Hi everyone, my name is Braulio, and I’m one of the three new members of the Langkilde lab in 2015. I come from Brazil, where I got my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Universidade Vila Velha. My first research experiences as an undergrad were related to the effects of toxic compounds, natural or synthetic, on the activity of enzymes related to oxidative stress in plants and vertebrates.

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Me as an undergrad in Brazil

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After graduating, I joined the M.S. in Biology program at Adelphi University in Long Island, NY. Since then, my research interests have shifted towards the study of evolution, particularly sexual selection. Some of the questions I would like to answer in the future are why do some animals exhibit such unusual mating behaviors and under what circumstances can certain sexual traits become advantageous.

During my years at Adelphi I worked with a fascinating species of orb-weaving spider that has some unusual mating behaviors, including, but not limited to, sexual cannibalism and spontaneous male death.

Now that I am part of the Langkilde lab, I want to follow up on the research being done here and further investigate the adaptive significance of male ornaments on female fence lizards (a.k.a. “bearded ladies”). Since previous lab members have demonstrated that they are unattractive to males (as you would expect), we still don’t understand how they are so frequent in certain populations. We suspect that male ornaments might come as a side-effect of high testosterone, which could be advantageous to females in certain situations. For instance, they could be faster runners or exhibit more aggressive behaviors (stay tuned…).

In my free time, I like doing sports (especially swimming), playing Nintendo video games and playing the electric bass.

My first impressions of the lab, the people and the town of State College are that people are indeed happy here in Happy Valley. I like the friendly atmosphere and the variety of outdoors activities that can be done around here. I’ve been slowly getting into the some of American sports, mostly baseball and hockey. I still don’t get what’s the big deal with American football, but maybe being at Penn State will change that in the future.

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