The Lizard Log

The Langkilde Lab in Action

New Kid on the Block

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Hello, my name is Dustin Owen and I’m one of three new PhD students in Tracy Langkilde’s Lab. I’m originally from east-central Indiana where I got my B.S degree in Biology from Ball State University. While there I was able to work on a lot of different questions on a lot of different organisms. My first research project was on the allometry of shell morphology in a freshwater snail, Elimia livescens, in Dr. Mark Pyron‘s Lab. After that I worked on several other projects including looking at hydrology and freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) with Dr. Pyron, artificial scent and small mammal trapping and various bat projects with Dr. Timothy Carter, and even my own independent research project on how roads impact the stress physiology of copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix).


Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) on a gravel road.

After my undergrad, I went to Austin Peay State University and continued my interest in stress physiology and reptiles. While there, I studied stress physiology in several species of snakes.


Racer (Coluber constrictor) Selfie

Now that I’m here at Penn State I plan on continuing my interest in stress physiology, using the invasive Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) and Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus). While I have never directly studied Fence Lizards in the past, I have assisted expert Fence Lizard catcher Kris Wild on his Master’s Thesis work on fire and Fence Lizards. Now, armed with my new Kris Wild custom lizard noose, “The Pub Maker”, I’m ready to lay siege to some fence lizards in the name of science!

In my spare time I enjoy being outside, football, basketball, and hanging out with my girlfriend Heather. I also enjoy exploring with my niece Lilly. Teaching her about biology (she’s especially interested in bats and snakes) has been one of the greatest joys in my life. One day, she’ll be a far greater biologist than I’ll ever be, but until then I’m happy just taking her outside and watching her learn about nature.


Me with a juvenile Common Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) and Lilly with a Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus).

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