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Metabarcoding for characterizing wild animal diets

DNA metabarcoding is the large-scale taxonomic identification of complex environmental samples via analysis of DNA sequences for short regions of one or a few genes. The technique is widely used to determine wild animal diets, but whether this technique provides accurate, quantitative measurements is still under debate. A team of SBS researchers set out to test […]

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Social Distancing in Urban Wildlife

When visiting cities, coyotes seem to prefer the nightlife while deer and squirrels would rather be home before dark. That’s the finding of new research from scientists at the University of Utah who found that mammals in urban environments shifted the timing of their daily activities, likely to avoid encountering humans. Austin Green, PhD candidate […]

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‘Solidarity’ is theme for Pride Week 3/28-4/1

Pride Week at the U is an annual event honoring LGBTQIA+ histories, cultures, and lives! Join SBS and everyone at the University of Utah for this week-long series of events to learn, celebrate, and be inspired. Pride Week is planned by a volunteer committee of students, faculty, and staff collaborating across the university. All are […]

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Johanna Varner’s 3D-Print Double

Some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in history—including the research that led to mRNA vaccines—were pioneered by women. While history has shown that women are integral to scientific advancement, the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) landscape is still highly inequitable. In honor of Women’s History Month, consider the story of SBS alumna, PhD’15, […]

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Audrey Brown

“One of the biggest things that helped me was connecting with my loved ones.” When the pandemic first emerged in early 2020 Audrey Brown, HBS’21, found that online classes were novel at first, “but I quickly found myself losing motivation and becoming depressed/anxious due to the day-to-day Zoom monotony and the never-ending doomsday news on […]

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Sarmishta Kannan

For Sarmishta Diraviam Kannan, HBS’17, the journey to her “dream school” – the University’s School of Medicine – spanned about 25 years and some 8,780 miles. Sarmishta was born in Tamil Nadu, India, which is located on the southern tip of the Indian sub-continent. In addition to the long history of the Tamil people, Tamil […]

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Desert shrubs cranked up water use efficiency to survive a megadrought

It may not be enough. Shrubs in the desert Southwest have increased their water use efficiency at some of the highest rates ever observed to cope with a decades-long megadrought. That’s the finding of a new study from University of Utah researchers, who found that although the shrubs’ efficiency increases are unprecedented and heroic, they […]

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Woodrat microbiomes: It’s who you are that matters most

More than diet or geography, evolutionary history has the strongest influence on bacterial gut communities in both wild and captive woodrats. Every mammal hosts a hidden community of other organisms—the microbiome. Their intestines teem with complex microbial populations that are critical for nutrition, fighting disease and degrading harmful toxins. Throughout their lives, mammals are exposed […]

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Nerd with a passion for the outdoors

Growing up on a hobby farm in the Pacific Northwest, Shelley Reich developed a keen interest in biology, especially genetics and animal behavior. She fondly recalls the imprinted ducklings that followed her around the farm, litters of Australian shepherd puppies her family raised, and the acrobatics of newborn calves not even 24-hours old. In addition […]

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Austin Green

I began my research career in 2013 as an undergraduate in the Şekercioğlu Lab at the School of Biological Sciences. At the time, my research interests were very broad. All I knew for certain was that I wanted to do lots of fieldwork, so I started a small-scale project in Red Butte Canyon using camera […]

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The Concrete Jungle’s impact on mammal biodiversity

City dwellers seldom experience the near-reverence of watching deer walk through their yards, both for a lack of deer and, often, a lack of a yard. In cities, not everyone has the same experiences with nature. That means that the positive effects of those experiences—such as mental health benefits—and the negative effects—such as vehicle strikes—are […]

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Food claiming to have ‘wild mushrooms’ rarely does

DNA barcoding revealed products mostly contain cultivated fungi, and a few poisonous mushrooms Harvesting wild mushrooms requires an expert eye to distinguish between the delicious and the inedible. Misidentification can have a range of consequences, from a disgusting taste and mild illness to organ failure and even death. Culinary wild mushrooms staples, such as truffles […]

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David Almanzar

David Almanzar came to the University of Utah in 2016 to pursue his PhD following his undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts. There he conducted research as an undergrad in Rolf Karlstrom’s lab, imaging neurons in the brains of fish. Today, working in the lab of Dr. Ofer Rog, Almanzar works on understanding how […]

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Birds at risk of extinction

The lush forests and more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines hold a rich diversity of life, with 258 bird species who live nowhere but the Philippine archipelago. A new study from University of Utah researchers suggests that, due to deforestation and habitat degradation, more bird species may be endangered that previously thought – including […]

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Kyle Kittelberger

For graduate students, getting research published in a peer-reviewed journal is arguably the gold standard and the kind of academic cachet that can help propel a budding academic and researcher into the stratosphere. Even one publication is impressive. For Kyle Kittelberger, “pubs” are turning into a regular affair. In this year alone (2021) he’s seen […]

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Swing Out (Meiotic) Sister

    March 20, 2021 – Sexual reproduction shuffles the parental genomes to generate new genetic combinations. To achieve that, the genome is subjected to numerous breaks, the repair of which involves two crucial decisions: repair pathway and repair template. In a new paper by SBS graduate students David E. Almanzar, Spencer G. Gordon and […]

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Tracking Wildlife During the Pandemic

March 30, 2021 -For scientists, especially graduate students, who conduct fieldwork, every day is precious. Researchers meticulously prepare their equipment, procedures and timelines to make sure they get the data they need to do good science. So you can imagine the collective anxiety that fell across academia in spring 2020 when COVID-19 struck and many […]

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Jordan Herman

Few encounter a fer-de-lance snake and walk away unscathed. While working in Costa Rica recent School of Biological Sciences (SBS) graduate Jordan Herman (PhD’20) moved closer to observe a toucan dismembering the green iguana it was having for lunch. When the bird took off and dropped half of it, Herman picked up the iguana’s tail […]

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