2019 Emory Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium

Morran lab undergrads Angela Choi, Heidi Choi, Helena Baffoe-Bonnie, Annie Kim, Dilys Osei, and Raythe Owens presented posters at the 2019 Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium. They each did excellent work this year, studying everything from mutualistic to parasitic interactions (including some commensalism, a novel topic for the Morran lab). Many thanks to the students for their efforts and many thanks to the great grad student, post doc, and research tech mentors in my lab.

Lab Outreach to Senior Citizens and Middle School Students

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Here is Kayla asking the students at Senior University of Greater Atlanta if they have any questions about sex. They had a lot of great questions!

Kayla Stoy spoke about the evolution of sexual reproduction to senior citizens attending a biology course through Senior University of Greater Atlanta.


Jordan talking with students about his career path, while successfully avoiding the topic of sex.

Jordan Lewis recently attended the 2019 Career Day at Liberty Middle School in Covington, Georgia. He spoke to 7th grade students about being a biologist and the path through college and into graduate school.

Great job team!

Science.Art.Wonder. Red Queen and Worms

The Morran lab teamed up with Ethan Mock for Science.Art.Wonder. again this year. And like last year, Ethan produced a very cool piece inspired by work in our lab. His work here uses chess pieces to demonstrate the Red Queen hypothesis, in which asexual pawns are ensnared by a coevolving parasite (the black string) while the outcrossing named pieces avoid overinfection by the parasite. Super cool, many thanks Ethan!

Morran lab undergraduate Heidi Choi went above and beyond with Science.Art.Wonder. this year by fulfilling the roles of both scientist and artist. Her research with grad student Kim Hoang, explores the evolution of beneficial host-microbial interactions using C. elegans as a host and Bacillus subtilis as a protective bacteria. Heidi’s piece is a drawing depicting her hand holding a plate of worms after heat-shock stress. Some worms have successfully paired with B. subtilis to increase their fitness after heat shock, while others were not as fortunate. Here in the lab, we love Heidi the scientist and Heidi the artist. Great work on both accounts!

Successful Defenses!

Congrats to Morran lab undergrads Helena Baffoe-Bonnie and Manraj Dua for successfully defending their Honors Thesis projects! Both were awarded Highest Honors and rocked their thesis writing and oral defense portions. Helena studied the evolution of host range/host specificity in Serratia marcescens parasites, while Manraj studied the genetics underlying C. elegans host resistance to S. marcescens parasites.


Helena and Levi after a successful defense. Manraj is not pictured because he was so excited he forgot to get a pic after his defense. 

New paper by Kim!

The first data chapter of Kim’s dissertation is now published in Ecology and Evolution. Here, Kim describes the protective effects of B. subtilis bacteria on C. elegans hosts under heat stress. While the bacteria are harmful under normal lab conditions, association with B. subtilis confers increased host fecundity after heat shock.

This work is part of an awesome collaborative project with the Gerardo lab at Emory.

Stay tuned for Kim’s experimental evolution chapters!

Happy Holidays from the Morran Lab!

Santa elegans

Santa elegans artwork and original idea credit goes to grad student Kim Hoang.

The members of the Morran lab (pictured according to our Hogwarts Houses) are eagerly awaiting our visit from Santa elegans. We’ve been good worm biologists (regularly chunking our worms and keeping those mites away) and look forward to all Santa elegans has in store for us this next year. We wish all you scientists and future scientists happy holidays, and we hope Santa elegans visits you too.


Levi’s Halloween Antics

Continuing a long-running Halloween prank, Levi dressed as his graduate advisor, Patrick Phillips. This year many people were in on the prank as well. There were Patricks everywhere on Halloween!

Many thanks to Katja Kasimatis, Asher Cutter, Hang Lu, Dave Baltrus, Rose Reynolds, Janna Fierst, Bryn Gaertner, Tim Ahearne, and the current Phillips lab members!