A happy and sad farewell

Congrats to Morran lab tech/manager extraordinaire, McKenna Penley, on receiving her MPH and immediately landing a great job at the CDC! We are all very proud of you and happy for you.

Levi and McKenna founded the Morran lab in 2014, after working together from 2010 through 2013 at Indiana University. McKenna’s hard work, intelligence, values, and friendly demeanor played a major role in shaping the positive and supportive culture of the lab. McKenna led many successful projects and trained over 20 undergraduates and 10 graduate students in the lab. She will be greatly missed, but we are all very excited to see her pursue her dream. Its also quite nice that she won’t be too far away.


McKenna with Josh enjoying post-worm life.

Michelle wins SSE’s Lewontin Award

Congrats to new Morran lab graduate student, Michelle McCauley, on being awarded an R.C. Lewontin graduate research excellence grant from the Society for the Study of Evolution! Michelle will use the award to test the capability of multiple selective factors to act synergistically to favor the evolution of sex. Welcome aboard, we look forward to working with you!


Michelle finding joy in hand sanitizing several months into quarantine

New papers from Mandy and Signe

New papers led by former Morran lab members Mandy Gibson and Signe White explore the effects of host genotype diversity on parasite evolution.

This paper by Mandy tests the host population’s impact on the evolution of parasite host range.

This paper by Signe tests the role of host population diversity in the rate of parasite evolution.

This paper by Mandy tests how parasites adapt to common versus rare host genotypes.

Great work Team!

Major undergraduate accomplishments

Morran lab undergrads, Raythe Owens and Arthur Menezes, successfully defended their honors theses, earning High Honors in Biology. Raythe studied the effects of parasite avoidance on the evolution of alternate host defense mechanisms in C. elegans. Arthur investigated the effects of virulence evolution on antibiotic resistance in populations of Serratia marcescens. In addition to achieving honors, Arthur was also awarded the Darrel Stokes Award by Emory’s Department of Biology. The Stokes award honors an undergraduate that has made substantial contributions to the research, teaching, and service missions of the department.

Raythe will attend the University of Colorado Boulder to pursue his PhD in Chemistry. Arthur will attend Princeton University and pursue his PhD in Ecology and Evolution. Congrats to both Arthur and Raythe! The Morran lab will miss you greatly.

Tenure, a mentorship award, and a mullet for Levi

Levi was recently awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor. Additionally, he won the mentor of the year award in Emory’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences thanks to a gracious and highly secretive nomination put together by the lab. Levi celebrated in the midst of quarantine by convincing his wife to cut his hair in mullet fashion. He is quite pleased with the outcome, his wife does not share his enthusiasm.


Needs a little more party in the back.

Mutiny in the Morran Lab

The lab (along with honorary member Sandra Mendiola) recently mutinied against me (Levi) to commemorate my tenure talk. They filled my office with 200 balloons, a cardboard cutout of me (not pictured), and a creepy clown picture (thankfully not pictured). Then, in move of pure evil genius, they used Photoshop to frame Jaap de Roode for the prank. Needless to say, I was impressed and felt quite loved.

Thanks team!

Also, popping 200 balloons is an excellent therapeutic activity for the end of the semester.