Lily Hughes, Fifth Year Masters

Lily in Alaska
Lily in Alaska

I became involved with the Foster/Baker lab in 2009, and joined the lab in British Colombia and Alaska in the summer of 2010. While in the field, I helped with behavioral observations, collections, and took reflectance measurements of male stickleback nuptial and parental color. Upon returning to Worcester, I used my Traina Scholarship to conduct research on assortative mating in male benthic and limnetic sticklebacks, which I am continuing in my 5th year Master’s research.

My Master’s research examines whether male stickleback from benthic-like and limnetic-like allopatric populations have a preference for females of their own ecotype. Among allopatric populations, previous research has indicated that female stickleback from allopatric populations mate assortatively with males of the same ecotype. Since stickleback exhibit mutual mate choice, I chose to focus on whether the males in allopatric limnetic and benthic populations show preference for females of their own ecotype, using four populations of each ecotype. This research considers how adaptive divergence and isolation can drive speciation. Additionally, it examines whether these differences would be maintained in the case of secondary contact, further enforcing speciation or leading to the collapse of two unique populations into a single hybrid population.

Additional Research
My first experience in biology research was through an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at Fordham University, in a vector ecology lab. In the summer of 2011, I was awarded a Henry J. Lier scholarship to intern at the Centre de Recherche Public-Gabriel Lippmann in Belvaux, Luxembourg. There I assisted on a research project in a laboratory studying biogas, focusing on microbiology.

Outside the lab:
When not in the lab, you might find me working at Clark’s safety escort service, baking (I make excellent scones), or listening to folk and bluegrass music.

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