Moran to present Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nancy Moran, Leslie Surginer Endowed Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, will present the Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on Dec. 8 and 9. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series includes a specialized lecture, titled "Genomics of gut microbial communities in honey bees and bumble bees," which will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, in 8 Mueller Laboratory. Moran also will give a lecture intended for a general audience, titled "How microorganisms govern insect evolution and ecology," at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, in 100 Huck Life Sciences Building. A reception will be held at the conclusion of the Tuesday seminar in the Willaman Gateway, on the Third-Floor bridge of the Huck Life Sciences Building.

Moran is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology. Her current research includes studies of heritable bacterial symbionts in sap-feeding insects and of the bacterial gut symbionts living in honey bees and bumble bees. She has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, most of them reporting original findings on insect symbiosis and bacterial genomics.

Moran's lecture on genomics of gut microbial communities in honey bees and bumble bees will include information about the specialized bacterial species that honey bees and bumble bees have in their guts and that are not found in other environments nor in most other bees and insects. She will describe new research strategies for inoculating bees at a critical stage of their development with known bacterial strains, enabling further experiments on their effects on the bees' biology and potentially enabling the development of probiotics for honey bees. Moran's lecture on how microorganisms govern insect evolution and ecology will explore the revelations of recent research about the role of symbiotic micro-organisms in insects in long-term or short-term evolutionary and ecological processes.

Moran obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Texas (Plan II) in 1976 and a doctorate degree in zoology from the University of Michigan in 1982. She was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow from 1984 to 1986 at Northern Arizona University. From 1986 to 2010, she served on the faculty of the University of Arizona in the Department of Entomology, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She moved to Yale University as the William H. Fleming Professor of Biology in 2010. She started her current position at the University of Texas at Austin in August 2013. At Arizona, she was elected as a Galileo Fellow and a Regents' Professor, and she received the Alumni Association Extraordinary Faculty Award. In 2010, she received the International Prize for Biology awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and in 2014 she received the James Tiedje Award for lifetime contribution in microbial ecology.

She has mentored more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, almost all of whom now are established as independent researchers, mostly focusing on aspects of insect symbioses. She also has sponsored many undergraduate researchers, taught evolutionary biology to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, and established a high-school research laboratory and course in which students conduct research on local insects. She has served as president of the Society for the Study of Evolution and as an editor for several journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, PloS-Biology, PLoS-Genetics and Genome Biology and Evolution.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences and physics. For more information about the lectures, contact Stephanie Gookin at or 814-865-4562.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015