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Celebrating Darwin and Evolution, SUNY ESF Students Show Off Research

Scott Willis/WAER News

SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry biology students are researching this year’s most compelling breakthroughs in evolutionary research, such as: fossil finds, species endangerment, and chemical resistance. Environmental forest and biology professor Rebecca Rundell says that almost 200 students have made posters revolving around Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“There’s some about the evolution of tortoises, some about the evolution of chemical defenses in insects.  All sort of very varied sorts of things.  One of them that was great was about these new sea otter fossils and the implications of the fossils in terms of our understanding of the evolution of sea otters.”

Kubinski and Hanan's work related the health of bees and bee hives with their role in agriculture and the economy.

For her project, sophomore Emma Kubinski and group member Eva Hannon looked at the effects of bee-keeping on the evolution and natural selection of honeybees. Kubinski says it’s sometimes beneficial to bring bees to new places. But, some practices can harm the overall health of bee hives.

The artificial selection of breeding doesn’t’ allow for natural selection to happen so you’re not having local adaptations.  There’s a lot of parasites and diseases hives deal with.  If natural selection was allowed to happen naturally, you would be able to maybe build up some resistance to those parasites or diseases.”

Kubinski says it’s an important time to make decisions that support the environment. She adds in today’s political climate, it’s as if there is a war on science.

“It’s frustrating because there have been thousands of people who have worked on certain studies on certain things and then one statement that completely discounts it all is so powerful coming from a certain person.”

Despite these ideas, Kupinski says students and faculty are optimistic and working harder than ever to raise awareness about science and the environment. The Darwin Day research exhibit will be on display for the next two weeks in SUNY E-S-F’s Moon Library Reading Room.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.