Celebrating Darwin and Evolution, SUNY ESF Students Show Off Research

Feb 21, 2018

Emma Kubinsky was one of some 200 students who conducted research related to some aspect o evolution and natural selection, honoring the work and theories of Charles Darwin.
Credit 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.