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An Open-Air Laboratory

An Open-Air LaboratoryAn experiment using butterflies to study the connection between nutrition and reproductive success sets up shop on the Academic Quad.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.12.10] Tents appeared on the Academic Quad last week, but they weren't for camping; they were for research.

Natasha Tigreros, a Ph.D. biology student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences working in the lab of Prof. Sara Lewis, is examining the connection between juvenile nutrition and adult health and performance in butterflies, particularly mating behavior.

As part of the research, Tigreros and two undergraduates released male and female cabbage white butterflies into a mesh tent erected on the Quad. Here they will be able to study their mating behavior in an outdoor environment that is more realistic than the indoor laboratory.

Watch Tigreros discuss the research and see the setup on the Quad:

The research is supported by an award to the biology department from the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program.

"It's been incredible," says rising sophomore Emma Sass of participating in lab research as an undergrad. "It's been great to see what it is like and follow the process, from jumping in on the plan to seeing it through and making it happen-and hopefully getting interesting results."

Text by Georgiana Cohen, Office of Web Communications
Video production by Georgiana Cohen and Kaitlin Provencher, Office of Web Communications

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