We believe that sharing our research with the public is a critically important part of our job as publicly funded scientists. We have several outreach projects to share our work with the community.
Songs by the Kingsolver Lab
Some of the more musically inclined members of the lab have written songs about our research!
Hands-On Caterpillar Activities
We have developed an outreach activity to teach elementary school children about thermal performance in ectotherms. Children measure the body temperatures and feeding rates of Manduca sexta caterpillars when they are maintained in a hot environment (on hot packs) or in a cold environment (on ice) and plot the data that they collect. Students learn about the difference between ectotherms and endotherms, the scientific method, and graphing and interpreting data. We have brought the activity to classrooms, scouting groups and science festivals, and it is popular with a broad range of audiences. In addition, our materials are freely available on our website. For help using the activity in your classroom or to request an in person visit, please contact graduate students Kate Augustine (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Elizabeth Moore (email@example.com).
Mason Farm Butterflies
The Mason Farm Butterfly Project is a collaboration between our lab and the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. This summer, members of the Kingsolver lab are monitoring butterflies at Mason Farm Biological Reserve in Chapel Hill, NC to track species’ abundances and flight times. Mason Farm is a nature preserve managed by the NC Botanical Gardens. More than 100 species of butterflies have been observed at Mason Farm. To join our efforts by collecting your own observations of butterflies at Mason Farm, please visit How to Join.
Jessica and Sarah write a blog Butterflies and Science, where they and guest researchers regularly discuss recent scientific research (including their own) on ecology and evolution of butterflies.
As the instructor of the non-majors course in evolution Evolution and Life (Bio 213), Joel uses podcast production as a toolsto help students explore concepts in evolution. In collaboration with the Education and Outreach staff at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), students learn to research and produce podcasts on evolutionary topics. Student-produced podcasts have now become an important (and popular) part of this course. You can listen to some of the podcasts at NESCent’s website.
Joel has long been interested in using graphically-based software for understanding and applying quantitative models in biology. Working with a biology textbook writer (Jon Herron), a software developer (Eli Meir) and others, they created Evobeaker (Symbiotic Software), a program for teaching key concepts in evolutionary biology in majors and non-majors biology courses. To date Evobeaker has 11 lab modules, and has been used by thousands of students in hundreds of classes.
Use EvoBeaker in Your Classroom
Speaking to the larger community is an important part of our job. Joel has been a regular speaker and participant in UNC’s continuing education programs, including What’s the Big Idea and Adventures in Ideas. Joel also serves on advisory board for the UNC Program in the Humanities to provide scientific perspective and input into their programs. If you’d like to request a speaker on butterfly evolution and climate change, please contact Joel Kingsolver, Jessica Higgins, or Sarah Seiter.