Dr. Robyn Crook and her family welcomed their second child, Isabelle Margot, on July 9th 2019. Dr. Crook is on maternity leave until January 2020, and the lab is not currently accepting students for the coming Fall or Spring semesters. Prospective Masters students interested in admission for the Fall 2020 semester are welcome to apply in the incoming admissions cycle.
Crook Lab Masters student, Hanna Butler-Struben, was accepted into the PhD program in Animal Behavior at UC Davis. Hanna graduated from SFSU with her Masters degree in 2018. She will be working in the field of applied animal welfare. Using her knowledge in pain physiology, she will study how injury can affect behavior and cognition in dairy cattle. Having an applied focus to her project, the ultimate goal is to create better welfare practices that can be used by the dairy industry. Congratulations Hanna!!
The Crook Lab’s research on cephalopod brains, pain and the evolution of complex cognitive states was profiled on German Public Radio, in an article titled “Aliens in the Ocean” about new advancements in understanding the evolution of complex brains using cephalopod mollusks. (article and audio in German)
“Plant cognition” is a hot topic. Whether plants can learn about and remember their prior experiences is the subject of several recent research studies proposing that classical conditioning occurs in pea and mimosa plants. Professors Andy Zink and Robyn Crook were mentioned in a recent article in Discover Magazine outlining the controversy and problems replicating these astounding results.
Congratulations to Stephanie Bazarini, who successfully defended her thesis titled “Effects of ethinyl estradiol on injury-induced plasticity in Euprymna scolopes” on May 22nd. Stephanie’s work showed that exposure to both low and high doses of this environmental pollutant interferes with neural plasticity and alters behavioral maturation in squid; the first time that an effect on sensory physiology has been reported in cephalopods exposed to environmental estrogens. Stephanie will spend the summer collecting some additional data on neuroanatomy in her subjects, and will be applying to PhD programs in the Fall. Great work Stephanie!
The Crook Lab’s work on the evolution of pain was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition on May 20th. The segment titled “How the Brain Shapes Pain and Links Ouch with Emotion” featured several researchers working in different aspects of pain physiology and a chronic pain patient discussing his experience with managing life-long pain. Read the associated article (with a link to the audio) here
Congratulations to Vivien Enriquez, who successfully defended her thesis titled “Influence of Vibrio fischeri colonization on Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) behavior and survival” on May 17th. In her project, Vivien demonstrated that ambient light levels have differential effects on squid survival in the absence of their symbiont, V. fischeri, and that hunting behavior matures differently in aposymbiotic squid reared in different levels of ambient light. Vivian’s work will be submitted for publication in the current months, and Vivien is off to UCLA to start her PhD in the Fall. Great work Vivien!!
Congratulations to Ryan Howard, who successfully defended his thesis titled “The influence of nociceptive sensitization and self-referential visual cues from superficial injuries on camouflage behaviors of Indo-Pacific Octopuses” on May 14th. In his study, Ryan demonstrated the first evidence for visual self-referencing of skin camouflage match in cephalopods, and showed that nociceptive cues are necessary to drive this hyper-vigilant inspection behavior. Ryan will be publishing his work in the coming months (look out for his paper on the Publications page!) and applying to PhD programs in the Fall. Great work Ryan!!
After winning her local division in the SFSU research competition, this weekend Stephanie traveled to CSU Fullerton to compete in the annual CSU-wide research presentation contest. This contest features graduate researchers from all CSU campuses, who are judged based on the quality of their written report of the their research and a 15-minute presentation. Stephanie’s work on the effects of environmental estrogens on injury-induced plasticity received excellent reviews from attendees and judges alike. Congratulations Stephanie!!
Masters student Vivien Enriquez (Class of 2019) was accepted to the Biology PhD Program at UCLA, and was awarded the Eugene V. Cota Robles Fellowship for PhD study. Vivien will defend her MS thesis in the Spring and then head off to UCLA to continue her great work on microbiomes. Congratulations Vivien!!
SFSU Physiology faculty members Dr. Robyn Crook and Dr. Megumi Fuse presented their lab groups’ work on comparative models of nociceptive sensitization at the Royal Society at Chichley Hall, Milton Keynes, UK. This conference focused on evolution of pain-like behavior in a wide range of species, and brought together researchers working on humans, rodents and a range of invertebrate models. Look out for a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. coming out in the next few months, which will contain contributed articles from conference attendees, including papers from both the Crook and Fuse labs.
In this month’s issue of Nature Lab Animal, journalist Ellen Neff writes in detail about progress on cephalopod husbandry and welfare. The Crook Lab’s work on nociception, pain and anesthesia is featured in detail. The article can be downloaded free of charge here.
This week Masters students Vivien Enriquez and Stephanie Bazarini attended the annual SICB meeting, this year in Tampa, Florida. Both students gave oral presentations on their Masters theses. Vivian’s presentation was titled “Effects ofVibrio fischeri colonization on cognition, foraging behavior, and survival in the Hawaiian bobtail squid”, and Stephanie’s presentation was titled “Effects of Ethinyl Estradiol on Injury-Induced Plasticity in Euprymna scolopes”. Congratulations to Vivien and Stephanie for two excellent presentations!
Masters student Ryan Howard and PI Robyn Crook attended the CIAC meeting in Florida from Nov 12-16. Dr. Crook also attended a pre-meeting workshop on policy and welfare of cephalopods in research settings. The lab presented three posters, on learning behavior of Eupyrmna, effects of early-life injury on Euprymna behavior and neural excitability, and on how injury affects camouflage decisions in octopuses. The lab also gave a lightning talk on new work on cephalopod anesthesia, presented by collaborator Dr. Lisa Abbo.
Congratulations to Masters students Vivien Enriquez and Stephanie Bazarini, who had their abstracts accepted for poster presentations at the AAAS annual meeting in Washington DC, in February of 2019. Stephanie will be presenting her work on the interaction of injury and estrogenic pollutants, and Vivien will present her study of behavioral effects of Vibrio colonization on the bobtail squid.
Thanks to the amazing work being done on cephalopod culture at the Marine Biological Laboratory, the lab received a shipment of Euprymna berryi eggs to raise. This species is similar to E. scolopes but is reported to have higher hatchling survival from eggs. We’re looking forward to seeing how they grow up!
Dr. Robyn Crook spoke at Nerd Nite SF about research on invertebrate pain. Link coming soon!
Masters Student Stephanie Bazarini and Dr. Crook presented talks at the 9th Annual Aquatic Models of Human Disease Conference at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and also enjoyed some Cape Cod lobsters!