In Class Research

August 5, 2021 at 2:10 pm

Students enjoy diving into freshwater fish biology research in the Morris Lab

Undergraduate students Helen Stec (left) and Madison Parker (right) look into one of the large breeding mesocosm fish tanks in the Morris Lab.

Undergraduate students Helen Stec (left) and Madison Parker (right) look into one of the large breeding mesocosm fish tanks in the Morris Lab. | Photo by Ben Siegel/Ohio University

Excerpted from Ohio University News

A biology lab filled with thousands of freshwater fish from Mexico provides a hands-on setting for Ohio University students to examine how tiny, colorful swordtail fish are evolving and adapting.

Dr. Molly Morris, professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, provides plenty of experiential learning opportunities in her lab, where students report having fun while taking care of the fish, developing their own research projects and acquiring aquatic biology-related jobs when they graduate.

The Morris Laboratory houses several species of swordtail fish that researchers study, looking at how their mating behaviors evolve and how they communicate, reproduce, and adapt to stress.

Currently, the lab houses 2,000 fish, with some in individual tanks and others in large breeding mesocosms.

“I have felt very supported by Ohio University in terms of maintaining this huge colony efficiently,” Morris said.

Students who work in the lab divide their time between maintaining the fish, getting involved in a research project and reporting each week in a group meeting about how their research is going. They also read and discuss current research articles each week, Morris explained.

“I always like to tell them that you can do [research] one of two ways. You can sort of really focus in on one project and contribute enough that even in one semester you may be a coauthor on a publication. You can also look at it from the perspective of, ‘I want to learn as many different skills in the lab as possible during my time here,’” Morris said.

Graduate students and undergraduate students are able to work and learn together in the Morris Lab.

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