Introducing BEACON’s New Science Outreach and Communication Postdocs

Alexa Warwick out in the field at night with her study organism, the Pine Barrens Treefrog.

This post is by MSU postdoc Alexa Warwick.

Alexa Warwick is the new Evolution Education and Outreach Postdoc at BEACON working with Dr. Louise Mead.

Alexa worked on her Ph.D. with Drs. Emily Lemmon and Joseph Travis at Florida State University focusing on the ecology, evolution, and conservation of the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii; Fig. 1). At BEACON, she will be coordinating three established outreach programs that were previously run by Dr. Jory Weintraub. These annual programs include the Darwin Day Roadshow, Ecology and Evolution events at the National SACNAS Conference, and the Undergraduate Diversity Travel Award to attend the Evolution meetings (this year in Austin, TX; award applications due April 18th!). The programs are collectively sponsored by BEACON, the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Society of Naturalists.

Fig 1. The Pine Barrens Treefrog has a unique species distribution across three isolated regions in the eastern United States.

In addition to these national outreach programs, Alexa will also be involved with developing and assessing other outreach/education projects. One of these projects is an efficacy study of Data Nuggets in high school biology classes. Data Nuggets are an exciting way to introduce K-16 students to real scientists and authentic research data, while also helping scientists increase their broader impacts. Alexa is passionate about effectively engaging students and the general public with science research, so feel free to contact her with other ideas for outreach/education collaborations!

She will also be continuing to do research on amphibians while at BEACON. For example, she is working with Dr. Elise Zipkin’s lab at MSU and SPARC-net, a regional group working to understand climate and land use change on salamander population dynamics. For this project salamander sampling plots will be established at the Kellogg Biological Station and the data collected there will be combined with similar plots across the northeastern United States.

A gladiator frog (Hypsiboas pugnax) that Alexa caught in the lowlands of Colombia.

Alexa’s other research interests include studying the evolutionary history of organisms using genomic data (phylogeography/phylogenetics) and the effects of behavioral interactions on the evolution of species (sexual selection). Her work on the Pine Barrens Treefrog has addressed the origin and maintenance of its unique distribution (Fig. 1), and she has recently started working with gladiator frogs (genus: Hypsiboas) in South America. This is a fascinating group of frogs with rather unusual behaviors; they actually get their common name from the male-male combats that occur using a spine on their ‘thumbs’. Check out Alexa’s website for more details about current research projects or send her an email at awarwick [at]

Also check out our other two previous New Science Outreach and Communication Postdocs posts by Wendy Smythe and Travis Hagey

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