Scorpion Lab News

[February 2023]

Doug is featured in the OU library’s Profiles in Open initiative

Doug discusses how open access publication has increased the visibility of recent scorpion lab publications.

New scorpion podcast

Walker Creasman produced a great new podcast called “VenoTALKsic Scorpions” for his elementary school project. Nice job Walker!

Walker accepts award for his podcast.

[December 2022]

Alexis graduates with honors

Alexis successfully defended her thesis exploring path integration in sand scorpions and graduated with her honors degree in biology. Congratulations Alexis!

Alexis receives her diploma at the December graduation ceremony.

[August 2022]

Hannah starts vet school at LSU

Hannah defended her honors thesis and has moved to Baton Rouge to begin her journey of becoming a veterinarian. Good luck Hannah!

Left: Hannah at LSU with her dogs who appear conflicted in their loyalties (L: Henry, R: Eddie). Right: Hannah after her blue coat ceremony.

[June 2022]

Hannah and Alexis presented at the American Arachnology meeting

Hannah and Alexis successfully presented their research at the American Arachnology annual meeting at University of California, Davis. Hannah gave an oral presentation and Alexis presented a poster.

From left: Hannah and Alexis before Hannah’s talk; Hannah in action; Alexis in action; Hannah and Alexis after the pressure was off.

[April 2022]

Alexis and Hannah receive URD awards

Alexis and Hannah received awards at the Honors College Awards Ceremony for their presentations at the recent Undergraduate Research Day. Alexis took home top honors from the Honors College in the Biological Sciences category and Hannah was selected by the Biology Department as a co-recipient of the Vad Award for Best Presentation at Undergraduate Research Day. Congratulations to Alexis & Hannah!

Alexis Merchant (left) and Hannah Peeples (right) are flanked by Rich Hamerla (Dean, Honors College) and Doug Gaffin.

[April 2022]

Maria honored at McNair Scholars Banquet

Maria Muñoz was honored as a McNair Scholars graduate at the annual OU McNair Scholars Achievement Banquet. Maria accepted a prestigious offer for graduate school in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois. Congratulation Maria and best of success in graduate school!

Maria Muñoz (center) with the director of the McNair Scholars program, Sophia Bolin-Dills (left) and her research advisor, Doug Gaffin (right).

[April 2022]

Alexis and Hannah presented at URD 2022

Alexis Merchant and Hannah Peeples gave outstanding presentations at the latest incarnation of OU’s Undergraduate Research Day. Alexis presented her work titled “Homing by path integration in desert grassland scorpions” and Hannah presented on “Assessment of the mechanosensory responses of peg sensilla on scorpion pectines.”

Doug, Alexis, and Hannah imitate their favorite animal after URD 2022.

Safra successfully defended her honors thesis.

[December 2021]

Safra Shakir successfully defended her honors thesis titled “Analysis of synaptic integration in peg sensilla of scorpion pectines.” A lot of her work also appears in a recent publication for a special collection in “Insect Senses: From Perception to Cognition.” Congratulations Safra!

Alexis and Hannah receive UROP awards to support their research.

[October 2021]

Alexis Merchant and Hannah Peeples received funding from the OU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Alexis is testing if scorpions show a form of navigation called path integration and Hannah is using electrophysiology to investigate the response properties of touch sensitive neurons in peg sensilla on scorpion pectines. Congratulations Alexis & Hannah!

New video featuring Dr. Carl Kloock highlights scorpion fluorescence.

[September 2021]

Dr. Carl Kloock of Cal State Bakersfield discusses the various hypotheses related to scorpion fluorescence in this Veritasium YouTube video.

Abby Kundu makes recordings from solifuge sensilla

[August 2021]

Pallabi (“Abby”) Kundu from the Hebets lab visited OU and made several electrophysiological recordings from long hair sensilla on the hind legs of solifuges.

Synaptic integration in peg sensilla talk at 2021 Virtual AAS

[June 30, 2021]

Watch this presentation to learn a bit more about how neurons interact in peg sensilla on scorpion pectines and how it might relate to navigation.

Learning walk presentation at the 2021 Virtual AAS

[June 30, 2021]

Doug discusses our discovery of learning walks in sand scorpions and how this behavior might be related to home burrow navigation at the 2021 virtual meeting of the American Arachnological Society.

KQED produces a new DEEP LOOK video on scorpion pectines.

[May 5, 2021]

Check out this awesome new video from KQED in San Francisco highlighting scorpion pectines — all the way down to the peg sensilla!

Jacob presents at URD 2021

[April 9, 2021]

Jacob Sims successfully presented his work titled “Testing Scorpion Behavior Under Natural UV Conditions” at OU’s Undergraduate Research Day 2021.

Professor Piers Hale’s beekeeping journey.

[Dec 2020]

Read about how an encounter at a local lake spurred OU professor Piers Hale to take up beekeeping.

OU’s OAR gives the Scorpion Lab a shout out.

[Nov 2020]

OU’s Office of Admissions and Recruitment produced a nice piece highlighting some of the undergraduate research going on in the scorpion lab:

Jacob visits Sevilleta NSR.

[Aug 2020]

Jacob successfully completed his trials testing scorpion locomotory response to filtered, nocturnal light.

Alby presents at the 2020 AAS virtual conference.

[June 29, 2020]

Alby did a great job showing off his scorpion navigation algorithm to the crowd at the virtual conference of the American Arachnological Society.

Alby kicks off his virtual show at AAS 2020.

Tanner, Alby, and Drew are now OU graduates!

[May 8, 2020]

Congratulations to Tanner Ortery, Alby Musaelian, and Drew Doak on their recent graduation from OU. All three are off to do great things and we will miss them very much!

Safra and Drew present at URD 2020 Online

[April 2020]

Safra and Drew presented summaries of their research at the OU Undergraduate Research Day, which was moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find their talks here:

Safra: Analysis of Synaptic Integration in Peg Sensilla of Scorpion Pectines.

Drew: Investigating Path Integration in the Desert Grassland Scorpion (Paruroctonus utahensis).

Doug rides bike in OU Homecoming Parade 2019

[October 19, 2019]

Doug gets ready to advertise URD 2020 in the Fall 2019 OU Homecoming Parade.

Doug presents at 2019 Biology of Scorpions symposium.

[August, 2019]

Doug gave the keynote address at the 2019 Biology of Scorpions symposium at the wonderful Chiricahua Desert Museum in Rodeo, NM.

Kendall publishes paper in Invertebrate Neuroscience.

[July 31, 2019]

Kendall Hughes’s article, titled “Investigating sensory processing in the pectines of the striped bark scorpion,” chronicles work from her honors thesis and represents some of the first ever electrophysiological recordings from the scorpion brain. Read it here:

Kristen and Sara graduate with their honors degrees!

[May, 10 2019]

Kristen Speer and Sara Kelley successfully defended their theses and graduated with honors from OU.

Alby and Sara win awards at URD 2019

Alby Musaelian won a grand prize for his talk “Computational Exploration of the Feasibility of the Navigation-By-Scene-Familiarity Hypothesis.” Sara Kelley earned an honorable mention for her talk “Do Inhibitory Neurons Function as Governors in Scorpion Peg Sensilla?”

Sara, Kristen, and Alby presented their work at URD 2019

[April 6, 2019]

Members of the scorpion lab imitate their favorite animal at URD 2019. L-R: Doug Gaffin, Sara Kelley, Kristen Speer, Alby Musalian.

Doug and Marielle hosted an alumni trip to Ecuador, Peru and the Galapagos Islands

[August 15, 2018]

Doug and Marielle just completed a trip to South America where they visited the Amazon, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands!