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TRAVIS CHEN
PhD STUDENT

e-mail: travis.chen@mail.mcgill.ca

I joined the Abouheif lab in September 2012 as an U1 undergraduate Pharmacology student, I volunteered at the lab maintaining the lab colonies of Camponotus floridanus, the Florida carpenter ant, along with developing rearing techniques to maintain the colonies. After getting experience with the ants I along with another undergrad started a project where we were tasked to produce a table which will be used to characterize and describe the embryonic and larval developmental stages of Camponotus floridanus and Pheidole megacephala. While finishing that up I started a Pharmacology independent project in collaboration with a pharmacology lab that researches epigenetics. This was a follow up to a project that was just completed in the lab at that time, my project was to determine the role of insulin receptor 2 (InR2) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) methylation and expression in C. floridanus size determination in response to nutrition.

After receiving my BSc. In Pharmacology I formally joined the Abouheif lab as a PhD student in 2015. My research interests are the understanding of the generation of size and allometric variation due to environmental influence, more specifically I’m studying the molecular mechanism whereby influences to the epigenetic states of several key growth related genes during development can alter the size and allometry within and from natural distributions. I would be building off of two distinct previous projects from our lab: understanding the role of vestigial wing discs in generating allometry, and understanding how environment can influence epigenetic states to generate a variation in sizes. By combining these two projects I will study the epigenetic molecular mechanism in generating size and allometric variations.