NASA press release for Lynch Lab-developed penguin monitoring tool

Latest press release from NASA about the Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD) tool, developed as a part of a NASA-funded project. The development of MAPPPD was led by lab PI Heather Lynch and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientist Mathew Schwaller, with the goal of making scientific data more accessible to Antarctic scientists and decision makers. The tool will provide necessary information for key conservation-decisions in the region.

MAPPPD allows users to explore population trends in different regions of Antarctic by selecting an area of interest. It is also designed to incorporate information from citizen scientists in order to ‘fill in the gaps’ in knowledge in the Antarctic.

Learn more about MAPPPD here!

R package `MCMCvis` now on CRAN

MCMCvis, an R package for visualizing, manipulating, and summarizing MCMC output is now available on CRAN!

It can be installed with: install.packages('MCMCvis')

The vignette (tutorial) can be run with: vignette('MCMCvis')

MCMCvis was designed to perform key functions for MCMC analysis using minimal code, in order to free up time/brainpower for interpretation of analysis results. Functions support simple and straightforward subsetting of model parameters within the calls, and produce presentable and ‘publication-ready’ output. Model output can be from JAGS, Stan, or other MCMC samplers. The package deals with different data types behind the scenes so you don’t have to think about it. You can specify which parameters you want to visualize or extract within the functions.

For example, this plot can be made using just one line of code (after loading package/data, of course)!

library('MCMCvis') #load package

data(MCMC_data) #load example data

MCMCplot(MCMC_data, params = 'beta') #create plot



More information can be found within the package vignette. The package was created and authored by Lynch Lab PhD candidate, Casey Youngflesh. He can be found here on Github and here on Twitter.

Dr. Lynch at ESA – Ecology on the Runway

Lab PI, Dr. Heather Lynch will be participating in an Ecology-inspired fashion show at this year’s Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Ft. Lauderdale! Sneak peak of her runway skirt below. Check out the (sure to be incredible) fashion show Monday, August 8 at 10:15AM in the Grand Floridian Ballroom B.

Penguin skirt

Write up about the event from the University of Utah Press office:

At the Ecological Society of America’s 2016 meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 13 ecologists will be wearing their hearts and their research on their sleeves. To raise awareness of growing ecological challenges, the ecologists – scientists who study relationships between plants, animals, humans and their environments – will take to the runway in a special session of the meeting, showing off custom-made clothing that displays the plants, animals, microbes and landscapes that they study.

University of Utah biology professor Nalini Nadkarni and National Science Foundation ecologist Doug Levey will host the eco-fashion show. Nadkarni and Levey collaborated with fashion designer and Utah theatre professor Brenda Van der Wiel to create the clothing worn in the show, with the goal of demonstrating innovative and surprising ways that ecologists can raise awareness of their discipline. The theme of the show is “Ecology is Everywhere.”

Designer Van der Wiel and tailor Eugene Tachinni will describe their experiences interacting with researchers and their efforts to translate scientific research into a wearable statement. Ecologists in the audience will be encouraged to share, through Twitter and Facebook, their own innovative ideas for engaging with the public. This demonstrates how something as seemingly non-academic as fashion clothing can serve as a vector for outreach and education about ecology.

A booklet describing the ecologists’ discoveries and interests can be found here.

Relaunch of PenguinWatch!

We’re very excited to see the relaunch of PenguinWatch, a project aimed at using citizen scientists to monitor penguin populations in the Antarctic. The effort is headed up by Lynch Lab collaborator Tom Hart at Oxford University and the non-profit organization, Penguin Lifelines. Great piece by the BBC here about getting classrooms involved in the research efforts.

The data come from a network of time lapse cameras placed at penguin colonies around the Antarctic. This information will be used to better understand penguin ecology at both local and regional scales. You can lend a helping hand here –  the more participants the better!

Schrimpf talk makes the top ten at World Seabird Conference

Lynch Lab Ph.D. candidate Michael Schrimpf’s oral presentation at the 2nd World Seabird Conference in Cape Town, South Africa was ranked in the top ten of all student presentations – congratulations to Michael! Competition was plentiful as there were over 120 student talks. While it is a fairly rare event (held quinquennially, in fact), the Conference provides a great opportunity for seabird researchers from all over the world to come together, share their findings, and ponder the mysteries of seabird world.