D. Jeffrey Over, professor of geological sciences, has won a highly competitive 2022–23 Fulbright U.S. Scholar award and will spend Fall 2022 at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Over’s grant brings to 13 the number of Fulbright or Fulbright-Hayes awards Geneseo faculty members have received in the past ten years.
The Fulbright Foundation annually offers 400+ awards in more than 130 countries for college and university faculty, artists, and professionals from a wide range of fields to teach, conduct research, and carry out professional projects around the world.
Over will join a research group at Masaryk University to study fundamental changes in Earth ecosystems. Using geochemical and stratigraphic techniques, the team examines Devonian Carboniferous strata and microbialites (sedimentary rocks formed by bacteria and other microbes) that have relevance to modern global climate change. Over will also team-teach a course on event stratigraphy and a seminar on extinction cycles and astrochronology.
“My future research goal is to determine the time constraints on the environmental changes that lead to mass extinctions,” he says. “The idea is to find out when the environmental signatures occur prior to the extinction horizon—essentially what is the rate of deterioration if not related to a cataclysmic event such as a volcanic eruption.” Results from the Masaryk study may be used as a predictive model to examine the current degradation of modern systems.
Joining Over in the Czech Republic will be his wife Jennifer Apple, associate professor of biology, who will be on sabbatical leave during Fall 2022 and is an alternate Fulbright Scholar this cycle. As an ecologist, Apple’s work focuses primarily on species interactions involving insects, spiders, and plants. She will collaborate with Masaryk University zoologists to examine the mechanisms ant-mimicking spiders use to avoid predation through an evolutionary phenomenon called Batesian mimicry.
“The study of Batesian mimicry has contributed to our understanding of how natural selection can shape the traits of species via species interactions,” Apple says. “Each instance of mimicry reveals a complex interplay of constraints on development and structure, perception by predators, and the community and environmental context that can shape costs and benefits. What I learn about Myrmarachne formicaria in its native range will inform future field data collection efforts and behavioral experiments with the expanding non-native population in North America.”
The U.S. Scholar Fulbright competition is open to faculty members and other professionals. For more information, contact Sue Rubright, Office of Sponsored Research, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-245-5086.