The IUP Biology Department was well represented at the first
annual Three Rivers Evolution Event (TREE), a conference held on September 9, 2017, at the University of Pittsburgh. The event was sponsored by the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution and the American Society of Naturalists and featured 48
oral and 63 poster presentations by faculty, postdocs, and students from 38 institutions from throughout the northeast.
Professor Shundong Bi gave the oral presentation “Haramiyidans and the origin of mammals,” which indicated that mammals appeared 40 million years earlier than previously thought. This work was first revealed in an article in the journal Nature in
2014, with new findings currently being prepared for publication.
Associate Professor Josiah Townsend’s oral presentation, “Evolution of a nonadaptive radiation of Mesoamerican highland anoles (Anolis crassulus subgroup),”
highlighted research completed with former IUP graduate student Erich Hofmann, now a PhD student at Clemson University.
Assistant Professor Eric Morschauser gave the oral presentation “The uncertain geographic origin of Ceratopsoidea,” which covered some insights from his ongoing research into the evolution of horned dinosaurs.
Adjunct instructor Ileana Luque-Montes received a travel award from the conference organizers to present her poster “Intergrative taxonomy of putative hybrid populations
of leopard frogs (Ranidae) from Mesoamerica.” This project, led by Luque-Montes, was completed in collaboration with Townsend and two former IUP students, Erich Hofmann and Kayla Weinfurther, along with researchers from the University of Florida and
All four faculty members had the opportunity to meet and interact with colleagues from around the region, generating opportunities for new collaborations and research. Given the success of this first TREE conference, all agreed that future conferences
would be even better attended and provide a valuable new venue for IUP students to present evolution-oriented research.