Cal Lutheran gets its largest NSF grant
$307,486 funds biologist’s Amazonian monkey study
(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — March 24, 2022) California Lutheran University received its largest National Science Foundation grant to date — $307,486 for a biologist and her students to study sexual selection in tiny Brazilian squirrel monkeys.
Assistant professor Anita Stone, the lead principal investigator, and 12 undergraduate students will spend four summers studying sexually selected traits and behaviors in the Saimiri collinsi species living in the eastern Amazonia forest. The Thousand Oaks resident wants to determine whether the females actively choose their mates, or passively accept the winners of male-male competitions.
During the 22 years in which Stone has been studying this female-dominant species in her native Brazil, the last five with Cal Lutheran students, she has noticed the fattening of males’ upper bodies before and during the mating season. She wants to find out whether the individual differences in fattening reflect male genetic quality and affect reproductive success due to females chosing mating partners based on the males’ degree of fatness.
When it comes to sexual selection based on differences in traits, the focus is typically on male-male competition rather than female choice, relegating females to a passive role in the reproductive process. This study challenges that bias.
Each summer, Stone and her students will identify and collect measurements from the monkeys, observe their behavior during the eight-week breeding season and analyze the data. The monkeys are difficult to study because they weigh no more than 2 pounds, move quickly and hang out in social groups of about 50. The researchers will employ Brazilian field assistants, take local children and teachers on field trips into the forest and present the research to residents to promote conservation in the area.
Back at UCLA, biological anthropologist Jessica Lynch will conduct paternity tests on biological samples from the baby monkeys that are born. At the University of Texas at Arlington, evolutionary biologist Janet Buckner and her graduate students will study genetic differences in blood and tissue samples to determine whether male-fattening is a product of female choice or male-male competition.
This comprehensive approach is novel because primate studies have yet to examine the links among male genetic quality, secondary sexual traits that advertise genetic quality and female choice, as has been done in other vertebrates such as birds and fish.
The grant (NSF award number 2140666) not only funds rare opportunities for undergraduate students to study primates in the wild, but also supports the participation of women and other underrepresented groups in science. Cal Lutheran and UT Arlington are both designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Graduate, Professionals ceremony slated
Thu April 28, 2022
California Lutheran University will hold its 2022 Graduate and Professionals Commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14.
- Cal Lutheran gets its largest NSF grant
Thu March 24, 2022
California Lutheran University received its largest National Science Foundation grant to date — $307,486 for a biologist and her students to study sexual selection in tiny Brazilian squirrel monkeys.
- Cal Lutheran receives $1.4M federal grant
Wed August 18, 2021
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded California Lutheran University a five-year $1.39 million grant to help lower the high school dropout rate in South Oxnard and increase the number of students who enter and graduate from college.
- Cal Lutheran starts Spanish media minor
Wed July 28, 2021
During the fall semester, California Lutheran University will launch a Spanish media minor — the only one at a private college in Southern California — to help fill the need for bilingual journalists who understand Latino culture.
- Cal Lutheran selects chief diversity officer
Fri July 9, 2021
Cristallea K. Buchanan, the head of inclusion and diversity for American Honda Motor Co., will be the inaugural vice president for talent, culture and diversity for California Lutheran University.
- State approves bilingual teaching program
Wed May 5, 2021
As the result of a rare interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate and graduate programs, California Lutheran University has become one of the first institutions in California where undergraduate students can begin earning their bilingual teaching authorization through coursework.
- Top Cal Lutheran teaching honor awarded
Wed April 28, 2021
A faculty member who has prompted many students to engage in advanced studies of Spanish and Latin American culture has received California Lutheran University’s highest teaching honor.
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Mon February 1, 2021
California Lutheran University is presenting a free three-part webinar series on U.S. poets laureate that will include a reading by one of the writers.
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Thu January 28, 2021
California Lutheran University’s first AmeriCorps Civic Action Fellows have begun serving low-income and immigrant populations throughout Ventura County as part of a first-in-the-nation program.
- Caring for essential workers
Mon January 4, 2021
Roberto Juarez ’89, CEO of Clinicas del Camino Real in Ventura County, believes that because U.S. farmworkers feed the world their well-being should mean the world to us, but after more than four decades of delivering health care to agricultural laborers, he knows that seldom is the case — and this time of pandemic is no exception.