A collaboration between faculty in the field and in the lab with outstanding student researchers tries to crack the code of what eggshell variations might mean.

As detailed in an April 14 presentation by a star sophomore biology major Muhammad Hidoyatov, this is a large project and collabortion between biological sciences faculty members Daniel Baldassarre and Poongodi Geetha-Loganathan.

"To me, this was a really cool collaboration of a developmental biologist who spends most of her time with her students at the lab bench, and a scruffy field biologist like myself who spends time tromping around out in Rice Creek," Baldassarre said.

"Having someone like Dan to help me out with the eggs is really interesting for me to see," Geetha-Loganathan said. "Whenever I see like a bunch of eggs on my table, I get excited to see the colors and the shapes."

"I think it'll be a really cool, well-rounded project with those two perspectives," Baldassarre noted.

"First, we made a list of species available in Rice Creek and we were surprised to see almost four to six species of passeriformes birds, which falls under 12 families," Geetha-Loganathan said.

"And they're different in all sorts of characteristics that people have studied, like they're different in their songs and they're different in their plumage color and they're different in their habitats, where they live but we know almost nothing about how their eggs are different," Baldassarre explained. 

"One of my favorite things about working at Oswego period is the amazing resource that Rice Creek is," Baldassarre added. "I do most of my research, my other projects with my students out at Rice Creek. And it's an unbelievable place. I mean, the diversity of wildlife that you can find there -- for being a two-minute shuttle ride for students from campus is unbelievable."

"So far, I have learned a lot of things from this research," Hidoyatov said. "First of them is working with SEM, the scanning electron microscope, and preparing extras, processing them for SEM imaging and also quantifying the parameters or morphological parameters of the extras. Also, I have presented this research at two or three conferences, national conferences and on-campus conferences where I learned how to present data."

"Muhammad is a real superstar as a research student and he is a great example in a real success story of what can be achieved by undergraduate students," Baldassarre said. "I mean, he's really doing research at a level of a master's student."

"For example, Muhammad started in his first semester, actually. When he was taking BIO 120 with me, he just approached me and he joined the lab immediately," Geetha-Loganathan said.

"It's very good to have mentors like Dr. Poon and Dr. Daniel," Hidoyatov said. "They're very helpful. You can get any knowledge beside the knowledge that you get in the class from these mentors. So, the professors are very incredible. They are doing their best to help us, all students, to achieve their academic success. And it's very good to have worked with them."

"To me, it really is one of the cool things about Oswego is that we are able to still put such an emphasis and a focus on research because of the talented undergraduates that we have that are able to really do a lot of work on their own and churn out some really, really neat projects," Baldassarre said.