Grayson Lab - University of Richmond

Ecology, Physiology, Population Biology

Standing against systemic racism and prejudice

The recent injustices in the news highlight racism and inequity in the structures of our country and world. If we don’t make spaces that are safe and welcoming for all and actively work to dismantle racism and prejudice, then we are not doing our jobs in science and education.

The history of our campus and our city, and events happening in the present day, should not be erased from our memories and we cannot look the other way or stay silent. We must speak loudly against these actions and do the hard work to listen and change, whether is it violence, murder, threats, or microaggressions against people of color or other cultures, antisemitism or religious stigmatization, or gender stereotyping and violence against women, men, L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+. We must speak out about the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the threat of police used against Christian Cooper while birding. We must oppose racist language and threats against Asian-Americans and Asians from all cultures that have been become even more apparent with COVID-19. We must react with outrage to racist propaganda, violence, and hate speech on our campus. I stand with UR students, faculty, and staff in being united with the victims of these actions, the communities hurting, and everyone processing the trauma in our nation.

In addition to the University of Richmond statement, the Department of Biology sent the letter of support below to our students. Please stay safe.

Dear Biology students,

To follow up on Dr. Crutcher’s email, the Biology Department hopes that you and your families are safe and well during these difficult times. The recent examples of injustice and racism in our nation have been particularly painful while we are more isolated from our communities.

We understand that the uncertainty surrounding our current global health crisis has been compounded by continuous violence against communities of color. We want to recognize the long-lasting trauma that results from witnessing these tragic events and want to offer words of comfort and our unending support.

 Although we know the campus experience this year will be different, we want you to know that our commitment to providing an inclusive and safe environment for everyone is stronger than ever. We value each and every one of our students.

We know that we are at our best when everyone feels included and when all contributions are acknowledged and valued. We want you to know that we stand in solidarity in condemning these persistent acts of racism and violence against communities of color. We stand united against actions that divide and discriminate. We commit ourselves to finding ways to dismantle systemic injustice.

As we will not be together on campus this summer, please reach out to us if we can help or support you in any way,

The Department of Biology

New paper out on a high density population of salamanders in Richmond!

Those who have worked on the red-backed salamander project in the Grayson Lab know that there are TONS of salamanders in the James River Park. Now the world does too!

We recently published a paper in the Royal Society Open Science journal on the population ecology of our salamanders using spatial mark-recapture techniques. We are looking forward to future papers incorporating our data with data collected from other SPARCnet sites!

Genomics Paper in Molecular Ecology!

In a cross-town collaboration with Dr. Andrew Eckert’s lab at VCU, we are pleased to present to you a paper on the the evolutionary genomics of an insect invasion along a latitudinal gradient in North America!

Can an Invasive Insect Stand the Heat?

Back in the summer of 2015 (Dr. Grayson’s 1st summer at UR!) we did a reciprocal transplant experiment at UR and Mountain Lake Biological Station using individuals sourced from the Coastal Plain and the Appalachian Mountains. It was a big endeavor: lots of folks contributed their time and energy to the data collection, analysis, and contextualization of the study. We are so excited to announce that the paper from this project is now officially published in Biological Invasions!

Volunteers for Project Monkey Island

Spread the word, let’s help our collaborators in Puerto Rico!

Project Monkey Island and the International Primatological Society is seeking volunteers for their fourth trip to the Cayo Santiago Biological Station, Caribbean Primate Research Center, in Punta Santiago, Puerto Rico.

The trip is scheduled for January 2-12th, 2019 and has the mission to continue to clean up Cayo Santiago and begin building structures like water collection systems and corrals, as well as planting trees to reforest the island.  Volunteers will also contribute to repair the primate center’s offices and various houses, schools, and other structures in Punta Santiago. As Project Monkey Island continue these efforts, this project will serve as a template and proof of concept for Primatologists Without Borders, an entity created within the International Primatological Society to provide intermediate- and long-term relief to facilities and communities associated with nonhuman primates that have been
affected by natural disasters.

Opportunities for shared costs with other volunteers for housing, food, and transportation  are available.

For more information on the project, please visit:

Click here for informational brochure.

Questions: Raisa Hernandez,

Three new insect papers out!

This spring and summer have been very productive for the Grayson Lab! We’ve had three articles published recently with 8 of our undergrads and 5 of our collaborators. We’ve accomplished so much together in the gypsy moth and harlequin bug systems!

Research opportunity – Viability of rhesus macaques following a hurricane

The Cayo Santiago Biological Station is an NIH-funded facility of the University of Puerto Rico located in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The station houses over 1,500 free-ranging rhesus macaques. The rhesus macaque population is managed with minimal intervention to support non-invasive research. The capture-released program in Cayo Santiago has produced one of the most extensive demographic datasets for a nonhuman primate in the world, supporting extensive research since 1940’s. During the 2017 hurricane season, the island of Cayo Santiago was hit by Hurricane María, rising concerns regarding the impacts of such perturbation on the viability of the population. We aim at studying the demographic effects of Hurricane María on Cayo Santiago rhesus macaques making inferences on the viability of the population using matrix population models.

Research group: Grayson lab

Term: Summer research

Research focus: Population Ecology

Research objective: To study the demographic effects of Hurricane María on the Cayo Santiago rhesus macaque population

Requirements: We ask students to have a strong interest in quantitative biology and to be comfortable working in R (NO full proficiency required). Students genuinely interested in developing skills in R are welcome to approach us. No field work required.

Contacts: Dr. Kristine Grayson

Dr. Raisa Hernández


Grayson Lab Alumna Awarded Fulbright to teach English in Brazil

Congratulations to Jacqueline Pearlmutter (’17) who received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to work in Brazil in 2018! In the Grayson Lab, Jacqueline worked with Julie Charbonnier from VCU on projects looking at the effects of moisture on juvenile spotted salamanders.

To see the UR press release on Jacqueline’s Fulbright grant click here.

Grayson Lab Represented at 102nd Ecological Society of America Meeting

Kristine, Lily, and our VCU undergraduate colleagues Hannah ’18 & Madison ’17 represented the Grayson Lab in Portland, Oregon at the 102nd annual Ecological Society of America Meeting. Hannah & Madison presented our results from the stage-specific heat shock experiment on August 7th (UR Undergraduate coauthors: Nana Banahene ’18 & Salem Salem ’18). Lily presented a talk on our

Madison, Hannah, Kristine, & Lily at ESA 2017 in Portland, OR

Madison, Hannah, Kristine, & Lily at ESA 2017 in Portland, OR

research with the red backed salamanders in the James River Park on August 8th (UR Undergraduate coauthors: Sarah Timko ’17 & Christian Law ’17). Kristine wrapped things up with a talk on the Allee slope and Slow-the-Spread gypsy moth management program on August 10th. It was a great meeting! (And concurrent with the 38th annual Footbag Championships!)


Early Career NSF Grant!

We did it! In a collaboration with Salvatore Agosta at VCU and Dylan Parry at SUNY-ESF, we received and Early Career NSF Grant!! The grant, titled: Linking thermal tolerance to invasion dynamics: Climate and physiological capacity as regulators of geographical spread, will help fund projects relating to the physiological tolerance and fitness of gypsy moth populations at the invasion front in North America.

Find some the news releases here: NSF News Release from UR  and here: NSF News Release

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