Invited talk at ISCE 2019 !

It is always a pleasure to go to the International Society of Chemical Ecology meetings! This year the meeting was in Atlanta, Georgia so Jared and I packed up the kids and did the long road trip down, visiting friends & family and looking for monarchs!

The meeting was fantastic, the talks were inspiring and exciting. As usual, I left with new energy to write and research. I was especially glad to be invited to give the opening talk for a session on “Chemically-mediated prey-consumer interactions” chaired by Dr. Christelle Robert. There were talks on all types of taxa, ranging from poison dart frogs, snakes, plants and insects.

Enjoy a few photos of the meeting below!D8V9K8jU8AAT8P8.jpg-large




Invited Talk at the Entomology Society North Central Branch meeting !

I was invited to give a talk at the upcoming NCB-ESA meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. The session is, “Taking a Step Back: Looking to Basic Biology and Behavior to Better Inform Pest Management”. I will talk about harnessing anti-predator behavioral responses to manage insect pests! Come join us on March 20, 2018 from 8a-12p !

Thanks to Ben Jaffe, Scott O’Neal and Christelle Guédot for organizing and inviting me to participate!

Welcome, Judah!

Our second son was welcomed to our world on December 19th, 2018. Happy, healthy and born in the comfort of our home.

Judah, mama and big brother Asher


The season of due dates!

This academic year began with a committee meeting – and it was my last one! I got together with my fantastic and supportive committee and we talked about my research progress, goals and some life news. Jared and I were expecting our second baby!!! We agreed that I was ready to defend and set a date, November 30th, 2018. This gave me ~3 months to finish writing.

My Rockstar Committee: Scott Peacor, Tom Baker, me, Doug Landis and Rufus Isaacs.

I am so lucky to have such an amazing group of scientists to learn from. The defense was a great experience. I had such a fun time giving my seminar, even though it was a challenge to breathe at times with my 8mo pregnant belly!!!

Giving my defense seminar at MSU

Then, we went out for a celebratory dinner at my favorite place to eat in East Lansing, Altu’s!!! I love ethiopian food and we don’t have any in state college, bummer!

Landis lab at Altu’s!

One of my favorite things about being in East Lansing (and what I will miss the most) is staying with some of our best friends, Marjorie Weber and Gideon Bradburd (both fantastic scientists at MSU). Our kiddos love each other and its so comforting to be with them when I get to town. They have been my rocks through my final Michigan field season, my comprehensive exams, countless research trips and now my defense.

Dinner time in the Weber-Bradburd house, with uno and lots of laughs!!!

But, through this crazy semester of work, the people who held me up the most were of course my family. Jared and Asher and the little nymph growing inside of me. When I got done my defense I was greeted by my son Asher, who made me the most wonderful sign and letter. The letter said, “I am so glad you won your phd, because when you win you never have to do it again.” Right you are kiddo 😉

My sweet boy


ISCE – Budapest, Hungary

I was really excited to attend the International Society of Chemical Ecology in Budapest last month. It was a great meeting with lots of wonderful talks, posters and interactions! I was invited to speak in a symposia about the “Semiochemistry of aphidophagous insects”, alongside some amazing researchers! It was a wonderful opportunity to share my most recent results on aphid x ladybeetle interactions. Meetings are great because I always end up with new ideas, a fresh urge to write and new friends. Plus, visiting Budapest was a great time too !!

Enjoy a few photos from the conference website below!

mespeakingMe, trying to convince everyone they should love insect predator-prey interactions 😉

DSC_3319-resizeHaving a nice chat over coffee break with Cesar Rodrigues-Saona of Rutgers and Clare Casteel of UC Davis!


DSC_1087Budapest by night, from the banquet dinner cruise at the end of the conference!

Summer 2018 !

Let the summer research begin!

As I enter the final summer semester of my PhD journey, I am so grateful to have 3 new undergraduate assistants!! These three awesome women will be helping me execute the last bits of research for my dissertation work looking at how predation risk influences the behavior and physiology of prey insects.

Below is a short blurb written to introduce these wonderful budding scientists (and one aspiring cyber security guru!). It will be a great summer of aphids, monarchs and so many arthropod predators!!!!


Danielle Ellis

“I recently became interested in working with wildlife and registered for my second undergraduate degree at University of Delaware to study Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. As a (super) senior, my goal is to gain research experience through Sara that will be useful when continuing my academic career as a Master’s student where I see myself out in the field studying terrestrial vertebrate predator-prey relationships. When I am not studying wildlife, you will find me enjoying time with friends and family, hiking, kayaking, or binge-watching re-runs of The Office.”

find me on instagram: @wildlifebiologistdanielle



Aubrey McElrath

“I am a Cybersecurity major with minors in German and History. In my free time I like to hike, rock climb, read, and play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I wanted to get involved with the work Sara is doing this summer because I really love learning about things that are outside of my comfort zone, and I can still remember always looking for bugs when I was younger, so it just kind of made sense!”

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Sydney Bird

“My name is Sydney Bird and I am a rising senior at Colgate University double majoring in Biology and Geography. My interests are mainly gene regulation, genetics, human-environment interactions, and the application of spatial analyses in these fields. I am hoping that this summer gives me an idea of whether I would like to continue with research as a career post graduation. In my free time I enjoy watching baseball, traveling, and reading.”


Article in Yale Environment Review!


The review article that I wrote last year with my advisor, Doug Landis was recently picked up by a graduate student, Nathalie Sommer, in the Forestry department at Yale. Nathalie writes for the Yale Environment Review, which provides reviews of current research to the public in an easier to digest format than our traditional research articles. It was a nice surprise that our review paper was chosen and we enjoyed reading Nathalie’s take on our work.  Read the article here!

2018 Predator-Prey GRC


I had the opportunity to attend my second GRC this past month in Ventura, CA. I love the Predator-Prey Interactions GRC for so many reasons; the smaller conference size, the opportunity for interactions through meals and poster sessions, breakout sessions that lead to collaboration and ideas, and the general excitement for expanding our knowledge in this broad area. The theme of this year was “Mechanisms and Outcomes of Predator-Prey Interactions: Scaling Across Space and Time”, which led to awesome talks that not only spanned across taxa, time and space, but also across disciplines. The opening talks discussed the combination of field and laboratory studies – highlighting some of the pitfalls of doing our work solely in one context or the other. Following the plenary, we had 4 days of research talks on the evolution of predator-prey interactions, landscape level considerations, neurobiology, and transgenerational effects of predators on prey. One of my favorite sessions was on prey responses to predator cues – which is what much of my research focuses on! When I got back to the east coast, I came back with lots of ideas, new friendships, collaborations, some jet-lag, and a touch of sun! It is definitely worth experiencing at least one GRC if you can!!

Radio Show on Insects!!

Jared and I did a short radio show this morning about insects and married entomology life ! We even had our little one, Asher, with us in the studio. It was really fun, check it out here.

The show really got me thinking about the path we have been on together and how grateful I am to have worked with so many amazing people along the way. One of the unique things about my current degree is that I split my time between MSU (where my advisor is) and PSU (with one of my committee members and where my husband is a professor). As a visiting scientist at PSU, I have gotten some wonderful opportunities to participate in departmental seminars and outreach events through the university which have been very enriching. While my experience is far from the norm, it has been a good one. Enjoy the short radio show!