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Karina Vanadzina wins MSc Project Prize, May 2017

Karina Vanadzina, who completed the MSc in Palaeobiology at Bristol in 2016, has just won the Geologists' Association Prize for the best MSc project in an earth sciences subject in the UK. In the picture below, GA President, Dr Colin Prosser, gives Karen her award of a certificate and a cheque for 1000.

Karina's prize-winning project was entitled "The complex interplay of ontogeny and environmental factors during a transition in Globorotalia plesiotumida - tumida lineage of planktic foraminifera". Planktic foraminifera are calcite-secreting marine microorganisms that hold a lot of potential for studies at the interface of evolutionary and developmental biology. The unique mode of foraminiferal growth by the addition of chambers means that every developmental stage can be easily distinguished in the adult form. Karina used high-resolution imaging techniques to map the developmental history in a famous lineage of deep-dwelling forams. The study revealed a significant level of morphological and developmental plasticity during the transition from the ancestral species G. plesiotumida to its descendant G. tumida in late Miocene. It also showed that the evolutionary history in this lineage has been shaped by a developmental constraint on the final chamber volume.

Three-dimensional reconstruction of internal chamber volumes in Globorotalia plesiotumida specimen (6.1 Ma) from high-resolution slides obtained by synchrotron radiation x-ray microtomography. The study revealed that cumulative chamber volumes - linked to reproductive success - plateau at a similar value irrespective of species. This indicates that the morphological change observed in the Globorotalia plesiotumida - tumida lineage has been shaped by a developmental constraint on chamber volume. Scale bar, 100 μm.

Karina's project was co-supervised by Daniela Schmidt and Thomas Davies of Bristol. Karina is currently preparing for a PhD at St Andrews where she will investigate the evolutionary impact of niche-constructing activities in birds, spiders and other animals as part of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis project.

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