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Hannah Owens
Graduate Student
Ichthyology
Biodiversity Institute

Contact Information

Office Phone: 
785.864.2316
Building: 
Dyche Hall

I am a PhD. candidate here.  My dissertation research focuses on using ecological niche modeling to investigate the historical and future effects of climate change on the evolutionary history of cods.

I have worked as a graduate teaching assistant for labs and lectures, as well as a research assistant both in labs and in the field. Lab work has ranged from efforts to describe new species of shark tapeworms to predicting the potential range expansions of agricultural pests and disease vectors. I have done field work assessing biodiversity of a number of organismal groups, including plants, pollinators, birds, and parasites. This work has been conducted everywhere from the grasslands of Kansas to the Gulf Coast to the arid highlands of Peru to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. I have also done research on, and experienced firsthand, the effects of climate change in Mexico and Greenland.

Recent Blog Posts

September 7, 2011
Like any good ichthyologist, I keep saltwater fish.  When I lost a Banggai...
June 11, 2010
And so, a scant 10 days after it began, my Greenlandic adventure is at an end...
June 10, 2010
Our final day in Greenland was best characterized by last-minute good...
June 8, 2010
Yesterday I got up early and hiked up into the hills outside of town with one...
June 7, 2010
Today was full of wow! It was another day of driving, hiking, sun, and awe...

My dissertation focuses primarily on the relationship between gadine fishes, fisheries, and climate change.

The family Gadinae, a clade that includes such economically important species as the Atlantic cod Gadus morhua and haddock Merlangius aeglefinus, has an uncertain future. The subarctic and arctic, where these fish occur, rank among those regions projected to be most vulnerable to climate-change-induced ecosystem shifts. Understanding the biogeographic history of the clade is key to understanding potential range responses of these species to climate change. Fortunately, a rich body of genetic and geographic data is available for this group, making it an ideal system to develop a comprehensive ecological and evolutionary context in which to understand the biogeography of these species.

Education

2009-Present   Ph.D. Candidate – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Thesis Advisor: Edward O. Wiley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; Lawrence, KS
2008   M. A. – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Thesis Advisor: Kirsten Jensen, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas;
Lawrence, KS
2006   B. S. – University Honors in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; Lawrence, KS

 

 

Professional Societies

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 2010-present

Awards

2011 Second Place Presentation, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute Graduate Student Organization Annual Retreat
2010 Third Place Presentation, University of Kansas 9th Annual GIS Day
2010 First Place Presentation, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute Graduate Student Organization Annual Retreat
2010 Michael S. Gaines Award for Excellence in Teaching, Principles of Biology Laboratory
2009‐pres NSF IGERT Fellow

Publications

September 7, 2011

Like any good ichthyologist, I keep saltwater fish.  When I lost a Banggai cardinalfish recently, how did I deal with this tragedy? Not by flushing it or starting a pet cemetery, but by turning that loss into a gain for the Biodiversity Institute's Ichthyology collection.

It is true that aquarium fish make less than ideal specimens.  It is impossible to get accurate, reliable information on the natural habitat, behavior, distribution, and population structure of such a specimen.  However, for large-scale genetic studies, a specimen without such data can still provide valuable insight into the evolutionary relationships among fish species.  Likewise, we can gain important morphological information to further inform our ideas on the evolution of structures like jaws and tails.
 

Ichthyology collections
Kathryn photographs a cowfish for the collection.

So how does a fish reach scientific immortality after passing on to the great aquarium in the sky?  First, and not surprisingly, it's important to get the fish into the freezer as soon as possible to keep it from decomposing (genetic material starts to break down quickly as the fish decomposes).  When we are ready to process the fish, we first take photos of it, since preservation often causes bright colors and patterns to fade. Then a small piece of muscle is taken from one side and added to our tissue collection--this leaves the other side of the fish intact for morphological studies.  We then inject the fish with formalin and store it in alcohol, or clear and stain it.

While at first blush this may seem perverse, my cardinalfish now lives on as frozen tissue and fluid specimens, where it will provide valuable genetic and morphological information for researchers and students.  I know I would much prefer that to being flushed.

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June 11, 2010
And so, a scant 10 days after it began, my Greenlandic adventure is at an end. I got to experience big polar science,...
June 10, 2010
Our final day in Greenland was best characterized by last-minute good intentions and chaos as we tried to do everything...
June 8, 2010
Yesterday I got up early and hiked up into the hills outside of town with one of the professors. We found a...
June 7, 2010
Today was full of wow! It was another day of driving, hiking, sun, and awe in the vicinity of Russell Glacier. On...
June 4, 2010
This morning getting up early to look for birds, this time down by the rapids at the bridge, proved sadly fruitless....
June 3, 2010
Morning in Kangerlussuaq was not much different from afternoon or evening—sun shining cheerfully away,...
June 2, 2010
This morning we woke up at 4 a.m. in Schenectady, New York, after an uneventful day of travel there from Kansas. The...
June 1, 2010
Tuesday. Greenland. It’s finally starting to sink in that I am, in fact, leaving for Greenland on Tuesday....
May 28, 2010
Hannah Owens is an Ichthyology graduate student at the University of Kansas in the Biodiversity Institute.  She is...

From the Biodiversity Insitute blog

December 9, 2011
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October 10, 2011
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September 7, 2011
Like any good ichthyologist, I keep saltwater fish.  When I lost a Banggai cardinalfish recently, how did I deal with this tragedy? Not by flushing it or starting a pet cemetery, but by turning...
September 7, 2011
In the five years since the fungal disease white-nose syndrome was discovered in New York, the disease has spread to more than 190 sites in 16 eastern states and two four Canadian provinces. At one...
August 16, 2011
Fieldwork may be completed for this season in Peru, but now we must shift our focus to processing the thousands of specimens we have brought back with us. Since the specimen bags (...
August 2, 2011
While a recent discovery may change textbooks and the way that many scientists think about bird and dinosaur evolution, it comes as no surprise us. This week, Xing Xu, H. You, K. Du and F. Han...
July 25, 2011
Summertime means summer fieldwork for many academic scientists, but some researchers skip the far-flung places in favor of urban habitats close to home. There are plenty of places to look at...
July 22, 2011
From Frazier: Costa Rica has been a blast! From collecting beetles in pristine rainforest to relaxing outside Kiri Lodge on a warm tropical night, Costa Rica has exceeded my expectations for an...
July 18, 2011
From Clay:   Rain, rain, rain. I am beginning to understand why it is called a “rainforest.” I feel like I have experienced more rain in the past several days than in the previous...
July 18, 2011
From Crystal: At first you won’t see many beetles…” a piece of advice given to me regarding collecting in the tropics. I thought that was a lie. I’ve seen the photos of...

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