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Keuka College Lecture to Focus on Plant Behavior

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Keuka College’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will host a lecture by Dr. Robert Raguso, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, Thursday, Oct.13.

Dr. Raguso, who also serves as professor of neurobiology and behavior, will discuss “Whispering Willows and Lying Lilies: Do Plants Behave?” at 4:15 p.m. in Jephson Hall, room 104. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Raguso developed a childhood interest in butterflies and flowers into a research career on chemically-mediated insect-plant interactions. His educational path included Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Arizona. In addition to teaching at Cornell University, he has also taught at the University of South Carolina.

A Fulbright fellow, Dr. Raguso grew to appreciate chemically mediated insect–plant interactions during his undergraduate research on butterflies at Yale University. He studied the genetics, physiology and ecology of floral scent for his doctoral research at the University of Michigan and insect olfaction and behavior for his postdoctoral work in the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona.

“I was born with an affinity for natural history that was encouraged by my family and teachers during childhood and provided an outlet for my creative energies and anxieties during adolescence,” says Dr. Raguso on his website. “I was motivated to become a professional biologist by the desire to explore the inner workings of the natural world and to communicate my sense of joy in its discovery.”

His research interests include multi-modal communication and signal evolution, the role of “private channels” in obligate mutualism and the impact of geographic mosaics of coevolution on variation in chemical phenotypes. Dr. Raguso’s research has included investigations of signal mimicry in the ‘wine-red’ floral guild, hawkmoth sensory biology and foraging behavior, evening primrose scent polymorphism and reproductive ecology, convergent evolution and phylogenetic constraint in hawkmoth pollination and signal evolution in fly-dispersed dung mosses. 

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