Scranton Awarded NSF Collaborative Research Grant

    Marc Seid, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at the University, was awarded $200,703 from a National Science Foundation (NSF) collaborative research grant, which will largely be used to support summer stipends for undergraduate student researchers.
    July 10, 2018

    The University of Scranton biology professor Marc Seid, Ph.D., was awarded $200,703 from a National Science Foundation (NSF) collaborative research grant to study “Social brains and solitary bees: A phylogenetic test of the effect of social behavior on brain evolution across multiple gains and losses of sociality.” The grant will largely be used to support summer stipends for undergraduate student researchers.

    The collaborative research project will examine if social interactions influence brain size by studying closely related species of social and solitary bees. The study will also measure levels of neurotransmitters and hormones in bee brains that are associated with aggression and reproduction.

    Researchers will use a phylogenetic comparative approach, confocal microscopy measurements of brain volume, HPLC measurements of amine titers and antibody staining of amine-reactive neurons to test how evolutionary gains and losses of social cooperation affect the brain.

    The total NSF grant awarded for the collaborative project was for $551,969. Adam Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at George Washington University, is the lead collaborator. In addition to Scranton, other collaborating institutions include Princeton University, Utah State University and The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

    The University of Scranton works with The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on a joint internship project that allows students to participate in research during the summer in Panama. Internships for this prestigious program are awarded to students from across the U.S. based on merit and matching the research interest of the students with ongoing research projects at the institute. Dr. Seid is among Scranton’s biology faculty members that support the joint internship program. Throughout the academic year, Dr. Seid often serves as a faculty mentor for student/faculty research projects.  

    Dr. Seid’s area of research interest includes behavioral neurobiology and brain morphology in ants. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals on the subject. His research entitled “Morphine addiction in ants: a new model for self-administration and neurochemical analysis,” published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2016, was the first of its kind that proved non-mammals, in this case ants, can become addicted to morphine much like humans do and express similar changes in behavior and brain chemistry. The study also generated stories in The New York Times and the Smithsonian

    Dr. Seid joined the faculty at Scranton in 2010. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. from Boston University.

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