Headshot portrait of Amaris Lewis - Bio-X Undergraduate Fellow
2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Biology
Mentor: Lauren O’Connell (Biology)

“Hormonal Basis of Parental Care in Poison Dart Frogs”

Parental care is critical for infant wellbeing, yet little is known in vertebrates about how environmental cues affect parental decision-making. Using the poison frog Ranitomeya imitator, Amaris is quantifying neural circuitry controlling infant cannibalism versus infant care. In the laboratory, she will (1) quantify parental behavior within familiar/unfamiliar spaces using DeepLabCut—pose estimator software—(2) create the first ethogram for poison frogs, and (3) measure neural activity in both aggressive and affiliative parents using phosphoTRAP, exploiting phosphorylated ribosomes to approximate neural activity. Ultimately, this work will reveal whether specific neural markers correlate with parental decisions.