JP Lawrence, a recent graduate of the PhD program in biology at the University of Mississippi, made international headlines when the results of his UM-based graduate research were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The work—highlighted in popular press outlets including the New York Times—focused on a detailed exploration of a species of South American poison frog that exhibits wild variation in the bright colors (a favorite of photographers and wildlife calendars). It turns out, though the bright color is known to be a warning to potential predators that these frogs are decidedly un-tasty, the intensity of the color directly impacts how and whether predators attack these frogs. JP, working with Professor Brice Noonan, demonstrated that the way predators interact with their prey may have unexpected consequences, allowing for the origin of new, brightly-colored forms.
Dr. Lawrence works at Michigan State University and continues his work on poison frogs.