Venom Week 2018

In March, the Rokyta Lab traveled en masse to Venom Week 2018. Venom Week is a meeting held every other year by the North American Society of Toxinology. Attendees included a diverse group of basic, translational, and applied scientists, a variety of clinicians, and even zoo keepers. Venom Week is about any and all things venom! This year it was hosted by Texas A&M-Kingsville in Kingsville, TX, home of Dr. Elda Sanchez and the National Natural Toxins Research Center. The Rokyta Lab drove out to South Texas, stopping along the way for a night of camping, sausage dogs, and story-telling in Sam Houston National Forest. Laura Koffinas, Simone Gable, and Rachel Saul (three undergraduates in the lab) presented posters detailing their work in the lab. First year graduate students Schyler Ellsworth and Gunnar Nystrom presented posters on their work characterizing the transcriptomes and proteomes of invertebrate venoms. Second year graduate student Mike Hogan gave a talk on his recent work trying to understand the genetics of vomeronasal organ receptors in the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Postdoc Carl Whittington gave a talk on his recent work that uncovered the biophysical and evolutionary origins of Mojave toxin, a potent rattlesnake neurotoxin. Dr. Rokyta gave an invited keynote talk where he demonstrated the highly synergistic research in the lab through three projects focusing on the composition and evolution of rattlesnake venoms. His talk won the award for Best Basic Science Presentation! The meeting provided plenty of time for socializing and networking, and, in typical Rokyta Lab fashion, road cruising! The next Venom Week will be held in Gainesville, FL in 2020.

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