July 27, 2016

Recent Grad Wins Big Researching Small Spiders

Sasha Bishop BA ’15 has been awarded first place in a highly competitive poster presentation session held by the International Congress of Arachnology, which draws nearly 400 students from around the world to compete and share original research. Bishop heads to the University of Michigan this fall to pursue her PhD in biodiversity. 

  • Sasha Bishop BA '15 (right) and fellow researcher Sophia Horigan celebrate at the conference.

Biology major Sasha Bishop BA ’15 has placed first in a poster presentation session at the International Congress of Arachnology, a gathering of expert scientists, researchers, and scholars that emphasizes the importance of student research in the field of arachnology. Bishop, who will begin working toward her PhD in biodiversity this fall, presented her original research alongside nearly 400 other students, many of whom presented research conducted in fulfillment of a Master’s or PhD program.

Bishop’s poster presentation stood apart from the rest, and not only because it was the product of undergraduate rather than graduate work. As a student at Lewis & Clark, she researched ochyroceratids, a group of tiny spiders with startlingly diverse characteristics: some have a unique blue and purple coloring or reproduce asexually, depending on the species. Her research illuminated previously unknown aspects of these mysterious creatures, focusing on two species native to the Caribbean and winning her first place in the Systematics, Ecology, and Biodiversity category.

“This recognition is a testament to the encouragement I‘ve received from people at Lewis & Clark as well as internationally, and I am honored to have such a strong community of support,” Bishop said. “As I transition into the next stage of my academic career at University of Michigan, I’m excited to continue research that will build on this foundation.”

Bishop completed this research with the guidance of Associate Professor of Biology Greta Binford, a leader in the field of arachnology who has been awarded several grants from the National Science Foundation to support her research. Binford, who was named Oregon Professor of the Year in 2011, is focused on encouraging students to learn more about themselves as researchers while studying other species.

“As a student equally comfortable looking under logs for arachnids in Mexico and solving linear algebra problems, Sasha has been an utter delight to work with,” said Binford. “She is exceptionally thoughtful, both with respect to her attention to detail in answering scientific questions and in her interactions with others. I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent collaborating, and I look forward to watching her thrive as she follows her passion for understanding the evolutionary mechanisms that generate biological diversity.” 

Biology Department


Emily Price ’18 wrote this story.