Maressa Takahashi

Use of chemical olfactory cues in colonial tuco-tucos, Ctenomys sociabilis

I work in Professor Eileen Laceys lab with a colony of tuco-tucos, which are subterranean rodents in the family Ctenomyidae. Although there are more than 50 species of tuco-tucos in South America, the species I am studying is unique in that they live in groups and related females share a single burrow system. As a result, social relationships between females are very important in this species. I am studying chemical communication between females. Specifically, I am testing the hypothesis that olfactory cues in urine may serve as indicators of individual identity. The results of my work may yield new insights into the role of olfactory communication in the social structure of this unusual species.

Message to Sponsor

As an undergraduate, attaining experience in a lab is crucial to prepare myself for graduate school. I am exposed to the realities of the scientific method in a nurturing, educational atmosphere. I am learning how to build academic relationships with professors while I profit from mentoring from my advisor. With the experience I gain from this research project, I can make better informed decisions about my future career in biology and become more intellectually competitive with my peers. The scientific community here at Berkeley is so large, it is often easy to get lost in the crowd. Being part of a lab group gives me a sense of belonging and my research is helping me to hone my interests to specific topics within biology.
  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Mentor: Eileen Lacey, Integrative Biology