Faces of GIAR: Paula Cushing

October 31, 2022


Grant: $300 in 1986; $200 in 1987

Education level at the time of the grant: Graduate student

Project Description:
These two small grants supported the fieldwork and lab costs associated with my master’s research project, “A study of disturbance behaviors in Uloborus glomosus (Araneae; Uloboridae) as possible predator avoidance strategies.” This project resulted in three peer-reviewed publications:

  • Cushing, P. E. and B. D. Opell. 1990. Disturbance behaviors in the spider Uloborus glomosus (Araneae, Uloboridae): possible predator avoidance strategies. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 68:1090–1097.

  • Cushing, P. E., and B. D. Opell. 1990. The effect of time and temperature on disturbance behaviors shown by the orb-weaving spider Uloborus glomosus (Uloboridae). Journal of Arachnology, 18:87–93.

  • Cushing, P. E. 1989. Possible eggsac defense in the spider Uloborus glomosus (Uloboridae). Psyche, 96:269–277.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher? 
Receiving these competitive grants as a young, early career scholar gave me confidence in the value of my research, my methodology, and my skills as a writer and scientist. It helped me continue to pursue funding opportunities as a PhD student and later in my career. 

Where are you now? 
I am senior curator of invertebrate zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS). I curate the Marine Invertebrate collection (primarily shells of gastropods) as well as the Arachnology collection. When I started at the museum in 1998, the DMNS did not have an arachnology collection. In the two decades I have been at the museum, I have built and grown a significant collection whose data is fully accessible to the world via online data portals.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety