News Archive

Grants in Aid of Research Recipient Profile: Ciara Crochet

April 16, 2020

Ciara Crochet Grant: $1,000 in Spring 2018

Education level at the time of the grant: Undergraduate student 

Research Discipline: Physiology/Functional Morphology

Project: My experiment involved investigating hormonal predictors of aggression and dominance in coercive, live-bearing fish. Dominance hierarchies ensue in many social organisms as a primary means of reducing prolonged aggression. Social dominance is usually established from aggressive behaviors, or dominant males blocking mating attempts from other, lower-ranking males. In addition to aggressive and mating behaviors, androgen hormones may play important roles in mediating dominance behaviors in many vertebrate species. 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) and cortisol influence social dominance in many fishes; for example, 11-KT has been found to mediate aggressive behavior as well as male competition, and cortisol has been found to fluctuate during the establishment of dominance hierarchies. Few studies have focused on dominance in animals with dynamic social systems, such as shoaling fishes, where males interact in larger groups for shorter periods of time. 

My research provides a potential mechanism to explain the formation of male dominance hierarchies through assessing the potential effects of 11-KT and cortisol on social dominance in competing, coercive males. The results contribute to the field of behavioral endocrinology by providing new information on the role hormones play in aggression and social dominance in vertebrates. 

The funds provided multiple enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits to detect and quantify the androgen hormone 11-KT, dedicated glassware to avoid contamination, and syringes for both collecting and processing blood. 

How the project influenced you as a scientist: This project greatly encouraged me to pursue my passion for research, and it gave me the op-portunity to work with other labs. The experience, the opportunity, and the doors the project has opened for me have been invaluable. 

Where are you now? I was inducted into Sigma Xi in 2018, and I have completed my bachelor’s degree in behavioral neuroscience. I am pursuing a master’s degree in data analytics and completing other research projects on humans and fish. I plan to pursue a PhD in behavioral endocrinology and look forward to continuing to contribute to scientific research. 

Students can apply for research funding from Sigma Xi's Grants in Aid of Research program by March 15 and October 1 annually.