Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, 2017 Western Region District 1 Convention


Friday, April 7 - Saturday, April 8, 2017

Western State Colorado University, University Center Ballroom

Please continue to check this web-page for updates and information regarding this spring's Regional Tri-Beta Conference!

In the mean-time, if you have any questions or would like more information about the conference, please contact 


What is the Tri-Beta Western Region Division 1 Convention?

Click Here to Discover!

What is the Schedule of Events for the Tri-Beta Western Region Division 1 Convention?

Click Here to See the Schedule.

Who are the Keynote Speakers & What are their Topics?

Click Here to Meet the Speakers!

Where are the Forms that I need?

Click here for Registration Forms, Author Data Sheets, Instructions for Abstracts, and more... 




Call for Abstracts poster

Abstract Submissions Due:  Friday, March 17, 2017

Registration Deadline:  Monday, March 27, 2017



Conference Forms & Instructions

Registration Form:

Abstract Submission Instructions:

Author Data Sheet

Hotel & Restaurant Information

Campus Map

Convention Brochure



March/April 2017

















Tri-Beta Conference






























Tri-Beta Conference

































Western Regional



Tri-Beta Conference!
























Convention Schedule:



About the Convention:

Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society, Western Region District 1 Convention

Gamma Chapter, Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society
Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO  81231


Purpose of the Convention

     The Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society Western Region District 1 Convention is an annual gathering of Undergraduate and Graduate students in biology to present research via poster and oral presentations.  Faculty from the regional schools attending act as judges of posters and presentations, and awards are given for best student presentation and best student poster.  Winners of these awards receive a stipend from the Tri-Beta National Office to attend and present their research at the Tri-Beta National Convention.  Two keynote speakers present on their current/recent research or general topics in biology on both Friday and Saturday evening.  Field trips related to biology are offered on Saturday afternoon.  This Convention is hosted annually by a different Tri-Beta Chapter within the Western Division 1 Region.  Western State Colorado University’s Gamma Chapter of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society is hosting the 2017 Tri-Beta Western Region District 1 Convention.

This Convention serves to encourage undergraduate research in all fields of the biological sciences, and to expose students to the research of their peers.  The Tri-Beta Western Region District 1 Convention offers Western State Colorado University students along with students from up to 20 other colleges and universities in our region, the opportunity to further their communication skills by presenting their own research relating to biology. It also serves to educate all students, faculty, and the general public about current research in biology and how each piece of research helps inform our understanding of biological systems and how these systems interact in our world. 

Western State Colorado University’s Gamma Chapter of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society was established in 1925 by John Johnson.  It was the second chapter in the Nation to be established, and is currently the oldest active chapter in the nation.  Our roots are deeply connected with Western and with Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.  Tri-Beta is “dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research.”

The Tri-Beta Western Region District 1 Convention aligns with Western State Colorado University’s mission to promote “intellectual maturity and personal growth in its students” by creating a venue through which they can share their intellectual discoveries with students and faculty from around the west and find inspiration from the work of others.  This Convention fosters collaboration and intellectual curiosity, which prepares students “to assume constructive roles in local, national and global communities.”  The Tri-Beta Convention is a gathering of minds dedicated to investigating their world through questioning and discovery, and the relationships which are built during these gatherings can establish a lifetime of learning and sharing knowledge with the world.

All Western State Colorado University Students are invited and encouraged to contribute Poster and Oral Presentations on their research in biology.  However, only Tri-Beta Members are eligible to receive awards for their presentations.  For more information about Tri-Beta and becoming a member, please visit our website, drop in to one of our meetings (Tuesdays at 7pm, Hurst 137), or email one of our officers.  

All students, staff and faculty are invited and encouraged to attend any and all aspects of the Convention.  In the past two years, there have been about 50 people registered for these regional Conventions, and we anticipate about 50 students and faculty to attend in 2017.  However, there are 20 Tri-Beta Chapters within our region, and with more advanced notice than has been given in the past and a little luck with weather, we could host as many as 75 participants.  The Chapters within the Western Division 1 Region include colleges and universities in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, and Nevada.


Convention Agenda & Details

            The Convention will be held in the University Center Ballroom at Western State Colorado University during the evening of Friday, April 7 and all day and evening on Saturday, April 8, 2017.   On Friday evening, registered students and faculty will arrive and check-in for the Convention, a light buffet dinner will be served, and the first keynote speaker will present on her topic.  The Convention resumes on Saturday morning, with coffee and a light continental breakfast, while students present their research posters and answer questions about their research.  After the poster session, students give oral presentations on their research and answer questions.  After oral presentations, Convention attendees break for lunch on their own while faculty judges convene to assess posters and presentations for awards.  On Saturday afternoon, 2-3 different field trips which relate to biology and the Gunnison community are offered to attendees.  Saturday evening wraps-up the Convention with a buffet dinner and cash bar, another keynote speaker, and distribution of awards. 

In order to attend the entire Convention, students and faculty must register by the March 27, 2017 deadline.  The cost of registration is $60.00 per registrant.  This registration fee includes all presentations (including both keynote speakers), dinner on both Friday & Saturday night, breakfast on Saturday morning, field trips, a t-shirt, and an abstract booklet.  All attendees must provide their own lunch on Saturday as well as any incidental expenses.  Attendees from out of town will pay for their own hotels and transportation costs.  It is possible that financial assistance to cover part or all of the registration fee may be available to Western Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society students.  Please contact Amy Harmon ( for more information.



Western's Gamma Chapter of Tri-Beta would like to thank the following institutions for generously providing   financial support for the 2017 Western Region Division 1 Convention:

Tri-Beta National Chapter Hosting Award
Western State Colorado University Student Government Grant
Western State Colorado University Convocation Fund


This funding helps to keep the registration fee low and accessible to encourage more student participation.  

We greatly appreciate the support!



Keynote Speakers:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dr. Megan Sherbenou Headshot Dr. Megan Sherbenou, Adams State University


Megan Sherbenou is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado.  Dr. Sherbenou’s work has revolved around a passion for the mountains and the study of high altitude, which led her to a B.A. from CU Boulder in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.  In her master’s work at CU-Denver, she studied physiological adaptations to high altitude in pregnancy, and in her Ph.D work she linked this physiology to genes that show evidence of natural selection.  In Megan’s postdoctoral fellowship at the CU Health Sciences campus, she studied the genetic link to the physiology of short term altitude effects.  Currently, Dr. Sherbenou is working with colleagues to explore excessive signaling of erythropoiesis (creating of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) in people living at high altitude.  Megan currently enjoys studying, teaching, and living in Colorado’s beautiful high country with her husband and son.


Presentation Title:

Living High: Modern Human Evolution at High Altitude


Presentation Summary:

What do mountain climbers, astronauts, athletes, and Colorado residents all have in common? Besides being amazing, they all share the challenge of reduced oxygen supply.  Oxygen is crucial for the efficiency of most any bodily function which requires energy.  At high altitude, less oxygen is available in the atmosphere (hypoxia) which leads most humans to have reduced oxygen delivery to the tissues that need it (hypoxemia).  This leads to a variety of problems including altitude illnesses (headaches, nausea, breathing problems), inability to exercise, and, interestingly, decreased fertility.  Each of these has an effect on reproductive success and the evolution of populations living at high altitude. We will explore human adaptations to high altitude, one of the best examples of modern human evolution in action, from genetics to molecular pathways to physiology to populations.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

 Dr. Gail Patricelli, U.C. Davis


Gail Patricelli is a professor and Chancellor’s Fellow in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Art from Whitman College and PhD from the University of Maryland, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.  Professor Patricelli’s lab utilizes new technology such as biomimetic robotics, microphone arrays, acoustic monitoring, and remote telemetry to study breeding behaviors, bioacoustics, and the impacts of noise pollution on birds in the wild.


Presentation Title:

Robots, Telemetry and the Sex Lives of Wild Birds


Presentation Summary:

Animals use a dizzying array of sounds, smells, colors, dances, electrical fields and seismic vibrations to convince each other to mate. These elaborate courtship signals were a mystery until Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, which proposed that the courting sex (often, but not always the males) must be elaborate because the courted sex (often, but not always the females) demands it. But how do scientists study the conversations males and females in non-human animals have about mating? One way to do this is to participate, controlling one side of the conversation with a robot. Gail Patricelli will talk about using robotic females to study courtship behaviors in two spectacular species of birds, the satin bowerbird and the greater sage-grouse.



Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society, Gamma Chapter Officers:

President:  Erin Twaddell;

Vice President:  Amy Harmon;

Secretary:  Sarah Keith;

Treasurer:  Alex McCarty;

Historian:  Sarah Borchert;


Faculty Advisor:

Dr. Shan Hays;  Hurst Hall 238C;  970 943-3355;