Sarah earned her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry. As an undergraduate she worked as a field assistant for Jackie Litzqus, a doctoral candidate examining habitat use, activity, and reproductive parameters of spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata). This experience inspired her to seek a career in ecology and eventually led her to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory where she worked with Bill Hopkins on a project investigating the maternal transfer of heavy metals associated with coal combustion waste in narrow-mouthed toads (Gastrophryne carolinensis).
Sarah’s Master’s research focused on the sublethal effects of a commonly-used pesticide on whole-organism responses in a reptile, the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). The whole-organism responses she investigated, locomotor performance and energy expenditure and acquisition, also have important implications for an individual’s fitness. In addition to her Master’s research, she has been involved in multiple other projects, including the effects of stress hormones on respiration in a lizard and several other reptile and amphibian ecotoxicology studies.
After defending her MS thesis in December 2006, she decided to stay on with the Hopkins’ lab for her doctoral work. However, for her dissertation research Sarah shifted her focus to maternal effects and how they influence offspring fitness. Her dissertation research investigated the influence of incubation temperature on energetic expenditure during embryogenesis in wood ducks (Aix sponsa) and its influence on offspring phenotype (e.g., immunocompetence, ability to thermoregulate). She was also interested in the allocation of steroids (both sex and stress hormones) into eggs and how this may affect traits such as locomotor performance, respiration, growth, and future reproductive output of the offspring. In the future, she plans to investigate interactive effects of incubation temperature and maternal hormones on offspring phenotype.
Dr. DuRant defended her thesis in the summer of 2011 and then transitioned to Tufts University where she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Michael Romero. She is now an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, where her research focuses on physiological ecology, bioenergetics and parental effects.
Sarah’s website: http://sarahduran0.wix.com/durant-lab
Sarah’s research with wood ducks was featured in Science Nation (August 2010), an online magazine and NSF initiative focused on bringing science to the general population using dynamic and entertaining short films. Follow this link to view the film.
Select Recent Publications:
Carter, A. W., S.E. DuRant, G.R. Hepp, W.A. Hopkins. In press. Thermal challenge severity differentially influences wound healing in wood duck (Aix sponsa) ducklings. Journal of Experimental Zoology: Part A.
DuRant, S. E., Hopkins, W. A., Hepp, G. R. and L. M. Romero. 2013. Energetic constraints and parental care: is corticosterone indicative of energetic costs of incubation in a precocial bird? Hormones and Behavior 63: 385-391.
Hawley, D.M., S.E. DuRant, A.F. WIlson, J. Adelman, and W.A. Hoppkins. In Press. Cold Stress mediates host pathology and immunity but not energetic cost or pathogen load in response to an infectious disease in house finches. Functional Ecology.
Wack, C. L., DuRant, S.E., Hopkins, W.A., Lovern, M.B., Feldhoff, R.C., and Woodley, S.K. 2012. Elevated plasma corticosterone increases metabolic rate in a terrestrial salamander. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-A 161:153-158.
DuRant, S.E., Hopkins, W.A., Wilson, A.F., Hepp, G.R. 2012.. Incubation temperature affects the metabolic cost of thermoregulation in a young precocial bird. Functional Ecology 26: 416-422.
DuRant, S.E., G. Hepp, I.T. Moore, W.A. Hopkins. 2010. Slight changes in incubation temperature affect adrenocortical responsiveness, growth, and body condition of wood ducks. Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 45-51.
DuRant, S.E., W.A. Hopkins. 2008. Amphibian predation on mosquito larvae. Canadian Journal of Zoology 86:1159-1164
DuRant S.E., W.A. Hopkins, L.G. Talent, L.M. Romero. 2008. Effect of exogenous corticosterone on respiration in a reptile. General and Comparative Endocrinology 156: 126-133.
DuRant S.E., W.A. Hopkins, L.G. Talent. 2007. Effects of a cholinesterase inhibitor on locomotor performance in a lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). Environmental Pollution 149: 18-24.
DuRant S.E., W.A. Hopkins, L.G. Talent. 2007. Energy acquisition and allocation in an ectothermic predator exposed to a common environmental stressor. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 145C: 442-448.
Email address: Sarah.DuRant@tufts.edu