Basic Description and Off-Board Life
Thinker, behavioral biologist, homosexual, argumentative jackass with a heart of gold. Alyrium's real name is Benjamin Allen. He is a 24 year old biology alumnus at Arizona State University. He is now a graduate student at the University of Texas in Arlington. His PhD work revolves around behavioral and morphological defenses amphibian larva field against predators, and a tradeoff between these, competition and post-metamorphic traits in determining species composition in ponds with different hydroperiods. He intends to determine how these forces will shape not only which native frogs can exist within a given wetlands, but how they facilitate the establishment of invasive ones. He also does research on diet specialization and foraging strategies in aquatic snakes, which he has folded into his primary project by using snakes as model predators--as they are a threat to frogs both as tadpoles and adults.
Alyrium spent the last two years of his undergraduate work doing research in Juergen Gadau's lab at ASU working with hymenopteran insects. His primary work was with the parasitoid wasps Nasonia vitripennis. He has assisted in the annotation of its recently published genome, and looked for speciation genes in the oxidative phosphorelation pathways of it and the closely related Nasonia giraulti. This project has involved hybridization experiments, as well as thermal respirometry.
Another major project with this species has been a study of genes and proteins that regulate and control facultative diapause in N. vitripennis. He has also worked with the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicius, and has contributed to a dissertation project studying aggression in pleometrotic and haplometrotic colonies with multiple foundresses.
Alyrium is an alumnus of Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity, a national Queer/Allied collegiate fraternity based at Arizona State. He served as chair of the Finance Committee and also served on the Judiciary board and as a Peer Mediator.
His current extracurricular activity of note is his position of President of the Freethinkers of UTA.
Alyrium, after a paradoxical early college rebellion that compelled him to accept components of conservative political philosophies, has swung back to his true liberal/leftist inclinations. He supports abortion rights and has joined in pro-choice protests and argues with pro-life demonstrators. He was against the Iraq war from the start, however feels that if we leave at this point, civil war and open genocide in are inevitable and Iraq will be annexed by one of its neighbors in whole or in part. He is obviously for gay marriage and does public speaking to advocate for GLBTQ issues and to educated people about GLBTQ people. He supports any any all scientific research so long as it is conducted ethically. Including stem cell research, genetic modification, and both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. He is against the death penalty in principle because he does not feel that it is the purpose of justice to inflict more suffering than is absolutely necessary. An outspoken critic of any and all forms of creationism, he also publicly advocates the Theory of Evolution.
Alyrium accepts a form of philosophical naturalism and views religion as being irrational and unsupported by evidence. However he also views religion as having consequences based upon those who hold it. He views religion as offering justification for undesired actions only in individuals already prone to commit such acts, or in individuals who are easily persuaded to commit such acts. He also finds that different people use religion as their justification for committing desired actions and feels that it does not matter how a person rationalizes doing good things so long as they do good things. He will however viscously attack the concept of a supreme being. He just does not denigrate the holder of a god belief as often as others of his atheistic bent.