The department has teaching and research interests in many aspects of Biology from the cellular and molecular level to organismal to global ecological and conservation issues

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rift Valley Fever modeling

HOLLY GAFF, assistant professor in Biological Sciences has recently received funding from the Department of Homeland Security FAZD (Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease defense) Center through subgrants with Georgetown University and Texas A&M University (Texas Agrilife Research) for her studies on the modeling of Rift Valley Fever.
Rift Valley Fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes that primarily affects livestock but can be passed to humans, and which is potentially fatal. It is currently found across sub-Saharan Africa, with outbreaks reported in Egypt, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and South Africa.  With the fact that diseases can be easily moved around the world in a short period of time, introduction to the USA, either intentionally or accidently, could pose a serious threat to both livestock and humans.
Dr Gaff proposes to enhance the modeling of the impact of climate on the spread of the disease.  Competent vectors of the virus already exist in the US so these would facilitate the spread of disease to both human and livestock populations. Models would involve components including climate (temperature and precipitation), livestock densities, and populations of the vectors capable of transmitting the virus.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Diversity in the fish market

KENT CARPENTER went on a "fishing expedition" in Malaysia as part of The Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition organized to document the biodiversity richness and coral reef health of the Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA), Malaysia. Dr Carpenter visited the fish market looking for, and finding a diversity of fish that were not observed during a week of diving. Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/user/2010SMEE#p/u/1/lsOj3s7g_Lg

Friday, December 10, 2010

Long term ecological studies continue

FRANK DAY, professor and eminent scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently received another year of funding for his project titled “Long-term drivers, state change and disturbance on the Virginia Coast Reserve: Long-term Ecological Research site” This project is funded through the University of Virginia as part of a larger National Science Foundation grant that is associated with NSF’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

Dr Day has been involved with this research program since the late 1980’s. His project monitors species composition, diversity, and plant cover annually at various sites along the dune chronosequence (a sequence of soils that changes gradually from one to the other with time) on Hog Island, a Virginia coastal barrier island. The effects of nitrogen fertilization on vegetation are also measured. The primary emphasis of the research is the effects of disturbance (frequent coastal storms) and changes in free surfaces (land, sea level, and ground water) on coastal dune ecosystems.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Orchid once thought to be no longer in VA, now growing in ODU greenhouse

Stephen Urick (Curator of the Kaplan Orchid Conservatory) and Lytton John Musselman (Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany) are hoping that they have as many as 10 rare orchid plants growing in flasks in the Kaplan Orchid conservatory. Seed pods for this rare orchid were collected from the universities Blackwater Ecologic Preserve near Zuni several months ago.

The orchid,Calopogon pallidus, commonly known as “pale grasspink”  was once thought to no longer grow in VA, was reported to be growing in the preserve in 2001.  Musselman says that when not in flower they are not much to see, but are gorgeous and striking when in bloom. What causes the plants to bloom is unknown.

Derived from an article in The Virginian-Pilot Sunday Dec 5, 2010.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bottom dwellers and the health of the Chesapeake Bay

DANIEL DAUER, professor and eminent scholar of Biological Sciences recently received funding for two research projects titled, "Chesapeake Bay Project: Benthic Monitoring Component Data Collection" and "Chesapeake Bay Project: Data Analysis and Management" from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Dr Dauer and his research group have received this funding to continue their analyses of long-term trends in the biota of Chesapeake Bay. These studies have included examining the relationships between land use, nutrient and contamination levels, and the condition of living (biotic) communities in the bay in order to assess whether there are any improvements in the Bay’s health as part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program.  Benthic invertebrates are used as indicators of the health of esturine environments as they have been shown to respond to environmental stress.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lobster Virus in the Bahamas?

MARK BUTLER, professor and eminent scholar of Biological Sciences recently received funding for a research project titled, "Assessment of PAV1Virus Prevalence in Bahamian Lobster Fishery" This work is funded by the World Wildlife Fund.

Dr Butler and his research team have been investigating a virus (PAV1) that infects and kills, in particular the juvenile stages of, the Caribbean spiny lobsters.  This virus affects both the biology and ecology of the lobsters and as such poses a threat to lobster fisheries throughout the Caribbean. This study will help determine the prevalence of the virus in the lobsters of the Bahamas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

About us

Welcome to the Biology Department at ODU.  We are a diverse group who has a variety of different and exciting interests. Through this page I plan on highlighting the activities of the faculty, staff and students within the department and beyond.
So what do we do? We teach and conduct research in a variety of different biological disciplines.  Information related to our academic programs, both graduate and undergraduate can be found on here. Check out the individual faculty pages for more information on the research being conducted in the department, which may include use of some of our on and off campus facilities such as the Blackwater Ecologic Preserve and The Kaplan Orchid Conservatory.  We also have an Academic Diving Program for those who participate in diving as part of their education.
Our graduate students are active in a number of community and social events, including wetland restoration activities, participate in departmental activities and run a symposium in the spring where the students can present their research in a user friendly environment. Check out their website.  
For undergraduate students there is information on advising. There are various student groups within the department such as TriBeta and the Prehealth Club.  
So check back for more; also “Like” our facebook page….let others know we exist. We will post information on departmental activities on the facebook page.