ODU BIOLOGY

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pollination through the Eyes of Bees

Check out one of the research projects being carried out by Associate Professor Lisa Horth.

What is it that bees see? By undertaking a research project involving graduates and undergraduates and  her Conservation Biology class this semster Dr Horth hopes to gain insight in to some of the preferences of bees with regards their use of UV cues.

Want to read more (see the links below) or want to hear more check out the Saturday Morning Science series this week

Check out the stories about her bee work:
http://www.odu.edu/ao/ia/insideodu/20111017/topstory1.html


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Congratulations Dr Frank Day - Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists

Dr. Frank Day, professor and eminent scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at ODU, was honored as a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) in an awards ceremony on July 5th at the SWS annual meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. His nominators indicated his most significant scientific contributions were in the area of forested wetland ecology, specifically ecosystem productivity with a focus on belowground processes and litter dynamics. His research helped identify forested wetlands as important ecosystems for processing nutrients and sequestering carbon. Through Dr. Day's research efforts, and those of his students and collaborators, the field of wetland science has been enriched greatly. Rarely does a forested wetland paper pass the desk of an editor without a citation of Dr. Day's research.
Dr. Day served as President of SWS from 2002 to 2003. As President, Dr. Day formally acknowledged the paucity of diversity among wetland scientists and the fact that many of the ethnic groups that are most dependent on wetland ecosystem services do not have a voice in the wetland science enterprise. In typical fashion, Dr. Day acted decisively by establishing the Human Diversity Committee of SWS and facilitating three successful proposals for grants from the National Science Foundation to support an undergraduate mentoring program for students from underrepresented groups. The program has been very successful under Dr. Day's leadership; awards have been presented to 57 students from 38 different colleges or universities.
Dr. Day was elected as a Fellow of SWS because of his significant contributions to science, leadership in teaching, and service to the Society of Wetland Scientists. Dr. Day has established a strong, internationally recognized wetland research program and has influenced over three and a half decades of students; many of whom are now professional scientists, resource managers, and teachers. Dr. Day's vision while President of SWS established a society focus on diversity.
Letters in support of Dr. Day’s nomination attest to his contributions to the field and more generally to science and society. One nominator wrote “I have known Frank for many years, first as a scientist, then as president of the society, and finally as a significant promoter of diversity in our profession. He embodies all the qualities expected of a Fellow. As a scientist, Frank Day recognized early the need to understand the structure and function of forested wetlands. In particular, he was one of the first wetland ecologists to explore root dynamics in a forested wetland. He has a distinguished research and publication record that by itself would merit his being designated as Fellow. Frank Day is just as deserving of recognition for the service he has provided to the Society of Wetland Scientists. The President’s Service Award in 2006 reflected his substantial efforts to standardize the way in which the society operates. Frank assumed a responsibility at which he has excelled and should lead to a profound change in the membership in SWS. An NSF award was granted to SWS to increase diversity in the society's membership. In spite of the significant time Frank Day had already spent on SWS business, he agreed to take on this additional responsibility. His kind and gentle manner with students, combined with his trademark thoroughness and patience, has built a structured program that helps these students learn about wetlands ecology and management. Frank Day is an excellent scientist, he has gone well above and beyond the call of duty in serving SWS, and he is a promoter of general good will.”
Another nominator stated that “Dr. Frank Day has an exemplary record of service to SWS. I think Frank's greatest contribution to SWS is his work to establish human diversity initiatives within the Society. The SWS Undergraduate Mentoring Program has excelled for the past 8 years under Dr. Day's leadership. Dr. Frank Day exemplifies the very best of our profession. His personal and scientific achievements alone would qualify him to be an SWS Fellow. Few have Dr. Day's record of service to SWS and its members.” A third nominator felt that “his leadership in spreading knowledge and opportunity to young students and in promoting multicultural diversity among wetland scientists makes him a perfect candidate for this recognition. His enthusiasm and communication skills allow him to connect with a younger generation, providing confidence and inspiration. His persistence and passion for increasing diversity in the wetland sciences transcends all of ecology, and his interactions with me and others have not onIy exposed us to a range of opportunities, but have created a model for us to emulate.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BGSO Receives Environmental Stewardship Award


Ecology graduate students Matt Semcheski (right), Todd Egerton (middle)
along with Highland Park Civic League leader Jim Hazel (left) with Rivers
& Watershed Protection Awards

The Old Dominion University Biology Graduate Student Organization has been recognized for its ongoing volunteer efforts and environmental stewardship.  Last Friday afternoon, the Norfolk Environmental Commission hosted its annual Clean City Cookout at the Virginia Zoo.  The event was hosted by WHRO personality Cathy Lewis with 200 people in attendance, representing Norfolk civic leagues, schools, churches local government and environmental groups.  John Deuel, the director of Keep Norfolk Beautiful thanked the invited guests for their help in spreading environmental awareness and education over the past year.  Ecology graduate students Matt Semcheski and Todd Egerton accepted a ‘Rivers and Watershed Protection Award of Merit’ from Norfolk mayor Paul Fraim on behalf of the ODU BGSO.  Over the last year and a half, Semcheski, Egerton and fellow BGSO members have worked with the Norfolk Wetlands Board and others to plan, permit and carry out wetland restoration projects along the Lafayette River.  In June, 2010 the group restored approximately 1000 square feet of marsh behind Larchmont Elementary, including the removal of concrete debris, installation of coir logs and sand backfill, and planting of native wetland grasses and shrubs.  The group has also volunteered on three other restoration projects in Norfolk, most recently at a large wetland restoration at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens.  If anyone is interested in learning more about becoming involved with local wetland restoration projects please contact Todd at tegerton@odu.edu.

BGSO volunteers at a Lafayette River wetland restoration project behind
Larchmont Elementary School, June 2010.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Undergraduate Research Project


Heather Grossman
(Sponsor: David Gauthier)
This project was in part funded by Departmental Undergraduate Research Funds
Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii and Mycobacterium shottsii are newly discovered, slowly growing bacteria recently discovered in striped bass of Chesapeake Bay. M. pseudoshottsii and M. shottsii likely represent intermediate evolutionary states between the pathogens M. marinum and M. ulcerans, and whole-genome comparisons among these bacteria have the potential to greatly refine our understanding of the evolution and development of pathogenesis in this group.  This project was focused on finishing the draft genome assembly for M. shottsii, with the goal of performing whole-genome comparisons with other mycobacteria.  Gaps in the draft M. shottsii assembly were amplified, and product cloned and sequenced with Sanger cycle sequencing to yield finishing reads.  Finishing reads generated during the semester were then used to augment existing assemblies.  The overall number of scaffolds (large, gapped sequences) in the end-of-semester assembly increased over the beginning of the semester, however, the overall quality of the assembly increased, as measured by largest scaffold, total contigs placed in scaffolds, N50 score, and a reduced number of surrogate sequences.  The overall assembly of M. shottsii was only marginally improved by our efforts this semester, however the difficulties we encountered with finishing primer sets revealed a number of important considerations of primer design and methodology that had been originally overlooked. Lessons learned from this work will be applied to greatly improve the efficiency of future finishing efforts on this genome.

 

Friday, April 29, 2011

iCLUB - Communication across disciplines

Holly Gaff and Jenifer Alonzo (Communication and Theatre Arts) received funding from the National Science Foundation for a resource co-ordination network incubator.  Their project, entitled iCLUB, will help biologists to collaborate across disciplines.

Groups of collaborators will participate in a foundational communication workshop. The workshop teaches scientists to use tools that actors use  to  build rapport, communicate differences in personal and disciplinary values, and to rehearse strategies for communicating difficult messages. These difficult messages might include concerns over tardiness, concerns about the quality of another scientists’ work, and concerns about professional presentation.

Leaders of groups who participate in the workshops will then meet together at ODU to learn additional tools for promoting healthy communication in interdisciplinary settings.  ICLUB also includes an online presence in which biologists who collaborate at disciplinary intersections might help one another with communication problems via video chat, list-serves, and discussion boards.

Dr. Gaff and Professor Alonzo hope that iCLUB will serve as a model for scientists who collaborate across disciplines in order to work on “big problems” like climate change, sea level rise, public health issues, and energy use.

Studying swimming animals.

Ian Bartol, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, recently received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the study “A new integrated quantitative metrics approach for identifying coordinated gaits in swimming animals”.  For this project, Dr. Bartol is leading a collaborative team that includes Dr. Paul Krueger (Southern Methodist University) and Dr. Joseph Thompson (Franklin and Marshall College).

For the large and diverse group of aquatic animals that use multiple propulsors for swimming, simultaneously quantifying both the motion of the propulsors and the resulting fluid flow is not trivial, requiring new technologies and approaches. The goal of this NSF project is to develop a novel 3D approach for studying swimming animals. The team will focus on squid, a marine swimmer that employs two separate but coordinated propulsive systems (jets and fins).  The integrated approach involves several emerging methods in the fields of biology, mathematics, and engineering, including a cutting edge 3D flow quantification technique, known as defocusing digital particle image velocimetry (DDPIV); high-speed, high-resolution videography; and new mathematical algorithms for quantitatively distinguishing between hydrodynamic and kinematic patterns based on their physical features. The methods will be combined in a novel way to collect unique 3D data sets, identify transitions in 3D wakes and 3D body motions, and correlate these transitions with salient measures of propulsive performance for the purpose of quantitatively identifying coordinated gaits in swimming animals.

This research holds great promise for developing a universal framework for gait identification in any swimmer or flyer, especially those employing multiple systems/propulsors, and thus may potentially transform current methods for studying locomotion.  Beyond the field of biology, the approach promises to provide a valuable framework for engineers of bioinspired propulsion systems, who may be seeking improved propulsive performance in compact designs similar to what nature offers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

BGSO Spring Symposium

The Biology Graduate Student Organization Spring Symposium was held March 19, 2011. This year there were 24 presentations; 11 were MS students, 7 from the PhD in Ecological Sciences, and 6 from the PhD in Biomedical Sciences program. Obviously, with this number of students the topics were wide and varied, this made judging difficult; there was a tie for 3rd place in the PhD student category.  Below are summaries of the top place finisher’s presentations

Top Presentations by a PhD student (Faculty mentor):
1.    Matthew R. Semcheski (Dr H. Marshall)
Dirty Little Secrets: An introduction to one of the most important, yet overlooked primary producers in Chesapeake Bay.
Primary production by microphytobenthos (MPP) is trophically important to a variety of micro- and macroheterotrophs in marine and estuarine habitats. In Chesapeake Bay, MPP facilitate survival and development of ecologically and economically relevant vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. MPP rates have been measured in habitats from sandy bottoms to tidal mudflats worldwide. However, productivity measurements in Chesapeake Bay are lacking, with few published studies in the last 30 years. This project aims to quantify microphytobenthic primary production rates in intertidal areas of lower Chesapeake Bay in relation to water column (phytoplankton) primary production (PPP). Eight sites throughout lower Chesapeake Bay were identified for measurements of PPP and MPP rates. Seasonal variations in community composition are examined in addition to MPP and PPP fluctuations.  MPP and PPP samples were processed for productivity following a 14C-incubation protocol. After one year, MPP and PPP varied among and between stations, with PPP showing much higher production rates per volume than MPP. Cell densities in the benthos were several orders of magnitude higher than those in the water column. Phytoplankton and microphytobenthic community composition fluctuated both seasonally and between stations, with phytoplankton production and composition consistent with historical Chesapeake Bay data.

2.    Amanda Ackiss (Dr. K. Carpenter)
Assessing the Population Structure of an Artisanal Fishery, Caesio cuning, in the Philippines and Indonesia
The redbelly yellowtail fusilier, Caesio cuning, has a tropical Indo-West Pacific range that straddles the Coral Triangle, a region of dynamic geological history and the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. Caesio cuning is a reef-associated artisanal fishery, making it an ideal species for assessing regional patterns of gene flow for evidence of speciation mechanisms as well as for regional management purposes. We evaluated the genetic population structure of Caesio cuning using a 382bp segment of the mitochondrial control region amplified from over 620 fish sampled from 33 localities across the Philippines and Indonesia. Phylogeographic analysis showed that sites in Western Sumatra formed a single population, resulting in pronounced regional structure between Western Sumatra and the rest of the Coral Triangle (FCT = 0.4596, p<0.0031). The species’ range and measures of genetic diversity at these Indian Ocean localities point toward low effective population size west of Sumatra and indicate that historic changes in sea level and ocean currents during periods of Pleistocene glaciation may have led to the divergence seen between Caesio cuning populations west and east of the Sunda shelf. East of Sumatra, there were additional significant genetic differences between the central sites sampled from the Philippines south to Java and Nusa Tenggara and the sites west of Halmahera to the edge of our sampling range at Cenderawasih Bay. Detected haplotype frequency differences in these sites may have arisen as a result of present-day ocean currents. These signatures, particularly the linage divergence between Western Sumatra and all other sampled sites, corroborate other studies in this region, indicating region wide mechanisms for lineage divergence across multiple taxa.

3.    Brian L. Stockwell (Dr K. Carpenter)
The species-area relationship and marine reserves: no reserve is an island
The argument over the effectiveness of a single large or several small (SLOSS) reserves has been continued for decades, yet analyses have focused on terrestrial examples. This study examined the effects of marine reserve area and networks on fish diversity.    Diversity from six mainstream reef fish families was collected from 28 no-take marine reserves within the central Philippines.   Diversity was plotted against reserve area, number of reserves within 10km, and area of reserves within 10km.  Regression analyses were then run to evaluate the strength of these relationships.   The linear regression analysis of diversity versus reserve area and diversity versus years of protection were both non-significant while the regression of diversity versus the number of marine reserves within 10km  and area of reserves within 10km were both strong (r2 > 0.75) and highly significant (p < 0.001).  The greater diversity in networked reserves suggests a connection through larval dispersal.    The current system of many small but closely spaced marine reserves in the Philippines appears to be an effective strategy for improving and maintaining reef fish diversity.

·         Rachel Wigton (Dr. I. Bartol)
Turning Performance in Cuttlefish Sepia pharaonis
Using complex motions of fins that extend along the length of the mantle and pulsed jets that are directed through a flexible funnel, cuttlefishes are capable of making frequent turns when hunting for prey, evading predators, and navigating complex habitats. While cuttlefish appear to be quite adept at making rapid, tight turns during these maneuvers based on field observations, turning performance has not been quantified to date in any species of cuttlefish.  For this study, we recorded a variety of turns performed by cuttlefish Sepia pharaonis from lateral and ventral perspectives using two high-speed video cameras.  Various landmarks on the cuttlefish mantle, funnel, arms, and fins were tracked and parameters, such as minimum radius of the turning path (a measure of maneuverability) and angular velocity of turns (a measure of agility) were calculated using Matlab routines.  Arm movements, asymmetric fin motions, angle adjustments of the mantle and arms, and funnel movements all were employed to minimize the radius of the turning path, whereas vigorous jetting and/or rapid fin waves were closely correlated with the highest angular turning velocities.  The extensive repertoire of mantle, funnel, fin, and arm movements displayed by cuttlefish facilitates their ability to achieve high levels of maneuverability and agility. 

Top Presentation by a MS student (Faculty mentor):

1.    Robyn Nadolny (Dr H. Gaff/Dr R. Rose)
Survey of Ticks in Hampton Roads: Tick Populations
Ixodid ticks are vectors of emerging diseases throughout the southeastern United States, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and erlichiosis. In order to understand which areas are most at risk of expressing high prevalence of these and other diseases in human populations, it is imperative to first have an understanding of the tick populations. We have begun a comprehensive long-term sampling effort to understand the distribution and composition of tick populations in the Hampton Roads area. 24 locations at 10 sites throughout Hampton Roads were sampled, and we collected more than 13,000 individual ticks during the summer of 2010. We found established populations of four ixodid tick species, including one species not previously known to have been established in Virginia. With this data we can identify populations that are at high risk of a tick encounter and provide insight as to which times of year are most risky for contracting a tick-borne disease. We are in the process of analyzing our collected ticks for disease so that we can identify areas where disease is endemic in the tick populations at high rates.


2.    Toufic Mayassi (Dr C. Osgood/Dr D. Gauthier)
Imaging biofilms on the Frontiers of Microscopy
Bacterial biofilms are dynamic systems that change over time and in response to changes in the environment.  Mycobacterium marinum are a type of nontuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) known to form unique biofilms characterized by their cording morphology.  M. marinum can cause granulomatous infections in various fish species leading to financial hardships for affected fisheries.   M. marinum are also capable of infecting humans and have been isolated from commercial water sources, making them an interesting and relevant microorganism to study.  The work presented focuses on better understanding the biofilm growth of M. marinum using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).  Escherichia coli was used as a model system for growing biofilms and imaging with SEM and AFM.  Imaging of M. marinum with SEM was able to demonstrate the dynamic nature of biofilms with respect to time and exposure to different levels of nutrition, while also revealing their characteristic cording morphology.  The MBEC assay system was used to further investigate M. marinum biofilms along with the effect of different fixatives on the preservation and stability of the biofilms.  M. marinum biofilms imaged with SEM revealed extensive extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) when fixed with glutaraldehyde as opposed to formaldehyde.  Novel web-like EPS ultrastructure, which may play a structural role in maintaining biofilm stability, was also observed.  The MBEC assay system also allowed for the first images of M. marinum biofilms using AFM.  The results from this study provide groundwork for live cell imaging of M. marinum biofilms with liquid cell AFM in hopes of better understanding the structures of these systems in nature.

3.    Stephen Rice (Dr. R. Rose)
Patterns of transiency, sex bias, and body weight in open-habitat rodent populations.
Rodents belong to the most abundant and diverse order of the Class Mammalia, and as such have served as a common basis for study and modeling biological concepts.  Rodents are presumed to be philopatric with minimal vagility, except for the notion that juvenile males are the most probable subgroup to disperse.  To test these assumptions weight, reproductive status, and previous captures were evaluated to determine departure from unity, examine the proportion of each group in trappable populations, and identify differences between residents and transients.  Long-term data sets from CMR studies in Kansas and Illinois combined with trapping efforts in eastern Virginia were coded to evaluate the patterns of transiency, sex bias and body weight in six species of open-habitat rodent populations.  Preliminary analysis of Sigmodon hispidus from Kansas indicates male biased populations for residents and transients as expected.  No discernable difference in body weight was detected; however the total population consisted of 51% transients.  Further analysis is ongoing for populations and species in eastern Virginia, Kansas, and Illinois.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Converging for the Birds!

This post was written by Rachel Jabaily, currently a post-doc in the lab of Assoc Professor Tim Motley, about the current display in the Kaplan Orchid Conservatory.

Converging for the Birds:
The plant families Orchidaceae (the orchids-25, 000+ species) and Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads- 3200+ species) are not closely related.  But both have a group of species (genus) in the New World with uncannily similar general flower shape and colors. 

In our living collection we have specimens of the orchid genus Stenorrhynchos, a group of ~7 species found in the SW United States, the Caribbean, Central America, Brazil and much of the Andes.  Notice the red, narrowly opened flowers, each protected by a big bract.

Compare the orchid with these pictures of the bromeliad genus Pitcairnia.  This genus is also only found in the New World tropics but has several hundred species.   See how outwardly similar it appears to the Stenorrhynchos inflorescence (branch of flowers)? The similarity is only skin-deep, though; the bromeliad flower’s reproductive parts (pistil and stamen) do not fuse into a column, which defines the orchid family.

This is a great example of convergent evolution, in which lineages of unrelated organisms evolve in similar ways to similar evolutionary pressures.  In this case, the plants evolved to attract hummingbirds as pollinators, which love red, tubular flowers with lots of nectar at the base.

Interestingly, only ~3% of the world’s orchids are pollinated by birds, with the majority of species using bees, wasps and flies as pollinators. Many orchid species have an extremely specific pollinator relationship with a single insect species.  Bromeliads generally utilize much more promiscuous hummingbirds, and may have fewer species than the orchid family because of it!
We have many other examples of living bromeliads in the Kaplan Conservatory- look UP on the pillars and walls for examples of epiphytes (plants that grow on top of other plants in the rainforest) and DOWN in pots by the entryway for larger specimens that have overlapping leaf bases which hold water like a vase for the plant to use later- also an important water source for many animals!

Here are a few more examples from unrelated plant families that have converged on the hummingbird floral syndrome in the New World tropics

Text and photos by Rachel S. Jabaily, 2011 except photo of Stenorhhynchos: Golden Gate Orchids, and Pitcairnia: J.M. Manzanares

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dr Meredith Kintzing, PhD.



Congratulations to Dr Kintzing who triumphed over personal tragedies to graduate with her PhD in Ecological Sciences in Dec 2010. Meredith joined the PhD program in 2004 under the mentorship of Dr Mark Butler. Meredith's studies involved traveling up and down the east coast from her home here in VA to her main research site in the Florida Keys where she spent the summer, or entire semesters immersed in her "lab". In addition, she was able to fit in classes, trips to scientific meetings and other exotic research sites, as well as the occasional marathon or half marathon. Currently Meredith is a post-doc in the biogeochemistry lab of Chris Martens in the Marine Sciences Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From Meredith:
Being a graduate student in marine ecology is challenging, exciting, and rewarding. As a graduate student at ODU I had the opportunity to dive the coral reefs of the Florida Keys and Belize while conducting research that addressed interesting scientific questions that also had applications to managing this resource. Like any graduate program it involved a lot of hard work, but on any given day I might see a sea turtle, manatee, or shark in addition to the invertebrates that were the focus of my research. When your “office” is the ocean every day is an adventure.

Research: Human activity has stressed the world’s oceans. Nowhere is this more evident than coral reefs, especially those of the Caribbean. Caribbean reefs began experiencing declines in coral cover in the early 1980s attributable to a number of factors including overfishing, pollution, disease, and loss of key herbivores. I am interested in coral reef communities particularly determining the causes and consequences of their decline. My research focuses on trophic interactions, or who eats whom, on the coral patch reefs of the Florida Keys. My dissertation focused on how the spotted spiny lobster altered patch reef communities. I found the spotted lobster has a broad diet that includes several important herbivorous, or seaweed eating, invertebrates. In addition to consuming herbivores, the spotted lobster also alters the behavior of herbivorous sea urchins causing them to consume less algae. This has important implications for coral reefs as algal overgrowth associate with the diseased induced die-off of this sea urchin is one of primary causes of reef decline in the Caribbean. By gaining a better understanding of how organisms interact on coral reefs we will be able to better preserve and protect them for future generations. 



Saturday, January 29, 2011

SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award

Congratulations to Professor Mark Butler who this past week was recognized as one of the SCHEV outstanding faculty for 2011.  See the full ODU story here.  His hard work and dedication is appreciated as evidenced by this award and the numerous others he has had over the years. For more information about Dr Butler's research check out his web page.
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Brief Bio provided by Mark Butler:
Mark Butler is Professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University, where he teaches marine ecology and biostatistics and has been a faculty member since 1989.
Professor Butler received the Hirschfield Award for Faculty Excellence and the "Most Inspirational Faculty" Award from the ODU College of Sciences. His dedication to science education has attracted the attention of the National Science Foundation, which has appointed him to numerous review panels to select the recipients of various institutional science education grants, as well as graduate research fellowships for the nation's top doctoral students.  
An internationally known marine biologist, Professor Butler has published more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters, and has been awarded more than 50 grants totaling over $8 million, many being prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation.  He has two current NSF grants: one exploring the effects of fishing and climate change on disease in Virginia's blue crabs; the other uses Caribbean lobsters as a model system for understanding how pathogen dispersal in the sea influences disease dynamics. He also spearheads a community-based project to restore sponge-dominated hard-bottom habitat in the Florida Keys.
Among other professional service activities, Professor Butler has been an advisor to fishery management agencies in Florida, the Caribbean, Australia, and the Galapagos Islands and has trained coral reef managers in Mesoamerica.  In 2008, he co-authored a policy brief for the United Nations on improving coastal marine management and last year led a conservation assessment of lobsters worldwide. Here in Virginia, he has served on the Blue Crab Scientific Task Force and is a member of the Suffolk Wetlands Board.
"My students and I get wet and dirty when studying marine ecology and I wouldn't have it any other way", writes Professor Butler. "Few will become marine biologists. Yet, whatever careers they pursue, I want to help them gain a truer understanding of how knowledge is generated and hope they become more responsible stewards of our watery, blue planet."
Professor Butler received a B.A. at Wittenberg University, an M.S. at Ohio State University, a Ph.D. at Florida State University.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fish Disease in the Chesapeake Bay

DAVID GAUTHIER, assistant professor of Biological Sciences recently received funding from NOAA (Chesapeake Bay Office) and Virginia Sea Grant, through Virginia Institute of Marine Science, for his study “Quantifying the interactive effects of hypoxia, temperature, and mycobacteriosis on striped bass (Morone saxatilis) ; their impact on the energetics and ecology of these fish."

Dr Gauthier is working as part of a collaborative team with faculty at VIMS (Richard Brill, Mary Fabrizio, Wolfgang Vogelbein, Dominique Lapointe) to study the synergistic effects of hypoxia, temperature, and mycobacteriosis on the physiology of striped bass.  Hypoxic "dead zones" occupying Chesapeake Bay through much of the summer are thought to be a potential stress factor leading to development of disease due to Mycobacterium spp. in Chesapeake Bay striped bass, and disease, in turn, may exacerbate physiological stress due to hypoxia or increased temperatures.  With this funding they will be studying the physiological responses of striped bass to increased temperature and decreased dissolved oxygen, and will be examining how disease status affects these responses.  Work will be conducted at the state-of-the-art Seawater Research Laboratory at VIMS.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tick expert gets recognized by insect society

The Governing Board of the Entomological Society of America in 2010 elected ten new Fellows of the Society. Among them, Daniel Sonenshine, Old Dominion University professor emeritus and eminent scholar of biological sciences.  The election as a Fellow to the society acknowledges Dan’s outstanding contributions to the study of ticks. The fellows were recognized at the ESA Annual Meeting in December 2010. Two years ago Dan was recognized by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene with the Hoogstraal Medal for outstanding lifelong service in medical entomology.
Dan Sonenshine retired from the Biology departments teaching faculty in 2002, after 41 years of service to ODU. Since that time he has remained active in his research program.  After years of field work and physiological studies, he has moved down to the molecular level. Among his latest pursuits are studies of the innate immunity of ticks, the molecular biology of tick reproduction, and tick neuropeptides.  
Dr Sonenshine has published over 200 referred articles in various scientific journals, various monographs and book chapters. However, it is his two volume book set “The Biology of Ticks” that he is probably best known for; although published in 1992-93 it is still the bible for all aspects of tick biology including anatomy, ultrastructure, physiology and tick-borne diseases. He is currently working on an updated version with his close colleague Michael Roe from North Carolina State University; this is expected to be published in 2013.
When he ‘retired’ Dr Sonenshine wanted to make sure he had something to do, working in the lab 8hours a day was not enough….In 2010 under the guise of pseudonym Dan Ailey he branched out of just scientific writing into the realm of Sci-Fi writing when he published Extinction: The Ultimate Holocaust. The Plan to Exterminate Humanity.

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