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Marshall University - Biological Sciences Newsletter
October 2016

Research in Progress: MS Candidate Jess Conatser

    Jess Conatser is a current Master's candidate from Danville, Kentucky. They earned their Bachelor's degree in Animal Studies, with a focus on Biology and Anthropology, from Eastern Kentucky University in 2014. While earning their B.S. they focused primarily on non-human primates, and completed a small project on the locomotor behaviors of the African slow loris (Perodicticus potto). During their undergraduate career, Jess completed an internship with the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Kentucky. This internship was heavily focused on the care, rehabilitation, and enrichment of rescued or surrendered primates. At Marshall, Jess is working with Dr. Anne Axel to assess the internal and external parasites of a Central American primate, the golden mantled howler monkey (Alouatta paliatta paliatta).

    Coprologial surveys are a widely used, relatively inexpensive, and non-invasive method of collecting a great deal of information about an animal. Jess used a combination of fecal sampling and visual examination to collect data on the parasites that exist both on and inside the bodies of howler monkeys. Data on the parasites of a population of organisms can provide a lot of information about the health of those animals, as well as helping researchers identify any changes in their surrounding environment. Analysis of fecal samples shows the number, species, and size of parasites within an individual. With samples from many monkeys, Jess is able to identify trends or patterns in parasite variability by a monkey's sex, age, or group. Because their study site (Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica) is very reliant on ecotourism, these particular monkeys are often in close proximity to humans and domestic animals. Beginning a parasite record for these monkeys will provide a foundation that future researchers can build upon. This accumulation of data would allow time-frame comparisons and the identification of trends, allowing researchers to better understand how parasite loads and environmental factors interact.

    After graduating from Marshall, Jess hopes to earn a certification in teaching, and will then be looking to teach Biology at the high school level.

Congratulations to Former BSC Majors Who Are New MDs

    The Department is pleased to congratulate the following former BSC majors who graduated in May 2016 as MDs from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University: Matthew Abadir, Courtney Crain, Audrey Dean, Jerrod Justice, Rebecca King-Mallory, Sara Lilly, Bosten Miller, Michael Tanner, and Melissa Moore.

    Congratulations, all! We wish you the best!

Stuffed Cells by Zedmalia Wolfe
The scientifically-correct adventures of an archaean, a plant cell, and an animal cell.

Stuffed Cells cartoon

Summer Study Abroad Adventure in Ecuador with Optional Galapagos Trip!

    Ever dream about snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, seeing an active volcano, or taking a canoe up the Amazon to experience all the amazing flora and fauna? Then do it this summer! Study abroad is a life-changing experience that allows you to gain a new perspective on your studies while enhancing your resume and cross-cultural communication skills, and deepening your understanding of international and global issues. Show your future employers that you can go beyond your comfort zone and realize your capabilities.

    This program allows you to do this with familiar faces, including BSC professor Dr. Suzanne Strait. Marshall is part of the KIIS (Kentucky Institute for International Studies), which has sent more than 10,000 students abroad since 1975. You can earn up to 7 credits (undergraduate or graduate) and have the experience of a lifetime from May 26-June 17, 2017. Classes include: Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation, Applied Field Experience (with either biology or geology focus), Galapagos Islands: Beauty, Significance, and Challenge, Dangerous Planet (geology of volcanoes), and Elements of Biogeography. We will visit three diverse ecosystems: tropical rainforest, high cloud forest, and the alpine zones of the Andes. The program culminates with an optional extension to the stunning Galapagos Islands. Prices are $3,815 for mainland only, $5,995 mainland and Galapagos excursion (this includes credit hours, accommodations, meals, internal transportation, international medical insurances, etc., but does not include airfare or application fee). Scholarships are available.

    Visit the KIIS website for more information, or email Dr. Strait at straitho@marshall.edu (although Dr. Strait is on sabbatical, she is answering emails and can arrange individual or group meetings).

Brag Box An abbreviated list of recent BSC student and faculty accomplishments:
  • The Mathematical Biology project "Modeling Seasonal Influenza" by Marcia Harrison-Pitaniello, Jessica Shiltz, Robert Hughes, Roger Estep, and Anna Mummert has been accepted as a teaching case study by the National Science Foundation's National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. The story introduces epidemiological modeling using a simulated seasonal flu outbreak. Undergraduates Jessica L. Shiltz (BSC), Robert E. Hughes (MTH), and Roger L. Estep (MTH) were co-authors as well as the lead characters in the case study; they also wrote the simulations. Congratulations on this fun and useful project!
  • Dr. James Joy and BSC undergraduates Emily Setser, Mohammed Ranavaya, Nick Duffield, Naaman Dyer, and Clara Stephens recently learned that their paper titled "Putative Sensory Structures Associated with the Food Canal of Tabanus atratus (Diptera: Tabanidae)" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Medical Entomology, the most highly regarded vector/pathogen research journal. In addition, Dr. Joy indicates that they are likely to have 1-2 more submissions before the end of the year! Congratulations to the whole group!
  • BSC's Dr. Jeffrey Kovatch is one of two MU faculty working with colleagues at Murray State University and the University of Kentucky on a $3.8 million, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation. To monitor algal blooms, which can threaten water quality, real-time data will be gathered by sensors placed in waterways in Ohio and Kentucky. Students who work on this project will learn techniques that may be valuable for future careers. You can read more about the grant here.
  • Dr. Victor Fet has published the book "Alice and the Time Machine," inspired by Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine." The book is a mashup of science fiction and fantasy literature, and in it, Alice, an apprentice to Charles Darwin, meets Mr. Wells, who arrives from the end of the century to discuss some urgent and disturbing issues related to "Alice's Adventures" with its alleged author, as well as illustrious scholars of the past, present, and future. The book is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and the 150th birthday of H.G. Wells.

Selected BSC Contact Information

Dr. David Mallory, BSC Chair S-350 (304) 696-2353 mallory@marshall.edu
BSC Graduate Program Information   (304) 696-2427 biograduate@marshall.edu
BSC office, forms, and applications S-350 (304) 696-5413 crager@marshall.edu
Susan Weinstein, BSC News S-204 (304) 696-2428 weinstei@marshall.edu

 

Download pdfs of this or any past issue of the Biological Sciences Newsletter by clicking on the archive links to the right.

 
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