Accolades celebrate the professional achievements of the faculty and staff in the College of Science. The following accolades were published for the month of March 2017. (more…)
George Mason University researchers have developed a new bioprospecting tool to help them find promising Komodo dragon peptides that are germ-fighting powerhouses, according to new research in the Journal of Proteome Research.
The federal government’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) funded the research with a $7.57 million contract for the George Mason team to analyze peptides used by such “extreme animals” as Komodo dragons and American alligators to defend against infection, potentially leading to new drugs and strategies to fight infection and protect the warfighter from bacterial bioweapons.
Mason doctoral student Blake Klocke has been interested in amphibians for as long as he can remember. He talks about growing up in Minnesota, where he shared his bedroom with a few dozen frogs, snakes, and geckos, as well as the insects he cultivated to feed them.
It was a National Geographic article titled “The Vanishing,” which detailed the decline in amphibian populations around the world caused by the disease chytridiomycosis, that set Klocke on his career path.
“In this article, there were several photos of ‘amphibian arks,’ which are captive assurance colonies where highly susceptible species are kept and bred in captivity—safe from the chytrid fungus—to mitigate the threat,” says Klocke, who is a PhD in environmental science and policy. “I searched for opportunities on the internet and discovered that there was an ark in Panama. I knew that I had to go.”
During his first trip to Panama before his senior year at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, Klocke met conservation biologist Brian Gratwicke, who leads the amphibian conservation programs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Gratwicke encouraged the aspiring herpetologist to consider Mason for his graduate work.
“After returning from Panama, I was able to travel to Washington, D.C., and visit the Smithsonian National Zoo, SCBI, and Mason, which solidified my decision to attend,” says Klocke.
Klocke recently returned from his fourth trip to Panama, where he works with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. This summer he introduced captive-bred limosa harlequin frogs to the wild.
“This was my second field season working with this species,” says Klocke, who is pursuing his degree while working as a graduate student researcher at the SCBI’s Center for Conservation Genomics. “We equipped several [frogs] with tiny radio transmitters that weigh 0.31 grams. It’s truly fascinating.”
The radio transmitters allow researchers to find the frogs, which are swabbed once a week to identify whether the animal has become infected with the chytrid fungus.
“The most unforgettable moments are the first time you see a species in the wild. We call these moments ‘lifers,’” Klocke says. “Every day is a new adventure, and we always see the unexpected.”
George Mason University researchers and administrators briefed staff from the U.S. House Subcommittee on Research and Technology on scientific projects that will safeguard computer networks, protect drivers in automobile crashes, help airplanes fly safe, and more.
Elected officials and their staff visit George Mason as they seek to understand the latest research trends and how Mason research directly helps people. (more…)
We proudly announce the release and signing event of “Tropical Conservation: Perspective on Local and Global Priorities” edited by A. A. Aguirre and R. Sukumar, published by Oxford University Press. This book drew the majority of its contributors from this growing pool of scientists and practitioners working in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
It introduces important conservation concepts and illustrates their application as the authors directly capture real world experiences in their home countries in preventing biodiversity loss and sustaining ecological health. Today, no part of the world can be viewed in isolation, and we further codify and integrate a range of approaches for addressing global threats to nature and environmental sustainability, including climate change and emerging diseases.
Want to get the book? Use code ASPROMP8 for a 30% discount from Oxford University Press.
Photos from the Fall for the Book book signing event on September 26, 2016:
Editor A. Alonso Aguirre discusses Tropical Conservation: Perspectives on Local and Global Priorities, bringing together experts who primarily work in Africa, Latin America and Asia to introduce important conservation concepts and real world applications to issues that affect the tropics and subtropics. Aguirre is joined by his contributors, Thomas Lovejoy who coined the term “biological diversity”; Larry Gorenflo, who focuses on how people adapt to their natural and cultural surroundings; Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, whose research centers on international biodiversity governance; Harald Beck, who studies mammal-plant interaction and ecosystem engineering in temperate and tropical ecosystems; Andrew Taber, an environmental pioneer and authority on Neotropical wildlife; Elizabeth Loh, who studies anthropogenic land-use change; and wildlife biologist and veterinarian, Iga Stasiak.
Photos by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University