2021-2022 Biology Seminars

Thursday, May 5 (4:30 - 5:20 PM)
Friday, May 6 (12:30 PM - 1:20 PM)
George B. Saul II lecture in Biology
Thomas Gillespie, Emory University

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220

Biography: Thomas Gillespie is a disease ecologist recognized for his integrative approach to the conservation of biodiversity and mitigation of emerging infectious diseases. Gillespie was among the first to demonstrate that human impact on the environment can alter the dynamics of natural pathogens in wildlife and create opportunities for pathogens to jump between species. His efforts serve as demonstration projects of the One Health Approach and have guided international efforts to protect endangered species from human diseases and prevent future pandemics. 

Gillespie is a Professor of Environmental Sciences and Environmental Health at Emory University. He co-directs the Gombe Ecosystem Health Project in Tanzania in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute and serves as Director of Infectious Disease Research at Centre Valbio in Madagascar. He is an external expert to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, a member of the IUCN/SSC, and a National Geographic Explorer.  

Thursday's talk - 4:30 PM

Preventing Pandemics and Saving Species through Forest Conservation 

Spillover of novel pathogens from wildlife to people, such as the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, is increasing and this trend is most strongly associated with tropical deforestation driven by agricultural expansion. This same process is eroding natural capital, reducing forest-associated health co-benefits, and accelerating climate change. Protecting and promoting tropical forests is one of the most immediate steps we can take to simultaneously mitigate climate change while reducing the risk of future pandemics; however, success in this undertaking will require greater connectivity of policy initiatives from local to global, as well as unification of health and environmental policy. 

Friday's talk - 12:30 PM

The Ecology of Infection at the Anthropogenic Interface

As a disease ecologist working at the interface of biodiversity conservation and global health, I strive to determine how and why anthropogenic changes to tropical forests place wildlife, people, and domesticated animals in such ecosystems at increased risk of pathogen exchange. I will discuss how collaborators and I have pursued these questions using diverse pathogen study systems (gastrointestinal eukaryotic parasites, bacteria, and viruses) within ecosystems experiencing distinct forms of disturbance (i.e., selective logging, forest fragmentation, tourism) throughout the biodiverse tropics. This effort entails a combination of epidemiology, molecular ecology, behavioral ecology, social and clinical survey, and spatially-explicit modeling. This mixed-methods approach has allowed us to understand disease dynamics on many fronts and guide policies that protect human and wildlife health, while simultaneously promoting the sustainability of the ecosystems within which they live.  

Senior Thesis Presentations
Wednesday, May 4 (12:30 -1:30 PM) MBH 220

Woman in black dress with long brown hair on waterfrontEmma Roman: The Diurnal Fluctuations and Effects of UV on Escherichia coli in Jackson, WY Recreational Streams

Woman in red dress, medium length dark hair, standing by stone wallAudrey Hsi: Reintroduction or recovery? An interdisciplinary analysis of Vermont's beaver populations

Thursday, May 5 (12:30 -1:30 PM) MBH 216

Woman in black tanktop, long brown hair, standing against white house sidingSamantha McClellan: Investigation into a Decrease in Polymorphic Sites in the UTR regions of the MSH4 (mismatch repair) Gene, in Potential Correlation with Thermal Variation Experienced by Orbicella faveolate in Great Abaco, The Bahamas.

Dark haired man standing with trees in background gray sweater and button down shirtBen Morris: Exploring pheromone recognition in ants: decoding odorant receptors and building an open-source tool for monitoring behavior.

Monday, May 9 (12:30 -1:30 PM) MBH 220

woman in green top, long datk hair pulled back standing in front of white houseMyrto Ziogas: Characterizing a SloR recognition element in the S.mutans mntH promoter region

Wednesday, May 11 (12:30 -1:30 PM) MBH 220

man with brown hair stand outside along bare treeline in black and yellow checked shirt.Matthew Silverman: Polishing a Mark-Recapture Method of Ixodes scapularis Ticks

woman with long curly medium brown hair, black shirt, standing in front of green hedge.Malia Armstrong: Stress takes the fun out of Fundulus: Metabolic and Developmental Tradeoffs to Stress Tolerance in Atlantic Killifish

Friday, May 13 (12:30 -1:30 PM) MBH 220

woam with medium length dark brown hair, wearing grey top, standing outside, leafless tree in backgroundByrn Hester: Developing a temperature-variable ex situ coral tank system: the effect of temperature variation on TRAF3 expression in Montipora digitata


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Department of Biology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753