Biology Professor Receives Grant

From the Georgia Southern Newsroom:

John Schenk

John Schenk, Ph.D.

John Schenk, Ph.D., curator of the Georgia Southern Herbarium in the Georgia Southern University Department of Biology, received notification that his National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Research Collections grant has been funded in the amount of $280,798 to integrate uncatalogued plants into the Herbarium.

Schenk’s proposal is titled “Making a large impact on a small herbarium: Integration of un-accessioned and orphaned specimens to secure and promote wider use of the collection.”

A Herbarium houses libraries of botanical diversity that catalog plant species’ occurrences in the past and present, and they consequently serve as the foundation for biological science and science policy.

The Georgia Southern Herbarium is located in the Biological Sciences building, and houses 21,000 catalogued specimen representing 236 families, 1,511 genera and 5,258 species of plants. In addition to the catalogued specimen, the herbarium houses 26,000 uncatalogued specimen, which represents local plant diversity – including many endangered species.

By funding the proposal, the NSF recognizes the value of natural history collections, a goal that strongly overlaps with the University’s Department of Biology. The funded project will allow the Georgia Southern Herbarium to double its holdings over the next two years, a feat that is rarely accomplished in natural history collections. As the collections become catalogued, they will be accessible to students and researchers throughout the world.

The Evolution of Mimicry

Christian Cox, PhD

Christian Cox, PhD

Dr. Christian Cox, Assistant Professor of Biology, is an author on a recently published paper in Nature Communications titled, “Coral snakes predict the evolution of mimicry across New World snakes”. In this paper, which was published on May 5, 2016, the research team presents the first definitive evidence that the spread of coral snakes throughout the Western Hemisphere over the last 40 million years, drove the distribution of the mimics.

Visit the University of Michigan’s website for a more in-depth discussion of this fascinating research and read the publication at Nature Communications.

Visit Dr. Cox’s website for more information on his research.

Researchers Rescue Sea Turtle

An endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle named Catherine holds a special place in the hearts of researchers with the Georgia Southern University Sea Turtle Program at St. Catherines Island. Researchers rescued the four-year-old turtle that had swallowed a fishing hook this summer and assisted in her recovery and recent release back into her natural habitat. For nearly 30 years, the program has been making strides in sea turtle conservation efforts along the Georgia Coast.

Georgia Southern Faculty Research Receives National Attention

Christine Hladik, Ph.D., left, and Clark Alexander, Ph.D.

Christine Hladik, Ph.D., left, and Clark Alexander, Ph.D.

Christine Hladik, Ph.D., assistant professor of Geography at Georgia Southern, and Clark Alexander, Ph.D., director of Georgia Southern’s Applied Coastal Research Laboratory, were recently featured in various national publications, including the Washington Times, for their research on how rising sea levels will affect the Georgia coast and beyond in years to come.

“Our study provides a new level of remotely sensed detail that has never before been available for marsh distribution and health, as well as future projections of how these valuable resources may be altered with sea level rise,” said Hladik. “Further, our research has generated new, critical information on tidal river salinities, tidal fresh-, brackish- and salt-marsh marsh habitat coverage, and coastal elevations.”

Clark added this research is not only important to the Georgia coast, but will be applicable from Florida to Virginia, and provide guidance to similar coastal settings around the U.S. and the world, including the Gulf Coast, Mediterranean Sea and from England to Africa.

“Marsh sustainability is a question of national importance because marshes are critical nursery habitats for many commercial (e.g., shrimp, crab) and recreational (e.g., some sport fish) species, they provide storm protection to uplands and they absorb many pollutants (e.g., excess nutrients, heavy metals) from the mainland,” said Clark.

In addition, Hladik said their research is focused on correcting inaccurate wetland elevations previously recorded with laser-sensing technologies (LIDAR).

“Techniques developed in this project for correcting inaccurate LIDAR wetland elevations will have worldwide application wherever low-lying marshes are found,” she said. “These improved data sets enable a more accurate prediction of how tidal marshes, and the habitats they provide, will change with increasing sea levels over the coming decades.”

Dr. Rafael Quirino receives Charles H. Herty Fellowship

Rafael Quirino, PhD

Rafael Quirino, PhD

The College of Science and Mathematics congratulates Dr. Rafael Quirino on being selected as the first Charles H. Herty Fellowship recipient.  The fellowship is sponsored by the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center (ADMC) and the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Economic Development at Georgia Southern to promote applied research in materials science, chemistry and engineering.  It’s purpose is to strengthen ties between the academic faculty of Georgia Southern and the applied scientists at the Herty AMDC.  The selection committee sought candidates who are actively involved in scientific work that is of direct value to the Herty AMDC mission, its ongoing research and its customers.  Dr. Quirino will receive summer support for his research and funding to support a graduate research assistant through a Herty Graduate Fellowship.

Learn more about Dr. Quirino and his research.