There were lots of exciting news in the Keesing Lab in 2020. Professor Felicia Keesing coauthored a whole sequence of papers, including “Species that can make us ill thrive in human habitats” that was published in Nature; “Spatial and temporal patterns of the emerging tick-borne pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi in blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) in New York” in a journal “Parasites & Vectors”, and a paper “A new genetic approach to distinguish strains of Anaplasma phagocytophilum that appear not to cause human disease,” in a journal named Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases.
In September 2020 professor Keesing was also the featured
scientist on BBC One documentary “Extinction: The Facts with David Attenborough”. Her statements as an expert were included in articles published in The Guardian, The Scientist, Smithsonian Magazine, Canada’s National Observer, and Inside Higher Ed.
Links to press-releases:
Citizen science sees a boom in participation by people motivated by cuts of environmental protections and Covid-19 impacts on data gathering and justice.
“There isn’t enough environmental monitoring to begin with, and it will only decrease,” said Eli Dueker, a professor of environmental and urban studies at Bard College. “So what we end up with is community scientists often working with research scientists to fill that gap. And that can be really effective because it allows communities to know the pollution hot spots with both air and water.”
Full text: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/23062020/citizen-science-coronavirus/
To minimize the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the faculty in the Bard Biology program switched to remote instruction as of March 16m 2020, and until the end of the Spring semester. We are running advising sessions by teleconference, and will handle moderations and senior projects remotely.
For those of you who have recently been admitted to begin studying at Bard in Fall 2020, congratulations! We know that this is a strange time, and that your decisions about college are especially challenging this year. We are happy to speak with you, to connect you with students, and to share some of our remote instruction if any of that would helpful to you in the coming weeks. We would love to have you join our community in the fall!
(Image sources: tapestry, style transform, virus)
We are excited to learn that the Tick Project, led by Bard professor Felicia Keesing, is now featured by The New Yorker magazine!
Check out this beautiful story by Micah Hauser:
Keesing said, “I don’t like ticks any more than the next person, but I do admire them. They are survivors. Those things live for two years and eat three times. They can survive ninety-five-degree, humid, horrible summers and twenty-below winters. If you are going to root for the little guy—”…
“And their saliva!” Ostfeld interrupted. “They have a pharmacopoeia in their saliva. How do you stay attached to an animal without being detected, shrugged off, squished, or broken in half, for up to a week or so?
Read more on the New Yorker website!
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) has named Bard Biology faculty Felicia Keesing as one of its 2019 Fellows. The Society’s fellowship program recognizes the many ways in which its members contribute to ecological research and discovery, communication, education and pedagogy, and management and policy. Fellows are members who have made outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by ESA, including those that advance ecological knowledge in academics, government, non-profit organizations, and the broader society.
The Society cited Keesing for pioneering research in the ecology of infectious diseases and community ecology of African savannas, and pedagogical research that she has integrated into a vision and practice of college science teaching for enhancing scientific literacy.
Read the full press-release here: https://www.bard.edu/news/features/?id=280
We are very happy to announce that Dr. Heather Bennett has joined our program as Assistant Professor of Biology. Bennett received her BS from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and PhD in molecular biology, cellular biology, and biochemistry from Brown University. She was a Penn-PORT Fellow in neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her thesis, “Loss of Notch or JNK Signaling Results in FOXO Dependent Compensatory Sleep in C. elegans” received a Ford Foundation Graduate Dissertation Fellowship honorable mention. She has taught courses in molecular and behavior genetics of neurological disease and the genetics and biochemistry of development. Her work has been published in PLOS One and Journal of Immunology; and she has given talks at various universities on such subjects as “Using C. Elegans to investigate how animals survive in low oxygen conditions”; “How do worms sleep?”; and “C. Elegans to study sleep, stress, and neuronal circuitry in response to anoxic insult.” Dr. Bennett is a member of the Sleep Research Society, Genetics Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In the fall 2017, Assistant Professor of Biology, Eli Dueker, was awarded a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for his work with the Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC), which he founded. The goal of the project is to improve understanding about connections between land-use and stream/watershed conditions. SKWC will develop and implement long-term planning to help preserve the watershed and reduce threats and will expand regionally by reaching out to neighboring watershed community groups.
Read more: https://sagehouse.blog/2017/11/20/college-and-community-a-watershed-partnership/
Bard biology professor Cathy Collins has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study how landscape fragmentation interferes with plant-pathogen interactions that maintain local plant diversity. Plant diseases are often thought of as backyard nuisances or crop destroyers, but they can also play beneficial roles in unmanaged ecosystems by maintaining plant diversity. Each plant species has its own unique cohort of specialist pathogens. By slowing the growth or increasing the mortality of plants they infect, these pathogens prevent any single plant species from dominating an area. Many ecosystems are being broken up into smaller fragments due to land-use changes such as suburban sprawl. Habitat edges and small habitat patches experience environmental extremes such as higher temperatures, more light, and lower soil moisture. These conditions, in turn, influence plant disease. Collins’s research, which includes work with Bard students, will explore if and how conditions in fragments change the way plants interact with their pathogens and the resulting impacts on local plant diversity. The project, which is in collaboration with Sarah Lawrence College biology professor Michelle Hersh, received a total of $600,000 from NSF.
Read full press-release here.
What should all students know about science by the time they graduate from college? A great deal of attention has been paid to the training of future scientists, but the education of students who will not pursue the study of science is an equally important challenge. These students might take just a single science course in college. What do we as a society think they should know or be able to do?
The “Science Literacy Project” was supported by a generous grant to Bard College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Our goal was to develop and implement a plan for science literacy for undergraduates.
Read more on the project web site:
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has awarded a $5 million dollar leadership grant to support a scientific study that seeks to reduce Lyme disease in neighborhoods. If successful, the project will revolutionize Lyme disease prevention.
Bard College biologist Felicia Keesing and Cary Institute disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld will direct the scientifically rigorous five-year study. It will take place in Dutchess County, New York, which is home to one of the nation’s highest Lyme disease infection rates. Residents of 24 neighborhoods will be recruited from Lyme disease hotspots identified by the researchers and their partners at the Dutchess County Department of Health.
Link to the project web-page:
Full press-release from Bard.