Volunteer with the Eel Project

(by Olivia Williams)

Each spring, glass eels make their way from the Sargasso Sea to the Hudson River and then swim up various tributaries, including the Saw Kill. The New York DEC organizes the Eel Project where they set up eel nets across the Hudson River tributaries to track and count eel populations and migrations. The Bard College Field Station is one of the many locations that collects the data, and on March 28 we will be installing the eel net! For the next two months or so, we are looking for volunteers to come down to the field station and record data. Experience is not necessary as we will have trainings for the first week, and there will always be an experienced eel monitor with each group! To sign up, e-mail Olivia Williams.

eel-hand

Featured student project: David Hendler

David Hendler in interested in wildlife conservation. In his senior project he is trying to develop methodologies for surveying wildlife corridors in fragmented forest habitat. To study this question, David placed dozens of automatic wildlife cameras in the woods around the Town of Red Hook. Working under supervision of professors Felicia Keesing and Bruce Robertson, he collected thousands of photographs of various mammals, and analyzed them, to check whether animal diversity is different in in wildlife corridors compared to the larger habitats they connect.

On a picture: a collage of several photos, one showing a coyote, and another one with some deer.

Featured student project: Alessia Zambrano

For her senior project, Alessia Zambrano characterized biofilms produced by a bacterium Janthinobacterium lividum: a strain isolated from the Hudson River Valley area that plays an essential role in aquatic health and community diversity. Alessia took three-dimensional images of the biofilm using an atomic force microscope. These 3D reconstructions for the first time provide a detailed picture of the shape, size, and surface topography of individual cells of this bacterial strain.

Biology Seminar series: Spring 2016

Biology seminar schedule

Spring 2016

Publications: Microbial fuel cells in the classroom

A publication by Brooke and Craig Jude in JMBE is focused on building microbial fuel cells (bacterially powered batteries) in the college and local school classroom! These microbial fuel cells serve as lab projects in Brooke Jude’s BIO145 Environmental Microbiology course and are also constructed when local 8th grade classes visit Bard through Center For Civic Engagement (CCE) sponsored events (that are taught by Bard students!)

Citation and full-text link: Jude CD, Jude BA. Powerful Soil: Utilizing Microbial Fuel Cell Construction and Design in an Introductory Biology Course. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2015 Dec 1;16(2):286-8. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.934. eCollection 2015 Dec.

Nsikan Akpan ’06

Nsikan transferred to Bard from Bard College at Simon’s Rock after his sophomore year. In the summer of 2005, he did research on neuroendocrinology with Bruce S. McEwen of Rockefeller University. For his senior project, he did research on NMDA receptors in zebrafish. He was a research assistant in the Department of Pathology at Tufts Medical School studying Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. In 2012, he obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University for studies of drug treatments for stroke victims. He is now a medical reporter who specializes in infectious diseases and mental health. His writing has been featured in Medical Daily (International Business Times), Scientific American, Science nagazine, NatureNews, and The Scientist magazine.

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Faculty Research: Antibiotic resistance in ancient permafrost soil

The rise of antibiotic resistance found in microbial pathogens was driven by the use and misuse of antibiotics in modern medicine and agriculture. However, the extent to which antibiotic pollution impacted microbial communities found in soil and remote environments is unclear. Using a metagenomic approach to investigate microbes found in the Canadian high Arctic, Dr. Perron and colleagues found common microbial pathogens resistant to multiple antibiotics among these remote Arctic microbial communities. Dr. Perron’s team also showed that although antibiotic-resistant bacteria were also found in 5,000 years old permafrost soils, these bacteria did not show resistance profiles normally associated with infection.

Citation: Perron GG, Whyte L, Turnbaugh PJ, Goordial J, Hanage WP, Dantas G, & Desai MM. (2015). Functional characterization of bacteria isolated from ancient Arctic soil exposes diverse resistance mechanisms to modern antibiotics. PLoS ONE. 10: e0069533

Parris Humphrey ’06

Parris Humphrey ’06 transferred to Bard. In his junior year, he traveled to Kenya with Dr. Felicia Keesing to study why the sandflies that transmit leishmaniasis, a tropical disease, are more abundant in areas without large herbivores like giraffes, zebras, and elephants. For his senior project, he figured out that deer can clear blacklegged ticks of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. After graduation, he worked as a research assistant studying the molecular ecology of disease at the U. of Pennsylvania with Professor Dustin Brisson. As of early 2016 Parris is about to get a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, where he studies disease ecology and evolution.

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Featured senior project: Abby Soussan

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a deadly pathogen of many species of amphibians. One of the most promising ways to combat its spread is to expose Bd zoospores to a purple pigment, violacein, which can kill Bd. Working with Professor Brooke Jude, Abby Soussan is determining whether Bd zoospores can sense and move away from the pigment, which would seriously inhibit the effectiveness of this potential treatment.