Faculty Research News for Summer
…and here's more summer research news from a few more of your colleagues.
Dr. Lee Greer, assistant professor, biology
Dr. Lee Greer’s busy summer encompassed a variety of interesting projects ranging from DNA analysis of geckos from Southeast Asia to a National Institutes of Health grant proposal for studying the effects of radium contamination linked to Cold War uranium mining and milling in Tajikistan in the former USSR. He also furthered his work on ancient human DNA from bones found in Near Eastern archaeological excavations.
In the gecko project, Greer and his students acquired DNA of more than 1,500 base pairs on ~130 specimens from the genus Cnemaspis. Dr. Lee Grismer collected these on expeditions to the jungles of Southeast Asia. Dr. Greer and his students worked throughout the summer on DNA analysis of the geckos for the purpose of documenting new species that earlier, smaller data sets suggested were there.
Additionally, Dr. Greer and Dr. Ivan Rouse, chair of La Sierra’s physics department, joined Tufts University colleague Dr. Doug Brugge in a $300,000 grant application to the National Institutes of Health. The grant proposal falls under the auspices of Tufts University’s Institutional Review Board and outlines a project for studying levels of radium pollution in Tajikistan. The researchers plan to infer amounts of radium in food, blood and water samples, and in building materials based on radiation analysis. With Dr. Rouse, Dr. Greer wrote the section of the grant proposal pertaining to gamma ray spectroscopy.
Finally, Dr. Greer and students are preparing for publication the results of the ancient DNA (aDNA) research done on human bones of the late Bronze, early Iron Age I era excavated from Tal Al-Umayri in Jordan with colleagues in La Sierra’s archaeology program. Greer’s students presented this data in the spring at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dr. Greer and his students are also preparing to analyze aDNA sequences acquired from Bronze Age human remains found at Khirbet Iskandar in Jordan by Dr. Suzanne Richards of Gannon University. Dr. Greer’s lab is having the 14C dating of the remains from both digs done by Dr. Erv Taylor, Keck Atomic Mass Spectrometry facility at the University of California, Irvine.
Dr. Margaret Solomon, professor of Administration and Leadership, School of Education
Dr. Solomon returned the second week of September from India where she spent a month in a second information-gathering phase of her project aimed at finding best practices to provide educational justice for India’s slum children, the so-called “untouchables.” While in India, Dr. Solomon administered a survey to children in two slum schools aimed at determining the impact of their education on their worldview, their self-esteem and their ability to take charge of their lives. She collected about 300 surveys all together. She also visited two education foundations in Mumbai to view the work being done in schools through those organizations.
Dr. Lloyd Trueblood, assistant professor of Biology
Dr. Trueblood spent July and part of August at the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory in Washington State. He collected sea cucumbers for a study examining the effects of oceanic acidification, or shifting pH levels, resulting from anthropogenic carbon dioxide. He compared the changes in routine metabolism of species that are accustomed to pH changes to those of species from deeper waters that do not experience the same shift in pH. This comparison allows Dr. Trueblood to determine if sea cucumbers are able to adapt to changing ocean pH. Results from this work will allow further study into how organisms cope with environmental changes. Dr. Trueblood’s research, which he plans to publish, is the first comparative study of how a fluctuating pH balance resulting from atmospheric pollutants affects the metabolism of closely related organisms. His data will help scientists determine other animals that may be affected by changing pH levels in the ocean.