[Media Launch] Fall 2013 Water INTERface Newsletter

We are delighted to launch a brand new edition of the Water INTERface newsletter for the Fall semester of 2013. In this edition, we feature:

- A fascinating research thrust area of Dr. Amy Pruden-Bagchi, a core IGEP faculty, in understanding the growth of opportunistic pathogens and the complex microbial ecology in drinking water systems (premise plumbing). Read on to find out why conventional modes of water disinfection are ineffective in containing these pathogens and how her team’s research aims to fill in the blanks.

- Amanda Sain, a PhD candidate, working with Dr. Andrea Dietrich, on evaluating the potential role of household humidifiers as a health risk – how, if the source water contains Manganese, the humidifiers might aerosolize it and increase direct exposure to the brain. She was named “Outstanding Masters’ Student: in the College of Engineering in 2013.

- Event highlights for this semester, including Dr. Rebecca Muckelbauer’s (from the Berlin School of Public Health) talk on water consumption and weight management on December 9th 2013 and updates on IGEP student publications and achievements.

Download the issue here:

Invasive Species on the Rise

From the New York Times:

There’s a Reason They Call Them ‘Crazy Ants’:

What if you discovered an invasive species that seems drawn to electricity- in your outlets, appliances, laptops and TVs- and no one would listen to you?


From the article:

The Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel and his colleagues have estimated that invasive species cost the nation $120 billion a year. The federal government spent $2.2 billion in 2012 trying to control them and fortify the native ecosystems they trample. A new wave of environmentalists has questioned this knee-jerk vilification of invasive species, arguing that some of these creatures merely threaten an outdated ideal of wildernesses as pristine places. That may be, but some can also make life pretty miserable: from brown marmorated stink bugs that destroy apple crops; to dense armadas of coqui frogs, whose pterodactylish screeching goes on all night and gets so loud that they’ve lowered property values in Hawaii; to the hundreds of thousands of giant African land snails skulking around Florida, slowly eating through the stucco walls of houses and puncturing car tires with their shells. They are the size of rats.

The breadth of America’s battle against invasive species can be hard to fathom. It involves 13 federal agencies and departments — obvious outfits like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service, but also the Treasury Department. In 1999, something called the National Invasive Species Council had to be created to coordinate all these agencies’ efforts. The council’s deputy director, Chris Dionigi, noted the obvious challenge, systemwide, of responding to such a high volume of invasive species. “By the time a species is big and bad enough to get people’s attention, a local opportunity to fight it when it’s small enough to be halted has been lost,” he said. “Sometimes things can fall through the cracks.

Continue reading…


Featured image courtesy of John Tann 

Ignacio Moore’s research is featured in ScienceShots

A recent study by Dr. Fran Bonier (Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada and Virginia Tech, Virginia, USA), Dr. Cas Eikenaar (Institute of Avian Research, Wilhelmshaven, Germany), Dr. Paul Martin (Queen’s University), and Dr. Ignacio Moore (Virginia Tech) explores promiscuity trends across sparrows. Lower promiscuity rates among sparrows were observed at higher elevations. This is a pattern that had not previously been demonstrated across species.

Dr. Moore’s paper, “Extra-pair paternity rates vary with latitude and elevation in Emberizid sparrows”, was recently featured online in ScienceShots and will soon be published in The American Naturalist. A summary of the paper can be found here.





Field Guide to Collaboration and Team Science

Are you dealing with some of the stickier aspects of interdisciplinary collaboration? Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide was written “to help researchers navigate some of the rocky and murky territory associated with building a team.” One of the coauthors, Dr. Michelle Bennett, will be hosted on campus by the Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society on February 27, 2014, as part of their IDR Day festivities. The authors include two ombudsmen and a deputy scientific director at the National Institutes of Health, so it comes from both conflict-resolution and experienced scientific collaborator perspectives.  I was reminded of this great resource by Ennis McCreary of the Office of the Graduate Student Ombudsperson here at Virginia Tech– please consider enlisting her services if you need to work through a specific challenge related to interdisciplinary collaboration with VT graduate students. You can also visit her blog about “navigating graduate-school relationships, politics, and pressures.”