Dr. Jessica Healy, associate professor of biology, will talk about the ability of hibernating animals to survive conditions that would kill other mammals, such as extended stays in below freezing temperatures and months without food.
Healy will present her talk, “Have Squirrels, Will Travel: Adventures in International Hibernation Research,” at the 2019-2020 Austin College Bernice S. Melvin Sabbatical Series lecture on November 6, at 5 p.m. in Wright Campus Center’s Mabee Hall. A reception will precede the lecture at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
“The main takeaway from my talk is that a single species can have a wide range of appearances and body functions if they are exposed to different environmental conditions,” Healy says. “Hibernators like thirteen-lined ground squirrels that are found from Texas to Canada use their ability to store energy in fat to survive both hot dry summers and long cold winters, but they still may not be able to survive climate change.”
During her sabbatical, which began in spring 2019, Healy traveled to Spain and Australia to meet with hibernation research colleagues to prepare a National Science Foundation grant for international student research funding. Then, she and several Austin College research students traveled through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota during the summer to complete the research. Their work was supported by Austin College’s Improving Undergraduate Science Education (IUSE) grant from the NSF. The IUSE summer research teams put novice and experienced research students together with a faculty member for mentoring and leadership modeling.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. In fall 2019, the campus recognized 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to commemorate the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.