Profs, Research Make Headlines

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Pathobiology Prof. Andrew Peregrine was featured on CTV June 27 talking about the increase in deer ticks throughout parts of Southern Ontario. Some provincial parks have installed warning signs to let people know that the ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease, are in the area.

Peregrine says there have been significant changes in the prevalence of ticks across the province over the past five years. He says climate change has allowed the ticks to migrate north.

A faculty member in the Ontario Veterinary College, Peregrine teachesclinical parasitology, the diagnosis and management of parasite infections in domestic species.

Prof. Gary Umphrey was also in the news June 27, appearing in a Global TV story about an aggressive ant species that has colonized in the home of a Newmarket family.

Umphrey says that the European fire ant – or myrmica rubra – was first spotted in the 1970s in Meaford. Since then they’ve spread along the borders of Lake Ontario, including Toronto and Whitby.

A mathematics and statistics professor, Umphrey has always loved biology and is particularly fascinated by ants – their evolution, behaviour and classification. Research-wise, he has specialized in biostatistics, focusing on applying statistics to biodiversity issues.

The Globe and Mail interviewed Prof. Eric Lyons, Plant Agriculture for a story on June 26 examining the grass used to create the field turf in Brazil for the World Cup. Lyons said ensuring a uniform field is critically important to event organizers, as the World Cup is broadcast to billions of people around the world. He said challenges in maintaining a soccer pitch include soil, how many games are played and how much shade a field gets.

The official opening of the cryopreservation facility at the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (GRIPP) was featured in a CTV News story on June 25. The state-of-the-art research facility will allow scientists to “deep freeze” living tissue from endangered plants. GRIPP founders Philip and Susan Gosling were interviewed along with Prof. Praveen Saxena, Plant Agriculture, and master’s student Ricki Rathwell. Saxena said plants are in greater danger than ever of extinction and it is critical to preserve them now.

Environmental sciences professor Nigel Raine was interviewed for a Globe and Mail story June 25 on neonicotinoids, a pesticide under scrutiny for its possible impact on bees and other pollinators. The story examined the impact of an outright ban on the pesticide, which is used by farmers to treat seeds before planting. Raine said high doses of neonicotinoids can kill bees but scientists don’t know whether the pesticide is the main cause of bee deaths. Co-author of a recent review of neonicotinoid research, Raine joined U of G this spring as the inaugural holder of the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation.