UNCG Campus Weekly

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Renowned bat researcher will speak at UNCG

A little brown bat photographed by Dr. Christine Salomon in the Soudan Mine in northeast Minnesota. Salomon will speak on UNCG’s campus Nov. 2.

It’s the season for bats and, at UNCG, learning how to protect them from a devastating disease.

On Friday, Nov. 2, world-renowned scientist Dr. Christine Salomon will come to UNCG to give the lecture, “Tales from the underground: Searching for biocontrol treatments for white nose syndrome in bats.”

At the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota, Salomon is investigating natural products from bacteria and fungi that may help control the spread of White Nose Syndrome without harming bats or the places they inhabit. For several years, she has collected samples from bats and their roosts in the Soudan Mine in northeast Minnesota, and her lab is looking toward testing biocontrol agents on cave interiors.

Salomon’s visit is the result of collaboration between the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and part of the Syngenta Science Symposium, which was established nearly two decades ago as a forum to engage UNCG faculty and students as well as scientists and the public in the region.

“This work is tremendously interesting to researchers in biology and in chemistry and biochemistry,” says Dr. Nicholas Oberlies, co-director of the UNCG Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative, whose researchers study natural products to identify compounds of medicinal value. “She’s an outstanding fit for our symposium.”

“The timing is perfect to raise awareness about bats and their importance in ecosystem health and wellness, and the promise of biocontrol through natural products of diseases that impact both wildlife and humans,” adds Dr. Matina Kalcounis-Rüppell, director of the UNCG Bat and Mouse Lab, which examines bat populations across North Carolina.

Salomon says she is looking forward to connecting with researchers at UNCG and other academic institutions, federal and state agencies, and non-profit organizations who have been working on various aspects of White Nose Syndrome, bat biology, epidemiology, ecology and conservation.

The Nov. 2 lecture, at 1 p.m. is free and open to the public and will be in the Sullivan Science Building, Room 101.

The public is also invited to a reception immediately following the talk, in the Sullivan first floor lobby, where they can speak with Dr. Salomon and interact with faculty and graduate students from the Department of Biology and the Department Chemistry and Biochemistry to learn more about bats and natural products.

The UNCG Bat and Mouse Lab will also present two events as part of Bat Week, a worldwide effort to promote bat conservation awareness. Those events will be Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. at the Greensboro Science Center and Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library.

By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photography courtesy of Christine Salomon