17 actually worthwhile things to know about mosquitoes

ATanjim Hossain is an NSF graduate research fellow at the University of Miami. His research focuses on the intersection of microclimatology and mosquito vector ecology from an epidemiological perspective. Follow him on twitter here

BuzzFeed: the epitome of unnecessary hyperbole and an amalgam of often unoriginal content. I’ve long been convinced that this website is a waste of time and that it parrots bullshit in exchange for pageviews. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a recent article headlined, “17 Things Only Chronic Mosquito Victims Will Understand.”For a brief moment I was encouraged, hopeful even, that BuzzFeed might have turned a page and published something worth reading. You, wise reader, likely know this this turned out. Below I present 17 things which I think are actually worth knowing relevant to mosquitoes.

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New “Exploration Science” program is open for applications, looks pretty freakin’ awesome.


exploration-scienceThe University of Miami has started a new Master of Professional Science program called “Exploration Science“. The program will teach students both the theory and skills behind field-based research, and graduates will be well equipped to lead field research expeditions in a variety of environments around the world.

Classes include “Exploration Technology”, a course on the history of exploration, and an introduction to citizen science which will involve planning a citizen science project. There are also numerous electives available at both the marine science school and main campus, as well as field experiences involving SCUBA diving, aviation, and tropical ecology. The program can be completed in 12-18 months.

“Successful exploration involves a mix of scientific and practical skills as well as sensitivity to the ethical and cultural dimensions of working in different parts of our globe,” said Kenny Broad, director of the Abess Center and 2011 National Geographic Explorer of the Year in a provided press release. “New technologies allow researchers to communicate and share the experience of discovery—from the nosebleed heights to unimaginable depths­—with an audience beyond just scientists. We believe that a specialized curriculum combining risk assessment, decision sciences, and hands-on training in skills ranging from navigation to science diving to remote medicine can further the next generation of explorers.”

Applications are due July 15th.

Disclaimer: my department, the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, is a partner in this new program, but despite this conflict of interest, I consider myself more than objective enough to declare that this program sounds pretty freakin’  awesome.

What killed this lemon shark? University of Miami scientists perform necropsy to solve this mystery

Last week, volunteers monitoring a sea turtle nesting beach on Virginia Key came across a beached lemon shark. They called in scientists from the University of Miami’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation program, including myself . Dunlap program director Dr. Neil Hammerschlag decided to film the necropsy to use as an online teaching tool. The end result, edited together by Dunlap program multimedia specialist Christine Shepard, is below. Check it out to learn about the internal anatomy of a shark, as well as the process that scientists use to determine causes of death in marine organisms. If you have any questions about the process or about the animal, please leave them as comments below.

Shark Research with RJD: necropsy on mysteriously beached lemon shark from R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation on Vimeo.


WhySharksMatter is headed to Miami for his Ph.D. !

As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I have been accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Miami and will be starting there in the fall. In the immortal words of the great philosopher LeBron James, I’ll be taking my talents to South Beach.

The specific program I’ve joined is the new Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. I will be working in the lab of Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, Director of the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program.

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Vote for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program

The University of Miami Shark Research Program is in the running for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The money will be used for tags, boat time, underwater video cameras, and paying for local underprivileged children to participate. Among their many other projects, UM scientists are attempting to track sharks to see if they head into the region of the Gulf affected by the oil spill. To win, they need your votes! Please click here, register, and vote!