Biology Professor Receives Large Grant

for additional study of glaucous-winged seagull

By: Kristi Spurgeon

The National Science Foundation has just awarded a $300,000 grant to a Walla Walla College biologist and two scientists from Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Mich., for their work with glaucous-winged seagulls. The award will be divided between the two schools.

“We were very fortunate to have received this money in a time of very competitive awards,” says grant recipient Joe Galusha, professor of biology at WWC.

The money to WWC will be used to support ecological research of this species in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, including the research efforts of two WWC science undergraduates and one biology graduate student during each of the next three years. The focus of the research will be on predicting the behavior and movements of seabirds in their natural surroundings.

Galusha has been involved in the study of seagulls for more than 25 years. Recently, catastrophic reproductive failures of these seabirds have been associated with dramatic reductions in food fish and increases in predations, especially by bald eagles.

The research opportunity will allow students to apply state-of-the-art mathematical modeling to real-world biological problems. “We will model these changes and potential causes to see how they are related and how to respond to them,” he says.

“We are very excited about the interdisciplinary nature of this grant and will use it to teach another generation of quantitative biologists about the application of differential equations to a new form of biological analysis,” Galusha says.

 

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