Two Hollins professors are collaborating with scientists from four other universities to determine if the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the time people spend outdoors and if that change could result in increased exposure to ticks or tick-borne diseases.
Elizabeth Gleim, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies, and Meg du Bray, a visiting assistant professor in environmental studies at Augustana College who will be joining the Hollins faculty this fall as an assistant professor of environmental studies, are working with researchers from the University of Georgia, Duke University, Clemson University, and the University of Rhode Island on a new study entitled, “Investigating COVID-19 Impacts on the Epidemiology of Tick-Borne Diseases in People and Pets.”
“We’re examining whether people are spending more time outside due to COVID-19 restrictions and whether this might be affecting them, their families, and/or their pets’ (if they have any) risk of contracting a tick-borne illness,” Gleim explains.
Gleim and her fellow researchers are inviting any person 18 years or older who resides in the United States or Canada to fill out a short survey that “should only take about 10 to 15 minutes of your time,” she notes, “or less if you do not have children and/or dogs.”
The research team is hoping to have as many people as possible participate in the study. “We encourage everyone to please share the survey with any individuals or groups that you think would be willing to complete it,” Gleim says.
Women are more likely to earn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees on time at small and mid-sized colleges such as Hollins than at other types of institutions, according to a new report commissioned by The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).
Strengthening the STEM Pipeline Part II: The Contributions of Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges in Preparing Underrepresented Students in STEM, authored by NORC at the University of Chicago, finds that among women earning STEM baccalaureate degrees from private nonprofit nondoctoral institutions, 78 percent graduated within four years, compared to 23 percent at public nondoctoral institutions, 50 percent at public doctoral institutions, and 67 percent at private doctoral institutions.
Other key findings from the report include:
Of all the women who started their college careers majoring in STEM fields at private nonprofit nondoctoral institutions, 61 percent persisted in STEM fields, the highest rate for women across all institutional categories.
Students who earned STEM baccalaureate degrees from private nonprofit nondoctoral institutions later attained graduate degrees at higher rates than graduates from public nondoctoral and doctoral institutions.
Nearly all black and Hispanic STEM graduates of private nondoctoral institutions were satisfied with the quality of their undergraduate education.
“A crucial feature of a strong U.S. STEM workforce is that it fully leverages the nation’s innovative capacity by engaging all segments of the population, including groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM fields,” the report states. “Private nonprofit nondoctoral colleges show the highest persistence among women, blacks, and Latinos/Latinas in STEM fields within five years of first baccalaureate enrollment when compared to similar students at other types of institutions. The data show highly positive assessments of interactions with faculty at private nonprofit nondoctoral institutions among historically underrepresented groups.”
The report concludes, “The analysis demonstrates the critical importance of the private nonprofit nondoctoral sector in preparing its graduates for STEM doctoral study, especially for women STEM graduates in chemistry, biology, life sciences, and physical sciences, fields in which the private nondoctoral sector excels as the training ground for future STEM doctorates granted to women.”
The report, available for download here, extends research contained in Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: The Contributions of Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges, which was published in 2014.
Hollins is a member of the CIC, an association of nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society.
When biology major Ciera Morris ’19 wanted to challenge herself by completing a voluntary senior thesis, she sought a project that would reflect her interest in infectious disease research as it relates to public health. Collaborating with Assistant Professor of Biology Elizabeth Gleim and Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson, she found the perfect vehicle: Exploring tick ecology in southwest Virginia and its possible connection to the risk of Lyme disease.
“Given there are a lot of public health implications in regard to tick research, working with Dr. Gleim and Dr. Wilson was the best option for me,” Morris says. “We decided my project should focus on species composition and the abundance and phenology of ticks in southwest Virginia to better comprehend disease ecology in the Roanoke Valley. This included understanding what tick species are present and what times of the year they are active.”
“Her project has been incredibly intensive involving a year of monthly filed collections of ticks at sites all over the Roanoke Valley,” Gleim explains. “She collected almost 20,000 ticks and did a lot of lab work, too.”
With the sheer volume of ticks involved, Morris notes that the process of analyzing the ticks she gathered will have to be continued by other students after she graduates. But, she adds, “I could see this study being published in a couple of years or so.”
Another highlight of Morris’ undergraduate career was a signature internship two years ago with Climate Central, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that performs ecological research and produces nonpartisan information regarding climate change. During that January Short Term opportunity, “I was investigating the impact of wildfires on air quality and human health in California and Washington State,” she says.
Morris’ impressive record of research has earned her a two-year, post-baccalaureate fellowship at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana. The facility is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health.
“It’s a really impressive fellowship,” Gleim states. “Some of the premier research on tick-borne diseases has historically come out of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories,” including the discovery of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
“I’m primarily going to be looking at how pathogens are transmitted to hosts, and how disease development occurs out of that,” Morris says. “I’ll be working with and learning from a laboratory team that brings different backgrounds of knowledge and skills. I’m excited because I think it’s going to be a good transition from dealing with tick ecology to viral research in general. It’s a good stepping stone to where I want to be.”
After completing her fellowship, Morris expects to go on to graduate school and pursue either a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. focusing on infectious disease. Whatever path her career ultimately takes, she is confident her experience as a student-athlete has given her the tools to maintain a healthy work-life balance. A member of the Hollins soccer team for four years, three of which she served as team captain, Morris says her professors supported her active participation in interests outside the classroom while her coaches encouraged her to pursue undergraduate research.
“Continuing that type of balanced relationship with both academic and extracurricular interests is important. It teaches you a lot as you move into a career setting.”
Last summer, biology major Sunny Greene ’19 was part of a research team in the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One of only 1,300 students chosen to work in the program from over 10,000 national and international applicants, Greene spent 12 weeks investigating a rare genetic disorder called Chediak-Higashi Disease (CHD), of which there are only 300 cases known worldwide.
The NIH experience offered Greene valuable credentials and crucial preparation for achieving her goal of gaining acceptance to one of the nation’s highly selective M.D./Ph.D. programs, so she was delighted when the UDP invited her back this summer to continue her research into CHD.
“I was back in the same lab working with the same people, but this summer’s research focused on a different facet of the disease,” she explains. “Last year, I primarily conducted tissue culture experiments on fibroblast skin cells, but this year I was studying CHD’s neuropathology.”
While the classic CHD case affects children and is characterized by partial albinism, easy bruising, prolonged bleeding and clotting issues, and immunodeficiency, adult sufferers of CHD are prone to experiencing neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson’s: balance issues, motor skill loss, and/or some developmental delay. “We have no idea what causes these neurological symptoms, so I did a lot of experiments on the neuropathology of the mouse models of CHD.”
Greene zeroed in two factors that cause Parkinson’s, the first being Purkinje cell loss in the cerebellum. “This part of the brain is located at the base of the skull and Purkinje cells are responsible for the cerebellum’s role in managing motor function. One theory is that Purkinje cell loss or death might cause Parkinson’s, because if you lose them, they never grow back, and you’re going to lose motor function over time.”
She also explored a particular pathway in the brain that, if not functioning correctly, could create symptoms of Parkinson’s. “An enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, or TH for short, is part of this pathway and it converts the amino acid L-DOPA into dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps in part to regulate movement. If TH isn’t functioning properly, you’re stuck with just L-DOPA and you’re not going to have enough dopamine.”
While this research shows promise, Greene says much of her work proved frustrating. But, she found that her experience with failure as a researcher last summer with NIH was invaluable in building her persistence and resilience.
“What I learned from my epigenetic reading is that the essence of research is that you’re not trying to prove anything, you’re trying to disprove something. In order to be successful, you have to fail. Goodness knows, I failed so many times this summer, but I was more prepared for it having gone through it the previous summer.”
Greene was also ready to handle lab politics for the first time. “The research world can be dog-eat-dog and very competitive. Sometimes egos get into the way of each other. But I drew upon my experience from the Batten Leadership Institute (BLI) at Hollins to deal with that, and as a result I feel that someday I can be a successful leader in the lab.”
Greene says she is tentatively planning to work at NIH again next summer as a springboard to gaining one to two more years of solid research experience, a prerequisite for many M.D./Ph.D. programs. In the meantime, she’s enjoying her senior year experience at Hollins. “It’s a time to reflect and enjoy where you are and who you are, and so honestly my goal this year is to have fun with that. I’m taking Latin 101 and learning about Roman culture, and I’m also taking a theatre appreciation class because I’ve always loved theatre, and I’m mentoring students through BLI.
“I want to do things to make myself a well-rounded person. M.D./Ph.D. programs want to see that. Of course, they want to know that you are dedicated to your science, but they also want to know what you’re doing outside of that to enrich your research.”
Four rising Hollins University seniors who intend to pursue careers in STEM fields got the chance this summer to intern at one of the nation’s foremost academic medical centers.
Biology majors Ya Gao and Assma Shabab and chemistry majors Veronica Able-Thomas and Rania Asif spent eight weeks in June and July working at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan.
“Growing numbers of Hollins students are interested in STEM fields,” said Karen Cardozo, Hollins’ executive director of career development. To help STEM students become more competitive candidates for postgraduate education, she called upon her brother, Timothy J. Cardozo, who is an associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at NYU Langone.
“Tim generously agreed to open a special Hollins pipeline to his lab at NYU for a pilot program this summer,” Karen Cardozo explained. “As an interdisciplinary researcher with dual degrees, he’s an especially flexible mentor, able to support students with a wide variety of interests.”
The internship program furthers Timothy Cardozo’s relationship with Hollins. Last April, he participated in a “PreMed Plus” panel at the university, joining alumnae and others who hold a variety of roles in a range of healthcare fields. He also provided informal mentoring to students especially interested in the M.D. and/or Ph.D. tracks.
Karen Cardozo praised “the incredible generosity of Hollins also who stepped up immediately as donors when the opportunity arose to place these students at NYU.”
In the fight to stop the spread of Lyme disease in the United States, one crucial question has baffled scientists: Why is the disease so prevalent in the northeastern U.S., but in the southeast, relatively few cases have been reported? The trend persists even though the blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) that transmit Lyme through their bites can be found throughout the eastern part of the country.
Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies/Environmental Science Liz Gleim, who is also a tick biologist, says one hypothesis has recently gained traction: the possibility that “the northern and southern populations of the blacklegged tick are genetically distinct, and that difference manifests itself in terms of how ticks quest for a host. A questing tick is one that’s crawling up on the tips of vegetation and hoping a human or animal host is going to brush up against them and they can hop a ride.”
Northern ticks have been found to be far more aggressive when questing and thus more likely to get on people than southern ticks, who tend to live in leaf litter where humans are less prone to come in contact with them.
Even within Virginia, Gleim notes that ticks from the coastal, central, and southwestern parts of the state exhibit different questing behaviors from one another. This phenomenon is the basis for a project this summer in which Gleim is collaborating with scientists from Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to discover what makes ticks tick.
“Ticks along the coast are generally not as aggressive as those here in the Roanoke area. So what we’re doing is collecting ticks locally, around Richmond, and along the Virginia seaboard, sort of an east-west gradient, in the hope that we get populations that may be showing different questing behaviors,” Gleim explains. “Is their behavior actually controlled by genes, or it prompted by three distinctive climates? The hope is that we’ll be able to find out.”
Gleim and her fellow researchers are taking the ticks they gather between Roanoke, Richmond, and the coast, and placing them in what she describes as “tick arenas,” containers that are located in mature hardwood forest areas, the preferred habitat of blacklegged ticks. At Hollins, the tick arenas have been situated in the woods adjacent to the northeastern part of campus.
“It’s a very cool way in which we can take advantage of our beautiful natural forests that are convenient to campus,” Gleim states. “We’re really lucky because the folks who are conducting research in Richmond and on the coast are having to use public lands, so they have to go through the process of working with state and public officials and securing permission.”
Students from Hollins and the University of Richmond will be working with Gleim on the project at the Hollins site. “They’ll be coming out multiple times a week to make observations on the ticks to see what sorts of questing behaviors they are exhibiting.”
Faculty members from the biology and environmental studies/environmental science programs at Hollins assisted Gleim in constructing the tick arenas and addressing a key concern: how to ensure the ticks they’re studying stay in place while keeping out the ticks that already live in the surrounding forest. “We’re putting sterilized leaf litter into the containers so that we’re certain we’re not inadvertently picking up ticks that aren’t part of our research,” Gleim says. “Installing metal flashing and chicken wire will not only help us keep ticks out but also prevent small mammals or wildlife from entering the arenas. The last zone of defense is this sticky material that’s almost like a paste that we use to coat the inside of each area. So, any ticks that try to leave or enter the arenas will get stuck.”
Gleim and her fellow researchers will be placing ticks in the arenas during the last couple of weeks in May. The study will continue through early and mid-July to coincide with when the blacklegged tick is naturally active.
Conducting tick research at Hollins is fitting. As Gleim notes, “Roanoke itself is a major focal point for Lyme disease. If you look at a map of Lyme cases in the U.S., there’s literally this bright red spot on Roanoke. Areas north of here have a seen a lot of it, too, but southward, there isn’t much. One theory is that northern ticks are making their way down through the mountains to the southern region.”
Featured photo: Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson (left) and Professor of Biology Renee Godard work on several of the tick arenas that will facilitate this summer’s study of blacklegged tick behavior and the impact of genetics versus the environment.
Two summers ago, Roshaye Graham ’18 returned home to Jamaica to face a family crisis: her grandmother, a woman she considered to be her “second mother,” was terminally ill with cancer. For the biology major, the experience was both heartbreaking and infuriating.
“I witnessed firsthand the critical need for healthcare providers to not only devote time and care to their patients, but to also adequately and accurately inform caregivers of their loved one’s condition,” she recalls. “I had presumed the doctors would have informed my family about my grandmother’s condition, but found that they knew relatively little except that her body was rapidly deteriorating. When I finally heard from a doctor, I learned that her oncologist had continued chemotherapy irrespective of the fact that after each treatment my grandmother showed significant and continued decline of memory and overall physiological function, and the appearance of her ulcerating tumor grew worse.”
Told there was little more the medical community could do, Graham and her family were advised to take her grandmother home. “So that’s what we did. Every day for the next nine weeks, my grandfather and I fed, bathed, dressed, and comforted this beautiful woman until she passed. While I felt liberated to know I was helping her, I was frustrated that I had not been given any clear understanding of her treatment and continued to be concerned that she had not received the best medical care.”
Graham says her grandmother’s ordeal furthered her interest in a healthcare career and sparked her desire to help patients and their families as they face some of life’s toughest challenges and decisions. Now, she is preparing to enroll at the American University of Antigua College of Medicine, where she plans to become an OB-GYN.
After her grandmother’s death, Graham’s interest in research and finding answers led her to complete two neurobiological research internships at The Rockefeller University in New York City, where she worked closely with distinguished neuroscientist Mary Beth Hatten ’71. “I couldn’t help but dream how exciting it would be to carry out studies in the same way that would aid in the medical field,” she says.
As an OB-GYN, Graham wants to open a maternal health education center in her home country. “The World Health Organization has found that nearly all deaths that result from complications in pregnancy and childbirth occur in women residing in developing countries such as Jamaica. While it is dismaying, I recognize that most of these deaths are often preventable.
“By obtaining a medical degree, I would be able to use my knowledge and skills to reduce these statistics. I want to make a difference in Jamaica’s healthcare system, and my determination, commitment, and passion will enable me to be successful.”
From the Dana Science Building and the surrounding community to the Chesapeake Bay, Caribbean Sea, South America, and Southeast Asia, Hollins students worked closely with science and mathematics faculty throughout this academic year to perform considerable hands-on research in biology, chemistry, environmental studies, mathematics, physics, and psychology.
Twenty-three students discussed their research with the campus community during the 61st Annual Science Seminar, held April 26 in Moody Student Center’s Ballator Gallery.
This year’s poster session featured abstracts for 18 research projects. The initiatives included endeavors that focused on the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on fish biodiversity and abundance in the U.S. Virgin Islands; the effect of environmental and social factors on black-capped night monkeys in Peru; and the abundance and richness of fish in the wetlands of Cambodia. Closer to home, student researchers studied glioblastoma, the most lethal and most common form of brain cancer, at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and explored the economic and ecological benefits of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. At Hollins, they examined the impact of the emerald ash borer on the campus tree population; the functionality of prosthetic limbs for upper extremity amputees; and new, promising treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
Seniors, juniors, sophomores, and first-year students were all among the researchers featured at this year’s Science Seminar. Some of the goals members of the class of 2018 who participated in the event plan to pursue after graduating from Hollins include:
Attending Eastern Virginia Medical School to complete an M.D. degree.
Pursuing a career as a physician assistant.
Beginning a Ph.D. program in ecology, evolution, ecosystems, and society at Dartmouth College.
Attending the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to complete a D.V.M. degree.
Studying sustainability science and policy through a graduate program in The Netherlands.
One of the ways in which the liberal arts demonstrates its power is when faculty from one academic major actively support and encourage a student from a completely different major, even when those programs seemingly have nothing in common.
Chemistry major Veronica Able-Thomas ’19 learned first-hand last winter the strong connection across disciplines found at liberal arts schools such as Hollins.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved chemistry, but at Hollins I also took French classes throughout my first year and during the first semester of my sophomore year. I actually got to spend the January 2017 Short Term in France,” Able-Thomas recalls. “While I was there [Professor of French] Annette Sampon-Nicolas contacted me about a summer research opportunity that would complement my pre-med track and biochemistry concentration at Hollins.”
Sampon-Nicolas urged Able-Thomas to pursue a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) in Roanoke, where undergraduate students spend ten weeks in a rigorous experiential learning program.
“We’re bringing students from Virginia Tech and several other universities into an environment of trans-disciplinary collaboration and working relationships,” VTCRI Associate Professor Michael Fox said in a recent Virginia Tech news article. “We’re providing the students with hands-on, independent research at VTCRI in the laboratory as well as special seminars that highlight cutting-edge neuroscience research at Virginia Tech.”
Able-Thomas was one of only 20 students accepted out of more than 80 applicants into the SURF program. She spent the summer working with Assistant Professor James Smyth and Research Assistant Professor Samy Lamouille in the Molecular Visualization SURF program investigating brain cancer.
“I focused on glioblastoma, an extremely lethal brain tumor that accounts for the highest number of all malignant tumors,” she explains. “Glioblastoma encompasses a group of cells known as glioma stem cells, which have shown to be resistant to temozolomide, a drug taken during chemotherapy.
“Previous research identified a new molecule that can prevent migration of glioma stem cells. My project was to analyze its effect on microtubule dynamics in these cancer stem cells. This involved the use of various laboratory techniques, imaging technologies, and computing software to visualize and analyze cells.”
Able-Thomas describes the lab atmosphere at VTCRI as “very collaborative, any time I had questions I could always ask,” and credits her academic experience at Hollins for successfully preparing her to thrive in such an intensive program. “The classroom is very open at Hollins, everyone has their own voice and everyone can speak out. Discussions are always happening. I wasn’t intimidated at all when I went to VTCRI.”
Following its completion, Able-Thomas presented her research project at the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research Symposia. She says her work as a SURF student has convinced her to consider specializing in oncology, and during the January 2018 Short Term she plans to complete an internship shadowing physicians in Gambia, where she grew up. Next summer, she hopes to return again to VTCRI.
“It was so wonderful the way a professor who isn’t even in the sciences at Hollins reached out to me with this opportunity,” she says. “It’s a great example of how professors interact here. I’m extremely grateful.”
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Launching your summer research project by digging ten-inch-deep ditches for eight hours in a hot, humid, poison ivy-infested forest doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of a good time. But for Shannen Kelly ’19, it meant that one of her most anticipated and ultimately gratifying experiences of her academic career was under way.
“Not necessarily fun, but at the end I walked away thinking it was a great day,” Kelly recalls. “It was a terrific team building activity and your spirits stay high when you are working with people who are interested and invested in what you are doing, and are dedicated to helping you achieve what you’re trying to find.”
Kelly, a double major in environmental science and Spanish, is one of two Hollins students who this summer helped pioneer a new partnership between the university and the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech. The affiliation offers undergraduate students from Hollins the opportunity to gain summer research experience at Virginia Tech in both the lab and in the field as part of the Fralin Life Science Institute’s ten-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program.
In collaboration with Ph.D. candidate Becky Fletcher, Kelly measured the growth rate, based on differential weather conditions, of an invasive weed called Johnson grass. It’s found throughout the United States and has had considerable destructive impact on agriculture.
In another experiment, Kelly explains, “I did my own lab-based study of five populations of Johnson grass from five different states – Georgia, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Virginia – and exposed them to different light intensities or different carbon dioxide concentrations to see how the populations and their progressions differ based on latitude and climate or origin.”
Kelly notes that the research will continue over time. “This was sort of a preliminary ‘what if’ project. The long-term goal would be to create genetic profiles of each population so that we can trace the differences in photosynthetic capacity, dark respiration rates, or even carbon assimilation rates.”
The junior from Tolland, Connecticut, spent much of her time at Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm in Blacksburg and discovered “that I love field work. It was a really unique experience learning science hands-on. When we were out in the field we really had to be creative because if a problem arose you quickly had to adapt to solving it. There was a lot of perseverance involved; Becky and I would sometimes spend three or four days trying to flesh out a problem. You can’t give up – you have to push through it.
“I also liked the team aspect of research. I worked in a lab with three or four other people at any given time and a great community that was built there. If someone had a question about their research they would just swivel their chair around and ask everyone else in the lab. It promoted a lot of scientific conversation.”
One of the biggest challenges Kelly took on was teaching herself to operate a complex piece of scientific equipment. “No one in my lab really knew how to use it, and only one professor on the entire campus ever worked with it on a regular basis,” Kelly recalls. “Becky however had some experience with its operation and was able to help me in the early stages of learning, which was vital. Still, it was something you just had to work with yourself to grasp how it functioned.” Kelly says she relied on manuals to help her troubleshoot how to construct light response and carbon response curves, familiarize herself with the “hows” behind the machine’s technical aspects, and ensure the equipment’s consistency since she and her team encountered a lot of machine-based control errors.
Her time at Virginia Tech, Kelly believes, “definitely opened my eyes to the types of opportunities I have and specifically made me very interested in research. It’s pinpointed where my interests lie right now – I’m interested in plant physiology and the ecological impact of invasive species. Most importantly, it made me interested in going to grad school once I graduate from Hollins.”
Kelly also sees what she’s gained at Hollins as blending perfectly with the teaching environment at Virginia Tech. “I feel like Hollins gives you the empowerment and Tech gives you the resources and technical competencies. I said all summer, I’m so glad I got to have both experiences because now I have my toes in both waters. Hollins is very beneficial to the individual education of a student – I can learn a lot in class. And then Tech was an incredible experience because I got to see what a research institute does. I’ve grown so much not only as a student but also as a researcher and scientist.
“I heard Tech was pleased with [Elaine Metz ’19, the other Hollins student involved in summer research at the Global Change Center] and me because most of the students who go into this program are from technical universities. We were among the few students from liberal arts backgrounds to take part. I think they were pleasantly surprised at how well-rounded we were, and that was because of Hollins.”
Kelly is now looking forward to spending Spring Term 2018 at Spain’s University of Granada, where she hopes to continue growing her skills in both her majors. “Granada is very diverse in terms of ecology and landscape and one of the leading areas of the world for environmental research.”
Photo Credit: Cassandra Hockman, Global Change Center at Virginia Tech
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