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March 2014, Volume 1, Issue 6
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Handling spiders is an art, explains Dr. Matt Johnston, veterinarian at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Bill Cotton / Colorado State University
Veterinary students Nina Garbino and Laura Clough check out “Slinky.”
Caring for creepy-crawlies
Veterinary students help bring science museum’s new animal exhibit to life BY RACHEL GRIESS
Behind a black curtain at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Colorado State University veterinary students learn about their role caring for 17 species of critters and creatures in a new exhibit meant to spark scientific curiosity among visitors. At the local museum, veterinary servicelearning means examining animals that many people would rather see than feel: endangered ferrets, salamanders, tarantulas and even a python named “Slinky.” But caring for creepy-crawlies is all in a day’s work for vet students learning about avian, exotics and zoological medicine in CSU’s renowned veterinary school. Students helping with the display said their efforts are a way to contribute to the community and to veterinary medicine. The new live animal exhibit officially opens Tuesday at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
“Exhibits like this can definitely inspire a child into deciding what they want to do when they grow up,” said Laura Clough, a fourth-year student in the CSU Professional Veterinary Medicine Program. “Being face-to-face with these types of creatures allows kids to discover something new and to develop a profound connection with different species,” Clough said. “It teaches them a sense of compassion for all living things that they can’t learn anywhere else.” Three of eight colleges on the CSU campus are contributing expertise to the museum’s new collection of amphibians, arthropods, fish, mammals and reptiles: the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Warner College of Natural Resources and the College of Agricultural Sciences. The team of students and faculty clinicians from the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital will visit regularly to examine and care for the animals. “This new exhibit provides our veterinary students with the opportunity to get out and do something for their
CSU veterinary students check out a leopard gecko at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
“Being face-to-face with these types of creatures allows kids to discover something new and to develop a profound connection with different species.” Laura Clough, CSU veterinary student
community,” said Dr. Matt Johnston, CSU associate professor of zoological medicine. “The museum has brought animals to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the past, but this larger exhibit lets us come to them. It allows us to fulfill our missions of education and outreach.” In fall 2012, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery moved to its impressive new facility at College Avenue and Cherry Street on the city’s north side. It plans four new exhibits under the themes of science and history; the first is the live animal exhibit, said Cheryl Donaldson, museum director. “We are excited about the new project, and we are glad CSU is involved. Our partnership makes available so many resources for both education and animal care,” Donaldson said. The new animal exhibit aims to illustrate how humans and animals shape each other’s worlds, said Kim Tamkun, program director of the live animal exhibit. Tamkun hopes the display will help teach children to relate to animals. “I think this will go far in teaching people Museum continued on page 3.
Pros give advice on colorful fish and ‘gorgeous bugs’ BY BRYONY WARDELL AND JASON KOSOVSKI
Experts in bugs and aquatic species have joined the collaboration to open a new animal exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Colorado State University graduate students helped design aquatic displays that feature colorful species, including the tiger salamander and orange-spotted sunfish, and are meant to raise awareness about wildlife conservation. The exhibits – including a split-level ecosystem for salamanders – give museum visitors the chance to learn about animals native to Colorado’s watery environs. “Live animal exhibits are such a great way to teach audiences of all ages about wildlife and ecosystems,” said Jon Wardell,
UNIQUE VIDEO EXPLAINS ‘INNOVATION DEFICIT’ A new video urging Congress to “Close the Innovation Deficit” was spearheaded by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities working with 12 other organizations representing science, higher education and business. A CSU alum artist and CSU video team worked with a group of national organizations concerned about federal cuts to research funding, and stressing the importance of the United States continuing to invest in research and higher education. innovationdeficit.org
a grad student in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. “Amphibians across the country are in decline, and many Colorado native fish are at risk due to habitat loss. So we hope the aquatic displays will help educate and excite visitors about Colorado’s diverse underwater ecosystems and wildlife that need to be conserved.” He and other aquatic-animal volunteers are members of the CSU American Fisheries Society Student Chapter. Also supporting the effort are CSU arthropod experts – people who know all about the little things in life, things with exoskeletons, segmented bodies and jointed appendages. Things like millipedes, scorpions and cockroaches. “The gorgeous arthropods featured in the exhibit are a great way to get people thinking more about bugs, which might
combat some of the irrational fears people have and get them learning about the good and bad impacts that arthropods have on agricultural systems and human ecology,” said Peter Forrence, an entomology research associate in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences. Forrence and renowned entomology professor Whitney Cranshaw have helped develop live and preserved arthropod displays at the local science museum; they have counseled the museum about proper identification, habitat, care and educational messages. “This collaboration is a great example of how CSU and our college can help educate the community where we live and work,” Forrence said. “Helping people understand how important insects are to our ecosystem is just one of our many goals.”
COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES Dr. Mark Stetter, dean Dr. Ken Blehm, associate dean, undergraduate and graduate education Dr. Dean Hendrickson, associate dean, Professional Veterinary Medicine Dr. Sue VandeWoude, associate dean, research Thom Hadley, executive director, operations Department of Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Colin Clay, head Department of Clinical Sciences; Dr. Chris Orton, head Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences; Dr. Jac Nickoloff, head Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology; Dr. Gregg Dean, head
LEADER IN HER FIELD
COME ONE, COME ALL
Erica Suchman, Colorado State University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, will be honored for outstanding undergraduate teaching during the American Society for Microbiology general meeting in May. Suchman will receive the Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award for her exemplary work.
Randy W. Schekman, 2013 Nobel Laureate and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, will visit CSU to discuss Open Access publishing and its impact on research and knowledge. His talk will begin at 4 p.m. March 24 in Behavioral Sciences Building, hall 131. istec.colostate.edu.
The 35th annual Open House at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital will feature animals, tours, lectures and fun from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 5. The free community event offers an inside view of the CSU vet hospital and information of interest to pet and livestock owners. For more: vth-open-house.colostate.edu.
Wayne McIlwraith, University Distinguished Professor and founding director of the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center, became the first equine orthopaedic surgeon honored with a prestigious career award from the Orthopaedic Research Society at an annual meeting last weekend. McIlwraith received the Marshall R. Urist, MD Award for his research contributions.
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Students travel to Fukushima, Japan, to study ongoing effects of nuclear crisis first-hand Unique program provides look at human impacts BY RACHEL GRIESS
Colorado State University has launched a first-ever ambassador program that allows graduate students studying health physics to travel to the site of the most important radiological event of the new millennium in Fukushima, Japan, and to act as agents for recovery. “The nuclear accident in Fukushima happened around the same time that I was looking into studying radiation protection. I realized that this event would be critical to my field,” said Jessica Gillis, who is pursuing a master’s degree in the CSU Health Physics Program. “The new facilities in Fukushima offer a massive potential for environmental research. The opportunity to visit is truly a gift, and I hope to reflect on it throughout my future career.” Gillis is among five students who recently returned from a two-week trip to Japan for radiological studies, observation, volunteer work and cultural exchange. They were the first to take part in CSU’s one-of-a-kind Fukushima Student Ambassador Program established in partnership with Fukushima University. During a campus presentation about their experience, the students noted that air radiation levels in Colorado – because of high elevation and natural soil composition – are notably higher than those measured in Fukushima since the nuclear meltdown in March 2011. Three years ago, the major earthquake and tsunami that struck Fukushima killed an estimated 20,000 people and forced the evacuation of some 150,000. The natural devastation sparked the world’s most significant nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, causing equipment failures, nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Yet there have been no human deaths attributed to Fukushima radiation exposure. “Imagine the physical destruction of an
CSU students in the Fukushima Student Ambassador Program visited communities and schools, and even helped lead a yoga class with schoolchildren. Derek Bailey / Colorado State University
earthquake and tsunami. Now imagine, instead of people rushing to your aid, they’re scared of you and blaming you for a worldwide nuclear disaster,” said Nicole Martinez, a CSU doctoral student in the Fukushima Student Ambassador Program. “The earthquake and tsunami were physically devastating to Fukushima, but the nuclear accident damaged the society with negative preconceptions.” It is not yet clear whether cancer risks could be higher after the Fukushima reactor meltdowns – nor are effects of environmental contamination, especially ongoing water contamination, fully understood. What is clear, CSU student ambassadors said, is the people of Japan deserve accurate information, understanding and help. “The propaganda against radiation is holding Fukushima back from recovering more quickly,” said Derek Bailey, another CSU student ambassador. “People need the resources to understand the information that is given to them. The best thing we can do as students is promise to communicate and be more transparent in our future careers.” While in Japan, he saw first-hand that
Fukushima’s stigma presents a challenge to full recovery. “I was sitting and talking to a man in Tokyo after our trip to Fukushima,” Bailey recalled. “He asked where I had traveled. When I mentioned Fukushima, he jumped up and backed away – like I was contagious or something.” The Fukushima Student Ambassadors hope to promote change by breaking down hurdles, including fear, distrust and displacement. “Real-life experiences give our students more knowledge than the average student,” said Thomas Johnson, an associate professor in the CSU Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. “This program lets our students apply their existing knowledge through research, outreach and education. They aren’t tourists. They are there to help.” The Fukushima Student Ambassadors Program is an outgrowth of collaborations the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has formed with health and higher-education institutions in Japan. The ongoing partnerships – aimed at advancing knowledge in health physics,
radiological sciences and cancer treatment – have opened the door to research opportunities for other graduate students in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. Dayton McMillan, also pursuing a master’s degree in health physics, traveled to Japan about a year ago to study the biological effects of heavy ion radiation, a cancer treatment found effective for some inoperable tumors that is not yet available in the United States. His trip was part of a CSU research project with the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) near Toyko. “It was great to be a part of research with a global and translational impact,” McMillan said. “I had the ability to work in worldclass facilities with technology that isn’t available in the United States.” McMillan was accompanied by Takamitsu Kato, an assistant professor at CSU with a joint appointment at NIRS, to tour advanced facilities and to work with leading-edge technology like the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator in Chiba, the world’s first machine specialized for heavy ion radiotherapy. This summer, two doctoral students will work alongside professors and researchers at the University of Tokyo and Fukushima University. Johnson hopes all CSU students in radiological health sciences will soon have the chance to study and conduct research in Japan. “Our goal is to produce the best students,” Johnson said. “We want employers recognizing our program as the best in the country. We want them knocking down doors to hire our students.”
Health Physics students who took part in the first Fukushima Student Ambassador trip to Japan will offer a campus presentation about their experience beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, in Molecular and Radiological Biosciences Building Room 123.
Students worry about effects of radiation falsehoods and stigma on Fukushima residents COMPILED BY COLEMAN CORNELIUS
Come One, Come All csuvth.colostate.edu | (970) 297-5000
Health Physics students who participated in the first Fukushima Student Ambassador trip provided the following insights in summary reports. Derek Bailey witnessed ongoing decontamination and testing efforts meant to reduce risk and allay fears about rice, fruit and vegetables, which are critical to the Fukushima economy. For instance, teams remove topsoil from agricultural land and test for the presence of radionuclides in soil and food. “Fukushima Prefecture is an area rich in agriculture, and the economic stability of the region is in part dependent on the ability to produce rice, vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, the stigma of radiation contamination has resulted in less demand for agricultural consumables from these areas, which results in greatly reduced market value. “To combat public fears, the agricultural goods produced in Fukushima Prefecture are screened for radiation before going to market.” Britt Edquist noted that, three years after the disaster, residents of Fukushima Prefecture are constantly reminded about radiation testing and potential risks – even though health concerns are negligible in much of the area. “Signs can be found in public spaces where the soil and foliage have been decontaminated. In public areas such as parks or schools, real-time meters with digital doserate displays can be found.” Jessica Gillis wrote that, before her trip, she viewed the Fukushima nuclear event in scientific terms; her view quickly expanded. “My scientific perspective of the event was primarily factual, completely lacking the sense of humanity necessary to comprehend the true situation. After time in Fukushima, I gained a much richer perspective and was able to put my learning into context.” Nicole Martinez was especially struck by the effects of poor communication and misinformation on the people of Fukushima after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency that occurred on March 11, 2011.
The first Fukushima Student Ambassadors who traveled to Japan are, from left, Jessica Gillis, Sarah Sublett, Derek Bailey, Nicole Martinez and Britt Edquist (not pictured). Joe A. Mendoza / Colorado State University
“At the time of the incident, there was much confusion, as well as significant lack of communication and resources for affected people. There was also increasing distrust of the government and other authority figures, which still remains today to a certain extent. “Three years after the incident, many people are still displaced. The number of volunteers assisting Fukushima has dramatically decreased. Wildly false accusations of radiological effects resulting from Fukushima circulate through social media. People across the world are panicked for themselves, and have all but forgotten the individuals living in Fukushima, the individuals still suffering through tremendous loss, the individuals pulling themselves up by the bootstraps in spite of losing everything.” Sarah Sublett sensed unresolved pain among many Fukushima residents, pain compounded by ongoing displacement and uncertainty about whether many people will ever be able to return home. “There are also many symbols of resiliency, recovery and solidarity in Fukushima Prefecture,” she wrote. “One shining example is Kawauchi village, where the people were so determined to return that they educated themselves on proper decontamination methods and effectively decontaminated their entire area. They were determined to make their home better than it was before March 2011 and are well on their way to their goal.”
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Three pounds of amazing tissue Don your thinking cap: neuroscience is coming to a classroom near you BY COLEMAN CORNELIUS
Calling all brainiacs! Neuroscience is top-of-mind at CSU, where the Department of Biomedical Sciences has established a new neurosciences bachelor’s degree program, one of just two dozen similar undergraduate programs at public universities nationwide – and the only one at a public university in Colorado. The four-year program builds on CSU expertise in cell and molecular neuroscience, said Michael Tamkun, CSU professor heading the new degree program. It will begin this fall. “Because of our strength in cell and molecular neuroscience within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and our strength in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience within the College of Natural Sciences, we can offer a very well-balanced and strong program,” said James Bamburg, former director of CSU’s neuroscience research. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see the usefulness: The subject of brain science is everywhere these days, with sizeable
spreads recently appearing in mass media outlets including National Geographic and the New York Times. The focus results from deepening scientific understanding of connections between brain anatomy and molecular function and human thought, behavior and health. “I am fascinated by neuroscience because the brain is our control center that determines who we are and what we can do,” said Leslie Stone-Roy, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. “It enables us to sense what’s going on around us, make decisions and move our bodies. “In addition to helping us control rudimentary functions like breathing, the brain also allows us to appreciate beauty in our environment, solve complex problems and communicate with each other. It is 3 pounds of amazing tissue.” Among those riding the brain wave is Temple Grandin, CSU’s renowned professor of animal science and a noted champion for autism awareness and animal welfare. She recently published a new book, titled “The Autistic Brain,” and in public talks often compares the workings of her own autistic brain with those of nonautistic people. Brain Awareness Week, which officially wrapped up March 16, is a global campaign sponsored by the Dana Foundation and the
Society for Neuroscience to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. It’s not over in Fort Collins. Stone-Roy will lead educational activities at Rocky Mountain High School on April 3-4. She’s training about 100 CSU volunteers to teach neuroscience to the high-school students. Topics presented will include sensory
systems, diseases of the nervous system, neuroanatomy, optical illusions and chemical senses. “Our CSU volunteers are able to share their passion for neuroscience, and the high-school students get a more in-depth look at various aspects of neuroscience through fun, small-group activities,” she said.
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a new kind of responsibility,” said Mary McAllister, a veterinary exchange student from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. “What we do impacts our animals, and it’s our responsibility as future veterinarians to help people realize this.” On a visit before the official exhibit opening, veterinary students enjoyed perusing the display, learning about plans, and handling their new patients, including Slinky, the ball python. “As exotics veterinarians, we’re expected to be experts on so many different types of species,” Johnston said. “I want my students to be exposed to all of these animals and to become familiar with things that they don’t typically see. Partnerships like this allow me to do that.” Johnston walked with students through the exhibit, posing questions and urging aspiring veterinarians to think critically about caring for animals they might never have seen up close, like the endangered black-footed ferret. “I am so grateful and excited to have these types of opportunities readily available to me,” Clough said. “Dr. Johnston gives his students the chance to really engage in interesting cases. Every day, I get to fully experience and learn something new.”
James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Artwork by Ava Perry, Fort Collins
Do the waggle dance! CSU veterinary student Laura Clough and zoological medicine intern Julia Katzenbach make like honeybees in the hive display at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Bill Cotton/Colorado State University
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Tuberculosis patients from around the world came to Colorado in the early 1900s and often were treated in specialized hospitals, like this one run by the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in Denver. Photo courtesy of National Jewish Health
Tuberculosis: a global killer with a surprising Colorado connection
The state’s veterinary teaching program, at what is now Colorado State University, flourished when the federal government provided significant funding for tuberculosis testing in dairy cattle to curb TB infection in people. This created abundant job opportunities for veterinarians. Colorado State University photo
BY COLEMAN CORNELIUS
Dozens of northern Colorado high-school students on March 24 will gain an inside look at an infectious disease that kills an estimated 1.5 million people each year – and the urgent scientific quest to halt it. The lab-level view of tuberculosis comes courtesy of the world’s largest group of university researchers investigating TB: a Colorado State University brain trust of about 170 experts in all aspects of the disease. Why CSU? The United States has virtually eradicated TB with aggressive immunization, disease-response and publichealth programs. It wasn’t always so. In the early 1900s, TB killed one of every seven people living in the United States and Europe, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many sufferers came to Colorado seeking the curative effects of the state’s sunshine and clean, dry air. Colorado became a TB mecca – often called the “World’s Sanatorium” – with specialized hospitals established across the state. One history scholar said that in the early 1900s a staggering one-third of Colorado’s population came to the state because of tuberculosis. Many consumptives improved, and then stayed in Colorado to build businesses and contribute to communities. Just one example: F.O. Stanley, co-inventor with his brother of the Stanley Steamer automobile. Stanley, who was raised in Maine, traveled to Estes Park on doctor’s orders to overcome tuberculosis. As his condition dramatically improved, he founded the famous Stanley Hotel and cemented tourism in Estes Park. TB and the CSU vet school Tuberculosis even fueled rapid growth of the veterinary school at what would become Colorado State University. Beginning in 1917 and accelerating in the 1930s, the U.S. government poured money into programs to eradicate bovine tuberculosis – the form of TB that affects cattle and is spread from infected cows to people through raw, unpasteurized milk. The focus on herd testing for tuberculosis dramatically opened job opportunities for veterinarians, even during the Great Depression, and provided Colorado’s vet school with the ability to flourish. “Many people know that our college has tremendous expertise in veterinary medicine and in infectious disease. But the connection of our veterinary training program
Colorado’s tuberculosis connection continues today, with the world’s largest group of TB investigators housed in CSU’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratories. Shown are Mary Jackson, director, and post-doctoral fellow Rabeb Dhouib. Colorado State University photo
Consumptives treated in Colorado, known as the “World’s Sanatorium,” had a strict regimen of rest and fresh air. Photo courtesy of National Jewish Health.
to the zoonotic form of tuberculosis in cattle is not wellknown, and it’s fascinating to consider,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, a veterinarian and dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Many experts cite cattle testing for tuberculosis and widespread pasteurization of milk for blunting TB and improving public health in the United States. Expertise continues in research Colorado’s TB connection continues in a different form today: CSU is one of the world’s foremost tuberculosis research universities, with noted expertise in the science of TB and related infectious diseases. In the mid-1980s, the university’s powerhouse TB group began with the arrival of investigators Patrick Brennan and Ian Orme, who together focused on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, built world-renowned research programs and became University Distinguished Professors. Even as public-health programs have quelled tuberculosis in the United States, TB remains a serious global killer. It is spread most often by airborne bacteria and attacks the lungs, and in many ways TB is more difficult to prevent and treat than ever before. About one-third of the global population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and millions fall ill each year, according to the World Health Organization. Worsening the epidemic is the alarming spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, as well as the disproportionate impact of tuberculosis on people whose immune systems are weakened by HIV. Urgent quest for cure Scientists at CSU – housed in the university’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratories – work with colleagues around the world to discover new TB diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to combat the disease. “TB remains an intractable problem in many resourcepoor regions of the world,” said Randall Basaraba, one of CSU’s well-known tuberculosis researchers. “With onethird of the human population infected with the bacteria, and with the emergence of drug-resistant strains, there is an urgent need to develop better treatment strategies and to discover the next generation of new antimicrobial drugs.” Since 1981, when the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories began, the CSU team has received more than $100 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among other agencies and foundations.
CSU researchers urge young scientists to join the quest for a tuberculosis cure that would vastly improve public health worldwide. Colorado State University photo
Angela Marques, who works with the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, leads hands-on activities with high-school students during 2013 World TB Day. Colorado State University photo