[ASC-list] Space tadpoles in Melbourne this Thursday

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Tue Mar 27 06:16:43 UTC 2012


Dear ASCers,

On Thursday night, Canadian space biologist Richard Wassersug will be talking about the latest research in space biology at a public lecture in Melbourne. Richard is a Professor at the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology of Dalhousie University in Halifax, and also works in men's health at University of British Columbia and at La Trobe Uni.

Richard is interested in how the space environment affects living organisms. Most of his research has been on amphibians such as tadpoles - which he says he chose "because they looked so funny". He has been principal investigator for an impressive number of experiments flown on the U.S. Space Shuttle.

He explains how he accidentally became a space biologist: "I serendipitously got invited into the field some 15 years ago. Back then, a group at NASA was planning to raise frog eggs on the space shuttle to see how gravity (and the absence thereof) affected the early development of vertebrates. The mission was long enough to bring back live tadpoles on Earth. These were the first alien life forms-after all, they were born in space!-to arrive on our planet. In order to tell whether the space tadpoles were normal, NASA invited me in to study them upon their arrival at Cape Canaveral."

Dr Wassersug also won an Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work "On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica" which involved asking his grad students to taste various dried tadpoles. Apparently they taste terrible, which may be a deterrent to predators.

His most recent work is on the effects of testosterone deprivation in the treatment of prostate cancer - his interest was sparked when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998.

He's a regular on Canadian TV and has written for New Scientist and the New York Times.

Richard's lecture - designed for the public and students - is from 6.30-7.30pm on Thursday 29 March, at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre in Strathmore. More info here: http://www.vssec.vic.edu.au/events/public-talks/dr-richard-wassersug-latest-research-in-space-biology/

He is available for interview. Contact Margie Beilharz, Science in Public, on 0415 448 065 if you'd like to contact him.

Kind regards,

Niall
________

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood  Vic  3015
(PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015)
03 9398-1416, 03 9078-5398, 0417 131 977

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