Ben Vernasco studies the social dynamics and physiology of dancing birds

From Fralin Spotlight

by Cassandra Hockman

Ben Vernasco knew he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in conservation biology while studying tropical birds in Peru. After his trip, he got in touch with his mentor, Brandt Ryder, a research ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

Ryder and his Virginia Tech colleague Ignacio Moore, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, had just received a National ...

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IGC Fellows engage students at elementary school science fair

The Interfaces of Global Change Graduate Student Organization participated in a recent science fair at Gilbert Linkous Elementary School in Blacksburg. Some of the IGC Fellows served as judges and evaluated the nearly 70 Gilbert Linkous poster presentations. Other fellows operated a photo booth called “Kids Curiosity”. Equipped with plenty of lab and field gear, our graduate students encouraged kids to dress up as scientists and check out some of the cool tools that were on hand.

See the photo gallery below–looks like everyone was having ...

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Tony Timpano is investigating the impacts of coal mining on Appalachian streams

Tony Timpano is an IGC student and a Ph.D. candidate in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. His field research is centered in the Appalachian “coal country” of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Tony is interested in understanding how coal mining affects stream water quality and aquatic life. Ultimately, he hopes that his research findings will help guide policies on monitoring and managing salt pollution in streams.

“I want to improve the science of water quality management to enhance the capability of regulators to ...

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Cathy Jachowski’s hellbender research is featured on VT Vimeo

Cathy Jachowski is a Ph.D. candidate in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change interdisciplinary graduate education program at Virginia Tech.

“Growing up in Kentucky, I learned the value of maintaining clean and healthy rivers, lakes and streams for both people and wildlife. As humans, we have all contributed to changes in land use patterns, climate and various types of pollution. These changes can affect the ...

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Susan Susan Hassol’s recent Ted Talk is about the need for better science communication skills

We’re stymied in solving the climate change problem because of an underlying challenge – a communication failure – rooted in language and ideology. Aspects of this failure include how scientists communicate, how some people confound the science with the solutions, and an active disinformation campaign designed to cast doubt. Resolution of the communication failure is essential, as it can unleash our ability to solve the climate problem.

Susan Joy Hassol is a climate change communicator, ...

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IGC Science Communication Workshop is led by Susan Hassol and Michael Mann

A major part of the mission of the Interfaces of Global Change Ph.D. program (IGC) at Virginia Tech is to help graduate students identify the different positive roles that they can play in society. Effective communication of scientific information to audiences with diverse backgrounds will be central to their success, regardless of what role they pursue. By developing the skills to make accurate science accessible to broader audiences, the students can help citizens make informed decisions that affect their own health, the environment, ...

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Laura Schoenle’s research featured on Virginia Water Radio

From Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 30, 2015.


“This week, we feature a mystery sound mix. Have a listen for about 15 seconds, and see if you can guess what water-related bird disease is the focus of research related to these sounds.

If you guessed avian malaria, you’re right! You heard Red-winged Blackbirds, a mosquito’s buzz, and the buzz of an electric-power station. All relate to aspects of research by Virginia Tech Biological Sciences graduate student ...

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Special IGC/EEB Seminar featuring Dr. Robert Lackey: science in public policy

“Science in Public Policy: Maintaining Relevance, Ensuring Accuracy, and Avoiding Advocacy”

The Interfaces of Global Change IGEP at Virginia Tech is pleased to welcome Dr. Robert Lackey for a special EEB Seminar on Thursday, March 5th, 2015.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Fralin Auditorium | Virginia Tech


Has science become irrelevant in informing policy debates?

Scientists in environmental science, natural resources, ecology, conservation biology, and similar disciplines are often not trusted by the public and decision-makers to present policy-neutral ...

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