Student/Faculty Collaborative Research in Biology

Bridgette Hagerty, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology, is working on a research project with her students involving a disease that is implicated in global amphibian declines.

“Working hand in hand with students helps to give me a different take on the subject,” said Hagerty.

Ranavirus, the disease that is infecting amphibians, reptiles and fish, has no cure. Hagerty and her students are working to understand how common the disease is in our area and how it impacts the local amphibian populations. Ranavirus occurs on several continents and infects species of frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles and fish.

“Why should we care about this disease if it does not directly make humans sick?” said Hagerty. “Amphibians like frogs and salamanders are extremely important neighbors in our local aquatic ecosystem. Tadpoles keep local waterways clean by eating algae, and adult amphibians consume large quantities of insects, which can transmit diseases among humans.”

Amphibians also serve as food to other animals like dragonflies, fish, snakes and birds.

“Not to mention, spring would be very quiet if we didn’t have the beautiful chorus of frogs at night, right?” said Hagerty.