Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Laura Vernon


Associate Professor of Psychology

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
M.A., Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
B.A., Psychology with Honors, Northwestern University 
B.A., Sociology with Honors, Northwestern University

As a Clinical Psychologist, my research is on psychological disorders and their treatment. I broadly examine anxiety disorders, emotion, cognition, and mindfulness. My recent research examines the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based equine assisted therapy for trauma, Expressive Writing treatment for Hispanic trauma survivors, brief peer-administered mindfulness interventions for college students, mindfulness’ influence on memory, the contributions of movement to emotional responses to animals, online measurement of symptoms, and the cognitive processes of emotion and phobias.
I enjoy teaching Psychopathology, Psychotherapy, Positive Psychology, and Social Psychology. I hope students apply their learning to themselves and their lives, while having fun. We review for exams by playing Jeopardy (“Terrorific Trivia” around Halloween) and have House competitions (Harry Potter fans: Slytherin is transformed into Freud House).
I love spending time with my children, Leo and Rosie, and wonderful friends and being outdoors hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, or stand-up paddleboarding. Videogames are a guilty pleasure. Weight training challenges and rewards me. And a good book is my constant companion.
 Contact: 561-799-8411; HA 115

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

War and the cost to the environment


When people talk about the costs of war, they are usually referring to the impact it has on human lives, political relationships and government bank accounts [Envirotech]. What is often not discussed is the environmental impact that modern warfare has on the environment. Air pollution, habitat degradation, loss of species, and water pollution are all factors we should be investigating in relation to the cost of war.

A recent article published in Science News takes a look at ecologist trying to restore an entire ecosystem in the Gorongosa National Park that was devastated by civil war. The article states that by end of the war in 1992, only lions remained in very small numbers [single digits]. Large scale predators, such as African buffalo, blue wildebeest and zebra were all but eliminated. International scientists and officials are attempting to restore the entire ecosystem. This is one of the largest attempts at a large scale conservation mitigation project. The reintroduction of gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park is the closest in scale of this project. Still 25 years later, that project has scattered results.

The Gorongosa Restoration Project launched in 2004. They are still working to restore the area. This project is a fascinating look at ecosystem survival, mitigation, predator/prey balance, community structure and cascading effects in the wild in a complex ecosystem suddenly knocked out of balance by war.

To read the full report and intricacies of such a large scale restoration, follow this link to the article War wrecked an African ecosystem. Ecologists are trying to restore it. Written by Jeremy Rehm, published on May 5, 2019.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Professor Spotlight: Dr. Alex Keene

Associate Professor
FAU Biological Sciences
561-799-8053 (Jupiter), 
561-297-4681 (Boca Raton)
Jupiter - MC-19, 202
Boca Raton - SC, 207

Research Interests:
  • Understanding the neural basis through which sleep and feeding state interact
  • Investigating the neural circuitry regulating taste memory
  • Developing Mexican cavefish as a model for investigating the evolution of sleep in response to environmental change

You can find more information about Dr. Alex Keen on his webpage here

You can explore the Department of Biological Sciences and the Charles E Schmidt College of Science by going here.

Keene Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior 

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Neuroscience Display

If you are on the Jupiter Campus of Florida Atlantic University , come by the library to see a really interesting display from Dr. Brenda Claiborne and her student assistant Liza Lanzon. The display is entitled, From 2D Drawings to 3D Computer Analyses of Neuron Structure.

Dr. Caliborne's interests are focused on the relationship between the structure and function of individual neurons in the mammalian brain, particularly during development and normal aging. The collaborative display shows past draswings done in the lab using a camera lucida., an optical device that aids in drawing. Technology has advanced and now photomicrography is more common. 

The work will be on exhibtion throught the end of this semester. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Biodiversity Heritage Library

plate from the 1919 publication:
Birds Beneficial to Agriculture

Printed by the British Museum

As a library, one of our main jobs is to make students, faculty and staff aware of the many resources we have availalbe to us. Today we are highlighting an open access resource: 

Biodiversity Heritage Library

This is totally free and is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL is revolutionizing global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth.

BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature held in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.”
The BHL portal provides free access to hundreds of thousands of volumes, comprising over 55 million pages, from the 15th-21st centuries. In addition to public domain content, BHL works with rights holders to obtain permission to make in-copyright materials openly available under Creative Commons licenses.
The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, publishers, bioinformaticians, and information technology professionals to develop tools and services to facilitate greater access, interoperability, and reuse of content and data. BHL provides a range of services, data exports, and APIs to allow users to download content, harvest source data files, and reuse materials for research purposes. Through the Global Names Recognition and Discovery (GNRD) service, BHL indexes the taxonomic names throughout the collection, allowing researchers to locate publications about specific taxa [Excerpted from their website].
You can follow the link above and HERE to find this resource.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Turtle nesting season in Florida

The majority of turtle nesting in Florida occurs between May 1st and October 31st. But they can be as early as March. [see below for current nest counts on our local Jupiter beaches]

Video: Arrieta, 2019 Dubois Park, Jupiter, FL

There is a Statewide Nesting Beach Survey (SNBS) program, which was initiated in 1979 under a cooperative agreement between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its purpose is to document the total distribution, seasonality and abundance of sea turtle nesting in Florida. Approximately 215 beaches are surveyed annually, representing about 825 miles.  From 2011 to 2015, an average of 106,625 sea turtle nests (all species combined) were recorded annually on these monitored beaches [FWC].

                                         image: FWC

Species of Sea Turtles Found in Florida

LOGGERHEAD (Caretta caretta)
GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)
LEATHERBACK (Dermochelys coriacea)
KEMP'S RIDLEY (Lepidochelys kempi)
HAWKSBILL (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The Sea Turtle Conservancy has posted Tips for Sea Turtle Nesting Season. You can read those by going to this link

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, FL lists the current nest counts on our local beaches. They care for injured turtles and are open to the public. It is free and a great opportunity to get up close to learn about the turtles.

Current Sea Turtle Nesting Totals
Juno, Jupiter-Carlin & Tequesta Beaches

Total Nests: 7
Leatherbacks: 7 Nests
Loggerheads: 0 Nests
Green Turtles: 0 Nests

Friday, March 22, 2019

A little animated fun

Because sometimes animals and nature have to fight back to protect themselves.

It is good to introduce kids to environmental issues early on. A great way to discuss topics like sustainable living, waste reduction and habitat protection, as well as highlight the dangers of environmental degradation and overconsumption [Earth911] is through animated films. 

Here are a few lists of green films with these topics. The films come highly rated and the messages do not dimish the entertainment value.