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ASU biology faculty publish, launch book on adventures in field biology April 28

April 15, 2008 -- A new book by Arkansas State University biology faculty is being published. “Adventures in the Wild: Tales from Biologists of the Natural State” will make its debut on  the ASU campus on Monday, April 28, at 2 p.m., in ASU’s Hall of Science, Laboratory Sciences Center, East Wing, 117 S. Caraway Road, on the ASU-Jonesboro campus. The book will be unveiled for the public with many of its authors on hand for a book-signing ceremony. Dr. Dan Howard, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research at ASU, will preside over the ceremony, which is free and open to the public.

The book is the brainchild of Dr. Aldemaro Romero, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and professor of biology at ASU. Romero says, “The idea occurred to me that most people, including undergraduate students, have a very incomplete (if not inaccurate) idea of how biologists really do their work. So I decided to put together a book with the stories of the incredible things that have happened to faculty members of the Biology Department at ASU.”

All of these stories, written by the faculty members themselves, are accounts of true events that occurred in the course of the authors’ fieldwork. Contributing authors are Dr. Jim Bednarz, wildlife ecology; Dr. Alan Christian, zoology; Dr. John Harris, biology; Dr. David Gilmore, biology; Dr. Richard Grippo, environmental biology; Dr. Tanja McKay, entomology; Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, plant metabolic engineering; Dr. Tom Risch, environmental biology; Dr. Aldemaro Romero, biology; Dr. Stan Trauth, zoology; and Dr. Staria Vanderpool, botany. Some authors contributed more than one chapter.

The preface of the book was written by Dr. Cristian Samper, currently acting secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and former director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The book was edited by Dr. Aldemaro Romero and Joy Trauth, instructor in biology. 

“I asked Joy Trauth to help edit the book with me, since she is such a fine writer and could provide excellent guidance with the more popular type of writing that a book like this required, especially with the involvement of so many authors,” Romero noted. “Thus, I sent out an invitation to the faculty of the department. Most of them replied, sending me their ideas for their stories. With those, I approached the University of Arkansas Press, and they sent the first draft of the book to several reviewers who gave a big ‘thumbs up’ to the enterprise.”

The proceeds from this book will go to fund biology initiatives at ASU, including the development of the Biodiversity Center, which is expected to become the prime Arkansas museum of natural history, housing more than a half-million specimens of plants and animals from ASU collections.

Romero further states, “Because I wanted the book to benefit the department, I asked, and was granted, by all the authors, their permission to donate their royalties to the Biodiversity Center Initiative, a project to build on the ASU campus a center for the storage, management, and research of the more than 500,000 specimens of plants and animals in the department's collection.  I then asked Dr. Cristian Samper, then director of the National Museum of Natural History and currently acting secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, to write the preface, and he agreed."

“Adventures in the Wild: Tales from Biologists of the Natural State” not only reveals how biologists do their work, it also reveals ASU’s biology professors—they are men and women who get their feet wet and their hands dirty in their pursuit of knowledge. Sometimes that pursuit has humorous consequences, and sometimes mistakes are made, but the biologists and other scientists of ASU are always determined, whether in the field or in the classroom, to continue learning and to teach what they have learned. 



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