Cotton patch geese and seaweed – and everything else – part of web of life

We didn’t start out to produce an issue about diversity. We were just looking for five – or six – or seven good stories. And it just turned out that several of the stories about research are about valuing, preserving, or expanding diversity.

In this issue we have stories about the following:

Jeff Walters in biology, who is saving woodpeckers by preserving their habitats – and also expanding the habitats of other bird species;

Phillip Sponenberg in veterinary medicine, who is finding and persuading others to preserve rare breeds of livestock that were once common and helped build the nation, such as Spanish colonial horses and cotton patch geese;

Students and faculty members in Appalachian studies, who are challenging stereotypes and enriching the identity of Southern Appalachia by recording the history of German settlers and recognizing the validity of the newest settlers;

Scientists and engineers, who are collaborating to recognize different clues of illness in order to provide an earlier diagnosis, and to deliver personalized medicine that responds to individual differences;

A student in natural resources, who is part of a Smithsonian expedition to verify a model representing seaweed distribution, which could become a tool for determining rates of climatic change, species dispersion, exotic species introductions, and evolution – and for understanding human impact on environments.

The Earth is made up of thousands of unique creatures whose lives have an impact on those of others. That interacting diversity is life’s way of sustaining itself.

But in the spirit of valuing diversity, not all of the stories in this issue are about diversity – like the article about outsmarting olive pests, unless you consider preserving good olives to be a diversity story. Well – smushing food pathogens is definitely NOT a diversity story. Except, the researchers are using a process that smushes all kinds of pathogens – and they are proving it.

The story about dance therapy for people with head injuries, and the creation of an inspiring dance troupe, is just a good story – and yet, even it is an example of the personalizing of healing techniques to fit diverse individuals.

Enjoy! We have enjoyed putting this issue together for you.

– Susan Trulove


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