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'Most dangerous animals' topic of Sigma Xi lecture

The Lamar University chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, will host Dr. John Hildebrand, Regents Professor of neuroscience in the departments of neurology, entomology and cellular biology at the University of Arizona, in a free public lecture March 22.

John HildebrandHildebrand will speak on “The most dangerous animals in the world: Arthropod vectors of disease” in the Price Auditorium, of the John Gray Center, Herman Iles Building at 7:30 p.m.  Hildebrand will meet with LU medical pre-professional students at 3 p.m. in Hayes Biology, Room 200. This meeting is also open to the public.

Diseases caused by pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) that are transmitted to hosts by arthropod vectors (for example, blood-sucking insects and ticks) collectively are the most important infectious diseases of humans. For many of these diseases, the vector arthropods are essential for transmission of the pathogen to a human host, and some of them are diabolically effective in fulfilling that mission. This lecture will survey biological, medical, and societal aspects of selected vector-borne diseases, with particular attention to the vector arthropods that transmit the pathogens.

Malaria, Zika, West Nile, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lymes Disease, Chagas and other arthropod transmitted diseases can be found in Texas.

Hildebrand earned his baccalaureate degree at Harvard University in 1964 and his Ph.D. at the Rockefeller University in 1969 and joined the faculty of the University of Arizona in 1985 after 16 years on the faculties of Harvard and Columbia Universities. He was the founding head of the UA’s Division of Neurobiology from 1985 to 2009, then head of the Department of Neuroscience from 2009 to 2013. He also was a founder of the Center for Insect Science, 1988, and School of Mind, Brain and Behavior, 2009. He is the author of more than 215 research papers and reviews, editor of five books, and recipient of numerous national and international honors and awards.

Among his strongest interests is education at all levels. He served the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) as chair, 1992 to 1998, of its committee on developing countries and chair, 2001 to 2010, of its Board of Neuroscience Schools, advocating for and teaching in intensive schools in South America and Southern Europe. A past president of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, International Society of Chemical Ecology, and International Society for Neuroethology, Hildebrand is the elected Foreign Secretary of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, German National Academy of Sciences 'Leopoldina’, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters; an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK); and a fellow of the AAAS, the Entomological Society of America, and the International Society for Neuroethology. For many years, he had two parallel careers: as an academic scientist and as a musician.

His primary research interests include neurobiology, neuroethology, and chemical ecology of insects and other arthropods, especially: functional organization and neurophysiology of the olfactory system; behavior, particularly interactions with mates and plant and animal hosts; biology of arthropod vectors of disease, mainly triatomine vectors of Chagas Disease; and postembryonic, metamorphic development of the central nervous system.

For more information on the lectures, contact Jim Westgate, university professor of Earth and space sciences, at (409) 880-7970.