Feb. 26 edition of Frontiers lecture: 'Climate Change and Disease'

A free public lecture titled "Climate Change and Disease" will be given from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, in room 100 of the Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park. The talk will be delivered by Matthew B. Thomas, professor of entomology at Penn State. This is the final lecture in this year's Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science series, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Epidemic: Infectious Disease on a Changing Planet." No registration is required.

Thomas will present the most recent scientific knowledge about how climate change may alter the risk of infectious diseases, which of these diseases are most likely to be affected, and whether diseases such as malaria may spread into the United States. He will show how scientists are using current ecological research to explore the links between environmental factors and disease transmission in order to better understand the consequences of climate change.

Thomas's current research focuses on malaria and mosquitoes. He also has worked on a range of insects including locusts, grasshoppers, houseflies, insect predators, and fungi that cause illness in insects. His lab's research explores the ecology and evolution of insect pests and diseases with the aim of better understanding the consequences of global changes involving climate, invasive species, and the loss of biodiversity. He uses empirical and theoretical approaches for discovering answers to both fundamental and applied research questions.

Among the honors he has received in recognition of his research achievements is his selection in 2007 as a joint recipient of the Medal for Research Achievement given by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization.

In addition to his academic position at Penn State, he currently is a member of the steering committee for the Penn State Center for Chemical Ecology, an honorary professor in the School of Pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; the subject editor for the journal Environmental Entomology, a member of the editorial board of the journal Agricultural and Forest Entomology, and a member of the international editorial advisory board of the journal Biocontrol Science and Technology. He has been an invited speaker at numerous scientific conferences and meetings in countries including Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, France, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. He also has been a member of expert working groups and has been consulted by international research collaborations and scientific organizations in Africa and Europe, as well as by global organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty as a professor of entomology in 2008, Thomas had been a senior principal research scientist at the CSIRO Division of Entomology in Canberra, Australia, since 2006. From 2005 to 2006 he was a reader in the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, where from 2003 to 2005 he had been a senior lecturer. From 2001 to 2002 he was a section leader at the CABI Bioscience UK Centre, a Division of CAB International. He was a research fellow from 1996 to 2003 and a postdoctoral fellow from 1991 to 1996 at the NERC Centre for Population Biology at the Imperial College London. He earned a bachelor's degree in zoology, with honors, at the University College Cardiff in the United Kingdom in 1987 and a doctoral degree in entomology at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom in 1991.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. The 2011 series features Penn State faculty members in the Eberly College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences who participate in collaborative research in Penn State's Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at (814) 863-0901 or by e-mail at CLM29@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2011 series, is on the web at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/frontiers online..

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Last Updated March 21, 2011