Professor studies groundhog to determine hibernation's influences

Biologist Stam Zervanos, professor emeritus of biology at Penn State Berks, has been researching the hibernation behavior of groundhogs for more than a decade, and now he is trying to determine what dictates the groundhog's ability to hibernate — its genetics or its environment.

He and several other researchers believe the groundhog has genes common to all mammals, including humans, that influence hibernation, but that function in humans was made inactive during the evolutionary process. Zervanos believes the genes' capabilities have potential in many fields, from health care (superceding the need for anesthesia in some surgical cases and during certain medical emergencies) to space travel as well as many other applications. His reserach is trying to better understand the genetic theory.

Watch a video feature about Zervanos and groundhogs here. A related article about Zervanos's work is available at

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Last Updated November 18, 2010