Villanova, Pa. ─ World-renowned herpetologist and Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Biology Professor and Gerald M. Lemole Endowed Chair in Integrative Biology Aaron Bauer, PhD has been awarded two grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling $1,058,461 to support his research.
Dr. Bauer’s research focuses on geckos, a group of more than 1600 lizard species. His three-year $884,855 Collaborative Research grant, of which $312,687 will be administered by Villanova, entitled “Survey and Analysis of the Angolan Herpetofauna” will support research in Angola by Dr. Bauer and his colleagues at the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, Dearborn.
The team will participate in six expeditions to Angola in order to increase the understanding of the diversity and evolution of the species. Additionally, the project will help to determine the conservation status for more than 250 species, to train American and Angolan students in field and laboratory methods, as well as to make the data available globally. Undergraduates and graduate students at Villanova will have the opportunity to travel to Angola for research.
“Angola is particularly interesting for this research because its landscapes vary from arid desert to equatorial rainforest, which leads to varying levels of biodiversity,” says Dr. Bauer. “This work will not only be relevant for systematists and other scientists but also for the governments of Angola and surrounding countries, which can use our data to prioritize conservation efforts, and industries, such as mining and construction, the activities of which can impact the fauna and flora.”
The second NSF grant is a $173,606 “OPUS” grant (Opportunities for Presenting Understanding through Synthesis) for completing the research and writing of a book titled “The Diversity and Comparative Biology of Geckos.” The project, drawing on the work done through the Collaborative Research Grant, will synthesize all of the available data on the evolution and diversity of geckos. The book is intended to serve as the “Gecko Bible” detailing all aspects of gecko biology and interpreting it in light of the evolutionary tree. This will allow for a more meaningful evaluation of each biological aspect of the species. Furthermore, Dr. Bauer will test the strength of the accumulated data, thus challenging future scientists to fill in the knowledge gaps.
“These prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation underscore the global importance of Dr. Bauer’s work,” said Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, Dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “They also provide our undergraduate and graduate Biology students the opportunity to assist with research that could have a major impact on conservation efforts in Africa.”
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.