Villanova, Pa – Aaron Bauer, PhD, professor of Biology and Gerald M. Lemole, MD, Endowed Chair in Integrative Biology in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the principal investigator on a $388,229 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his project, “Collaborative Research: Assessing the Systematics and Diversity of Haemosporida in African lizards.”
Haemosporida are single-celled symbionts found in terrestrial vertebrates in almost all world ecosystems and cause malaria in birds and humans. Symbiosis is a close and prolonged interaction between organisms of different species, and symbiont diversity offers a unique window to observe ecosystem dynamics and evolutionary processes. When symbionts switch host organisms, it can reveal risk factors leading to infectious disease emergence in those hosts.
Dr. Bauer’s project—which will provide research and training opportunities to Villanova undergraduate and graduate students—will focus on African lizards as host organisms. It will investigate Haemosporida as elements of biodiversity and provide new insights into regional evolutionary and ecological processes. The study’s broadest impacts will include informing conservation efforts in sub-Saharan Africa; generating specimens that can be used by others interested in symbionts; and producing a sustainable database that records detection-based occurrences in Haemosporida which will be transferable to other parasites.
Dr. Bauer is a world-renowned herpetologist whose research concentrates on the morphology and systematics of geckos and other lizards. His decades of field work in the deserts and forests of southern Africa, Asia and Australia have helped to reveal not only patterns of distribution, but also to document the diversity of reptile species. Dr. Bauer has described more new species of reptile than any other living scientist, including more than seven percent of the more than 1,600 living geckos. He was recently part of a research team that discovered a new species of gecko from Eocene Europe which provides new evidence for the early history of geckos on that continent.
Dr. Bauer received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
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 challenging and changing world. With more than 40 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.