Graduate Biology Students Recognized for Research

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on November 21, 2018, No Comments

Three graduate students studying biology at East Stroudsburg have each been recognized for their research. All three students work at ESU’s Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory.

Kristine Bentkowski, from Middletown, N.Y. received Sigma Xi and Pennsylvania Academy of the Sciences Grants totaling $1,500. These grants will assist her graduate research thesis evaluating the prevalence of Powassan virus and Lyme disease in ticks collected from black bears in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This is the first ever study evaluating bears as a sentinel host and the first ever study in the two states to evaluate the co-infection rates of Powassan virus and Lyme disease.

Eric Januszkiewicz, from Greentown, Pa. received a grant of $600 from CPUD (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologist.) The grant will contribute to his research and publications evaluating the prevalence of Snake Fungal Disease on Timber Rattlesnakes in Pennsylvania. In collaboration with Thomas LaDuke, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, and the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab, Eric’s study is the first to document Snake Fungal disease presence in Pa.

Elizabeth Barcellona from West Babylon, N.Y. received the Outstanding Graduate Research Award from Pennsylvania Vector Control Association for her Graduate Research project titled: A Survey of Tick Species in Pennsylvania Elk Populations with the Potential for Dermacentor albipictus to Pose a Future Epizootic Risk: A Baseline Study. Her research is the first to document the presence of winter ticks on our elk population in Pennsylvania. The winter tick is associated with population declines in the Northeastern moose population and the risk for other ungulates, such as elk, is unknown. This study created a baseline of infestations of the winter tick on elk to monitor potential changes. Barcellona graduated with a master of science in biology in the summer of 2018.

To learn more about the research being done at ESU’s Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab contact Nicole Chinnici, director of the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab at 570-422-7892 or email