College of Natural and Applied Sciences

A family with young kids sitting around a campfire.
LizRVS from Pixabay

Summer is just around the corner. With easing of restrictions and increased vaccination rates, many people around the country are ready to travel again.

What will summer travel look like? How can people enjoy taking trips safely? 

Dr. Stephanie Hein, department head of hospitality leadership at Missouri State University, answers these questions and more.

Across North America, including Missouri, bats of certain species are dying in worrisome numbers from a disease called white nose syndrome, a fungal disease. This disease kills the bats while they are in hibernation.

Ancient farmers, through trial and error, determined the best fit between a crop, the soil and weather conditions. They had plenty of land to choose from to find the perfect fields for their crops.

But as the availability of cultivable land diminishes and as climates change, our ability to grow enough food is becoming limited, too.

Unimaginable and devastating. Those are words you might use to describe a sinkhole.

Dr. Doug Gouzie, geology professor at Missouri State University, explains why sinkholes are more common in Missouri than many other places in the world.

"About 60% of the rock underneath Missouri is limestone, or very closely related, dissolvable rock. About 20% of the country is that way, but that means only 20% of the country, including Missouri, has this kind of rock," Gouzie said. 

As a butterfly enthusiast for his entire life, Dr. Chris Barnhart remembers collecting caterpillars in a grass-filled Radio Flyer wagon as a young child.

Now a distinguished professor of biology at Missouri State University, Barnhart says his hobby turned into an outreach program about a decade ago.

Below the surface and in the clear water, mussels abound. In Missouri alone, there are at least 60 species of mussels that are actively keeping our waterways clean.

Dr. Chris Barnhart, distinguished professor of biology at Missouri State University, is an international expert on freshwater mussels. He knows their ecological value as filter feeders and helps to replenish populations where they have been depleted.

Hundreds of volcanoes exist in the United States. Most are considered dormant and haven't erupted for more than 10,000 years. That doesn't mean that they can't or won't.

Dr. Gary Michelfelder, assistant professor in the department of geography, geology and planning at Missouri State University, says that though you may not know it, volcanoes affect our lives every day. 

The world is constantly changing. Scientists and conservationists showcase events of climate change and global warming worldwide and are striving to slow down the effects.

Dr. Deb Finn, assistant professor of biology at Missouri State University, has spent her career studying flowing water environments, but she specifically loves the alpine streams, which are in high altitude environments above the permanent treeline. 

Over the last several years, wine enthusiasts have cheered over the revelation that red wine has positive health benefits. While many assumed it was the grapes, skins and juice providing the antioxidants, the grape seeds took the back seat - until now.

Dr. Paul Durham, distinguished professor of biology at Missouri State University, and Jessica Cox, graduate student in Durham’s lab, share the good news about their recent National Institutes of Health funded study in grape seed extract.

The sustainability movement continues to grow and evolve. Individuals are more concerned than ever about the source of their foods, materials and products they purchase. This focus has caused many industries to look closely at their processes, products and byproducts – ultimately to improve themselves and improve the reputation of the organization as a whole.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. Opioids now cause about three-fourths of all overdose deaths.

One solution to address this deadly crisis is reducing dependence on prescription painkillers through Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). 

Natural: So many foods, cosmetics, cleaners and drugs claim this status. But why does it matter?

Dr. Paul Durham, distinguished professor and director of the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences at Missouri State, Hunter Sheckley, graduate conducting research in Durham’s lab, and Yan Li Fan, visiting scholar from China, discuss recent research.

For many families, summer means taking vacations to relax, soak in the sun and spend quality time with loved ones.

Whether you take a short road trip or venture overseas to explore, the goal is to enjoy a fun, stress-free holiday. 

Dr. Stephanie Hein, department head of hospitality leadership at Missouri State University, offers some tips and advice on maximizing your summer vacation.

Picture yourself in a national park like Denali, the Everglades or Yellowstone.

What comes to mind?

Dr. Judith Meyer, a historical geographer at Missouri State University, wants to know how you experience that landscape and why. 

She has long been fascinated with Yellowstone, where she served as a tour guide for several summers. One of her research interests is what she calls the sense of place.

The Children’s Bureau’s most recent child abuse statistics reveal that 7.2 million children were reported as abused in 2015. This number had unfortunately grown from the previous report by more than half a million children.

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