World-Renowned Frog Biologist Speaks at College

Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a world-renowned frog biologist, will be at the College of Charleston from November 30 through December 3, 2012, during which time he’ll present a free public lecture, talk with local elementary school students, and speak with students, faculty, and the larger scientific community. Hayes’ visit is being funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that was awarded to College of Charleston Chemistry Professor Wendy Cory and Geology Professor Vijay Vulava earlier this year.

During his research into the effects of herbicides on our nation’s frog populations, Dr. Hayes and his students discovered that exposure to the herbicide atrazine was causing demasculinization of frogs, a very serious finding that is still controversial today. His research has been published in Nature and featured on PBS, the Discovery Channel, and National Geographic.

The free public lecture will be held on Monday, December 3 at 2 p.m. in Sottile Theatre. Hayes will talk about the wider implications of his research on the environment, public health, and racial and social justice.

“Dr. Hayes is a prominent scientist and a fantastic speaker,” said Cory. “It is a real honor to be hosting his visit to our campus. I encourage anyone who is interested to attend this presentation, I know it will be a memorable event.”

More than 100 local middle and high school students are expected to attend this lecture. Hayes will also visit fifth-graders at Pepperhill Elementary School. These students were part of the College’s Literacy Outreach Initiative (LOI) project this fall, during which they read and participated in learning activities centered on the The Frog Scientist, a children’s book featuring Hayes. The students then came to campus to experience science and learn about frogs. Read more about this project.

On Friday, November 30, Hayes will give a seminar on his biology research to College of Charleston students and the science community. This lecture will start at 3 p.m. in the auditorium (room 129) of the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building (corner of Calhoun and Coming Streets). In this talk, Dr. Hayes will discuss the research he has done to study the endocrine-disrupting effects of atrazine on frogs.

Hayes will also meet with students in the Honors College’s William Aiken Fellows Society, the S.C. Alliance for Minority Participation (SCAMP), the McNair Scholars Program, and the Upward Bound Program.

College of Charleston Chemistry Professor Wendy Cory is the principal investigator on the grant that funded Hayes’ visit. She and Geology Professor Vijay Vulava, along with undergraduates from the College, will be studying the environmental fate of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. The common thread of water quality between this project and Dr. Hayes’ work provided an opportunity to reach out to the community and educate them about this aspect of research. Cory also received an additional NSF grant to fund the purchase of a scientific instrument that will make this research possible.

About Tyrone Hayes

Tyrone Hayes, a S.C. native, is a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. He is perhaps best known for is work on the effects of atrazine on frogs, causing demasculinization in Northern Leopard Frogs. Hayes has been interested in biology since his early childhood, inspired by the wildlife in Columbia, S.C. and the Congaree Swamp. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University, and was the youngest tenured professor in the biology department at UC Berkeley. His primary research focus is on the role of environmental factors on growth and development in amphibians. Watch a TED talk by Dr. Hayes.