Student faculty research is an opportunity at Slippery Rock University for a multitude of departments with many different professors. Dr. Paul Falso, assistant professor of biology, hopes to add endocrine system research with frogs to the opportunities already present in the department and at the University.
Frogs work really well as an indicator for environmental affect and health, Falso explained.
Studying the endocrine system in frogs is very similar to studying humans and many of the techniques are borrowed from veterinarian studies.
“The endocrinology is all regulated in a very similar way. So, testosterone in you is the same as in a frog,” Falso added that frog research is important “as an indicator of both their own health and humans.”
“We’re not living in swamps, but at the same time we’re drinking water that may have come from the same source.”
Falso plans to begin conducting student research in the coming months or within the next year.
“I am setting up a research laboratory, hopefully more sooner than later.”
The research is expected to begin by examining commonly used chemicals for agricultural pesticides and their affects on the endocrine system.
“We tend to use many many more chemicals than we even think about.The amount that remains in the environment is just staggering when you think about the combined usage,” Falso explained.
Frogs, and amphibians in general, are becoming increasingly more threatened, another reason Falso is interested in studying them.
“Frogs themselves are in a lot of trouble right now,” Falso explained. “One in every three amphibians is threatened by extinction.”
Habitat destruction is attributed as the biggest reason for this, but that destruction can be caused by a number of factors including invasive species and pollution.
“Amphibian species in general are disappearing faster than any vertebrate species.”
Relating back to his research interests, Falso said, “In some ways, we may be exposed to these same signals that are leading to these issues with the amphibians.”
Falso was hired as a professor for Slippery Rock University’s biology department, effective starting for the fall semester. Falso said one of the most enjoyable components of working at Slippery Rock is getting to have personal interaction with many students.
While only teaching anatomy and physiology courses this semester, Falso makes effort to introduce his specialties.
“I’m teaching primarily just about human health but I like to bring in these other factors that are just so connected.” He also said that while he enjoys teaching the course, he would not mind teaching other topics.
“Down the road I would like to branch out into some of the more specialized topics.”
Falso, reflecting on his own educational experience, advised students to make the most of their undergraduate degrees, observing that learning what you do not like is just as important.
“Looking back at my education, my advice to students is to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. Try things to see what the outcome will be for you,” Falso said.
Introducing the additional student research opportunities for students is one way Falso has the ability to present students the chance to make the most of their degrees.