Dr. Karen Lips is Associate Professor of Biology and incoming Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology (CONS) at the University of Maryland. She is a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Before moving to the University of Maryland, Karen was Associate Professor of Zoology at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Lips received her Ph.D. in Tropical Ecology from the University of Miami and her B.S. at the University of South Florida. Dr. Lips grew up in South Florida where she observed great biological diversity as well as pressure from human development.
Dr. Lips' research is located primarily in tropical streams and forests of Latin America where she studies the ecology and evolution of amphibians and reptiles, especially frogs. Dr. Lips has been describing the geographic and ecological patterns of amphibian declines throughout Latin America and has recently started projects on the spread and distribution of diseasein Illinois frogs and Appalachian salamanders. Dr. Lips is interested in studying the interaction of the amphibian hosts, the disease, and the environment and how these factors determine the kind of response by different species. By analyzing patterns of decline among species and across many sites, the hope is to predict which species and which sites will decline in the future, and to use those data to prioritize conservation and research activities to alleviate or reduce population declines.
Dr. Lips has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. She was also a co-organizer of The Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians (RANA), an international network that facilitates the exchange of information among researchers working in Latin America. She was named a Leopold Fellow in 2005, awarded the President's Award of the Chicago Zoological Society in 1997, and was honored with a Bay and Paul Biodiversity Leadership Award in 1998. Dr. Lips has provided scientific advice for various national and international organizations related to amphibian population declines and the conservation of herpetological diversity.
Dr. Louise A. Rollins-Smith is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Rollins-Smith has studied disease and immunity in amphibians for more than 30 years.
These studies included analysis of immune defenses against the virus-induced Lucké renal adenocarcinoma of leopard frogs, studies of the ontogeny of immunity and development of immunological tolerance in model amphibians, studies of the impact of neuroendocrine changes at metamorphosis on immune defenses, studies of the effects of immunotoxic chemicals on amphibian immunity, and studies of antimicrobial skin peptide defenses against the pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and against ranaviruses.
As part of a series of individually funded NSF projects and two NSF Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology projects, Dr. Rollins-Smith and collaborators have discovered a number of new antimicrobial peptides, one male aggression peptide, and a peptide with insulin-releasing activity in amphibian skin secretions. They have developed evidence that the antimicrobial peptides in skin secretions are an important component of the resistance of amphibian species to B. dendrobatidis. She has collaborated with virologists to show that amphibian antimicrobial peptides are potent inhibitors of viral infection of their target cells including HIV infection of human T lymphocytes.
Dr. Rollins-Smith has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and 19 review articles. She received her Ph.D. in 1978 in Zoology from the University of Minnesota working with Professor Robert G. McKinnell. Her postdoctoral studies were with Professor Nicholas Cohen at the University of Rochester in New York.
Reid Harris is a professor of Biology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he teaches classes in ecology and evolution. He has conducted research on amphibian life-history evolution, behavioral ecology, and most recently on disease ecology. His current research focuses on using amphibians’ naturally occurring protective skin bacteria to control or prevent a lethal skin fungal disease.
He has published 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and was a member of the 2005 IUCN/SSC Amphibian Conservation Summit, which developed the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. His research is currently funded by the National Science Foundation.
Reid received a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University, where he also obtained his bachelor’s degree and had a postdoctoral appointment. He obtained a master’s degree at the University of Maryland.
Brian Gratwicke is a conservation biologist at the National Zoo, where he leads the Zoo’s amphibian conservation program and is devoted to confronting global amphibian declines. The two main focal areas are coordinating the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project www.amphibianrescue.com and working on the conservation of Appalachian salamanders. As a conservation biologist he also writes popular articles on a wide range of popular conservation issues.
Before working at the Smithsonian, Brian was assistant director of Save The Tiger Fund at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Brian’s previous conservation experience includes work on African river fishes, effects of invasive plants and animals in aquatic ecosystems, biological indicators of ecosystem health, factors driving marine biodiversity in the Caribbean, tiger conservation in Asia, and the National Fish Habitat Initiative right here in the United States.
He has published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and was a contributor to Hotspots Revisited, the biodiversity conservation prioritization scheme adopted by Conservation International. Brian received a Ph.D. in zoology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology and fisheries ecology, respectively, from the University of Zimbabwe.