Featured Project

July 18, 2018

Finding the ingredients of life on Mars, in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island nation off the Indian coast, formed by two tectonic plates pushing up against each other. Because of this, it has a high occurrence of serpentine rocks, which are special mineral groups high in magnesium and silicate that come from deep inside the Earth's crust.

Serpentine rocks are also found on Mars, and these rocks have been theorized to be highly favorable for early microbial life forms. 

This team at LSU is blending astrobiology, planetary science, and geology in a 1-week sample-gathering trip to Sri Lanka's serpentine rocks. They will meet and work alongside local Sri Lankan scientists to help characterize the soils, and funds will help support important field supplies. Initial results will be shared at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in 2019.

Featured Results

Crowdfunded scientific discoveries

Novel diagnostic assay for detecting seal heartworm parasite in gray seals

In 2014, 35 backers supported Caroline Keroack's Master’s project to sequence over 2000 parasite samples collected from seals, whales, and dolphins. Additional funding purchased reagents and kits for sequencing the mitochondrial genomes, which hold the key to diagnostic development. 

Four years later, the lead researcher Caroline and team published peer-reviewed results for a novel diagnostic assay to identify seal heartworm infection in gray seals. The paper was published in The International Journal of Parasitology.

Their results show a novel real-time PCR diagnostic for seal heart worm, the diagnostic is applicable to use on whole parasite specimens or blood samples. They successfully used the diagnostic to detect the evidence of seal heartworm in the grey seal. 

Caroline is now a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University focused on the biology of the tick-borne, intraerythrocytic parasite Babesia. 

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Thermal and Fluid Dynamical Effects on the Efficiency of Hyperpolarized Xenon Production
Physical simulations of xenon, used in MRI machines.

An expedition in search of one of Australia's most mysterious marsupials
A desert search for an extinct kangaroo.

How long have animals used these caves?
Fossil-finding in central Ohio.

Experiment has partnered with The Wildlife Disease Association to highlight wildlife disease researchers this summer. The Wildlife Disease Association is sponsoring grants for the top projects with the most backers. The deadline to apply for the program is August 1st. 
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