February 13, 2019

VSU Hosts Renowned Biologist March 1

Dr. Will Crampton, expert on electric fish

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will present its 37th annual Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Series event at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, in Jennett Lecture Hall Room 1111. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.

VSU’s Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Program and Department of Biology have invited Orlando-based biologist Dr. Will Crampton to discuss “The Electric Amazon.”

Crampton, an associate professor of vertebrate zoology at the University of Central Florida, will transport attendees to remote parts of South America and to the heart of the Amazon forest as he describes his quest to understand and describe the biodiversity of electric fish.

Within the Amazon forest, the most diverse and complex ecosystem on the planet, Crampton investigates the mechanisms that drive species diversity in electric knifefishes, which generate electrostatic discharges to communicate and locate objects in the dark. Understanding this one group provides insight into how biodiversity in all freshwater fish species is generated and maintained, how resilient it is to human pressure, and how it can be protected.

To date, Crampton has described more than 50 new electric fish species. He has served on numerous expert panels and committees charged with setting conservation and monitoring priorities for the aquatic resources of the Amazon. His research has been showcased in BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel documentaries. He also served as scientific director and field producer for the Smithsonian Channel documentary “Electric Amazon.” Research at his lab is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Crampton obtained his doctoral degree from the University of Oxford and served as director of biodiversity research for the Mamirauá Institute in the Brazilian Amazon before conducting post-doctoral research at the University of Florida and the University of Toronto.

The Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Series honors the legacy of Clyde Eugene Connell, who served the faculty, staff, and students of VSU’s Department of Biology for more than two decades. He earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Valdosta State College in 1954, returning in 1958, after earning a Master of Science in zoology from the University of Georgia, as a member of the faculty. He went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from UGA, and in 1962 he was named department head, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. His contributions to the university, the community, higher education, and the field of biology have not been forgotten.

Contact VSU’s Department of Biology at (229) 333-5759 to learn more.

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