Research That Bites Back

Strickland snakes 200x269Jason Strickland, UCF doctoral student in biology, was just awarded a $3,700 Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Grant for his dissertation research on Mojave Rattlesnakes.  This grant comes through the American Museum of Natural History and supports research on North American fauna in any phase of wildlife conservation or natural history and includes everything north of the Isthmus of Panama, including the Caribbean.  The grant is meant to act as seed money for new researchers.

Strickland has had a lifelong interest in snakes. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Angelo State University in Texas, he came to UCF for the Ph.D. program in Conservation Biology specifically to work with Christopher Parkinson, Ph.D.

“I was very excited when I got the grant. I was the only one in my lab when I got the email so I ran and high fived the people in Dr. Hoffman’s lab next door”, says Strickland, “I was so excited because funding is really hard to come by. A lot of students from all over the country apply for these grants and I am competing with really interesting and exciting projects.”

The grant funding will pay for field work to find rattlesnakes and collect venom, venom glands, and other tissues that Strickland needs to complete his dissertation. It will also pay for some of the molecular work that he will have to do to sequence DNA and RNA to understand the evolution of venom.

The central question being explored in his dissertation is to determine why there is so much venom variation in Mojave Rattlesnakes.  His research will answer evolutionary questions in venomous snakes and could have implications for antivenom production and use.

Strickland is also a mentor to an undergraduate student, Hollis Dahn, who also received this grant last year for $2,500.  Her research involves studying genetic variation in two species of non-venomous snakes.

In addition to this grant, Strickland has also received the Howard McCarley Research Grant from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists ($1000) and Prairie Biotic Inc. Research Grant ($1000). He was also awarded the Clark Hubbs Award for the best poster research presentation at the Southwestern Association of Naturalists meeting in San Diego in April presenting the preliminary results of his dissertation work.




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