Deanna Csomo McCool | March 31, 2019
Finding solutions for worldwide shortages propels new University of Notre Dame biology professor Jason Rohr to find unique ways to research some of the most pressing issues.
These include food shortages. Energy shortages. Even “shortages” of amphibians because of disease. Rohr, the Ludmilla F., Stephen J., and Robert T. Galla College Professor of Biological Sciences, completes research in areas that span the intersection of wildlife and human health.
One of his primary research areas is in shistosomiasis, a worm infection that’s transmitted from snails to humans in mostly tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Ninety percent of these infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The infection is contracted in waterways, which are common gathering points and necessary for retrieval of water for cooking and cleaning. Children ages 5-15 are most often affected, and while medications work to manage the disease, people often become re-infected when going back to the water.
“We’ve discovered that the snails that transmit these infections are found almost exclusively in one type of vegetation in the water, so if we remove the vegetation, we remove the snail, its habit and its food,” said Rohr. Though removing the vegetation is key, Rohr didn’t want to stop there, and has advocated the use of the vegetation as compost to apply to crop fields.
Rohr's laboratory will include both indoor and outdoor areas to study this and other diseases. His outdoor laboratory, which will be located near the north end of campus, will contain 120, three-hundred gallon tanks that will be used to simulate freshwater environments. The tanks can be used to study shistosomiasis, as well as the effects pesticides and diseases have on amphibians, which is another area of Rohr’s research.
Read more here.