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Rutgers biologist to study worms in Amazon, glaciers
Date:7/23/2008

CAMDEN -- Look out, Indiana Jones. Dan Shain is redefining the term "summer action hero" with voyages to frozen glaciers and the steamy Amazon planned, all in the name of scientific research.

Like the cinematic icon, Shain, an associate professor of biology at RutgersCamden, travels to exotic locales, overcomes unexpected challenges, and returns home with treasure. He's mined for ice worms atop glaciers in subzero weather; stood in leech-infested tropical waters; and studied aspects of life that could appear on other planets.

On July 30, Shain departs for Alaska, where he will trek through nearly 100 miles of pristine wilderness to study ice worms in Denali National Park. Along with Brad Parry, a RutgersCamden graduate biology student, Shain will tackle Eldridge Glacier and two weeks' worth of hiking and pack-rafting on the Tokositna River.

"It's a bit of a crazy trip," admits the RutgersCamden scholar. "This is some of the most rugged country in Alaska, and we'll be roped up most of route. Nonetheless, it seems necessary to solve one of the big ice worm mysteries, namely whether or not ice worms are in Denali National Park. Last year I went on an expedition with National Geographic that failed to answer that question. We've heard lots of rumors, at least some of which are from semi-reliable sources, but no pictures or specimens to speak of."

An ice worm in the Alaska Range would almost certainly be a species new to science, since "typical" coastal ice worms could not tolerate the extreme cold of Alaska's interior during winter, says Shain, whose ice worm research has earned a new three-year, $326,733 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his project "RUI: Energy Anabolism in Glacier Ice Worms: Evolution, Mechanisms and Contribution to Cold Adaptation."

Shain's next adventure starts in late August, when he embarks on a five-month journey within the heart of the Amazon to collect live specimen
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Contact: Mike Sepanic
msepanic@camden.rutgers.edu
856-225-6026
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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