It's all part of the Rutgers-Camden scholar's commitment to extending knowledge of leech and worms. Shain's expeditions in pursuit of the ice worm (a creature who lives within frozen glaciers) have been chronicled by National Geographic. Now, with the support of a $12,000 Fulbright Lecturing/Research Grant, Shain will seek to capture the giant earthworm Rhinodrilus priollii.
Shain will maintain a small colony of the worms in their native Brazil with the aim of observing their reproductive behavior, and specifically the elaborate process of cocoon secretion which is difficult to visualize in typical earthworms and leeches. The cocoon itself will also be examined and compared with other worm cocoons.
"I'm hoping to gain insight into the cocoon secretion mechanism (comparable in complexity, perhaps, to spinning a spider web), and to our collective data on the biomaterial aspects of different parts of worm cocoons, mainly as flexible, resilient membranes and bio-adhesives (usually underwater adhesives, but not in this case)," says Shain. "I will also do some 'forensic' work on the giant earthworms to gain some understanding of their movements over geological time, and which other species represent their closest living relatives."
Shain teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biology at Rutgers-Camden, where he joined the faculty in 1999. He has received numerous grants from such organizations as NASA and the National Institutes of Health in support of his research into leech, ice worms, and other invertebrates.
A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees, Shain earned his doctorate from Colorado State University and held a postdoctoral fellowship through the National Institute of Health at the University of California-Berkeley.
|Contact: Mike Sepanic|