Lecture preview: Visiting scientists discuss living antifreeze

Christina Cheng and Art Devries, scientists visiting UAF from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are giving several lectures on Sept. 6 and 7. Their lectures will focus on the arduous survival of fish in the Arctic.

Devries will explain how antifreeze proteins keep polar fishes alive on Sept. 6 from 2 – 3 p.m. in the Murie Auditorium.

“It’s a wonderful story about how it is that these animals can survive below the freezing temperature of water,” Associate Professor Kristen O’Brien, of Biology and Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) faculty, said. “You’d be hearing [the story] from the person who discovered it.”

Cheng, a professor in the School of Integrative Biology, will present the evolutionary adaptation of fish to polar environments on Sept. 7 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Murie Auditorium.

Cheng has been going to McMurdo Station, Antartica since 1984, to identify the evolution of antifreeze proteins in polar fishes. Altogether, Devries, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, has spent over 50 seasons in the Antarctic. He has 185 publications on antifreeze proteins, which he initially discovered.

Life Sciences Hour seminars are given by scientists from UAF and around the world on a wide range of topics under the lens of Biology. The IAB started the series in 1966 for faculty, students and the public.

“The seminar series is a great way for students and anyone interested in Biology to learn about what’s happening at the cutting edge of Biology — what the newest discoveries are,” O’Brien said.

Every year since 1981 the IAB and the Institute of Marine Science sponsor the Laurence Irving and Per Scholander Memorial Lecture to honor Irving and Scholander for their contributions to biological knowledge.

Cheng and Devries were also chosen to give an Irving-Scholander lecture Sept. 7 from 6 – 7 p.m. in the Murie Auditorium on how polar fish and their frigid environments. The lecture is titled “Not your Chevy’s antifreeze: how polar fishes avoid freezing.”

“Number one, they’re outstanding scientists that have made enormous contributions to some aspect of Biology,” O’Brien, said regarding the choice of Cheng and Devries for the Irving-Scholander Lecture. “It’s the icing on the cake when we find outstanding scientists who also conduct research in the spirit of Irving and Scholander.”

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