James Madison University Professor Grace Wyngaard spent 3 months at the University of Sao Paulo, Brasil as a Fulbright Scholar in 2009. While there she co-taught a course with Professor Fernando Marques on Molecular Systematics. With Dr. Marques and her host, Professor Carlos da Rocha, she sampled both typical and strange "field sites" for freshwater and marine microcrustaceans: the deep sea, sand grains at the beach, temporary pools, reservoirs, leaf litter, tire tracks, and the gills and eyeballs of fish. They collected strange looking animals that resembled "little monsters" and whose evolutionary relationships among one another are highly debated in the field of aquatic zoology. Many of these "little monsters" are parasites of important fish stocks and understanding the relationships between parasitic and free-living forms may eventually aid in developing vaccines to ameliorate parasitism on fish stocks. Working alongside undergraduate and graduate students, Dr. Wyngaard obtained molecular data which she and her collaborators are using to construct a phylogenetic tree and will present at an International Congress in Korea. Dr. Wyngaard returns to Brasil every year to collect more data, refine the tree and enjoy the stimulating and fruitful collaborations with her Brasilian colleagues. This summer she is hosting a visit to JMU of a Brasilian graduate student in order to provide training in molecular techniques. Besides the University of Sao Paulo being described as the "Harvard of South America," its students are among the most motivated and hardworking students Dr. Wyngaard has encountered. Yet, they also have a lot of fun….even while unsuccessfully trying to teach Dr. Wyngaard how to dance the samba.


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