Thursday, June 1, 2017  
Grad student uses roadkill study as conservation guide | BGSU hosts Kenyan university partners
Graduate student Lauren Jonaitis (right) and recent graduate Brennan Brown record data on a squirrel.

The word “roadkill” does not evoke a pleasant image; it is even sometimes used as a humorously derogatory term to denote something vaguely akin to trash. But for BGSU graduate student Lauren Jonaitis, roadkill is more than simply dead animals; it represents a tremendous loss of life and also the degree to which humans are impinging on natural habitats and pathways. Rather than simply bemoan the carnage, Jonaitis is using roadkill as a way to study what is happening and as a guide to improving planning and decision making.

“It’s estimated that in the United States, a million animals, birds and reptiles are hit every day,” Jonaitis said. “As an undergraduate, I did an independent study in northern New York where I surveyed about 320 miles of road. Within two months, there were close to 400 dead frogs found on that stretch of roadway because it bisected a wetland. There have to be better ways of managing this.”

A second-year ecology and conservation biology major in Dr. Karen Root’s lab, Jonaitis said she has come to the realization that conservation can be more about managing people than managing wildlife. “I now realize that a career that is purely research is not for me,” she said. “I want to be more involved in science education, where I can inspire and motivate people to help protect our planet.”

“One of the things I admire about Lauren is that she is not only keenly interested in learning how to be a better scientist but also how she can use that science to make a difference,” Root said. “She is passionate about having a positive impact on the world and getting people involved in that effort. The project that she developed for her master of science work exemplifies these goals.”

Since coming to Bowling Green from New York as a graduate student, Jonaitis has observed a lot of roadkill on the roads surrounding the Oak Openings Preserve.

“There is only 2 percent of oak savanna in the world, and Oak Openings has some of it,” she said. “Intact oak savanna, what we have in Oak Openings, is one of the rarest plant communities on earth. This area is a biodiversity hotspot, with one-third of all of Ohio's endangered plant and animal species. So, I began to wonder, is this a problem? How can I make a difference?”


Migration Studies grant - Ohio Ag Connection
Student studies roadkill - The Blade
Not in Our Town offers educational series - BG Independent News
Meeting with President Mary Ellen Mazey and Kefa Otiso (far right) were Kisii University visitors Anakalo Shitandi (left) and Herman Kiriama.

Although Kisii University in Kenya and BGSU are far apart geographically, they have many things in common, said Dr. Kefa Otiso, Professor of Service Excellence in the School of Earth, Environment and Society. Both began as teacher training colleges in somewhat rural areas, and both enroll many first-generation college students for whom affordability and accessibility are important factors.

Otiso has twice visited Kisii as a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow, beginning a relationship with BGSU that promises to be fruitful.

Visitors from Kisii came to BGSU May 14-17 to explore more shared possibilities and potential collaborations as outlined in the two universities’ memorandum of understanding, signed in August 2015 as a result of Otiso’s fellowship that summer. Already there have been several achievements resulting from the MOU, from collaborative research to other grant applications.

During their visit, Professors Anakalo Shitandi, registrar of research and extension, and Herman Kiriama, deputy registrar of research and extension, and BGSU administrators, faculty and staff from across campus discussed further cooperative research and educational programs and the possibility of administrative and faculty exchanges between the two universities.

Donald Scherer with “Cooperative Wisdom”

A book co-authored by Dr. Donald Scherer, professor emeritus of philosophy, and BGSU alumna Carolyn Jabs, a journalist and author, is the recipient of a gold Nautilus Award. “Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart” won recognition for illuminating an innovative and highly effective approach to conflict resolution.

“We started working on the book in 2008, long before the recent election,” Scherer said. “Today, we find that people are deeply tired of endless conflict. There’s a real hunger for the benefits that come only from cooperation.”

Scherer, who specialized in environmental ethics during his teaching career, spent a lifetime studying social systems to understand what makes them sustainable. “Cooperative Wisdom” distills his research, describing five principles that promote the kind of cooperation that undergirds thriving human communities.

“The book is rooted in rigorous ethical philosophy,” Scherer said, “but the principles are relevant for families, schools, workplaces, nonprofit organizations and even governments.”



Those who have not yet made a contribution to this year’s Campus Campaign can still donate by cash or check, up until June 30. Additionally, to sign up for payroll deduction for the 2017-18 campaign, which begins July 1, visit the campaign website.

Read it all In Brief