A Fulbright Collaboration: Following the World of Wildlife Conservation Medicine

Arya is a research fellow at the Norwegian Center for Science Education (Naturfagsenteret) at the University of Oslo, and investigates the learning practices of scientists across disciplines in order to illuminate these practices for students via online educational texts. Her most recent exploration involved the work of wildlife veterinarian Alina Evans, who is investigating the health of free-range brown bears in Sweden along with a team composed of physicians, veterinarians and ecologists. The Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project is considered one of the largest and most prolific initiatives of its kind in the world. This interdisciplinary approach to studying wildlife is called conservation medicine, which combines biomedical and ecological knowledge as individuals from different fields work together to promote the health and wellbeing of wild animals and humans alike.

This past June, Arya visited the field station near Mora, Sweden, where Evans and her colleagues are tracking the local brown bears and studying their physiological properties. Once a bear is identified and safely anesthetized, the team carefully proceeds to gather physiological data (heart rate, temperature, etc.) about the bear. The team hopes to gain a better understanding of diseases in humans caused by physical inactivity, including osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular diseases. Alina and her colleagues hope that what they learn about the brown bears may contribute new knowledge to the fields of human physiology and cardiovascular medicine.

Arya video- and audio-recorded the various working practices of Evans and her team and is now, along with her colleagues at the Norwegian Center for Science Education, creating educational texts and video clips that will be available online for teachers to use when discussing scientific processes and issues related to environmental science.

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