TTU biology professor, bat expert to open Regional Science & Engineering Fair

Brian Carver_3The Southeast is home to various species of rare bats, and you can learn all about these furry, flying mammals during the 59th annual Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Tennessee Tech University.

Brian Carver, assistant biology professor, is a mammalogist and vertebrate community ecologist. He is an expert on the ecology of two rare bat species in eastern North America: the Southeastern Myotis and Rafinesque's "big-eared" bat. Carver is on the board of directors of the Tennessee Bat Working Group and is president-elect of the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network.

Carver also works with mid-sized mammalian predators, including raccoons, opossums and striped skunks, and investigates population trends and interactions between the species. He is especially interested in conservation efforts.

"As a biologist, the state of Tennessee (and the Southeast) is an exciting area to work because of the great diversity of landforms," said Carver. "These different areas create unique habitats where you can find very different biological communities in close proximity to each other. These communities also mean that the biodiversity of the region is very high, so there are lots of organisms and interactions to study."

Carver's presentation, "Strangers in the Night: The Biology and Conservation of Southeastern Bats," will open the fair Friday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at TTU's Millard Oakley STEM Center. The opening ceremony is free and open to the public.

A native of Middle Tennessee, Carver spent seven years teaching biology at Freed-Hardeman University and a year as a visiting assistant professor of biology at Northern Michigan University in Marquette before coming to TTU.

"We are extremely pleased to have Dr. Carver speak during this year's opening ceremony," said Peter Li, director of the fair and TTU professor of geology. "His experiences and mammalian community research are wonderfully interesting. Kids and families will genuinely enjoy his presentation."

The Oakley STEM Center hosts the regional fair and serves students in the 4th through 12th grades from 16 counties. Participating students have won awards or honorable mention in their schools' fairs and are eligible to compete at the regional level.

Eligible counties include Bledsoe, Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Scott, Smith, Van Buren, Warren and White.

The students' research exhibits will be open for public viewing between noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The awards ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. in the Oakley STEM Center auditorium.

For more information, contact Christina Hatley at 931-372-6598 or visit www.tntech.edu/scifair.

The Oakley STEM Center is located at 155 W. 7th Street in Cookeville, at the corner of 7th and Stadium Drive on TTU's campus.