Jodi Sedlock presents on bat research in Intl. Scholar Series

On Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, biology professor Jodi Sedlock discussed “Mountain Tops to Underground Rivers” for a talk in the International Scholar Brown Bag Lunch Series.

Sedlock began by stressing that her reputation as “Lawrence’s Bat Lady,” precedes her.

“I didn’t even include bats in the title,” began Sedlock, “People always say ‘you just do bats.’ I don’t really know what that means.”

Despite challenging her reputation, Sedlock is heavily involved in researching bats in Southeast Asia. Over the past twenty years, Sedlock has studied the diverse ways bats affect ecosystems and human health, stressing the need for bat conservation.

Bats can be beneficial, like insectivorous bats. As their name suggests, these bats eat bugs that are vectors of disease and destructive to crops. This decreases the need for pesticides. These bats are welcomed in farming communities due to their role in the removal of potentially harmful insects.

Other times, bat security is threatened. Ebola’s natural reservoir is in fruit bats, which threatens the safety of humans who eat bats as bush meat. Here, Sedlock’s research stresses conservation awareness and educating the community.

“The solution [for Ebola] is not to kill all bats but instead to minimize the contact with animals that we have historically and evolutionary not been in contact with,” emphasized Sedlock.

Sedlock encourages student involvement on her research projects.

“I get to drag students along with me to Southeast Asia,” said Sedlock, “And I love it.”

She has involved students from a range of disciplines. Their majors vary, but in the past have included biology, environmental science, film studies and studio art.

Through this trip, students have created educational materials for farmers, climbed mountains, gone spelunking, and, of course, got to interact with large amounts of bats.

The International Scholar Brown Bag Lunch Series is sponsored by the International House. The name of the series was created to encourage students to bring their lunches to the talks.