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UW’s Hank Harlow AMK Ranch Speaker July 16

July 10, 2015
two men in winter coats and hats looking at sedated polar bear on blue tarp
Hank Harlow, left, a professor emeritus in the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology, is the Thursday, July 16, Harlow Summer Seminars speaker at the UW-National Park Service Research Center. The seminar series is named after Harlow. (Hank Harlow Photo)

University of Wyoming professor emeritus Hank Harlow is the speaker for the weekly summer series seminars named after him: the Harlow Summer Seminars Thursday, July 16, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

He will discuss “Biomimicry -- What we can learn from animals living in stressful environments: lions, dragons, bears and other critters” at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Research Center at (307) 543-2463.

Harlow is professor emeritus in the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology and emeritus director of the UW-NPS Research Center. Since 1993, he has been an effective ambassador for UW, helping make the center a significant center for research and community outreach. Harlow began the popular weekly public seminars during the summer months.

“Physiological ecologists take an organ-systems approach to understanding animal adaptations to stressful environments and the natural history of animals in seemingly hostile conditions,” Harlow says about his talk. “Biomimicry is the imitation of natural animal systems for the purpose of enhancing human health and performance.”

He investigates how the heart, kidneys and muscle are uniquely constructed in different animals to accommodate specific demands. For example, armadillos have unusual drivers of biorhythms; mountain lions, big horn sheep and copperhead snakes have different immune responses to stress; Komodo dragons and polar bears are top carnivores, but use skeletal muscles differently in predation strategies; and hibernating black bears do not urinate for five months in the winter while humans will die in just a few hours if their kidneys fail.

Harlow will explain how knowledge about how these and other animals live in challenging environments can be applied to such things as post-traumatic stress disorder in combat-stressed veterans, long distance space travel, prolonged confinement to a hospital bed and acute kidney failure.

The recipient of one of UW’s highest honors, the George Duke Humphrey Award for teaching and research excellence, Harlow has published more than 100 scientific articles, including in the prestigious journals Nature and Science. His current research focuses on thermoregulation in Eastern gray kangaroos in Australia and sun bears in Borneo and Cambodia.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.

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