Distinguished Lecturer Series - Mark Young
- Monday, February 9, 2015 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
- Museum of the Rockies - view map
Title: A changing view of viruses: Viruses from Yellowstone's extreme environments
Abstract: Viruses are often associated with disease, but a new view of viruses is emerging that of viruses as important biological entities required for and even beneficial to their hosts. Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on the planet and are found wherever life is found. Despite their abundance, we have only a limited understanding of their diversity and function in nature. The extreme environments of Yellowstone's geothermal features provide perfect hunting grounds for new viruses infecting some of the most unusual forms of life. Our discovery and analysis of these new viruses is changing our view of viruses, both in terms of their diverse roles in ecosystems and their impact on the past and present evolution of life on earth. In this presentation, we will look at the relationships between viruses replicating in boiling acid and the viruses infecting humans. We will explore the new evolutionary relationships uncovered by looking at viruses from Yellowstone's thermal environments.
Mark Young is a Professor of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at Montana State University and a founding Co-Director of the MSU Thermal Biology Institute. He is recognized nationally and internationally for his scholarly contributions and leadership activities in the field of virology, and he has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on this topic. Mark has built a successful research and teaching program at MSU and, under his direction, MSU has become an internationally recognized university for the study of archaeal viruses and supports post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduates and visiting scientists from around the world. His research has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Institutes for Health, and he is currently working in Yellowstone National Park, Kamchatka Russia, and the Andes. Mark is principal investigator on Dimensions in Biodiversity, a multi-institutional NSF-funded project to study the role of viruses in natural ecosystems and a National Institutes of Health sponsored grant on the use of viruses in nanotechnology. He is regularly invited to speak at national and international scientific meetings, universities, and research centers and his findings have been featured by National Geography, the Discovery Channel, Wired magazine and the BBC. His scholarly achievements have been recognized at the university and nationally: He received the Charles & Nora L. Wiley Faculty Award and the Technology and Science Award at Montana State University, was elected to be a Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology, and serves on the Executive Board for the American Society for Virology.
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