200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 76: “This Academy Scientist Rocks! ”

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photo of entomologists in Mongolia
Crane Fly Research Group for the Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey (MAIS) project in Western Mongolia during the 2009 sampling expedition. From left to right: Dr. Jon Gelhaus; Ms. Oyunchuluun (Oyunaa) Yadamsuren, Mongolian student now in graduate school at Clemson University, SC; Dr. Chen Young, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh; Drs. Virginija Podeniene and Sigitas Podenas, University of Vilnius, Lithuania.

This Academy Scientist Rocks!

Dr. Jon Gelhaus, an evolutionary biologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, recently received the “Best Scientist in Nature and Environment” medal for his “significant contribution in Mongolian Environmental Science.” The award was issued by the Mongolian Ministry of Nature, Environment, and Tourism through the Washington, D.C. Mongolian Embassy.

Gelhaus, who is a curator in the Academy’s Entomology Department, has been conducting research in Mongolia for 15 years. He is the lead principal investigator for the Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey, a multiyear project to document the diversity of insects that live in or near freshwater and to relate that diversity to patterns in evolution, ecology and water quality. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. Currently, scientists are probing the waterways of the Altai Mountains and southern Hangai Mountains in western Mongolia. Previous surveys were conducted in the Lake Hovsgol Basin and the Selenge River Basin, both in northcentral Mongolia. Gelhaus, in collaboration with researchers at universities in the U.S., Europe and Mongolia, is working to improve scientific facilities for identification and analysis of biological samples; enhance water quality monitoring standards; and train young Mongolian scientists and students to carry on the work of the initiative.

Big bugs are at the Academy right now! Stop in to check out our exhibit, Bugs… Outside the Box, featuring enormous, scientifically accurate insect sculptures by Italian artist Lorenzo Possenti.

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