UHV faculty symposium suggests what's more interesting than the chupacabra

April 28, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.

A sea slug living on coral reef is infinitely more interesting than the chupacabra, Dmitri Sobolev will say.

"As a biologist, I find those myths, the chupacabra lore, absolutely boring," he said. "It's about as exciting as a coyote."

That's what Sobolev convinced his colleagues at the department of Arts and Sciences faculty symposium Thursday, when he explained the familiar genetic makeup of the hypothesized chupacabra and compared it to relatively newly discovered life forms, like those he's studying on coral reef.

He shared his research with other members of the faculty, whose expertise ranged from math to English.

"This is a friendly forum meant for us to take advantage of the great amount of skill and knowledge that we have here as an academic community," said Uppinder Mehan, an English professor who led the symposiums.

The lecture Thursday, titled, "Chasing Chupacabra: an Alternate Universe in Your Own Backyard," was the last one of the first full semester of seminars. Mehan said plans for next years' faculty symposiums are already under way.

The seminars are a chance for faculty to get a glimpse into what their colleagues are working on, and the interactions even motived project collaborations among faculty.

"All of us go to conferences - biology, mathematics, English. You're with basically same-minded people, and it's one angle. But this symposium offers very different angles on one topic," said computer science professor Alireza Tavakkoli, who after his lecture hooked up with Ricardo Teixeira for a research project.

"We see the same thing, but each of us come with a different question because we come with different backgrounds," Teixeira, a math instructor at the college, said.

Mehan said the chance for faculty to continue learning in fields of study beyond their specialty has been fruitful.

"It's kinda like we're going back to our undergrad days," he said. "It's like, wait a minute, there are other areas to be considered."



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