Derrick Lindsay in Africa
LMU STUDENT SELECTED TO CONDUCT RESEARCH IN THAILAND
May 5, 2011 - Harrogate, Tennessee — While most college students are cramming for finals, packing up their dorm rooms and making plans for their summer jobs, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) junior biology major Derrick Lindsay is preparing for his second research trip abroad in 2011. Lindsay was selected from a national pool of applicants to participate in a research project entitled, “Studies of Fungal Biodiversity in Northern Thailand,” which is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Lindsay will spend one month conducting mycological fieldwork across northern Thailand. He and three other American students will join program directors Dr. Steve Stephenson of the University of Arkansas, Dr. Dennis Desjardin of San Francisco State University and Dr. Steve Miller of the University of Wyoming and Thai scientists Dr. Kevin Hyde of Mae Fah Luang University and Dr. Saisamorn Lumyong of Chiang Mai University in the study which will be pursued at the Mushroom Research Center nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Dr. Adam Rollins, LMU assistant professor of biology, will accompany Lindsay.
Slime molds are a mysterious group of microorganisms that can be found virtually anywhere there is dead or decaying plant material. During one stage of their lifecycle they resemble something out of science fiction in that they produce a vein-like network that creeps around the environment eating almost anything they can engulf, from bacteria to fungi. Once the slime mold is done feeding it undergoes a transformation from an amorphous blob to intricate fruiting structures that resemble fungi. Slime molds can be very abundant in the environment where they play a substantial role in nutrient cycling and keeping bacterial populations under control.
The competition to join the research trip was open to all United States undergraduate and graduate students. Students have also been selected from Asian countries to participate as well.
“I have been truly gifted in having such a great professor, advisor, mentor and friend in Dr. Rollins,” Lindsay said. “I know that he will continue to help me in all that I do and I would not have been able to broaden my horizon and meet new friends and gain new experiences all over the world without his help and guidance.”
Lindsay traveled to Kenya, Africa, in January 2011 as part of a Rollins-led expedition also funded by the National Science Foundation. In Kenya, the group collected a preliminary set of data for slime molds, held a slime mold training workshop and developed grant proposals to support future mycological research across the continent of Africa. The team stayed at tented camp locations at the edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve and encountered a vast number of diverse animals. Lindsay collected specimens during the trip and presented about his experiences to University of Nairobi students.
Lindsay has also assisted with slime mold research in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tenn. He spent much of his summer a year ago serving as a biological technician at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Middlesboro, Ky. Lindsay was responsible for treating eastern hemlock trees using specifically trained methods, removal of invasive plants within the park boundary and routine maintenance of everyday tools and machinery within the park.
Linday’s first foray into research took him to Belize in March of 2010. His trip included biology course work in the Central American nation and took place at the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) compound. As a member of the Appalachian College Association (ACA), LMU has built a partnership with the non-profit foundation. BFREE is a private research and educational facility located on an 1153-acre reserve in the Toledo District of Belize.
“That first trip to Belize really made an impact for me. It was my first time ever being on a plane and leaving the country. It left me hungry for more field experience.” Lindsay said. “Since I undertook that trip, I have sought out research opportunities. My experience helped me get selected for a research trip in the Smoky Mountains and provided me with more experience in the field. With more field experience, new opportunities continue to present themselves.”
Beyond his interests in research, Lindsay is a balanced student who is a letter winner in Cross Country. He is the president of the LMU Student Athlete Advisor Committee and the High Adventure Club, serves as a Lincoln Ambassador and is a member of Earth Club. He is also a resident director for LMU residence life and an advisor to the League of Extraordinary Active Freshman. Lindsay hails from Talbott, Tenn., where he graduated from Jefferson County High School. He is the son of Tony and Melissa Lindsay.
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