Interdisciplinary PhD in Molecular Biosciences

Dr. Frank C. Bailey - Research Interests

The Bailey laboratory is currently working in 3 main research areas:

  • Wildlife Ecotoxicology
  • Urbanization Impacts on Water Quality
  • Fate and Effects of Metals

Wildlife Ecotoxicology

We have two ongoing research projects at Caddo Lake in east Texas, which is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. One project involves the effects of human disturbance on stress hormones and leukocyte ratios in cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus). A recent paper in the Journal of Herpetology (Bailey et al., 2009, J. Herp. 43:260-266) describes some of this work. The second project is in collaboration with Texas Christian University, Texas Tech and several other universities and involves a large scale assessment of mercury food chain transfer and biomagnification at Caddo Lake.

In a project related to the mercury food chain study at Caddo Lake, we are looking at the maternal transfer of methylmercury to neonates in the Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) and its effects on neonate behavior, performance and ability to mount a stress response. This is a laboratory study designed to begin to assess the ecological relevance of environmental mercury contamination.

Urbanization Impacts on Water Quality

The lab group is involved in a collaborative research project with Concrete Industries Management at MTSU to investigate the ability of pervious concrete to remove pesticides and other contaminants such as heavy metals from runoff water that percolates through the concrete.

I also have one student using GIS to investigate and illustrate changes in water quality related to increasing urbanization in the Nashville, TN area.

Fate and Effects of Metals

In another area of research, we are looking at the potential for using the activity of the enzyme delta-Aminolevulinic Acid Dehydratase (ALAD) as a biomarker of Pb exposure in ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) at skeet/trap ranges and other possible Pb contaminated sites. ALAD is known to be specifically inhibited by Pb, and carabid beetles are found throughout the US, making this a good model system for examining Pb exposure at contaminated sites.

The ability of aquatic plants to oxidize their root zones and the subsequent effects of this oxidation on metal speciation and bioavailability is an ongoing area of interest in my laboratory