Southeastern Professor of Biology Roldán Valverde has been named a Fulbright Scholar, which will allow him to perform research and undergraduate level teaching in Spain next year.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and allows American scholars and professionals to lecture and research in a wide range of fields.
“Dr. Valverde has dedicated his professional life to the study of sea turtles,” said Dean of the College of Science and Technology Daniel McCarthy. “Not only is he an internationally renowned scholar for his scientific work, but he is also well known for his dedication to sea turtle conservation. He already serves as the scientific director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, so it is no surprise that Dr. Valverde received this prestigious award.”
A specialist in the reproductive and stress endocrinology of sea turtles, as well as the nesting ecology of sea turtles, Valverde will be working at the Universidad de Las Palmas de La Gran Canaria in Spain. He will teach a class in Marine Ecology, a third year course in the undergraduate curriculum at ULPGC, and he is looking forward to the new experiences the grant will afford him.
“Taking part in this highly valuable opportunity will provide me with the energy and inspiration I need to develop new courses here in the U.S., such as marine biology, a course I think is going to be a hit, especially now that the oceans are in peril due to human activities,” Valverde said. “While at ULPGC, I am teaching a course in marine ecology. Marine biology and marine ecology share similar topics, and the latter can be very instrumental in the development of a course in marine biology in my department.”
As part of the grant, Valverde will also give four, one-hour seminars about his research specialty, an opportunity he welcomes to present his long-term research projects to students and colleagues alike.
“The presentation topics are ‘The Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles,’ ‘The Role of Vitellogenin in the Reproductive Physiology of Sea Turtles,’ ‘The Reproductive Ecology of Sea Turtles,’ and ‘The Evolution of Structure and Function of the Endocrine Stress Response.’”
While in Spain, Valverde will instruct students and colleagues on how to run testosterone and estrogen assays (the chemical analysis of a substance) to sex juvenile sea turtles. He will also instruct them on how to run the vitellogenin (the serum phospholipoglycoprotein precursor to egg yolk) assay.
“I developed this assay in my lab, and it is currently the only functional vitellogenin assay that has been used to measure this protein in wild sea turtle populations,” he said. “The implementation of this assay in Spain will help support studies of the reproductive physiology of sea turtles in that region of the world.”
In addition to his normal teaching duties, research, and serving as the scientific director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Valverde also collaborates with departmental colleagues to teach study abroad courses in Costa Rica. At the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Valverde’s mission is to oversee the scientific programs with emphasis on the biological stations in Tortuguero, Costa Rica and in the Bocas del Toro region in Panama.
“As a professor and as scientific director, my students and colleagues take advantage of the collaborative experiences and opportunities that I make available to them, which has helped me create a rich personal network to promote the advancement of our knowledge of sea turtle biology and conservation,” he said.