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Biology faculty member sharing expertise for TV productions

WKU biology faculty member Dr. Steve Huskey is preparing to use his research and expertise for more TV productions.

Dr. Steve Huskey

Dr. Steve Huskey

A production team from Australia will visit the WKU campus next week (July 23-24) to record segments for a NOVA show about shark attacks.

“I will serve as the bite expert,” said Dr. Huskey, an associate professor in WKU’s Department of Biology who is a functional morphologist and studies the feeding mechanisms and feeding habits of fish. “The crew wanted a laboratory setting for bite testing. We will be using my labs and Dr. Chris Byrne’s materials testing equipment in the Department of Engineering, dental moldings from an already bitten surfboard, specialized microscopes, and real shark teeth. Essentially we’ll be utilizing technology and teeth to assess shark bite damage.”

In addition, Dr. Huskey will serve as the science consultant for a one-hour Animal Planet show about the natural history and wildlife of Kentucky. “The producer wants to focus on interesting species and behaviors, especially those species in Kentucky and bordering states,” he said. “In this role, while I won’t be appearing on the show, I will be telling them who to pursue, how to pursue them, and what cool behaviors to look for.”

Both opportunities are the result of contacts Dr. Huskey has made through his previous work on the National Geographic Channel programs.

In 2011, Sea Strikers featured Dr. Huskey’s research on the feeding behaviors of high-velocity, ocean fish. The show spotlighted the high-speed video technology that Dr. Huskey utilizes in his research and provided never-before-seen footage of the feeding habits of some of the ocean’s top predators — goliath grouper, barracuda, tuna, and bull sharks.

Also in 2011, Dr. Huskey led an expedition to the Amazon for a National Geographic Explorer episode titled Megapiranha. And in 2010, his goliath grouper research and his construction of fully articulated skeletons were featured in episodes of Nat Geo Amazing! on the National Geographic Channel.

While TV opportunities provide Dr. Huskey with an opportunity to conduct research and share his expertise, they also provide an opportunity for students taking his classes at WKU.

“It’s a way for me to collect data that I normally wouldn’t have an opportunity to collect and then for that data to get published,” Dr. Huskey said, adding that data from the Megapiranha project recently appeared in Nature’s Scientific Reports. “Then on top of that, I bring those experiences and the videos back to my classes. When I teach Animal Form and Function or Marine Biology courses, this is real world application of the material I’m trying to help students learn.”

Contact: Steve Huskey, (270) 745-2062.

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