Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: May 19, 2010 4:26:29 PM PDT
Tyrone Hayes to Speak on Effects of Herbicides on Amphibians and Environmental Health May 21 at WWU

Contact: David Rossiter, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment, (360) 650-3603; david.rossiter@wwu.edu

BELLINGHAM – University of California at Berkeley Professor of Integrative Biology Tyrone Hayes will speak on “From Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads and Men” as part of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment speaker series at 3 p.m., Friday, May 21 at WWU’s Communications Facility room 125.

The event is free and open to the public.  

In his discussion, Hayes will describe how the atrazine, a herbicide, is a potent endocrine disrupter that chemically castrates and feminizes exposed male amphibians. Exposure to the herbicide also results in neural damage and hyperactivity and induces a hormonal stress response that leads to retarded growth and development, and immune suppression.

Pesticides like atrazine are ubiquitous, persistent contaminants and, though more pronounced in amphibians, the effects described above occur in other vertebrates such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. These observations demonstrate the critical impact that pesticides have on environmental health.

Hayes grew up in South Carolina, and, as a boy, one of his favorite pastimes was tracking down the region's abundant turtles, snakes, and toads. This fascination led Hayes to earn a bachelor’s degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. He later received a doctorate in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Hayes said an interest in frog hormones sparked his interest in his current field work.

"Surprisingly, frog hormones are very similar, and in some cases identical, to human hormones," Hayes said. "What affects a frog may also affect humans."

For more information contact David Rossiter, WWU assistant professor of Environmental Studies at (360) 650-3603 or david.rossiter@wwu.edu.

WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized national leader in producing the next generation of environmental stewards. The College’s academic programs reflect a broad view of the physical, biological, social and cultural world.  This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes Huxley unique, and the College continues to earn international recognition for the quality of its programs.

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