Scientists and Reindeer Visit Gannon University to Highlight the Effects of Climate Change

Posted: January 23, 2017

Gannon University hosted presentations by two scientists on their research into the effects of climate change on Alaskan reindeer populations. Gregory L. Finstad, Ph.D. and Sophia Papageorgiou, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Ph.D., presented their findings to Gannon University's faculty and students on Monday, January 23 and discussed possible collaborations and research initiatives.

Warmer weather in the Arctic has prevented from accessing food sources while commercial reindeer herds in the lower 48 states are affected by pathogens, often transmitted by insects that that may migrate northward as the climate warms and threaten Arctic herds.

The visit to campus of Finstad and Papageorgiou, arranged by Gannon's biology department, comes during an academic year that has witnessed a broad discussion of environmental issues, including a yearlong series of speakers and presentations with the theme Culture and Climate Change.

"Along with the establishment of the Donald M. and Judith C. Alstadt Environmental Center in Warren County, and the ongoing Culture and Climate Change series, today's visit by these distinguished scientists has energized students and faculty in the life sciences, environmental science and engineering-indeed, all of us who are concerned about the state of the natural world-to redouble our commitment to stewardship," said Walter Iwanenko Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs.

About the Speakers:


Gregory L. Finstad, Ph.D.


Greg Finstad is research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' School of Natural Resources and Extension. Finstad earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management and his Ph.D. in range ecology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is currently the manager of the university's Reindeer Research Program, where for 35 years he has worked with producers in developing and conducting applied research to enhance the reindeer industry in Alaska. Finstad has developed reindeer curriculum from the kindergarten to post-graduate level and was the lead in developing a reindeer husbandry and management certificate.

Sophia Papageorgiou, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Ph.D.

Sophia Papageorgiou earned her bachelor's degree in animal science and zoology from the University of California Davis and is a graduate of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, specializing in wildlife and international conservation medicine. She has worked with a spectrum of wildlife species including large carnivores, elephants, mesocarnivores, rodents and numerous avian and reptile species. A field investigation on African elephants ignited her passion to work as an international field researcher and to earn her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of California Davis. She has conducted international field research on tick-borne pathogens in a population of Mongolian reindeer and worked as a post- doctorate at the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance & Global Health Institute, at the University of California Davis.