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Source: Sam Wisely, 785-532-0978, wisely@k-state.edu
Website: http://www.adastra-ks.org/
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/feb11/wisely.jpg and http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/feb11/wiselyaction.jpg
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, gtammen@k-state.edu

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011

AD ASTRA INITIATIVE NAMES WILDLIFE EXPERT, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR ONE OF STATE'S MOST IMPORTANT RESEARCHERS

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University wildlife expert has been named one of the top 150 scientists in Kansas.

Samantha "Sam" Wisely is an associate professor of biology. Her selection is through the Ad Astra Kansas Initiative's "Science in Kansas: 150 Years and Counting." The project, which spotlights state researchers past and present, is part of the yearlong celebration of the Kansas sesquicentennial. Moreover, it's an effort to inspire young Kansans to pursue a path in science.

Wisely's research explores how environmental changes affect wildlife and animal habitats. Specifically she investigates how human-induced degradation to the landscape leads to genetic alteration in a species, as well as how this impacts the emergence and prevalence of wildlife diseases. She's also looking at how climate change shapes a species' evolution through habitat alteration.

Wisely helped lead a four-year study into how Kansas' wildlife, particularly the greater prairie chicken, is affected by wind turbines. She's also part of a recovery team that works with the black-footed ferret, an endangered species that has an important role in the prairie ecosystem.

"For a wildlife ecologist, Kansas is a great place to be," she said. "We have the largest remaining tract of one of the world's most endangered ecosystems, the tallgrass prairie, and we have a diversity of other grasslands that support many wildlife species."

Earlier this year Wisely received a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to promote undergraduate research in ecological genomics.

Wisely earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at San Diego, her master's from Humboldt State University and her doctorate from the University of Wyoming. She joined K-State in 2003.

The Ad Astra Kansas Initiative is an organization based in Hutchinson that promotes the accomplishments of Kansas in science, space and the cosmos. More information about the initiative, as well as trading cards of the scientists, can be found at http://www.adastra-ks.org/.