Education: Assistant professor of biology at Pfeiffer returns to Madagascar this summer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What began as a mere curiosity for a Pfeiffer University professor has led to extraordinary advances in the fields of conservation and ecology.
Dr. Luke Dollar, assistant professor of biology at Pfeiffer and one of eight 2007 National Geographic “Emerging Explorers,” has returned to Madagascar this summer to continue conducting unique research that has garnered him international acclaim.
From mid-June until Aug. 5, Dollar and his team have been working in Madagascar with two top priorities รณ science and conservation. They are driven by curiosity about the most unique yet endangered animals and ecosystems on Earth and are rapidly expanding the knowledge base and natural history of Madagascar.
The research team of nearly 20 people includes a New York veterinarian, an electrical engineering and computer science student from the University of California, Berkeley, two Pfeiffer biology students and one recent biology graduate.
Dollar’s research on the fossa (pronounced FOO-suh), a distant relative to the mongoose found only in the jungles of Madagascar, came about quite unintentionally. His interest began on the African island while he was a Duke University undergraduate research assistant studying lemurs more than a decade ago.
His curiosity with the fossa was piqued when a lemur he was researching disappeared. Its radio collar and bits of fur were all that were found. A Malagasy guide put Dollar on the trail of the fossa, which feeds on lemurs. Thus began tireless hours of tracking the unusual and unknown creature in often-relentless conditions.
Through his extensive investigations, dozens of treks to Africa and his willingness to share his ever-growing knowledge on the subject, Dollar has helped to shine a light on an animal that very few even knew existed.
National Geographic and others recognize Dollar not only for his ground-breaking research on the rare and mysterious species, but also for his efforts to prevent the fossa from becoming extinct.
Dollar and his teams also work diligently with the Malagasy people to educate them about the destruction of deforestation and ways to sustain their natural resources instead of destroying animal habitats.
For more information about Dollar’s research, visit the “Fate of the Fossa in Madagascar” blog composed by the ecologist and his team at
Bethel scholarships
Kimberly Bullock Faris and Shaina Marie Freeze are the recipients of this year’s $500 Link/Glover/McCombs Scholarships at Bethel Lutheran Church.
Faris, a graduate of North Rowan High School, is married to Justin Faris. She has a business administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is pursuing a degree in cardiovascular sonography at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem.
Freeze, a graduate of Carson High School, is the daughter of Ricky and Sandi Link Freeze. She is a student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
Pre-Teen finalist
Isis Wilson of Spencer has been selected as a finalist in the Pre-Teen North Carolina Academic and Enrichment Program to be held in Durham Aug. 8-10.
The event is for girls ages 7-12. Invitation is based on academic record, awards and honors and/or participation in community activities.
Winners will receive educational savings bonds, prizes and awards.
Wilson is the daughter of Melinda Wilson of Spencer.
UNCG scholarship
Kelsey J. Maher of Salisbury has been selected to receive an Alumni Scholarship for studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro this fall.
The Alumni Award has a total value of up to $18,000 and is funded by contributions from alumni and friends of the institution through the University’s Annual Program.
Maher is a graduate of Gray Stone Day School.
Nash wins scholarship
Kelley Nash, a 2008 graduate of A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis, has been awarded a Cabarrus Family Medicine College Scholarship.
The scholarship is awarded to one student at each high school in Cabarrus County. It is both academically and community-service based. Recipients must have a minimum 3.5 grade-point average, plan to attend a four-year higher learning institution in North Carolina and demonstrate a continued involvement in community service activities.
The award provides $1,000 for the first year and is renewable for one year.
Nash plans to attend North Carolina State University in Raleigh.