Three Linfield faculty members to explore diverse research

Professors Bill Bestor, Catherine Reinke, Janet PetersonThree Linfield College professors will discuss research in the areas of molecular genetics, anthropology and health during a faculty lecture Wednesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield.

Catherine Reinke, assistant professor of biology; William Bestor, associate professor of humanities; and Janet Peterson, associate professor of health and human performance, will each discuss recent research in short “TED Talk” style segments.

Reinke will present “Methods of Interpretation: How Organisms Read the Genome.” Drawing on current research with Linfield students in molecular genetics, Reinke will discuss how the genome can be selectively regulated at the molecular level, and how undergraduate researchers and fruit flies are an important part of this work. With the recent discovery of gene silencing by microRNAs, the understanding of genes and gene regulation has changed dramatically. Reinke will talk about approaches to deciphering microRNA activity and the influence of microRNAs on gene expression.

Bestor will present “Old Witches and New Saints: The Supernatural in Modern Mexico.” Bestor will discuss three perceived kinds of witches, including healers from medical anthropology studies, invisible witches from research in a psychological anthropology field study and witches who function as social control of behavior in small face-to-face communities. The new saints, which are currently at the heart of a major controversy in the Mexican Catholic Church, are perceived as the most powerful of all forces. Bestor will bring artifacts from his research.

Peterson will present “Live Low, Work High: The Plight of the Lowland Porter in Nepal,” focused on high- altitude porters who face a number of preventable health risks ranging from frostbite to potentially fatal high-altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema. Porters are often recruited from impoverished low-lying areas, poorly equipped with protective clothing, and tasked with carrying loads that equal or exceed their body mass to high elevations. Peterson and colleagues are evaluating the knowledge, attitudes and practices of lowland porters who are working in the high-altitude regions of the Solo-Khumbu in Nepal. She will discuss how this research is important for planning a public health education program to reduce the morbidity and mortality from acute mountain sickness in porters.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.