UMF conservation geneticist explores threatened species and their chance of survival in Public Classroom talk, Jan 31

FARMINGTON, ME  (January 17, 2017)—With animal and plant species disappearing at an alarming rate, the University of Maine at Farmington is proud to feature a talk by Chris Brinegar, UMF adjunct associate professor in the natural sciences, entitled, “From the Redwood Forest to the Andes Mountains: The Adventures of a Conservation Geneticist.” In this talk, he will explain in lay terms how the story of a threatened species’ past is written in its DNA and how that information can be used to increase its chances of survival into the future.

This UMF Public Classroom lecture will take place at 6:30 p.m. with refreshments at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31, in the UMF Emery Community Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

Chris Brinegar, UMF adjunct associate professor in the natural sciences

Chris Brinegar, UMF adjunct associate professor in the natural sciences

A conservation geneticist, Brinegar has studied several threatened plant species in two of the world’s most stunning yet highly-impacted forest habitats—the redwood forests of California and the Andean cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru. Half field biologist and half forensic scientist, the conservation geneticist uses modern tools of DNA fingerprinting and analysis to characterize the genetic health, taxonomic classification, and evolutionary histories of at-risk species. Such data can play a crucial role in guiding conservation decisions.

Half of the Earth’s primary forests have been cut since the beginning of agriculture-based civilization. At the current rates of logging and agricultural expansion it is estimated that 40 percent of the remaining forests will be gone within 20 years.

A major focus of conservation biology is to identify forest species at risk of extinction so that management plans can be put in place to increase their numbers and save their remaining habitat. An important additional goal is to conserve the genetic diversity of threatened species.

A two-time senior Fulbright scholar in Nepal and Ecuador, Brinegar was the former director of the Conservation Genetics Laboratory at San José State University in California before coming to UMF in 2006.

The UMF Public Classroom Series is sponsored by the UMF Office of the President.

More on University of Maine at Farmington

A nationally-recognized public liberal arts college, UMF enjoys a 150-year tradition of providing a quality academic experience combined with the personal attention and close student / faculty collaboration that help prepare all students to be successful. Rooted in a tradition of teacher preparation, UMF offers top quality programs in the arts and sciences, teacher preparation, and business and pre-professional studies. UMF is located in the heart of Maine’s four-season outdoor recreational region and is a welcoming, close-knit academic community that prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers and an enduring love of learning.

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Media Contact: Chris Brinegar, UMF associate professor of biology, at or 207-778-7361

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photo can be found at:
Photo Credit: Submitted photo
Photo Caption:  Chris Brinegar, UMF adjunct associate professor in the natural sciences.