Dr. Cyler Conrad, UNM Alum and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Awarded Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Grant

Departmental News

Posted:  Aug 18, 2020 - 12:00pm

A group of researchers from The University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have received funding to study the shells of desert tortoises to identify if and how radioactive elements are incorporated into their tissues.

The study, enabled with a three-year (2021-2023), $987,000 award through the  Laboratory Directed Research and Development  funding from LANL, will allow researchers to better map and understand nuclear events in the environment, their effects on animals, and what this could mean for humans. 

“Our project was selected as an Exploratory Research project titled Long-lived Fauna as Tracers of Anthropogenic Radionuclides. Exploratory research is intended to strengthen capabilities at Los Alamos via discipline focus…Our team is working on this project to better identify and examine long-lived fauna, such as tortoises, as passive collectors of anthropogenic radionuclides in the environment,” explained the project’s Principal Investigator Cyler Conrad.

Conrad is an adjunct assistant professor of Archaeology at UNM who graduated in 2018. His colleague in the study is UNM professor of Biology Blair Wolf. The team also consists of Allison Wende, Jeremy Inglis, Travis Tenner, Jeanne Fair, Shannon Gaukler, and Jeffery Whicker, all of LANL; Washington Tapia Aguilera from the Galapagos Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GGTRI); and James Gibbs from the State University of New York, Syracuse, and GGTRI.  Read more