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Chusyd is Co-PI on Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Award for Science

February 9, 2016

Daniella E. Chusyd, MA, graduate student trainee in the Department of Nutrition Sciences and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), has been awarded a grant with Principal Investigator Dr. Janine Brown through the Smithsonian Institution's Scholarly Studies Awards for Science to study "novel assessments of body composition and relation to metabolic status and fat stores in Asian elephants." As co-investigator, Ms. Chusyd will use deuterium dilution to estimate total body fat and ultrasound to estimate subcutaneous fat to then get an indirect measure of visceral fat. She and Dr. Brown will also look at the association between fat distribution and metabolic hormones and proteins, as well as reproductive hormones, in addition to examining physical activity levels assessed by accelerometers. Data regarding female Asian elephants housed in zoos in the United States will be compared with data pertaining to Asian elephants in tourist camps in Thailand. 

Ms. Chusyd received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Florida before earning a Masters of Arts in Government from the Interdisciplinary Center Hertzliya in Israel (cum laude honors). In 2012, she started the Nutrition Sciences PhD program at UAB to further her research interests in dietary influence on body composition and the impact on metabolic and physiological processes in African elephants (Loxodonta africana), as well as energetics.

Dr. Brown is a reproductive physiologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. She has conducted research to better understand the reproductive biology of elephants for over 20 years.