Earth Day Expo to feature interactive events, lecture on April 18



Interactive events for people of all ages will be featured at the annual Earth Day Expo from 4-6 p.m. Thursday in the Howell Science Complex on the East Carolina University campus.

Sponsored by ECU’s Center for Biodiversity and the Department of Biology, the event is part of the 2013 N.C. Science Festival. The festival is a two-week statewide series of events showcasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), produced by UNC’s Morehead Planetarium.

ECU researchers and local non-profit organizations will have displays and activities available April 18 on topics related to biodiversity. There will be live animals and plants, lab activities, natural history story times and more. Children in local afterschool programs are expected to attend and the general public is also welcome.

“(We hope) to expose the public to the joy of studying biodiversity and learning more about the biodiversity on our planet,” said Heather Vance-Chalcraft, assistant director for outreach at the center. “Biodiversity is being lost at an accelerated rate today compared to historic rates of loss. Yet, biodiversity provides human society with numerous services that are invaluable, such as water filtration, flood control and pollination.”

At 8 p.m. Thursday, guest speaker Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a renowned biologist and professor of integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley, will present “From Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads and Men” in Room C307 of the Science & Technology Building.

Hayes’ research involved the roles of steroidal hormones and environmental conditions on amphibian development. He is particularly interested in the ability of a widely used herbicide to alter sexual development and cause feminization in male frogs. This work has implications for the current population declines of amphibians and for human health, as the herbicide has been shown to alter testicular development and induce reproductive cancers in rodents.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information about ECU’s Earth Day Expo or Hayes’ lecture, contact Vance-Chalcraft at 252-328-9841 or

More information about the N.C. Science Festival is available online at