Meet Dr. Frank Paladino
Courtesy of Dr. Frank Paladino
Meet Dr. Frank Paladino

Thank you for joining our live interview of Dr. Paladino on April 15, 2004. We will post a transcript of that interview in a few days.

Dr. Paladino is the Jack W. Schrey Distinguished Professor of Biology at Indiana Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With scientists from Drexel University and the help of Earthwatch volunteers, he has been studying endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica for over 15 years. "I became a biologist because when I was a boy I loved reading about exploration and adventure, and it was reading The Windward Road by Archie Carr that piqued my interest in sea turtles. And I remember the feeling I had as a kid watching the Disney nature specials — these scientists were doing exactly what I wanted to do."

Paladino says that what is really exciting about the leatherback turtles is to watch them come out of the water and onto the beach. They make you think about the Age of Dinosaurs and what it must have been like to have those giant reptiles walking across the beach digging nests and laying eggs. "I really enjoy thinking up the questions and research to investigate how animals work and live in their environments. The hard part of this job is training your mind to ask the right questions, and then designing and writing up the experiments to answer those questions. In an attempt to answer these questions I have worked with birds, large fish, crocodiles, sea turtles, and elephants. This has given me a broad comparative perspective on how the different vertebrates function and do many of the same things. But there are always many more questions to be asked and answered, and I encourage all students to follow their dreams!"

Dr. Paladino is especially interested in the ability of these ancient creatures to dive hundreds of meters into the ocean and travel thousands of miles. He has just returned from Costa Rica where he has attached radio transmitters on 27 females, and is tracking their daily movements by satellite. Some of the turtles have already traveled as far south as the Galapagos Islands.

Dr. Paladino has a PhD. in Zoophysiology from Washington State University (1979) and a Masters degree in Ecology from Buffalo State University College (1976). He has conducted research in the field of comparative vertebrate physiological ecology, ranging from studies of locomotion of birds to respiration of elephants and sea turtles. His research has been supported by a variety of organizations including the National Science Foundation, Earthwatch the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic Society, the National Audubon Society, and The American Heart Association.
Now you have met an explorer. Your next step is to be an explorer.