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Thursday, August 26, 2004

DiGiovanna Takes Scientific Safari With Photomicrographs

SALISBURY, MD---National Geographic is tireless in its mission to exhibit exotic life and cultures to grace its pages. At Salisbury University, Dr. Augustine DiGiovanna continues that tradition without the fierce teeth and claws or natives of remote lands. In its August 2004 issue, National Geographic published a photomicrograph of a human fatty liver taken by DiGiovanna for its expose on American obesity, “Why Are We So Fat.”

DiGiovanna, a professor of biology, has been on camera safari in both the microscopic world and the laboratory for important and educational specimens and life processes using new technology and his own steady hand.

"Since some of my photos are of life-sized specimens, such as normal and diseased human organs, I follow the sunlight to get the best colors and shadow effects out of the specimens," says DiGiovanna.

However, the professor is not content just shooting still life. "Photographing living animals can provide some exciting surprises, too,” says DiGiovanna. “While videotaping frog reflexes, the frogs were so lively that they kept jumping off the stand. We had to chase them down over and over again. Finally, we chilled them down so they would sit still until we touched their feet."

DiGiovanna captures his images of preserved, fresh and living specimens through a microscope fitted with digital and VHS video cameras connected to a computer. The photos allow him to share scientific images and biological processes with students who do not have access to microscopes and specimens outside the classroom and to test those students on computer-generated biology and anatomy tests.

After he began displaying his prize photography at his Web site (http://faculty.salisbury.edu/~agdigiovanna) for students to study at home, the scientific publishing world took notice via Internet search engines.

The National Institutes of Health contacted DiGiovanna first for permission to use his photos. They needed his photomicrograph of sickle cell anemia for the main feature of its poster at a special conference on the disease. More calls followed from National Geographic and then the International Medical News Group, which publishes eight leading independent newspapers for the medical community including Cardiology News.

DiGiovanna will continue taking snapshots and video of some of nature's more elusive elements. Like the glossy rainforests of National Geographic, biology class just became a lot more available, colorful and lively, and that matters to students training at SU to become tomorrow's doctors and biologists.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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