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Alumna selected to represent APSU during Graduate Education Week

An Austin Peay State University alumna who earned a masters degree in biology in December has been selected to showcase her thesis later this week in celebration of Graduate Education Week in Tennessee, which began Monday.

DeLacy LeBlanc will represent APSU at the Tennessee Graduate Education Week ceremony Wednesday, April 4 at the State Capitol, Nashville. She will present her research, titled Reservoir competence of North American bird and rodent species for the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.
An Austin Peay State University alumna who earned a master's degree in biology in December has been selected to showcase her thesis later this week in celebration of Graduate Education Week in Tennessee, which began Monday.

DeLacy LeBlanc will represent APSU at the Tennessee Graduate Education Week ceremony Wednesday, April 4 at the State Capitol, Nashville. She will present her research, titled “Reservoir competence of North American bird and rodent species for the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.”

Lyme disease is caused by the pathogenic bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, referred to as Bb. LeBlanc wanted to identify the ecological niche of the bacterium by surveying animals in middle Tennessee.

“Lyme disease is not a commonly reported disease in middle Tennessee,” LeBlanc said.

A total of 205 animals, made up of rodents and birds, were analyzed using DNA-based assays for Bb, similar to DNA fingerprinting. LeBlanc's study showed that 25 percent of rodents and 41 percent of birds harbored Bb.

“The data give new insights to the true endemicity of Bb and a heightened awareness of Lyme disease risk to our community,” said LeBlanc, who was nominated for the showcase by faculty in the APSU Department of Biology and mentored by Chad S. Brooks, assistant professor of biology.

In the fall, LeBlanc will begin doctoral studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Gov. Phil Bredesen on March 2 signed a proclamation designating April 2-6 as Graduate Education Week in Tennessee. For 2005-06, when data statistics are the most recent available, APSU awarded 235 graduate degrees.

For more information about graduate studies at APSU, contact the College of Graduate Studies by telephone at 221-7414 or visit online at www.apsu.edu/cogs. -- Melony Leazer