What is a Johns Hopkins School of Nursing professor doing poking around inside the mouths of seals? Looking for signs of stress, naturally.
Saliva expert Doug Granger, director of the School of Nursing's Center for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience, studies biomarkers in saliva for signs of stress, illness, and health risks. His research typically focuses on humans, but he's branching out to seals to see what his methods suggest about stress responses in other mammals.
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Granger has partnered with Michelle Farmerie, MAIS-ZAL, who chairs the Animal Enrichment Committee at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, on a project to study through saliva swabs how much stress animals experience from changes in their environment, including when moved from zoo to zoo. The research team hopes the sea lions' saliva can offer clues to how individual animals handle various experiences. The idea is that the study will give animal caregivers more data that they can use to further enhance the health and welfare of animals.