Professor nationally recognized for work

Award received in D.C. yesterday for frog-saving research

SANG JUNG, Evergreen reporter

The Pathologist and Clinical Associate Professor Allan Pessier of the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU was honored at the Library of Congress yesterday in Washington, D.C., as a recipient of this year’s Golden Goose Award for his groundbreaking research on preventing the extinction of frogs.

The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose federally funded work may have been considered odd and obscure when first conducted, but has resulted in significant benefits to society.

In 2012, a coalition of business, university and scientific organizations created the Golden Goose Award. Representative Jim Cooper D-Tennessee envisioned an award that would recognize the tremendous human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting the seemingly obscure studies that have led to major breakthroughs and resulted in significant social impact.

“The Golden Goose Award reminds us why politicians must leave scientific research to the scientists,” Cooper said. “This year’s winners prove how obscure and even unbelievable studies can change the world as we know it. We must continue to support our scientists whose brilliance and ingenuity keep America the greatest nation on Earth.”

The Golden Goose Award will be given to Pessier by a bipartisan group of members of Congress and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society.

“AAAS is proud to support the Golden Goose Award, which highlights scientific success stories that would not have been possible without federal funding,” said Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS. “These scientists have changed the world in unpredictable ways, and we applaud their curiosity, their tenacity and their achievements.”

After mass die-offs of amphibians around the world, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC worked with Dr. Pessier to discover that an obscure branch of tree life, chytrid fungi, was pushing frogs to extinction and that human movements were accelerating amphibian fungal infections.

“Started in the fall of 1996, the motive of the research was to figure out what was killing the frogs, and to introduce them back to the environment,” Pessier said. “Chytrid fungi on amphibians could kill them within a couple weeks of the infection.”

Because of Pessier’s work, national policies on how animals are moved around the globe have been reformed and a group of animals has been saved from extinction.

Pessier said that after the impact of his research, the policy reinforced the idea that there must be stricter awareness of possible infectious diseases when transporting animals. In the past, no tests were conducted on amphibians before they were moved.