Dr. Tyrone Hayes on herbicide and the endocrine system of frogs

Students had the opportunity to talk candidly with Tyrone Hayes, renowned biologist and Professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley. Hayes lectured twice on campus at the opening event of the Center for Science and Common Good on Sept. 24.

Students met with Hayes in a roundtable discussion in the Bear’s Den and then later listened to his lecture “From Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads and Men” in Olin auditorium. Hayes was the subject of profiles in both The New Yorker and Forbes magazines this year. The articles covered his work on the impact of chemicals on the health and reproductive systems of frogs and the surrounding controversy that has resulted from his research.

The CSCG Fellows shown with Hayes in the photo are Jenna Pellegrino, Allison Arinaga, Usman Baqai,  Thomas Holt,  Danielle Kritz,  Dylan Stephens,  Peter Eisenhauer,  Jamie Faselt, Daniel Selechnik,  Rebecca Keenan, Aubrey Paris, Kevin Monahan and Chase Renninger.

The CSCG Fellows shown with Hayes in the photo are Jenna Pellegrino, Allison Arinaga, Usman Baqai, Thomas Holt, Danielle Kritz, Dylan Stephens, Peter Eisenhauer, Jamie Faselt, Daniel Selechnik, Rebecca Keenan, Aubrey Paris, Kevin Monahan and Chase Renninger.

In the afternoon talk on campus, Ursinus students asked Dr. Hayes about the methods he uses in his labs and in the field and how he has dealt with criticism and controversy.  Dr. Hayes is known for his findings on the herbicide atrazine, and its impact on the endocrine system of male frogs. Atrazine is banned in the European Union.

“I always believed in the science,” Hayes told the students. “I never had any doubt in my mind that the controls were pure.”

Hayes has presented hundreds of papers, talks, and seminars on the role of environmental chemical contaminants in global amphibian declines and in the health disparities that occur in minority and low income populations. He is an advocate for critical review and regulation of pesticides and for uncovering health disparities among American populations.

Hayes’ work was featured in the 2008 documentary film Flow: For Love of Water. He appeared in the 2012 documentary film Last Call at the Oasis and is the subject of The Frog Hunter, a biographical book for children, first published in 2009. Hayes was a biologist on the PBS National Geographic program Strange Days, where he expressed his concerns for human health, particularly that of minority and low-paid workers exposure to agricultural chemicals. He is a National Geographic Society Explorer.

Hayes earned his BS degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. Joining the Department of Integrative Biology at Berkeley, he has pursued research on the role of hormones in amphibian development. Appointed to full Professor in 2002, Dr. Hayes has received the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the University of California at Berkeley, the Jennifer Altman Award for Integrity in Science, the Rachel Carlson Memorial Award (Pesticide Action Network), the National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award (NGS) and the President’s Citation Award (American Institute of Biological Sciences.)