Outliers knows researchers can make a lot of sacrifices to do their work. But snatching eggs from alligator mothers-to-be? Now that's dedication.
Louis Guillette, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of marine biomedicine and environmental sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, has researched alligators in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Apopka in Florida for 25 years.
The latest outing to collect the eggs saw a pair of biologists nervously keeping an eye on an 8-foot alligator just a few feet away as they pilfered eggs from her nest along the edge of Spring Garden Lake near DeLeon Springs. “Welcome to fieldwork,” joked Guillette, an internationally known researcher, as a group of about 15 biologists fanned out across the Lake Woodruff system. The eggs—contributed by sometimes less-than-willing alligators—will be studied worldwide for information on genetics, environmental contaminants and human health.
When he started, they were doing mostly “simple biology.” Today, tissue and genetic samples from the eggs are analyzed and compared using the latest techniques in genetic research and molecular biology.