Warren Booth, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Science, is known internationally for his studies on parthenogenesis. As a post-doc research associate in 2010, Booth documented reproduction in an unfertilized female snake sample. The research was wildly accepted among biologists and led to follow up studies in other species of snakes.
Since then, Booth’s lab has performed parthenogenesis studies on King Cobras from Holland, multiple types of domestic rattle snakes, python and anaconda samples from the United Kingdom’s West Midland Safari Park, Kimono Dragons from zoos in Texas, and water snakes from Missouri, North Carolina and Georgia. He assigns the work to undergraduates for once-in-a-lifetime laboratory experience.
“It’s more beneficial for the students to do the DNA extraction, sequencing and analysis,” Booth said. “Parthenogenesis is such a small part of of what our lab does, but it’s received media attention worldwide. For undergrads to do this kind of work, put their names on the research paper and receive credit, is phenomenal.”
In 2014, Booth published a review paper in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society about the same parthenogenesis concept but in a different species of snake. The paper was accessed online 35,000 times and is the highest ranked document in the journal’s history. Its popularity garnered Booth the role of parthenogenesis consultant for the BBC, and ABC Australia featured his research in a 2015 episode of the science show Catalyst.
“It’s good for TU,” Booth said. “The university is being recognized across the globe. I receive 50 or 60 e-mails a day just from people interested in learning more or from prospective students who want to attend TU for the research.”